‘Selling’ Kerrville

Julie Davis, seated, the new president and CEO of the Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau, took an opportunity to try out Charlie McIlvain’s desk and get some final pointers before he retired Jan. 16.

Julie Davis became the president and CEO of the Kerrville Convention & Visitors Bureau on Jan. 16, following the retirement of Charlie McIlvain. She says her goal will be the same, to market and sell Kerrville as a destination to visitors.

“I’ll oversee the marketing plan,” she says. “That includes printed material, social media, and advertising. Much of our effort is in the community and statewide, but we also reach out nationally and internationally.”

Davis says the CVB accomplishes all that it does with six full-time staff and two part-time weekend employees. She’s the president, and she oversees a vice-president, a director of sales, a community coordinator, a destination services manager, and a receptionist.

A lot of the CVB focus is in the 40-plus market and families. She says, “If someone wants a ‘girlfriend getaway,’ come to Kerrville. Do you need a family weekend? We’re the place. Want to get outdoors? Start with the Riverside Nature Center or walk the River Trail and go from there. Then there’s the arts community, the Museum of Western Art, the Kerr Arts & Cultural Center, numerous art galleries, the Cailloux Theater, the Hill Country Arts Foundation, the Symphony of the Hills, and much more. Or visit the empty cross in the Coming King Sculpture Prayer Gardens.”

But the CVB also targets conventions. She says, “Our director of sales is in charge of marketing Kerrville to the many small and medium-size groups who fit our facilities. Once they start planning their event, our destination services manager takes over to coordinate between the organization’s committee and local businesses and community leaders to insure a successful gathering. The CVB even provides the Kerrville goodie bags and name tags for the participants.”

The CVB’s efforts pay off for Kerrville, Davis says. Each visit is an economic generator. One third of the city’s sales tax base is generated by what visitors spend while they are here. In addition they are the main source of hospitality income.

She says the hospitality industry is the second largest local employer, only behind Peterson Regional Medical Center. The industry includes lodging from bed and breakfasts to hotels, restaurants, attractions, and the many camps. Tourists also spend money in Kerrville shops, and even buy gasoline.

Coming full circle, visitors contribute to the hotel occupancy tax, which provides a major source of funding for the marketing efforts that attract them.

Davis says she’s good at selling Kerrville because she was raised in the area, and has a long history with the CVB.

She says, “Maybe I shouldn’t tell people this, but I was born in Orange, Calif. It was only because my father was in the Marine Corps. My parents, Sheila and Johnnie Washburn, brought me to Texas as soon as he retired. I was five when we moved to Hunt, where my great-grandparents, Walter and Nellie Schulte lived. I went to Hal Peterson Middle School and Tivy High School. While at Tivy I was a photographer, took journalism, and worked on the yearbook. I graduated in 1992.”

She says her parents had a family rule, her first year of college had to be at Schreiner University. After that, she transferred to Angelo State University and earned a bachelor of science in business. She worked for West Central Wireless in San Angelo while she started a family. At the end of 2001 she decided she wanted to raise her daughter, Miranda Land, with her Hill Country family. She moved back, and started working for the CVB in January of 2002, nearly two decades ago. Miranda is grown now, and attending Mississippi State University.

Davis says she went on Match.com, and was ‘matched’ with John Davis, who worked at USAA. “For our first date, John took me to dinner at Tiago's Cabo Grille, at the Rim. It turns out he was also a U.S. Marine, which made my Dad proud. We married in March of 2019, and I inherited two more daughters. Mary Davis lives in Kerrville, and is studying nursing at the Alamo Colleges District Greater Kerrville Center. Ainsley Davis is 14, and lives with her mother in Ohio. John is working from home now, instead of commuting, and I’m in the middle of transitioning from ‘Julie Land’ to ‘Julie Davis’.”

She says when she’s not selling Kerrville she becomes the visitor other communities want to attract. “I love to travel. John and I go on road trips, sometimes to Mississippi to see Miranda, but regardless, we take the back roads so I can shop in small towns.”

She says her motto is, “Never give up, and never settle.”

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