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Daily Inspiration: Meet Holly McElyea

Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly McElyea.

Hi Holly, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was not searching for this opportunity, the opportunity found me. Being a prior guest of the Como Courtyard, I called the former owner to see if she had dates available for my daughter’s 15th birthday party. During the phone call, I got some bad news and also good news.

The dates were not available to reserve for my daughter’s birthday, but the owner had put the building/business on the market just 1 day before!!!

I felt like it was a message from God telling me “Holly, this is an opportunity for you to start something new and to grow.” At that moment, I started to remanence about a women’s retreat I attended this past Labor Day weekend, where a life coach and consultant was speaking to us about starting our own businesses.

I kept thinking to myself, “What business would I do? I can’t have my own business. I don’t make anything, I’m not artsy, I can’t teach anything, so why would I even waste my time thinking or dreaming about owning my own business?”

Well I went home and I thought about that and I prayed about that for a while, until this moment came before me. I currently work in travel and tourism and have a background in hospitality, so I did not want to miss out on this chance to start something new. The next few weeks flew by, and before I knew it, I am the new owner of now ” The Como Guesthouse and Courtyard”.

I wanted to add “Guesthouse” into the business name so guests are aware that we offer not only event space, but lodging accommodations as well. Our brand is “Boutique Southern Charm”. We offer a southern escape in a historical setting and welcome gatherings of all kinds.

I still have my full-time job where I am a National Sales Manager for Memphis Tourism and live in downtown Memphis. Como, MS is now my 2nd home and also has my heart. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for not only the Como Guesthouse and Courtyard but for the Town of Como.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been challenging navigating my time between my full-time day job, now this 2nd full-time job of being a business owner; as well as my family time. The physical activity and mental stress started to become a struggle about 3 months into the operation. I realized that I could not do it all on my own and that I would need to ask for help.

I have discovered that with the proper training, I can put my trust in others to help with day-to-day operations so that pressure is not all on my shoulders and I now have time to take care of myself. Since I now do not have to spend so much time with the daily operations, I can focus on future business plans and figuring out ways to grow the company.

It has also been a continuous learning challenge. Even though I have a hospitality background, I did not know the building or its surroundings as well as I needed to. I have learned a lot from “Trial and Error”, but thankfully that brings more knowledge so I can be more proactive instead of reactive for future clients. I still have a lot to learn, ha.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I have spent the last 10 years working in hospitality with 5 years of that focused on the meetings, conventions, and sporting events segment.

I am currently the National Sales Manager at Memphis Tourism, responsible for showcasing Memphis as a meeting destination that provides a great experience for an exceptional value, and offerings a much lower cost per attendee rate than other destinations.

Previously, I have served as the Marketing Casino Host for an MGM property in Mississippi, GoldStrike Casino. There I marketed and maintained customers/clients by remembering the client’s preferences, ensuring they had a successful itinerary, and removing friction in the trip planning process.

I obtained my Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Mississippi where my focus was on Marketing. I have served on the MPI West TN Board in the past, have been a member of the Military Reunion Network, and am currently a member of the Small Market Meetings Market.

I am most proud of the fact that I have found a career that I thrive in and that I love. I get a high knowing that not only did the client have a good experience, but that they had an experience they will not get anywhere else.

I am constantly thinking about ways to offer more unique experiences to attract not only old customers from returning but to attract new travelers who may have never even thought about visiting my destination.

Alright, so to wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
The Como Guest House and Courtyard is a fully furnished rental property located in the heart of Como Mississippi’s Commercial Historic District. Just steps away from Como’s famous restaurants, wedding/event venue, and antique shops.

Our stunning historic setting welcomes gatherings of all kinds. The main house was built in the late 1800s, and we are currently renovating it to preserve a “classic current” style. Our main house will comfortably sleep four (4). Additionally, we have a back cottage available to rent in conjunction with the main house.

It will sleep an additional four (4) for a total of eight (8). The back cottage has a porch that overlooks the private New Orleans-style courtyard.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Anna Catherine and Booth Hoover

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