Cardin, public relations and marketing manager, and Hennigar, event and sponsorship manager, with nearly seven years on the job between them, have had “parallel careers” for the last 15 years, said Cardin, “ever since we met in San Francisco,” where they met while working with the Shorenstein Company, a commercial real-estate company that was a majority fundraiser for the Democratic National Convention (and owner of the San Francisco Giants).
“We planned memorable events and made a great team,” chimed in Hennigar.
So it’s probably no surprise they gave notice, as a team, this week. Cardin’s last day on the job is Monday, April 2; Hennigar’s resignation takes effect April 6.
During their tenure, the two have worked hard to fill in empty slots previously referred to as “the shoulder season” when hotel beds go unused throughout the year, perhaps most notably with Gay Ski Week, which wrapped up its successful third year early this month over its eight days of gay-themed parties and events, and Winter Snow Fest, also three years old, which this year drew in an estimated 500 participants.
Anyone who saw Telluride’s January 12-13 debut on Good Morning America can trace that to the joint communication effort between the Mountain Village staff, the Telluride Ski Resort, and the Telluride Tourism Board – relationships Cardin and Hennigar have painstakingly built, over the years.
On the summer scene, the duo executed the three-year-old Culinary Arts Festival, a wine-and-food extravaganza and visiting art show that brought an estimated 1,500-plus visitors to Mountain Village in August. And don’t forget the wildly popular Sunset Concert Series, the free Wednesday evening concerts that have brought traffic to the once-vacant core of Mountain Village, with big-name performers from Richie Havens to Alex Maryol, each concert drawing an estimated 1,500-2,000 audience-members. (Wednesday nights, for those who don’t think like marketers, are a canny choice for a destination-resort event, because a hefty percentage of visitors in for the concert will opt to stay through the weekend and pursue other interests).
On the wintertime front, in addition to beefing up hotel and condo occupancy rates, Hennigar said, “Our objective was to build ski ridership.” To that end, they chose dates for Gay Ski Week and Winter Snow Fest that weren’t big destination-skier weekends, filling in the gap that looms between the end of the holiday break and Presidents Weekend.
It’s no accident that the Town of Mountain Village’s sales-tax revenues have jumped by almost 30 percent in the last three years, and that hotel and condo occupancy rates have increased dramatically.
The two are leaving at the top of their game, it would seem, because of mounting political crossfire as the battle for control of Mountain Village marketing dollars heats up between the Mountain Village Owners Association and the town.
One Mountain Village employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said this of Kardin and Hennigar: “They are the best – they have such good karma, and they’re such hard workers.”
MVOA Board President Jonathan Sweet said of the duo’s departure: “We’re sorry to see them go; they did a great job, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”
Hennigar said she decided to resign earlier this month, after being told “to work on her resume” and that there were “no promises” for 2008 events, compromising “my chosen professional future,” she said. It’s axiomatic in event-planning that work starts for next year the minute an event is over. “I can’t hold off and get the job done,” she said, “because now is the time to start exploring sponsorships” for next year.
In her department, Cardin faced the same dilemma. “In the off-season,” she explained, “I’m busy planning everything from summer-season brochures to trail maps to story placement in the local and national media.”
And so, even though “we love our jobs,” they said almost in unison, by the end of the 2007-2008 ski season, Hennigar and Cardin will be gone.
“We’ll take some time for the dust to settle,” as Hennigar put it, and then they’ll be back, quite possibly as a marketing and event team on their own – as they pointed out, after all, Telluride doesn’t call itself the Festival Capital of the Rockies for nothing.