• Meet Jeff Dougherty, 'Mr. Sacramento' is Spreading Smiles

    FROM THE Fall 2019 ISSUE

    Jeff Dougherty, association sales director for Visit Sacramento, likes to leave groups laughing.

Association meetings guru Jeff Dougherty, aka “Mr. Sacramento,” is known for his offbeat sense of humor. Whatever the theme of the occasion, he dresses the part—as a superhero, a horse jockey, a leprechaun or even a fork. On the serious side, in his role as director of California State Association Sales for Visit Sacramento, Dougherty is charged with soliciting association meetings and knowing what works for each group.

CAM+E: What does your sense of humor bring to Visit Sacramento?
It definitely gives our destination more exposure. I was sitting at a reverse trade show, watching suppliers go from appointment to appointment repeating their same spiel. None of them was going to be remembered. I wanted to do something different. This led to the birth of “flat Mr. Sacramento.” I start each appointment with a leave-behind flat Mr. Sacramento, which has a few fun facts on the back and a call to action: “Take a picture with Mr. Sacramento and share it on social media for a chance to win a fabulous prize.” Everyone loves it.

CAM+E: How important is the association market to Sacramento, and how are you dealing with the challenges posed by the Sacramento Convention Center being closed [until fall 2020] for a major expansion and renovation?
The association market is huge in Sacramento. With the convention center closed, we are working with many groups and hotels to creatively book “miniwides” [conferences split among multiple venues]. For example, CalSAE will be splitting its Seasonal Spectacular show between the Sheraton Grand and Hyatt Regency this year. 

CAM+E: What can you do for planners that’s a bit out of the ordinary?
We have an amazing convention services team that lets nothing get in the way of giving clients what they need. From help with marketing materials to setting up tours of unique reception venues, they are here to help. I like to say we have a secret service menu, like In-N-Out Burger. The Visit Sacramento menu offers Mr. Sacramento, a leprechaun or whoever or whatever else might be fitting to the occasion to welcome attendees to your conference.

CAM+E: What do you want meeting planners to know about bringing a group to Sacramento?
We offer an ideal location to get a true taste of California in a single stop: delicious food and wine, fantastic weather, music, art and an array of exciting activities. Our convention center may be closed for renovation, but Sacramento is certainly open for business. And, post-expansion is booking fast. 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 


Opening a hotel is no easy feat at any time. Opening two hotels during a global pandemic is exponentially more difficult. That’s the job that fell to Michael Stephens, area managing director for The Seabird Resort, which has 226 rooms and 20,000 square feet of ocean-view meeting and event space, and Mission Pacific Hotel, with 161 rooms and 13,000 square feet of meeting space, including the Pacific Garden—a lush green lawn that’s just steps from the beach and can accommodate more than 300 guests.


CAM+E: What’s a typical working day like for you?