Charlene Lopez to become Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Chief Sales Officer in 2024

Charlene Lopez, veteran hospitality sales leader and vice president of sales at Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), will be promoted to executive vice president and chief sales officer for the organization beginning Jan. 1, 2024. She will succeed Mark Vaughan who announced his plans to retire at the end of the year.

In this role, Lopez will be responsible for efforts to increase visitation to Atlanta through the development and implementation of all sales programs for ACVB. She will oversee trade show sales, in-house sales, international tourism sales and convention services, establishing strategy for each and ensuring their objectives align with the corporate strategy. Lopez will also maintain partnerships with hotels and convention facilities and serve as the sales liaison to ACVB’s executive committee and board of directors.

“Charlene knows our destination and team and has a history of success at ACVB,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “She has been preparing for this opportunity her entire career, and I am confident she will take our sales and services teams to the next level.”

“Charlene’s leadership, dedication and commitment to Atlanta’s hospitality industry has been instrumental in positioning Atlanta as one of the country’s most popular destinations,” said Vaughan. “I am incredibly proud of her and look forward to her success in this role.” 

Lopez will be the highest-ranking woman in the organization’s history, serving as the first female C-level executive since ACVB was established 110 years ago. She joined ACVB in June 2012 as sales manager, national accounts, focusing on association and corporate business. She was promoted to director of citywide sales in September 2019 and became vice president of sales in July 2021.

Her career also includes roles with Omni Hotel at CNN Center as director of sales, associate director of sales at Hyatt Regency Atlanta and associate director of sales, sales manager and business travel manager at Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa.

Lopez is chair of the Industry Partner Alliance committee for American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and sits on Maritz’s DMO Customer Advisory Board. Previously, she served as director of sponsorship for Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) Southeast chapter and was a board member for International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Southeast chapter.

Originally from San Antonio, Lopez is a graduate of Texas A&M University and received a master’s degree in human resource management from Tarleton State University. She and her husband Chris have five children.

ACVB Adds to Sales and Destination Services Teams

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces the hiring of Lani Garner as citywide sales executive and Shannel Ortega as destination services executive.

Garner joins ACVB to sell and market Atlanta as a destination for prospective trade shows and group meetings. She will be responsible for generating leads and subsequent bookings for trade show and national account sales requiring 1,201 rooms or greater on peak night. Garner previously served as senior director of industry relations at SECO International.

Ortega is charged with managing groups utilizing a minimum of 250 hotel rooms on peak night. She will serve as the liaison between the sales department, meeting planners, ACVB member companies and trade associations to ensure the satisfaction of groups coming to Atlanta. Before joining ACVB, Ortega served as client solutions manager at Freeman.

Mark Vaughan to Retire from Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Mark Vaughan, executive vice president and chief sales officer at Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), will retire from the organization at the end of the year. He made the announcement during ACVB’s March board of directors meeting.

Vaughan’s decision comes after nearly two decades with the organization, serving as executive vice president of sales since September 2005. His oversight includes trade show and in-house sales, convention services and international sales. Vaughan was promoted in 2011 and added chief sales officer to his title. During his tenure, convention bookings increased from 1.3 million room nights to 1.7 million annually, while total visitation grew from 32 million to 57 million prior to the pandemic. ACVB’s sales team earned numerous awards under his leadership including multiple Stella Awards recognizing quality service and innovation to meeting professionals.

“Much of Atlanta’s growth and success as a destination has occurred under Mark’s leadership,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “His efforts during the last two decades have generated tremendous economic impact and job growth for our industry and our city.”

During Vaughan’s time at ACVB, Atlanta has also been among the top convention cities in the country in leads and bookings. Vaughan’s teams have secured and serviced hundreds of major citywide conventions and sporting events including two NCAA Men’s Final Four tournaments (2013 and 2020), Super Bowl LIII (2019), two College Football Playoff National Championships (2018 and 2025) and FIFA World Cup (2026).

“Mark’s impact reaches far beyond Atlanta,” said Pate. “As a national hospitality leader, he has served as a board advisor to several organizations and a mentor to many individuals. It will be difficult to imagine our industry without him.”

Vaughan served on the board of directors for American Society for Association Executives (ASAE), ASAE Foundation, Association Forum and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. He was also a member of the Federal Reserve Bank’s Tourism Advisory Council and chair of Atlanta Sports Council. In 2017, he was chosen for ASAE’s Class of Fellows, recognizing his individual accomplishments and contributions to ASAE and the association sector.

Prior to joining ACVB, Vaughan worked for Marriott International for 23 years in a variety of marketing and sales positions. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Vaughan attended Eastern Kentucky University where he met his wife Cheryl. They have three children.

ACVB Announces Two New Managerial Hires 

Daniel Treuman and Tanya Hamel

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) announces the hiring of Daniel Treuman as destination services executive and Tanya Hamel as national sales manager.

In his new role, Treuman will manage groups with a minimum of 250 hotel rooms on peak night. He will serve as the liaison between the sales department, meeting planners, ACVB member companies and trade associations to ensure the satisfaction of groups coming to Atlanta. Treuman previously served as senior event manager at Atlanta Marriott Marquis where he planned operational aspects of meetings and conventions for the property.

Hamel is responsible for selling and marketing Atlanta as a premier destination for groups utilizing 51-1,200 hotel rooms on peak night, focusing on the Midwest, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia markets. She will also represent ACVB at trade shows and coordinate the participation of the organization’s partners. Before joining ACVB, she served as senior sales enthusiast at Canopy by Hilton Atlanta Midtown.

Somers to Serve as 2023 ACVB Chair

Bob Somers

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (ACVB) board of directors elected Bob Somers as its chair in 2023. Somers is senior vice president of global sales for Delta Air Lines.

“Bob’s extensive experience in the travel industry, combined with his leadership skills, makes him the ideal choice to chair our board of directors,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “He has a broad knowledge of what makes Atlanta an attractive travel destination and I look forward to his insights on how to grow our business.”

Somers began his career at Delta in 1983 and has held various positions of increasing responsibility in Delta’s sales and marketing divisions. He joined ACVB’s board in 2017 and began serving on the organization’s executive committee in 2022. Somers is a member of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and was honored with the GBTA Allied Member of the Year award in 2016. Business Travel News also named him one of its 25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives in 2016.

“It’s an honor to be chair of the board as we kick off another exciting and busy year for our booming city,” said Somers. “As an Atlanta native, it’s been remarkable to see the change and growth within the hospitality industry over the years. I’m confident that the momentum will continue throughout 2023 and beyond, and I look forward to supporting the future success.”

ACVB’s chair is elected by the board of directors following a nomination by the organization’s executive committee.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium In Atlanta Selected As Site Of Potential Buffalo-Kansas City AFC Championship Game

Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta would host a potential AFC Championship Game between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, January 29, at 6:30 p.m. ET, the NFL announced today. 

NFL clubs approved a resolution last week to mitigate the competitive inequities created by the cancellation of the Week 17 Buffalo-Cincinnati game, which included playing the AFC Championship Game at a neutral site if the participating teams played an unequal number of games and both could have been the number one seed and hosted the game had all AFC clubs played a full 17-game regular season.

Therefore, if Buffalo and Kansas City advance to the AFC title game, it would be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. As part of standard NFL contingency planning, Atlanta was designated a possible backup host site for postseason games prior to the start of the 2022 season and is almost equidistant from both potential participating teams’ cities. All other potential AFC Championship Game matchups would take place at the home stadium of the higher seed.

“We are heartened by the continued improvement and progress of Damar Hamlin in his recovery, and Damar and his family remain top of mind for the entire NFL community,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  “We are also grateful to Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons for agreeing to host the AFC Championship Game in Atlanta should the Bills and Chiefs advance. We thank both of those clubs for their assistance in the planning process. We know, if necessary, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide a world class atmosphere for the competing teams, our fans and partners.”

Additional details, including ticket information, will be announced at a later date. Buffalo and Kansas City Season Ticket Members who previously committed to purchasing championship game tickets will have first priority.

2022 Concludes with Destination Accolades and Industry Awards in Atlanta

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Atlanta received numerous accolades and awards in 2022, recognizing the city as a premier destination for leisure and convention travel.

ACVB also received a Platinum HSMAI Adrian Award in the diversity marketing category for ATL Unguided.

23rd Annual Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame will Induct Four New Honorees

From Left to Right: Michael Allen, Bill Bolling, Anna Hsu and Mack Wilbourn

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) will recognize four new individuals during the 23rd annual Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 2. Held at Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta, the event will honor Michael Allen, Bill Bolling, Anna Hsu and Mack Wilbourn.

“Our four new inductees have had a tremendous impact on not only our visitors, but also those who call Atlanta home,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “We are thrilled to welcome these individuals into the 2022 Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame and celebrate their lifetime achievements.”

Michael Allen is the bell captain at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. He was introduced to the Marriott brand in 1981 when he was hired as a bell person at Atlanta Airport Marriott. With the opening of Atlanta Marriott Marquis in 1985, Allen was promoted to assistant bell captain where he served countless guests from presidents to convention attendees.

Bill Bolling served as executive director of Atlanta Community Food Bank since founding the organization in 1979 until June 2015. During his time at the food bank, Bolling partnered with businesses throughout the city’s hospitality industry to launch Atlanta’s Table, a program which allowed Atlanta Community Food Bank staff and volunteers to pick up unused food inventory from hotels, restaurants, venues and caterers and serve hot meals to those in need.

Anna Hsu created, owns and operates two Asian-themed restaurant concepts in Atlanta: Hsu’s Gourmet and Pacific Rim Bistro. Hsu was also instrumental in establishing Atlanta’s restaurant community in the early 1990s. She has served in leadership positions for ACVB’s board, Atlanta Restaurant Marketing Association, Georgia Restaurant Association and Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association’s Atlanta Restaurant Council.

Mack Wilbourn is the owner and president of Mack II, Inc., a quick service restaurant management company. He has operated quick service restaurants since 1971 when he opened the first minority-owned McDonald’s franchises in the Atlanta area. Currently, his franchises include Atlanta Bread & Bar, Baja Fresh Mexican, Famiglia Pizza, Phillips Seafood, Popeyes and We Juice It, which are all located in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In addition to honoring the 2022 Hospitality Hall of Fame inductees, ACVB will present the fourth annual Spurgeon Richardson Member of the Year Award. This year’s winner is Brewed to Serve Restaurant Group.

Delta Air Lines and The Coca-Cola Company serve as presenting sponsors for this year’s Hospitality Hall of Fame. Individual tickets or tables are available for purchase at

ACVB Launches Destination-Centric Platform in the Metaverse

Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) is unveiling Atlanta Meta World, a first-of-its-kind metaverse experience, during American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) annual meeting and exposition Aug. 22. Customers and prospects will be able to interact with staff and view presentations on the latest hotel, restaurant and venue developments in the city.

Users begin their experience in Atlanta Meta World by choosing an avatar. Once they enter the platform, guests are taken directly to ACVB’s visitor information center in Centennial Olympic Park. From there, users can explore the 22-acre greenspace nestled in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Destination presentations and new development videos will be able to be viewed in the park’s amphitheater.

“If customers will be shopping for meeting destinations and travel experiences in the metaverse, ACVB wants to be there to influence their decision making,” said William Pate, president and CEO, ACVB. “If the metaverse realizes its full potential over the next decade, destinations will be early adopters to the platform to market and promote immersive experiences in their cities.”

“We are excited to add the metaverse to our marketing mix,” said Andrew Wilson, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, ACVB. “This will also provide our hospitality partners with the opportunity to create their own metaverse experiences within the platform.”  

Atlanta Meta World is accessible over the web and can be explored at


For the second time in less than a decade, the city of Atlanta will host the 2025 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship. The game is slated for Monday, Jan. 6, 2025, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Atlanta becomes the first city to repeat as a host destination for college football’s biggest game.

The Atlanta Sports Council spearheaded the bid alongside its partners in the community including the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, City of Atlanta, Georgia World Congress Center Authority, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the State of Georgia.

“This is a big win for everyone involved and we are excited for the Atlanta community,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “As soon as we wrapped up the successful hosting of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, we were ready and eager to throw our name back into the hat. Atlanta is accustomed to hosting major sporting events, but this event is one that fits our community really well. We are grateful to the College Football Playoff for allowing us this opportunity for a second time and look forward to officially beginning the planning process with multiple partners in the community.”

“We are excited to return the College Football Playoff National Championship to Atlanta,” College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said.  “When the playoff was created, the goal was to move the national championship game to 10 different communities in the first 10 years of the playoff.  After visiting 10 different communities during our first 10 years of existence, we accomplished our goal of sharing this celebration of college football with the entire country.”

“Bringing the game back to Atlanta was a simple decision when we looked at everything,” Hancock added.  “One of our greatest title games took place in Atlanta in 2018, and the city could not have been a better host.  A state-of-the-art stadium, a walkable downtown with venues to host all the activities surrounding national championship weekend and great people made Atlanta an obvious choice to be the first city to host a second title game.”

The Atlanta Sports Council and the College Football Playoff made the announcement in conjunction with the offices of Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens—both of whom were in attendance.

“We are excited that the State of Georgia and Mercedes-Benz Stadium have been selected to host the College Football Playoff National Championship for the second time in the past ten years,” said Governor Kemp. “As the premier event of the college football season, and through the collaboration of the State, City of Atlanta, and our business community, we look forward to hosting more than 100,000 guests who will enjoy Georgia’s southern hospitality and a first-class experience.”

“The best of Atlanta will be showcased during the 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship, and Atlanta’s unmatched culture, hospitality, and infrastructure will be on full display as we welcome visitors from all over the nation,” said Mayor Dickens.

“With several major sporting events set to take place in Georgia in the near future, such as the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Semifinal, SEC Championship and the FIFA World Cup matches in 2026, I am thrilled that Georgia will continue to serve as a major sports hub with the addition of the 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “The Peach State will once again have the chance to show football fans from across the country all that our great state has to offer. As the number one state in the nation in which to do business, this announcement brings us yet another step closer to also being the number one state in the nation for sports entertainment.”

“We are proud to welcome the College Football Playoff National Championship back to Georgia and the city of Atlanta,” said Speaker of the House David Ralston. “Georgia is the preeminent destination for major events, and today’s announcement only reinforces our reputation for southern hospitality. I applaud the work of all the public and private partners who came together to make this possible and look forward to a great game in 2025!”

“We are excited to be the first destination to host the College Football Playoff National Championship for a second time,” said William Pate, president and CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We look forward to hosting thousands of football fans in our city and showcasing all that Atlanta has to offer.”

“The vision for Mercedes-Benz Stadium is to attract the world’s largest events time and time again,” said AMB Sport & Entertainment Chief Revenue Officer Tim Zulawski.  “The College Football Playoff National Championship was one of the first major events hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2018 and we are honored to be the first venue to host this pinnacle moment in college football for a second time, and to see another champion crowned inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.”

Similar to 2018, the Atlanta Football Host Committee will be housed under the Atlanta Sports Council’s Championship Hosting Division alongside the 2026 FIFA World Cup.   Two Atlanta-based companies have already pledged their support to the Atlanta Football Host Committee, including Chick-fil-A and Georgia Power.

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