Visitors Bureau chairperson Deborah Shepard remembers biking down Hermosa Avenue with her husband not long after moved from New York to the South Bay. The couple spent hours drinking in the landscape and reflecting on their good fortune.
“My husband turned to me and said, ‘If you cannot sell Redondo Beach you don’t deserve to be in sales’,” she recalled.
Thirty years in hotel sales and a smattering of plaques are a testament to her apparent worth as a salesperson. Shepard, director of sales and marketing for Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach, can add another award to her repertoire. The Rotary Club of Redondo Beach has named her Businessperson of the Year 2012.
“It was a total surprise to me,” she said of the award. “I got a call from the head of the Chamber [of Commerce], inviting me to a Rotary luncheon. I told her I’m not a Rotary member but she said they wanted me to come anyway. I was so surprised.”
Shepard’s career began in education. She earned a Master’s degree in the psychology of reading but, seeking a change, “fell into” the hotel industry when she landed a job selling 1,500 hotels to the Northern California market. At the time her company, Promise Hotels, had an office in Los Angeles, which prompted her move from the East Coast to the West.
Shortly thereafter, Shepard took a global sales job with Millennium Hotels and moved to Redondo Beach. Captivated by the beach community, she accepted a position at Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach, and on the side worked her way through the ranks of the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce Visitors Bureau to become its chair.
Under her tutelage, the Bureau has been involved in waterfront development discussions, the launch of the Keeping It Local card, and statewide marketing campaigns.
Now into her third term, Shepard is still as passionate about selling the city as she was a decade ago, when everything was still fresh.
“I’ve just so much enjoyed the years of living and working here; the people are so nice and they care so much about their community,” she said. “My goal is just to get people to stay, pay and dine here, because I care about this community, too.” ER