TTCC16Three travel industry professionals received prestigious awards during ceremonies at the 61th annual Texas Travel Counselors Conference held in San Marcos this week. The awards were given to these individuals for providing outstanding customer service and for exceptional contributions to TxDOT and the state’s $70.6 billion travel and tourism industry.

Conference attendees include Texas travel professionals and representatives of TxDOT’s Travel Information Division, the Texas Travel Industry Association, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and city information centers.

Gene Phillips Hospitality Award


Kim Phillips of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau receives the Gene Phillips Hospitality Award from Bob Phillips and Davis Phillips of Phillips Entertainment.

Kim Phillips of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau was awarded the Gene Phillips Hospitality Award, which recognizes her career and longstanding efforts on behalf of TxDOT’s Travel Information Centers and the state’s travel industry.

“Kim Phillips has been a great friend to TxDOT and a staunch supporter of our Travel Information Centers,” says Joan Henderson, director of the TxDOT Travel Information Division. “Her dedication and leadership in the Texas travel industry make her the ideal recipient for this award.”

Phillips has contributed her expertise as an employee and director of several Texas Convention & Visitors Bureaus. She has held leadership positions with the Texas Travel Industry Association, the Texas Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, the Dallas-Fort Worth Area Tourism Council and the Texas Lakes Trail Region. She continues to advocate for the industry, working closely with legislators and other key decision makers to boost awareness of the importance of travel to the Texas economy.

Phillips has hosted the Texas Travel Industry Association’s Travel and Tourism College program in Denton, and also serves as a customer service instructor in the Texas Friendly Hospitality Certification Course. Phillips is well-known and highly respected within the industry statewide, and is a key community leader in Denton.

The Gene Phillips Hospitality Award is named in honor of the late Gene Phillips (no relation to the award winner), 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 is presented by TxDOT Travel Information Division staff and recognizes one person for his or her outstanding lifetime accomplishments within the Texas travel and tourism industry.

Roadrunner Award

Susan Goble

Susan Goble wins the Roadrunner Award

Travel Counselor Susan Goble was recognized for her exceptional customer service and professionalism in her work at the Texas Travel Information Center/Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, one of TxDOT’s 12 Texas Travel Information Centers at points of entry to the state.

“Susan’s exceptional customer service skills, kind-hearted attitude and wealth of knowledge make her a valuable asset to TxDOT’s Travel Information Division,” says Henderson. “I’m so pleased to recognize her with this well-deserved award.”

Goble is known for her friendly welcome as she greets everyone who comes to the center. The Travel Information Center in Langtry also serves as a historical museum, preserving Judge Bean’s original “Jersey Lilly” saloon and Opera House, and Goble’s in-depth knowledge and storytelling abilities make her a valuable resource for local historians and writers as well as visitors.

Goble received her state and national travel counselor certification in 2014.

TxDOT Texas Travel Information Centers are staffed by professional travel counselors, these 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 often are the first Texans to greet visitors.

Lone Star Award

Elizabeth Small

Elizabeth Small is awarded the Lone Star Award.

Special Projects Coordinator Elizabeth Small was named the 2016 Lone Star Award recipient.

“Elizabeth handles various special projects, including the complicated logistics of conference planning for the Travel Information Division, and she does it all with patience, kindness, professionalism, friendliness, and a smile”, says Henderson, Division Director for the Travel Information Division.

Elizabeth works with and has established strong working relationships throughout the state’s tourism industry such as convention and visitor bureaus, chambers of commerce, city attractions, hotels and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Small’s role in the Travel Information Division includes travel counselor support, legislative requests, working on statewide weather related emergencies, responding to public complaints and helping to organize successful study tours, Achieving Service Excellence training and the Texas Travel Counselors Conference.

Small, who manages all her tasks while also enhancing her own educational goals, also is the first TxDOT employee to graduate from Texas Travel Industry Association’s Tourism College Program where she obtained a Certified Tourism Executive designation.

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