During her 14 years with Visit Colorado Springs, Amy Long has earned a reputation as someone who is able to handle a crisis in a calm, professional and effective manner.
As vice president of marketing for what was then known as the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Long helped to steer the organization through watershed events including the Great Recession and the wildfires and floods of 2012 and 2013.
The protocols she developed then, and the ingenuity and flexibility with which she supported the tourism industry, have served her and the region well in dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We came up with a series of questions that could be applied to any crisis,” she said.
When the pandemic struck, “rather than pitching Colorado Springs, we went to more of a sharing mindset and giving people a mental escape — virtual tours, virtual experiences,” she said. “We found our way through that, to keep Colorado Springs top of mind, and we’re reaping some really nice benefits now.
“You do it all for your partners, but you’re really very concerned about the small businesses that depend on a strong summer to get them through the rest of the year. So that’s where our focus is.”
The job title she’s held since 2015 — chief innovation officer — describes the skill and creativity she brings to marketing the Pikes Peak region, cultivating partnerships, planning events, branding, strategic planning and budgeting.
Long grew up in Springfield, Virginia, and graduated with a degree in commerce from the University of Virginia. She earned an M.B.A. in marketing from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
She was eight months pregnant in 1994 when she and her husband, performance psychologist Steve Long, decided to move here so he could join the faculty of the Air Force Academy.
Before they relocated, Amy had worked as a marketing strategist for Hallmark Cards in the Kansas City area. After working in real estate for a few years, she learned that the Billiard Congress of America, an organization that promotes the game of billiards, had moved to Colorado Springs.
Long thought that sounded like fun, and she looked up the organization’s executive director, who happened to be seeking a marketing person.
Long worked there until the organization’s leaders decided in 2006 to leave Colorado Springs. She learned that there was an opening at the CVB.
By then, she had lived here for 12 years and knew the area well. She’d taken her two children to most of the local attractions, and she’d gained experience in publications, marketing and event planning. So the job of vice president of marketing and membership was a natural fit.
Long is proud of her track record of obtaining grant funds. Over the years, she’s secured 12 grants totaling $300,000 from the Colorado Tourism Office. The organization received $50,000 after the fires and recently was awarded $237,000 in CARES Act funding through El Paso County.
Under her creative leadership, Visit COS was recognized by the tourism office for a promotion called 55 Attractions in Five Days.
The itinerary was developed by her staff, “but I guess I feel good about creating the kind of culture where they can be creative,” she said. “I truly go by the saying of leading by example, working very hard but very smart, taking the job seriously but not myself.”
She’s also proud of the team she’s built at Visit COS. Her leadership style, she said, “is whatever the opposite of micromanagement is. When you give people empowerment, they really step up, and I love what I get back.”