When Rachel Horgan first visited Colorado Springs during a business trip four years ago, she fell in love with the area, decided to move here — and never looked back. Originally from Peachtree City, Ga., the 26-year-old marketing professional said she’s a Western girl at heart. She said that relocating to the Springs for opportunity and adventure was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
With degrees in marketing and communications, Horgan began working at Cheyenne Mountain Resort as a guest reception agent and has worked her way up to marketing manager, overseeing marketing and public relations strategy for the entire 217-acre hotel, venue space and country club.
She recently spoke with the Business Journal about her goals, trends in the hospitality industry and why Colorado Springs is her favorite place to live.
When did you begin working for the resort?
In 2013, about a month after I moved to the Springs. I wanted to get my foot in the door and joined the front desk team. I did that for a little over a year and then transferred into an events concierge position — we [the resort] do a lot of events, and I was the main person for all of the planners and the contact for visiting groups, making sure events ran smoothly.
I worked as the conference planning assistant for about six months and then became marketing manager in June of last year.
It’s been a really good learning experience and I think having a background in operations has been a key component that a lot of fellow marketers in the hospitality industry sometimes lack. It was very eye-opening in terms of learning what your property can do, how we can help push the needle forward and try to get people out of their comfort zones.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the travel industry and love being able to facilitate that for others: getting to share the benefits of travel and help bring people together to experience new things and new places. It’s been a fabulous learning opportunity.
On the other side of that, marketing specifically because it’s such a broad field and there is a lot you can do with it.
I like that I can use both the creative and analytical sides of my brain. If I get tired of looking at creative strategies for a mixed advertising campaign, I can easily start looking at data.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
How do you get away from functional selling? You can promote having the biggest guest room, comfiest mattresses or delightful bath products, but those are all expected nowadays and they’re commodities. It’s very easy for other competitors to then do the exact same thing after you implement it.
So how do you differentiate yourself? I think you do that with experience. Authenticity and experiential have been big buzzwords in the marketing industry for more than a decade.
People want that local, immersive experience that they’re not able to get in their hometown. So learning how to tell our [the resort] story better and show people we’re the epicenter of all of the experiences you can have in Colorado Springs is something I’m focused on.
What do you appreciate most about Colorado Springs?
I like it for its central location to a lot of outdoorsy stuff, being just an hour south of Denver if you want that big city experience or an hour away from Pueblo Reservoir. There are fantastic trails all around, and my husband and I love heading west to the Collegiate Peaks area, climbing 14ers — it’s addictive.
What advice do you have for other young professionals?
Stay hungry and always be learning. Especially in my field, it feels like there is a new technology breakthrough every week. I think it’s important to always be learning and stay on top of new trends to stay relevant.
What is your next goal?
I would love to get my MBA and continue to expand my overall business knowledge. I also want to get more involved, attending community events and have started to do so in my new role.
I think it’s important for us — as young professionals — to have a voice and be heard, and I think that is a great way to do it.