Meet Marilyn Yelle, Director of Sales & Marketing at Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort

With one simple question, Marilyn Yelle’s path of discovery within hospitality was set. Nearly 40 years ago, Marilyn, who now serves as Director of Sales & Marketing at Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort,was working as a hostess in the Atlanta airport when she was approached to participate in a yield management program.

With this opportunity, Marilyn learned all about how hotels work, from housekeeping to accounting all the way down to pricing strategies to determine the cost of cleaning a towel or guest room. Four months later, Marilyn knew she wanted to work her way up through the hotel rooms division into sales.

Below, check out our Q&A with Marilyn to learn about her journey, her hospitality career, and her advice for others in the industry.

What makes Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort unique?

Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort is situated in Stone Mountain Park in Georgia. As a state park, the area is preserved and offers views of the largest exposed granite surface in the U.S., nature trails, a lake, and much more. The park sets the resort apart—it’s not just a backdrop, it’s part of the experience. The resort was purposefully designed with large windows to bring the outside in, and we’ve created outdoor spaces for meetings and events.

Its naturally beautiful landscape in combination with its close proximity to the heart of Atlanta—only 20 minutes away—is what truly makes Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort a desirable destination. For locals especially, the resort has served as a family-based destination for generations, and continues to attract families who want to keep their traditions. This deep multi-generational connection offers the ability to create more lasting memories with family reunions and landmark celebrations like birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and more.

What excites you the most about your role?

I enjoy coming up with new ideas to help shape the property and its assets (inn, resort, golf club). In 2021, Thrive Attractions Management LLC became the new resort operator, bringing with it more opportunity. I love having the ability to design new experiences and build creative packages for our guests that seamlessly tap into the park attractions. Thrive’s mission, and one that personally resonates with me, is to “grow goodness by loving our guests and each other,” and I have the ability to do so at the resort.

What successes have you had along the way?

One of our unique differentiators is that we work with our customers to tailor their experience, going beyond swapping out decorations or adjusting the menu. For instance, we have one customer who follows certain traditions and reserves the entire resort for two weeks every year, so we make all the appropriate updates to ensure we meet their needs, like changing the kitchen setup. One might think this seems like a lot of work, but this is part of what makes our resort special and creating the best possible experience is what makes us tick. This year was one of the most successful events we’ve held as our team showed the truest form of southern hospitality to meet every need. The success is not just in the event though; it’s really in the dedicated team of people who exceed expectations and make it all happen.

What is the secret to your success?

Having the right people by my side. Working at a place like Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort where there is so much meaning and culture behind every meeting, event, and guest we host requires a certain level of passion and entrepreneurial thinking. The resort offers unique opportunities for customers to customize their experience, whether they need a special vehicle or an outdoor smoker to cook with. We have the team to make anything happen. Our team is passionate, dedicated, nimble, and intelligent; they believe in the experiences they are creating and it shows. They see opportunities and take action!

How has digital technology changed the way you and your team work?

Technology has changed things significantly in 40 years. Social media has had one of the biggest impacts. When I first started working in hospitality, we were using print media—taking out ads in magazines that were physically mailed to customer’s homes and offices. Marketing is equally as important as selling to customers directly, so getting social media right has a significant impact on our ability to make sales. But, social media is about more than making a sale. It’s valuable to our guests throughout their time here, and it’s valuable to our talent pool who are often scouring Instagram to see what the resort has been up to before deciding to apply to or accept a position.

What technology do you use day-to-day?

Email is a constant as our main form of communication, both internally and with our customers. We also provide a lot of virtual tours, whether prospects want to view the space in real-time or they plan to use the kitchen and need to understand the layout. We also use Zoom for customer meetings and events where attendees are participating virtually.

If you could wave a magic wand and come up with one solution that would make your role easier, what would it be?

At the moment I’m having some challenges with one of my systems talking to the other, so if there were a way to magically make all systems work together more easily, that would be great. And of course, weather control would be ideal too!

To learn more about how ROH can help your property group or hospitality brand drive increased revenue, conversions, and collaboration, schedule a free demo.