Business Women: Showing Austin’s Shining Star
Posted 4:18 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2, 2022
For nearly 10 years, Nancy Schnable has helped guide the austin discovery
By now you’ve probably seen Petunia – the pink VW bug painted to look like a pig. Or maybe you were on the Governor’s pheasant hunt in 2019 when Austin took her in.
Or, maybe you are even visiting as part of a weekend hockey tournament. Either way, you’ve experienced something of what Austin has to offer, and Discover Austin’s General Manager, Nancy Schnable, is leading the work to shine the star of the community like a beacon.
A transfer from the hotel side of the hospitality world, Schnable came to Discover Austin in July 2013, when it was more commonly known as the Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
While both parties are part of the tourism industry, becoming director of Discover Austin offered Schnable more flexibility.
“I love tourism and I love being able to help people,” Schnable said. “It gave me the opportunity to spend more time with my family.”
However, at the same time, previous experience managing a chain of five hotels in Rochester gave Schnable valuable insight into how to start blowing Austin’s own horn.
“At hotels, we host groups for a particular hotel,” Schnable explained. “Working in conventional offices and visitor offices, I can promote all hotels and welcome all visitors.”
Admitting there was something of a learning curve, Schnable skipped it all and ironically was able to rely on the welcoming nature of Austin itself.
This support system allowed him to build his own set of goals for Austin’s future that worked for both the community as well as those who wanted to experience the community.
“The goal was just to increase the economic impact of the community,” Schnable said of those early years. “It’s also a resource for the community. The goal is to get people to come. »
The job is made a little easier by everything in Austin.
On the surface, there are the well-known stops: The Spam Museum, Hormel Historic Home, Jay C. Hormel Nature Center.
But it’s the other amenities that have become convention and tournament destinations.
“A lot of people outside of Austin in general didn’t know how amazing our facilities were,” Schnable said. “Again, the awareness of letting people know what we had. We really promoted it. You can organize an event here.
By working closely with local partners, which include businesses and volunteers, Discover Austin has created an extensive network of resources to educate people about the destination that is Austin.
At the same time, there’s a certain level of promotion that Discover Austin has launched that Schnable says just needed a little extra thought.
“Sometimes you just have to think outside the box,” she said.
That of course includes Petunia, who has traveled all over the Midwest to events like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on a mission to brag Austin.
It also includes a 53-foot tractor-trailer with an Austin image wrap that continues to cross the country and grab attention. The trucking company sends a report to Schnable every month, alerting him to the whereabouts of the trailer.
It’s a little funnier to compare this report to the calls she receives daily.
“Whether they come here for recreation, a tournament or a convention or consider it a place of retirement, it just puts Austin on the map,” she said.
In the nearly 10 years that Schnable has been in charge of Discover Austin, the organization has gone through many changes, from a new location to new staff. But everything has the same mission. Bring people to Austin.
Events like the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt are all important to a thriving community.
“Any visitor creates a wonderful economic impact,” Schnable said. “It’s kind of that lasting impact that they’ll be talking about. Their experiences in Austin. This year the hunt was in Worthington and people were still talking about being in Austin in 2019. It’s a big impact.
Schnable hinted that there are some big new things on the horizon, but until then, she’s just enjoying her experience so far at Discover Austin.
“It’s amazing. It’s amazing,” she said. “Every day I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love and then come home and be with my family. . It was amazing.