Lubbers new head of visitors centerJune 3, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
Growing up in Cuzco, Whitney Hall Lubbers watched her mother use her creativity to serve the county.
Her mom, Carla Hall, owns C Hall Illustrations/Design. And for as long as Lubbers can remember, she has been designing the Dubois County visitor guide and maps for the Jasper Chamber of Commerce.
“I grew up with her doing graphic work for tourism industries,” Lubbers said. “Watching her was probably a big proponent of what made me kind of understand the industry, and seek out that type of job.”
That drive, along with the support from her mom and father, Bill, continued through Lubbers’ education and career. Starting Monday, she is executive director of Visit Dubois County. She replaces Kevin Manley, who has retired. Lubbers, 32, has been with the visitors center for nine years.
Her original plan when she attended the University of Southern Indiana was to go into psychology and become a psychologist.
“But my thoughts kind of turned a little bit,” she said, “where I really enjoyed the business side of things as well. So I decided to get a degree in marketing as well.”
While in school, she worked at Gilligan Boats, which is near Patoka Lake, where she got experience in tourism, customer service and promotions. “I always loved people and I liked helping people,” she said. “I was really trying to promote people having a good time and making sure that people are feeling good. Because If you feel good, you’re gonna have a good time.”
Lubbers earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from USI, and started working for Premier Marketing soon after she got out of college. From there, she applied for and got the marketing position at Visit Dubois County.
Lubbers said she enjoys the tourism industry, though it’s not always an easy field to work in. “I enjoy making people happy and trying to help enhance people’s experiences. So, tourism was actually a great fit for me,” she said. “Most people, when they’re visiting areas, they are in a good mood. They’re on vacation and they want to have a good time. It’s important for me to make sure that they have that pleasant experience. So, I guess, I’m a people pleaser.”
Tourism’s constantly changing landscape brings with it challenges.
“Just this year is a complete change,” she said, “with the pandemic, and how we’re going to move forward. There’s always something new in this field. It’s ever-changing. I enjoy trying to keep up to date on what’s the newest and greatest thing out there to help promote the county, as well as working together with the different organizations and the new organizations that come up throughout the county. It’s important to know where the different markets are and when there’s new markets that come about, and how to kind of drill in on those markets and bring visitors from that type of area [to the county].”
Communities and organizations here work well together for the benefit of the county, Lubbers said. “It’s truly remarkable,” she added. “We are able to grow faster because we do collaborate together.”
The visitors center’s focus right now is getting the county’s tourism industry through the pandemic as best as possible.
“With this crisis, we have decided to change our tactics slightly,” Lubbers said. “We are focusing this next quarter on marketing outdoor recreation, because people are feeling more comfortable going outdoors. And those are the easiest places to reduce the spread of the virus, limit the exposure and where people can still have fun and enjoy themselves.”
That will include sending out newsletters and conducting a digital campaign that focuses on our outdoor recreation, which is up and running right now. “I’m really happy with the direction we’re going for outdoor recreation,” she said.
She hopes to have a leadership style similar to Manley’s.
“I’ve worked with Kevin the last nine years. And through that process, he has always asked for input. He always led in a collaborative manner,” Lubbers said. “It wasn’t a top-down management approach where you’re telling someone what to do. It’s more of you’re a team and you’re putting your heads together and you’re brainstorming, coming up with ideas.”
Manley was always a caring leader, Lubbers said.
“He cared about what other people felt,” she said. “You understood that he cared about you as a person. I always appreciated that.”
Lubbers is happy to carry on where Manley has left off.
“I’m really excited about this new role. I feel like there’s just no other better place to be than right here,” she said. “We have a lot of things going for us, the attractions, our outdoor recreations, our great restaurants, our different shops. I’m very proud to be a Dubois County resident and to promote the county. I’m very proud to take on this role.”
Lubbers lives in Jasper with her husband, R.J., and their 9-month-old daughter, Raina. They plan to start building a home in the St. Anthony area next year.