Women of the Tupelo CVB: Selling the King, Among Other Things

There’s an unmistakable reason why Mississippi is known as the “Hospitality State.” Mississippi is filled with warm, loving people that welcome friends and visitors with hugs and handshakes, always going out of their way to help their fellow man. That is exactly hospitality in its truest form.

Neal McCoy, Executive Director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (CVB), and his team of hard-working and lovely, hospitable ladies well understand the importance of spreading that Mississippi charm and hospitality to the country and visitors to our fine state while touting all the many features that Tupelo has to offer. Although Tupelo is most known for being the birthplace of the king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, the city has much more to offer, and the Tupelo CVB is determined to inform and assist visitors as they explore the charm and elegance of this quintessential Southern town.

“The Tupelo CVB is the marketing arm of the City of Tupelo,” McCoy said. “It is our job to influence a desire to come visit Tupelo through advertising and sales.”

And McCoy is quick to add that none of that work would be possible without the diligent and charming ladies on staff at the Tupelo CVB. “Traditionally, there have been more females than males working at the CVB, and without question, they are some of the best thought leaders in the office,” McCoy said. “Typically, family travel decisions are made by a female so what better way to advertise than to have females be the public relations and marketing leaders in our organization?”

The Tupelo CVB has 10 full-time workers and two part-time workers on staff, and McCoy can’t say enough good things about them. “The Tupelo CVB has a tradition of having smart, passionate women like Pat Rasberry and Sharon McKissick that helped lead us into the 21st century, and now our current staff is incredibly talented and smart,” McCoy said.

For eight years, Stephanie Coomer has served as the Deputy Director for the CVB, working in partnerships with the Natchez Trace Compact, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, the Americana Music Triangle, among others, and performs many various duties for the CVB. Even 40 years after his death, Presley is still considered “a world-wide icon,” and Coomer feels that to truly understand his impact on the world, visitors need to see where it all began. She believes that is the only way to truly gain a proper perspective on his importance to music and the world.

“It is very important that we tell the world about Tupelo’s Elvis and about Elvis’ Tupelo,” Coomer said. “It is unique for a town to have a connection to such a fascinating part of the American experience, and I think Tupelo embraces it and is proud to be recognized as an integral part of who Elvis was and his legacy today. And, the same spirit that influenced Elvis has had its own effect on the town in other ways, resulting in great attractions like the Tupelo Automobile Museum, the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo, and Healthworks! Kids Museum.”

Jennie Bradford Curlee has served as the CVB Public Relations and International Sales Director for four and a half years, and her main responsibility is to inspire visitation to the city through a variety of media opportunities, such as pitching unique story ideas about the city to various media outlets even around the globe. While Curlee emphasizes that a major priority of the CVB is to educate Presley’s and Tupelo’s role in the music world, she also helps to promote business throughout the city. “As the birthplace of Elvis Presley, visitors come to Tupelo every day to see his humble beginnings, but it is our job to make sure they know about all of the other amazing attractions, delicious restaurants, and accommodating hotels in town so that they can extend their stay in our city,” Curlee said.

As Director of Marketing, Kyling Boring is responsible for media partnerships and purchases, promoting the fair city of Tupelo through social media, just to name a few of her tasks. It is Boring’s job to promote the city throughout the world as “an attractive tourism destination for weekend leisure travel, meetings and conventions, group tour and sports, and then inspire and encourage visitors to share their Tupelo experience.”

In her role as office manager, Valerie Bradley serves as the liaison to city committees and deals with the CVB’s accounts and budgets, and she understands the importance of promoting the city to the world. “It is very important for us to share with the world what is happening here in Tupelo,” Bradley said. “No one would have guessed that we have won the All-America City Award five times. Our attractions and restaurants have so much to offer visitors. Elvis Presley put us on the map, but we have so much more here to share in Tupelo.”

Tupelo has a great support system that is determined to educate the world on all the city has to offer, and McCoy greatly appreciates the work and long hours the staff puts in to make all that possible. The Tupelo CVB works hard to make sure that it offers only the best information and treatment for visitors, and it is that incentive that inspires McCoy every day.

“I love coming to work every day and am challenged to be better because our team does not want to be mediocre,” McCoy said. “We have so much to be proud of in this community, and we take great pride in our responsibility to tell the world how wonderful of a place Tupelo is, not only to live, but to also visit.”

By Judy Smith

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