Julie Willhide has always known she wanted to be in the Incentive Travel Industry and came to us with 18 years of experience in hospitality. When she saw an opening for a receptionist at JNR she jumped on it, knowing it would allow her to get her foot in the door.
It did not take long for the Vice President of Travel Operations, Diane Herrmann, to notice Julie’s talent, drive and of course, her infectious laugh. Within three months Julie was promoted to Travel Operations Assistant and a year and a half later she was promoted to Account Manager, Travel Operations.
Years in the Meetings and Incentive Travel Industry: 3
Countries Visited: 9
Countries she has operated a program in: 4
Favorite Locations for Incentive Travel:
Four Seasons Punta Mita – it is close enough to the airport that you do not have to travel far to get there and when you are there, you feel like you are a million miles away. It is a true escape. The property is beautiful and the staff go above and beyond to make sure their guests have an amazing stay.
Interesting Story from a Program:
On the final night of a program in Costa Rica, we produced a Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. The rain had been off and on all week. We were lucky earlier that same day when the group was volunteering for a community service event at a local school and we were able to avoid the impending rain. The evening function was all set and looked beautiful with a Rain Forest décor theme.
I left to get ready for the night and by the time I was heading back and meet our VIPs and Hosts for a quick run through, it was pouring rain. This was a monsoonal storm with whipping wind causing the rain to blow sideways into to the open-air event space. The table settings and everything inside were saturated and we had to think fast! We put an E-Z Up canopy over the technology table to shelter the staff and their equipment from the storm. The hotel staff jumped into action calling housekeeping to quickly mop and dry the floors. Banquet staff dried off the table settings and re-polished silver and glassware. Hosts and their spouses were helping move tables out of the way of the rain and, by the time guests arrived, the rain stopped and there was not a trace of evidence of the chaos that took place mere moments earlier.
It turned out to be a magical evening and the rain did not return.
The JNR Difference:
I love that JNR is a family-owned company where the CEO and high level management know everyone’s name. You are not just one of a thousand here. They support the idea that there is more than one way to get the job done and allow us to manage the programs we operate in our own style, without micro managing. We have creative freedom, which is great.
JNR also promotes from within and helps their employees get to where they want to be in the company. I had always wanted to be in the industry so I took a Receptionist position to get my foot in the door at JNR. After three months, I was promoted to Assistant, Travel Operations, and when a position opened a year and a half later, I was promoted to Account Manager, Travel Operations. Management knew that was the job I ultimately wanted when I walked in the door and they helped me grow into that position and reach my goal.
Why She Loves the Incentive Travel Industry:
I love how each day and every program is different. I produce a bi-annual program with the same group of attendees and we are constantly trying to outdo the last. It is challenging to try and one-up each event but that is what makes the job interesting, it is never repetitive work.
The Future of Incentive Travel:
Finding the perfect gift can be challenging when you are trying to accommodate different types of people with the same item. Many clients are now using that gift budget to create experiences and memories for their group through additional activities, functions, or by offering a gifting suite where participants can choose a gift specific to their liking. These options are well received and a safer bet than spending a large portion of your budget on a gift that might not please everybody.
Julie’s Bucket List:
Since watching The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio, Phi Phi Island in Southern Thailand has been on my radar. I tend to be drawn to sunny beach destinations and cannot think of anything better than sitting on the beach and reading a book in a beautiful setting. I love to visit different countries, experience new cultures and try different foods.
JNR is a full service, globally recognized leader in the incentive industry offering solutions for Meetings and Conferences, Incentive Travel, Special Events and Entertainment, Prepaid Card Services and AXS Contact Center Solutions. We have over 36 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies across many industries. Our clients trust our comprehensive suite of solutions that offer a better way to reach performance, productivity and loyalty objectives. JNR tends to every detail of your program to ensure an extraordinary experience for your customers, employees and participants and a favorable return on your investment. We allow you to step away from the logistical details and let you focus on what you do best.