Asheville native and award-winning leader in hospitality sales and marketing held top positions with major hotel brands in Boston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Charlotte and beyond, prior to his selection from among candidates across the country

(Asheville, N.C.): Following a nationwide search, Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau announces the appointment of Asheville native Marshall Hilliard as the organization’s new vice president of sales, a critical role in the balanced recovery and sustainable growth of travel to Asheville.

With award-winning experience in hospitality sales and marketing spanning nearly three decades, Hilliard has held leadership positions with major hotel brands in Boston, Atlanta, New Orleans and Charlotte, including Hilton, Westin, Bissell Hotels, and The Ballantyne, part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection of Hotels. Most recently, he served as area director of sales and marketing for Windsor Hospitality’s Marriott brands, including Renaissance Asheville. He succeeds Dianna Pierce who retired in March after 26 years with Explore Asheville.

Hilliard will lead the team of eight sales professionals responsible for attracting group conferences, events, incentive trips and executive retreats to Asheville. As part of a newly adopted plan for Explore Asheville, proactive group sales efforts will be more closely aligned to the business sectors identified by area economic development partners: advanced manufacturing, outdoor products, climate and environment, life sciences, and office and technology.

“This position generated significant interest from Chicago to Florida and Colorado to North Carolina,” said Victoria “Vic” Isley, president and CEO of Explore Asheville. “We are eager for Marshall to join our talented team. His sales leadership experience and personal knowledge of Asheville will contribute significantly to advancing and serving this very special community.”

“I am honored and thrilled to be joining Explore Asheville at a pivotal time in our tourism community,” Hilliard said. “In addition to being an Asheville native, I have exceptional passion and affection for this distinct destination.”

A graduate of Appalachian State University with a BSBA degree in hospitality management, Hilliard begins his new position with Explore Asheville on April 26.

Marshall Hilliard












Explore Asheville works under the oversight of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, a public authority with a public purpose to enhance the economic vitality of Buncombe County. The team of professionals at Explore Asheville executes an extensive strategic marketing and sales program that inspires visitation and group meetings and travel while showcasing and providing free marketing opportunities to 1,300 local businesses and nonprofits, many of them small and micro-sized operations.

In 2019, the value that more than 4 million overnight visitors contributed to the community was $3.3 billion, generating $881 million in income for nearly 28,000 jobs for local residents. The Buncombe County TDA and Explore Asheville are developing a strategic plan that will be launched in the coming weeks, which aligns with broader community priorities and is organized around four pillars: Deliver Balanced Recovery & Sustainable Growth, Encourage Safe & Responsible Travel, Engage & Invite More Diverse Audiences, and Promote & Support Asheville’s Creative Spirit.


Kathi M. Petersen, Director of Public Information