Wild Geese: Caroline Coyle, vice-president Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Dubliner headed to the US boasting plenty of enthusiasm
Caroline Coyle: leaving Ireland wasn’t an easy decision
“If you love what you do, it never seems like actual work,” says Caroline Coyle. Appropriate words, as Caroline is vice-president of brand strategy at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, representing Las Vegas across the globe.
“Our marketing programmes focus on groundbreaking, gamechanging elements and we continue to push the bar when it comes to innovation.”
Born in Castlebar, Coyle, grew up in Donnybrook, Dublin, and attended Mount Anville school.
Her grandfather, Edmund Donnelly, founded Hickey’s Fabrics and the entire family have businesses around Dublin and its environs. Her 88-year- old father is medical aviation examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration in Philadelphia.
Being surrounded by entrepreneurs helped shape Coyle.
“I started my marketing career with Brindley Advertising & PR in Dublin. Working with some wonderful clients such as General Motors and Wella Hair Care and under the guidance and mentoring of Basil and Donald Brindley laid a very solid foundation for me.”
Leaving Ireland wasn’t an easy decision for Coyle. However, not wanting to live a life of regret, a life of “what if”, was a deciding factor in her decision to head off to the United States, without a job but boasting plenty of enthusiasm.
Her first job was as PR account executive for the Sheraton Valley Forge Hotel & Convention Center in Philadelphia. Within a year, she was promoted to oversee their in-house advertising and PR agency.
“During my four years there, I really focused on building key relationships across hospitality, entertainment, convention business and sports marketing verticals and gained a firm foothold with important media groups.”
Coyle’s first foray into the gaming industry came when she applied to join Caesars at Atlantic City as director of advertising and public relations. That experience was instrumental in shaping the next chapter of her career and ultimately led her to Las Vegas.
“It opened many doors and I forged relationships with people at the top of their league across the spectrum of gaming, entertainment, sports and business. It was a magical time and fortune smiled on me yet again as I met my husband, John Vidmar, who was handpicked from Caesars Palace Las Vegas to launch Caesars Atlantic City operation in New Jersey.”
He was later transferred back to Las Vegas to run the world-famous Race and Sports Book at Caesars Palace.
Quality of life
“I like to tell people that I followed my bookie to Las Vegas and that is how I ended up here over 21 years ago!” she says.
According to Coyle, the quality of life is good in Las Vegas and, because it is a relatively young city, many people have come from somewhere else so are quick to welcome others to town. Non-judgment is the very essence of Las Vegas.
People are very open-minded and everyone is welcome here, she says. There is tremendous support for the city’s number one industry, tourism, which supports 368,900 jobs and represents 41 per cent of the workforce, generating $14.9 billion in wages in southern Nevada.
Coyle’s work involves some travel, and as soon as she mentions Las Vegas, she says people light up with intrigue and excitement. Las Vegas is a vibrant city and on almost everyone’s bucket list, so it is a great travel hub for both business and pleasure travellers.
This October, the city will host the final US presidential debate and the eyes of the world will be on Las Vegas again.
In 2014, Las Vegas welcomed 62,000 Irish visitors. Irish tourists enjoy shopping, entertainment, sightseeing, guided tours, fine dining and, of course, sporting events such as UFC. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority expects that number to increase year on year.
Almost 400,000 Irish visitors travelled to the United States in 2014, a growth of 8 per cent from 2013, and a trawl of Expedia statistics shows that, in its 20-year history, Las Vegas is the most searched destination.
“Each of my 18 team members collaborates with our marketing agency (which created the slogan “What happens here, stays here”) as we create and develop new and established programmes that will generate favourable brand sentiment and awareness that will ultimately inspire people to visit Las Vegas.”
Coyle feels fortunate to have maintained her connection to Ireland over the years. She travels home often, most recently in May to represent Las Vegas to the media and tour operators, and previously in October to attend the Google travel executive forum.
In 2011, Coyle graduated from the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Food is a hugely important sector for Las Vegas tourism and has attracted the greatest collection of celebrity chefs and master sommeliers in the US.
This autumn, Coyle will take part in in a global symposium in Croke Park, created by Margaret Jeffares of Good Food Ireland, which will focus on the importance of tourism, food and culture.