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As marketing director for the Hilton Garden Inn in Billings, Erica Kimble devotes a lot of time to developing relationships.

“Working in the hotel, I’ve had so many guests and clients who return. We’ve built a relationship, and we have become friends and have kept in touch for several years,” Kimble said.

The addition of hundreds of new motel rooms in recent years has increased competition for the Billings lodging industry.

Kimble describes the Hilton Garden Inn as a rate and occupancy leader. The hotel doesn’t have to drop its rates in order to attract clients, and room occupancy is frequently among the highest in the market.

“We’re not a full-service hotel, but we have more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, so we are well suited for smaller conventions and meetings, such as corporate meetings and wedding receptions. Plus everybody loves our food,” Kimble said.

Kimble began working in retail stores while she was still in high school. She managed three different stores in Rimrock Mall, and was even tops in sales at the shoe department in Herbergers at age 17. But she transitioned to lodging after she entered college.

“When I was growing up, I always had an interest with working in a hotel. In 2010 I was attending MSU-Billings to get a degree in business management and I needed a summer job. At that time, I applied at the LaQuinta Inn and Suites as a part-time front desk agent. I instantly fell in love with the industry and within my first year I was promoted to front desk manager. My focus then became, how I would one day move into a sales role for a hotel.

"In 2014 I was offered a position as the director of sales of both the Billings Hampton Inn and Suites and Billings Homewood Suites. After a year at these properties I saw a job posting for the Billings Hilton Garden Inn, I applied and was offered a position as the senior sales manager and within my first year I was promoted to my current position as the director of sales and marketing."

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Bringing in revenue in a market that has been highly affected by the drop in the oil industry. In 2011, there was such a demand for hotel rooms that hotel owners built multiple new hotels into a market that would later drop in that demand.

What’s the best business advice you have received? Constantly raise the bar. To succeed you must have an expectation of continual improvement. To me, this is something I need to live by daily to achieve my goals.

Which living person do you most admire? My mother. She has taught me how to be a strong, independent woman who loves the Lord.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? The most rewarding success for me is knowing I have impacted a guest's day. Especially when I receive a thank you from my clients, telling me about how wonderful their experience with our property had been — is the No. 1 reason why I'm in the hospitality industry.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being a mom

I’m happiest when I’m… watching my kids grow into amazing young ladies. They are both involved in many after-school activities and clubs and I love watching them learn how to be great members of our community.

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