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Angie Manning is certainly a familiar (and always smiling) face in and around Southwest Louisiana. For the past twenty years, she has promoted our corner of the state through her roles at the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau, aka Visit Lake Charles. Angie is the Vice President of Communications, and she spends her time shining a light on local businesses, our vibrant arts community, traditions, culinary arts, Cajun and Creole cultures, and ensuring visitors experience all this region has to offer.
Angie started her career at Louisiana State University where she studied English literature, French literature, and public relations. She graduated Summa Cum Laude, was an Informative Speech Contest Champion and honored as the Outstanding Student in French Literature. After graduation, she lived in Paris to solidify her French speaking skills and experience living in Europe. Her first job was at International Communications Brokers Europe where she taught financial English.
Over the years, Angie and her colleagues have won numerous marketing awards in the tourism industry. She’s been recognized by 40 for the Future at the Southeast Tourism Society. She’s a Certified Destination Management Executive. She serves on the boards of many local organizations, and she was part of Thrive magazine’s 2013 class of 13 Thriving 30-Somethings.
When Angie isn’t promoting Southwest Louisiana, her focus is on her family. She and her husband, Trent Peshoff, parent a blended family of six kids! We caught up with this busy mom and tourism maven, and she shared her thoughts on growing up in a family that embraced arts and culture, the importance of travel, and her hopes and dreams moving forward.
Describe your life as a kid.
I was born and raised in Sulphur, the youngest of three. I have two older brothers, Dean and Bryan. My childhood had a strong emphasis on music and the arts. Our parents were vocal about us always doing something, creating something, and being productive. I have journals going back to the first grade, and so writing has always been part of my life. We also played in the woods quite a bit and went exploring! In addition to ballet, gymnastics, and cheerleading, I was always involved in choir. I started writing songs in middle school and released my first album of four in high school. My dad plays trumpet and guitar. My brother, Dean, is also a songwriter, and we recorded one album together when I was in college. Growing up, we’d all sing together with dad playing the guitar. We also traveled quite a bit when I was a kid. The most memorable vacation occurred over a Christmas break when I was in middle school. We took an epic road trip to see many of the national parks, and our Suburban broke down as we glided down a mountain on Christmas Eve. The Redwood Forest and the Grand Canyon were astoundingly majestic and took my breath away.
What ignited your interest in tourism and how did you become involved?
My desire to live inside another language is what drew me into finding work abroad. I wanted to immerse myself in another culture completely. When I was in Paris, it was easy to jump on trains and travel to different countries for long weekends, and it was not that expensive, especially since I was staying in hostels. That sense of adventure is what ignited my interest in the travel industry.
Once I moved back to Lake Charles, Jason Barnes, who is a family friend, told me about a position at the convention & visitors bureau. I interviewed with Shelley Johnson, the executive director at the time, and the rest is history!
What do you find most rewarding about your career?
I enjoy finding local hidden gems and working with the talented team at Visit Lake Charles as we strive to elevate the destination. Developing genuine relationships with people from all walks of life, making connections, learning new things, and seeing people develop their dreams are all rewarding parts of my career.
What are the greatest challenges in the travel industry today? And how are tourism experts creating workarounds?
The most recent major event that greatly impacted the travel industry was at the height of the pandemic. For me, that highlighted how interconnected we are with the global economy. So, gas prices or inflation, all bigger picture global shifts impact how people spend their discretionary funds. It’s about looking at data to see if there are emerging markets or untapped potential. Each challenge exposes another opportunity, so it’s being creative to see how we can best position Lake Charles within any given environment.
Why do you feel it is important for people to travel?
Travel opens up new ways of thinking and gives people new perspectives. The more you travel, the more you can draw from those experiences to enrich your life or create deeper connections with people. It’s also good for your mental health to take a break! Creating memories with your friends and family will stay with you for a lifetime. Even a simple camping trip in a state park or taking a daytrip can be almost medicinal.
Of all the places you have traveled, which is your favorite place, and what do you love about it?
The Alsace region in France near Switzerland and Germany is the most colorful and charming place I have ever been. It looks like it belongs in a fairytale.
As a mom of a large, blended family who works full-time, how do you stay grounded? What keeps you smiling?
In addition to my faith, spending time in nature, walking, and practicing Yoga are all spiritual and physical practices that help me feel more grounded. I also enjoy playing music when I have the house to myself! One day, I would like to get back into performing live again more frequently. Prior to being a mom of a blended family, I was a single mom for nearly seven years. So, hats off to my incredible mom who helped me with my daughters Ariel and Rayna throughout the early years! I have a huge support system with my husband Trent and my extended family. I could not do what I do without them in the wings.
What do you do in your free time?
Any spare moment I have, I prioritize spending time with my family. I try to expose my kids (Sydney, Morgan, Julian, Jack, Ariel, and Rayna) to the arts, exhibits, theatre, dance, and catching those beautiful Southwest Louisiana sunsets! In my spare time, I also enjoy reading, journaling, creating art with charcoal or pastels, and writing music.
List your top three bucket list destinations.
Sweden, Ireland, Greece.