Three outstanding travel industry professionals during the 60th annual Texas Travel Counselors Conference, a meeting of Texas travel professionals and representatives of Texas Department of Transportation’s Travel Information Division, the Texas Travel Industry Association, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and city information centers.
The Texas Department of Transportation awards were was presented at ceremonies held in Wichita Falls, and the winners are:
Lone Star Award, Lucia Cordova
For her outstanding service during a distinguished career in Texas tourism, Division Administration Manager Lucia Cordova was named the 2015 Lone Star Award recipient.
“Lucia runs the complicated administrative functions of the Travel Information Division with calm competence and peerless professionalism,” said Bob Kaufman, TxDOT’s Chief Communications Officer. “Her tireless work ethic and helpful, approachable personality make her well deserving of this award.”
Cordova is a fixture at TxDOT’s Travel Information Division, where she began her career as a travel counselor at the Travel Information Center in Amarillo. She advanced through the ranks while completing her Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees and raising four children. In her career at TxDOT, she has also served as assistant manager of the Amarillo Travel Information Center, supervisor of the Anthony (El Paso) Travel Information Center, and Office Manager for Texas Highways before taking on her current role.
Cordova is also appreciated by her coworkers for her friendliness, patience and kindness. She is always available to answer questions and provide instruction and support, and always with the same stellar customer service that made her a great travel counselor at the beginning of her career.
Road Runner Award, Rick Upton
Travel counselor Rick Upton received the 2015 Roadrunner Award for his exceptional customer service and professionalism in his work at the Texas Travel Information Center in Amarillo.
Upton is known for his habit of reaching out to welcome fellow travel counselors and industry partners as well as the customers served at his center. He has a reputation among his coworkers as a resource they can count on.
“Rick’s exceptional customer service skills and eagerness to go the extra mile make him a valuable asset to the Travel Information Division,” said Bob Kaufman, TxDOT’s Chief Communications Officer. “It’s a real pleasure to recognize him with this well-deserved award.”
Upton received his state and national travel counselor certification in 2012, and spends his time proactively taking on additional duties, coming up with innovative new ways to promote the center, and stepping in wherever there is a need.
TxDOT operates 12 Texas Travel Information Centers at points of entry to the state and at the Capitol Visitor Center in Austin. Staffed by professional travel counselors, the Travel Information Centers welcome visitors to Texas, help with routings, provide travel recommendations, and educate travelers with important safety information, road conditions, and emergency information. The counselors serve as goodwill ambassadors to more than 2 million visitors every year and are often the first Texans to greet visitors.
Gene Philliips Award, Dan Quandt
Tourism industry veteran Dan Quandt of the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council was named the 2015 recipient of the Gene Phillips Hospitality Award for his distinguished career and his longstanding efforts on behalf of TxDOT’s Travel Information Centers and the state’s $65.7 billion travel industry.
“Dan Quandt has been a great partner to TxDOT and a staunch supporter of our Travel Information Centers,” said Bob Kaufman, Chief Communications Officer at TxDOT. “His innovative ideas and energetic involvement in the Texas travel industry make him the ideal recipient for this award.”
Quandt served as CVB director for Grand Forks, North Dakota and Lincoln, Nebraska before coming to Texas for a 13-year tenure heading the South Padre Island CVB. He is a key player in the Texas tourism industry, working closely with legislators and other key decision makers to boost awareness of the importance of travel to the Texas economy.
Quandt has served as chairman of the Texas Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and on the board of the Texas Travel Industry Association. He continues to serve on that association’s Legislative Committee.
The Gene Phillips Hospitality Award is named in honor of the late Gene Phillips, who managed Aquarena Springs in San Marcos and was an influential, driving force in the emerging tourism industry during the 1970s. Each year the award recognizes one person for his or her outstanding lifetime accomplishments within the Texas travel and tourism industry.