Awards honor companies, tourism champions to kick off National Travel & Tourism Week

Kansas City, Mo. - Mayor Sly James welcomed nearly 600 people from the tourism and hospitality industry on Thursday, May 2, at the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association's (KCCVA) Annual Meeting, held at the Kansas City Convention Center Grand Ballroom. The luncheon kicked off National Travel & Tourism Week (May 4 - 12) and celebrated the importance of meetings and meeting planners. During the luncheon, the winners of the Kansas City Hospitality Awards were also announced.

The awards honor contributions that individuals or groups have made to the Kansas City tourism industry. The recipients were as follows:

CTA GOLD STAR AWARD - This award honors a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) who has worked to promote the ideals of the Heartland Tourism Ambassador program. This individual possesses exemplary customer service skills and a great knowledge of the city and its attractions.

Keith Libeer, Downtown Community Improvement District - Since 2004, Keith has been providing unsurpassed service to visitors and residents as a safety ambassador. His impressive knowledge of the district, attractions and even bus routes continues to inspire those around him. His friendly, easy going demeanor along with his extensive knowledge exemplifies his pride and genuine desire to make every visitor encounter memorable.

PISTILLI SERVICE EXCELLENCE AWARD - Created in honor of Phil Pistilli, this award recognizes a hospitality manager who started in the trenches of the industry. This individual consistently provides exemplary service, leadership and professionalism while taking care of visitors.

Stephanie Hurla, Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City - Stephanie started her career as a front desk clerk. Today, she is director of hotel operations at Ameristar Casino Hotel. She oversees a 45-employee hotel team which includes the hotel, housekeeping, the Ameristar gift shop and valet.

HOMETOWN HERO AWARD - This award honors local citizens or organizations that helped attract a meeting to the Kansas City region.

American Guild of Organists - Members were responsible for bringing the 2018 National Conference to Kansas City. The conference will generate nearly 5,000 room nights and put nearly $2.5 million into the local economy.

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association - Local chapter members helped land this meeting which will bring more than 1,000 attendees and infuse more than $1 million into the local economy this fall.

ONE KC AWARD - This award honors an individual or group that builds regional cooperation and support of tourism initiatives. The recipient shows true community vision by breaking boundaries and working across industry and community lines.

H&R Block - This company has shown incredible vision and support to KC and tourism. Partnering with the KCCVA and the City, H&R Block provided the space, equipment and staff to welcome and engage visitors in the KC Social Media Command Center during the 2012 MLB All-Star Game. Results include processing 72,000 social media conversations and creating 6.2 million impressions.

New this year is the KC Meetings Hall of Fame to honor the importance of meetings in our city. The honorees are companies that have held their annual meetings in KC for 10 years or more.

  • Advanstar Communications
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • Cerner Corporation
  • International House of Prayer
  • Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association
  • National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
  • Silpada Designs

The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Nan Marchand Beauvois, senior director for the U.S. Travel Association.

About the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association
The KCCVA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ignite global passion for visiting Kansas City. Through marketing, sales and service for convention and tourism industries, the KCCVA supports a vital and growing component of the local economy-generating 45,000 jobs and $4.5 billion annually. For more information about Kansas City, go to

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