Welcome to the second installment of our "Meet the Team" series with the Visit Raleigh Sales Department! In this Q&A, associate director of sales Stephen Jackson, CMP, shares his favorite things to do in Raleigh, N.C., what he loves about the meetings industry plus more. A Visit Raleigh sales team member for 16 years (and working in the hospitality industry overall for 26+ years!), Stephen promotes Raleigh, N.C., as a leading destination for meetings and specializes in assisting event planners who represent organizations in the Northeastern U.S. Stephen also assists event planners representing fraternal and multicultural organizations. Get to know Stephen below!

Q. What are your go-to weekend activities or hobbies?

My weekends are very precious to me and always revolve around activities planned with my partner. I enjoy gardening, and this year my crops included tomatoes, a variety of peppers, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, herbs and peas. This year the crops were not as abundant as in previous years, but I've still been able to share items with my neighbor. Also, I never seem to have enough time to go fishing but it's a wonderful memory from past years. And I love dinner parties. Due to COVID-19, time with friends has been very limited to outdoor activities only⁠—so this is the first year in some time I haven't attended some type of dinner party!

What do you love most about working in the meetings industry?

Because of my personality, working in the meetings industry has been very rewarding. Just recently, I've returned to travel and have been excited to meet people face-to-face to tell the story of Raleigh, N.C. It's very gratifying to know that I've contributed to making the "meeting puzzle" fit (making sure everything lines up just right for meetings here!). I enjoy building relationships with my clients and ensuring they have a successful meeting/conference because of my contributions.

What is your favorite restaurant in the Raleigh area and why? Favorite menu items?

Lucky 32 in Cary is one of my favorites because of their outward leadership in promoting local providers as well as their seasonal menu changes. In addition, I love their philosophy and commitment to racial justice. Another favorite is Sono Japanese Restaurant in downtown Raleigh because they always have some of the freshest sushi and with distinct presentations. Minority owned, Crema at City Plaza is also one of my favorite spots for a quick sandwich pick-up due to their customer service and daily specials.

What attractions or events would you recommend to first-time visitors to Raleigh, N.C.?

There are so many options in the Raleigh area for first-time visitors, but the award-winning North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences would be my first choice. With exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to live research labs, it feels like there's always something new. One of our newest attractions is Dorothea Dix Park, which is one of the newest and largest city parks in the country, with space for miles of walking, annual (and huge) sunflower fields in the summer and room for plenty of growth for the park. Brewgaloo, N.C.'s largest craft brew festival, gives you the opportunity to taste more than 100 N.C. craft brewers while enjoying music and local food trucks. Lastly, any live entertainment, from the Carolina Ballet to the NHL Carolina Hurricanes. Go Canes!

Check out the rest of the "Meet the Team" Q&A series on our meetings insider blog here and get to know the Visit Raleigh Sales team!

And if ever in need of assistance with planning meetings in Raleigh, N.C., contact Stephen or our Sales team here. We'd love to help plan your next meeting in the Raleigh area!