Business

KAREN JAMES

James' job is pitching the Old Town hotel to potential corporate customers, both as a place for people to stay and as a site for business meetings.

In a way, she admits, it's an easy sell thanks to Old Town's central location and bevy of attractions.

But it's also a new career for her, and one she's enjoying learning about. The hotel is part of the Marriott chain.

"This is really an interesting and fun industry, and one of the main things I have learned is it's more complex than I would have imagined," she said. "I think probably most businesses are like that."

A Wichita native, James worked for the Kansas Credit Union Association and KWCH television station. She spent six years as marketing director for Laham Development before moving to the hotel six weeks ago.

"This is a completely new industry for me," she said. "However, I have been in sales prior to marketing, and many times sales and marketing go hand in hand."

James said much of her job involves meeting with local corporate representatives to make them aware of the hotel when they're bringing people to Wichita or planning a meeting. The hotel also gets business from out-of-state corporations looking for a Midwestern site for meetings. Finally, it's a popular spot for wedding receptions, graduation parties and other events "because of all the fun" in Old Town on weekends, James said. The hotel, housed in a historic building, has 128 guest rooms and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

Off the job, James enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and tending to her 80-year-old Riverside home.

"I feel like I'm constantly working on that one way or another," she said.

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