Jenn & I Circa 2004 in Miami at the US Open
Jenn & I Circa 2004 in Miami at the US Open
Jenn & I accepting HSMAI Awards with our Clients in NYC in 2010
Jenn & I accepting HSMAI Awards with our Clients in NYC in 2010
Jenn & I in NYC before a meeting circa 2011
Jenn & I in NYC before a meeting circa 2011
With my TogetherDigital Family in 2019
With my TogetherDigital Family in 2019

My Story

For the last 18 years, I've been very fortunate to have been an integral part of several successful marketing programs both with client and agency-side brands for several industries. I started in 2001 working as an advertising manager for an agency in South Texas managing ad placements and creative production for DMOs. I moved up in the ranks for that agency eventually landing an account director role working directly with destinations such as Miami, Atlantic City, Bloomington, and Beaches of South Walton leading strategy and execution. In 2006, I was promoted to Director of Client Services, leading a team of Account Directors to service nearly 40 destination clients. After seven years with that company and learning so much along the way, I left to join my now partner in crime, Jennifer Barbee on our journey to redefine what an agency should be.

In 2008, Jennifer and I focused on our then brand, JB, Inc. to build an elite team of digital mega-minds for a handful of destination clients that quickly grew. A few of those early clients like Panama City Beach and Loudoun County, VA were clients of ours for many years and we developed a life-long relationship with the stewards of those DMOs because of the work we did for them but more importantly for the partnership we formed.

Fast forward to 2012, Jennifer and I began taking a more consultative approach to our business and branching into other roles outside of tourism. I found myself in the automotive retailing industry nearly full-time, working alongside manufacturers like Toyota North America and Ford Motor Company. I also had the pleasure of working alongside publishers like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Pandora as my role there grew, eventually leading the media division for some 45 account managers and 3K+ dealers across the country and helping to lead a billion+ dollar acquisition with Dealer.com. In 2014 I added tech startup to my resume, working to lead digital strategy and paid advertising for a SaaS business. After 4 years in tech and going through another acquisition and rebrand effort, Jennifer and I began working together nearly full-time again. This time on our newer agency brand, Destination Innovate.

My home is near the lake in a suburb of Dallas, TX. I work from my home office where you can often hear my kids running up and down the stairs yelling "Mom." #momlife I don't believe there is such a thing as work/life balance. I believe work intertwines with life and vice versa. I feel very fortunate to live in that mindset.

Which brings me to my current status: Unapologetic in my evolution.

I have a few core areas of focus these days as part of that evolution. First, as President of Destination Innovate, focusing my attention on smart agency growth, expanding our digital prowess and leading our team’s client initiatives while driving strategic growth for the agency. I also help run our family-owned, operated event rental and planning business, Dallas Movie Time, with the hubby here in Dallas. Yes, the kids get involved too! And I'm spending a lot of time planning events and designing decor around them. From backyard birthdays to annual corporate events here in DFW. I'm LOVING it!

For the last couple of years, I've also made it a priority to work with organizations through both leadership and mentorship formats. In early 2018, I became a founding member of the Dallas Chapter for Women in Digital (now TogetherDigital) and continue to be an active member of the American Marketing Association and HSMAI.

Oh, and our work in tourism has Jennifer Barbee and I leading a Society for Women in Tourism, Slay It.

Is that all?! That’s not a lot guys. This is just pure laziness. ♥️

- KC

Speaking

Throughout my career, I've spoken at many industry events on numerous topics in digital and tourism marketing and have also been involved with many HSMAI and Web Award winning projects for brands across the country including an Emmy Award Winning web series. Here are just a few.

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Southeast Tourism Marketing College

2009

Search Engine Marketing

Kristen Cruz - Speaking at Inbound 2016

INBOUND

2016

5 Lessons of Managing Remote Teams

Kristen Cruz - Speaking at Allen CVB Travel Rally

Allen CVB Travel Rally

2019

Workshop: Selling Your Destination with Your Stakeholders