The annual West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association Hospitality University was recently held at The Greenbrier, and Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau office of special projects grant manager Linda Adams received the Excellence in Tourism Customer Service award.
Thomas Heywood, managing partner of Bowles Rice, presented the award to Adams.
As a rule, the awards are kept secret from the recipients, but in Adams’ case – due to a bit of a scheduling conflict – she was informed by CVB executive director Cara Rose that she would be honored this year.
“I had planned to go, and then I decided not to go,” Adams explained. “Cara called me into her office and said, ‘this was supposed to be a surprise, and I didn’t want to have to tell you, but you’re getting an award.’ I had to process that for a second. I’m like, ‘oh, that’s really exciting.’
“I was prepared when I got there, otherwise, I would have been totally shocked if she hadn’t told me ahead of time,” she added. “I never expected that.”
Luckily, Adams was able to work around her schedule conflict and was able to attend part of the week-long conference and receive her award in person.
Adams has been employed at the CVB for nearly 25 years, but like many Pocahontas County natives, she actually began her career in tourism while she was in college.
“Right out of high school, I worked at Watoga State Park for one summer, cleaning cabins,” she said. “When the college kids went back to school, then I worked at the boat dock, and I worked at the rec center. It was a lot of fun.”
Instead of returning to Watoga during her college years, Adams worked at Snowshoe Mountain Resort and part-time for the CVB.
“When I started here, I started part-time because I was going to school, so I worked here on the weekends,” she said. “I was like, ‘when I graduate, I’ll just move on,’ and then after I graduated, they offered me a full-time job, so the rest is history, as they say.”
Looking back on her 25 years at the CVB, Adams said it’s been a fun job and she has been able to see many changes to the tourism industry in the county.
“It’s changed so much,” she said. “When I started, we didn’t really have Internet or computers or websites. We did everything on the phone and we wrote down everything. I entered all our leads by hand in a database. Now we have Internet and everything is fast and easy.
“We’re Nature’s Mountain Playground – there’s so much fun stuff to do here,” she continued. “People come here to have fun. Since we’re all-season, we have a lot of different visitors. We have our spring people who come to hike and bird watch. It’s really helped to have all the designations and everything that people are focusing on now.”
With local attractions finding ways to become all-season, especially Snowshoe, it has opened the county up to so many new avenues and more people.
“With Snowshoe being a year-round resort instead of just for skiing, that’s made a huge difference,” Adams said. “Mountain biking is huge. It’s growing by leaps and bounds. Years ago we used to market for mountain biking and we didn’t hardly get any bikers at all. So, we were kind of early in the mountain biking stage. It’s just exciting to see things change.”
Having so many attractions to promote and enjoy is what has made the job fun for Adams. That and the people she meets.
“It’s a fun job,” she said. “We just have so many different people coming to the county. In the summer, I go out to our satellite centers – so I get to be at Cranberry, Cass, Durbin and Snowshoe on a regular basis in the summertime. It’s fun because people are having fun.”