Serena Andrews Higdon is owner and director of sales, marketing and business development at Team Travel Source. As a 2018 Connect Sports Game Changer, she discusses her passion for sports tourism.
What I Do: Outside of overseeing our sales and marketing departments, I have also built a custom operations system for our company that allows us to manage all of our information more efficiently and gives us valuable visibility and reporting capabilities. I work with our partners when moving an event or starting a new one—creating bids and/or event RFPs and reviewing and offering input on the city bids. Once the city is selected, I select the appropriate team members from TTS to contract the event and manage team room pick-up/compliancy, and I continue to act as the liaison to the sports commission for the event partner.
How I Got Here: I have participated in and coached cheerleading, gymnastics and dance all my life. I created my cheerleading competition company in 1993, grew it to a $2.5 million company in 15 years and sold it to The JAM Brands in 2008. After selling, I continued to work with JAM as director of business development and worked with many services in the sports tournament industry. I ultimately felt I could offer my experience to the sports housing industry. Here we are, five years and 32 employees later.
Greatest Career Accomplishment: I’ve never burned bridges. When I decided to go into the housing industry, my former company was my very first TTS partner. I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built, and most proud that they have all stayed intact! The second achievement I’m proud of is winning USA Volleyball as a client. We submitted and won the bid in 2014 when we were a new company with five employees. We successfully managed their events in 2017 and are looking forward to a long partnership.
Impressive Stats: Team Travel Source has 100 percent retention of our partnerships. We have increased our new partners’ housing revenue an average of 20 percent in the first year. We have successfully and seamlessly transitioned more than 20 events to a positive stay-to-play model with 100 percent compliancy. We are a top three revenue-generating sports housing company for several major hotel brands.
What I am Working on Now: Once the changes to the hotel commissions were communicated this year, I began to look at our current working model. I compiled input from our team on the best options for our customers, our best approach to the relationships with our hotel partners and the ideal approach to maintain control over the business moving forward. We have also worked closely with many of the other sports housing companies to discuss this situation and understand the change it is having on them and/or what we can do to work together. With all of this data, we are creating a system that is going to rock this industry again.
What I Do Outside of Work: Interior design! I love it! I can walk into a house and see the colors and style that the house is screaming to have! It merges several of my creative hobbies of painting, restoring furniture and shopping!