From being the youngest assistant manager at the world’s then busiest McDonald’s to being the Social Catering Sales Manager for Centerplate at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the career part of Bruce Townsend has always centered on hospitality and customer service.
Born and raised in Cape May, NJ, Townsend attended college in Milwaukee, WI, majoring in four foreign languages. His desire to get back into customer service oriented business found him taking the entrepreneurial path as one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the area when he purchased a floral production company. At 22, he turned the business around and drove strong sales for the next 15 years. But when his family moved to South Florida 30 years ago, he knew exactly where he would eventually end up.
Arriving in South Florida in 2003, Townsend fit right into the vibrant and active lifestyle here. After working with a national specialty linen company for seven years, he had the opportunity to meet the upper management of Centerplate at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The rescinded ordinance prohibiting social sales at the Convention Center was his destiny.
Townsend joined Centerplate in May 2010 and in his first year there, he was able to secure seven new social events at the Convention Center, including a destination wedding for 800 guests. He continues to drive the social business at the Convention Center fully maximizing all of the six available ballroom spaces.
Never content to sit still, his general manager recognized the potential of his sales and customer oriented skills. Townsend was asked to take on shows that had a more social feel, such as Winter Music Conference and Miami International Fashion Week.
“Clients and guests should feel as comfortable here as they do at home. After all, this large place becomes their home during their shows,” said Townsend. “What I do is unique in the convention world and by listening to the details of their programs and events, just as you need to do for a wedding or a Mitzvah, each event is better planned and organized. Clients end up being much happier!”
But even taking on these social shows and events, Townsend still finds time to search for more opportunities for business at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Last August, a golden opportunity arose that was just too good to pass up. That opportunity became the Miami Beach-Miami LGBT Sports & Cultural League, Inc., which was formed to write a bid for Miami Beach and Miami to host the World Outgames in 2017. Townsend became co-chair and along with Ivan Cano, the other co-chair, and a volunteer board of 10 other civic and community leaders, the League submitted a bid to the World Outgames organizing body, the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association, shortly thereafter. Miami Beach-Miami soon became one of two finalist cities in the running to be host city.
Then, last February, Townsend and the League’s presentation team – including Mayor Matti Bower and Vice Mayor Michael Gongora – traveled to Antwerp, Belgium to give a live streaming pitch to the worldwide GLISA membership.
The team won the bid to host the 2017 games.
The 4th World Outgames Miami Beach- Miami 2017 will put Miami Beach in the limelight for the next four years globally as the cities promote themselves as the Game’s host. Ultimately, the Games will deliver to the city and the community a substantial economic impact, estimated as much as $125 million.
During his “free time” Townsend practices for upcoming Country & Western dance competitions. Within the next few months, he will be competing in Seattle at the International Country & Western convention, as well as at the 3rd World Outgames in Antwerp this summer.
Besides being active in local networking events, Townsend is also the vice chair of the International Gay & Lesbian Country & Western Dances Clubs and President of GLISA North America. He is very active with the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and will be active with the upcoming 91st Gala on June 1st.