VisitDallas and Southwest Airlines® have partnered to offer the new Customer Service Master Class: It's Hospitality Y'All on March 9, 2018, in Dallas. This one-day, immersive experience featured sessions led by some of the best in the business, all based in North Texas, to enhance the customer experience for all Dallas visitors.

Hospitality workers, from hotel employees to restaurant service staff, were invited to come learn the "Dallas difference" in customer service. The master class was free for attendees but required a short application process. 



Come join Dallas-area hospitality warriors in a day of learning from notable North Texas companies and leaders (we might even have a surprise guest!)

Tentative Agenda

7:30 a.m.

Registration and Breakfast

8:45 a.m.

Opening remarks

Linda Rutherford, Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer, Southwest Airlines & Phillip Jones, President and CEO, VisitDallas

9:15 a.m.

Opening Keynote Session: Magical Moments

Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations

10 a.m.

Morning Break

10:15 a.m.

Session I: "Customers for Life"

Carl Sewell, Chairman, Sewell Automotive Company

11 a.m.

Session II: The Customer Service Experience – Creating Fans for Life!

Customer Service exists in every aspect of our backyard. What do these amazing business leaders and organizations all have in common? They create personal moments for their customers and fans. From the Fan Experience with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, the retail destination side of Dallas based Container Store and GameStop, to one of Dallas's top women global Entrepreneurs will share their secrets to creating a fan for life. This fun filled session will help you learn how to apply customer service in creating memorable personal experiences for our visitors, clients and guests.

Kelli Finglass (Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders); John Norman (The Container Store); Judy Payne (GameStop); Nina Vaca (Pinnacle Group)



1 p.m.

Session III: Southwest Airlines' Culture of Customer Service

At Southwest, we take Hospitality so seriously we capitalize it, and we put it in a Senior Vice President's title. Hear how Steve Goldberg, Sr. VP Operations and Hospitality, empowers over 55 thousand Southwest Employees to make every customer feel welcomed, cared for and appreciated.

Steve Goldberg, Senior Vice President Operations and Hospitality, Southwest Airlines

1:45 p.m.

Afternoon Break

2 p.m.

Session IV: Listening with your Heart 

Every seat has a story, and so does every email, text, tweet and social post. Each story starts with an event. What your employees do on the ground (or in the air, if you're an airline) inspires how you respond on the airwaves. A relationship starts with listening, and a response doesn't always require your own words.

Brooks Thomas, Advisor Social Business, Southwest Airlines

3 p.m.

Closing and Graduation Ceremony

4 p.m.

Graduation Celebration and Happy Hour




Yohan Bobcombe 

Yohan Bobcombe recently joined Lyft as the Market Manager for Dallas-Fort Worth region, charged with leading the growth and operations of all ridershare activity in the DFW area. Yohan joins Lyft with nearly a decade of experience in leadership and growth operations in companies like NRG Energy, Goldman Sachs, and Deloitte. He originally hails from Trinidad & Tobago, with an undergraduate in Chemical Engineering from Howard University and an MBA from Duke University.


T.C. Broadnax

T.C. Broadnax began serving as Dallas City Manager on Feb. 1, 2017. Previously, he served as City Manager of Tacoma, Washington since 2012. He also served as Assistant City Manager of the City of San Antonio and in Pompano Beach, Florida. Broadnax has more than 24 years of local government management experience. 

As Dallas City Manager, he presides over an annual budget of $3.1 billion. He is also responsible for 39 city departments and nearly 13,000 employees. He works towards transparency and accountability in every city he has served. His approach for a robust performance management system is a "one-stop shop" for customer service.


Kelli Finglass

As Director of the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Kelli McGonagill Finglass has set an extremely high bar for cheerleaders in the NFL. Becoming Director of the DCC at just 24, she quickly distinguished herself as a savvy entrepreneur and successful brand manager for the then highly visible, yet unprofitable organization. As a young and ambitious Director, Finglass established standards and protocols that would become the benchmark not just for her team, but for the entire industry. Since wearing the uniform herself, Finglass has been a fierce guardian of the DCC brand and has become a highly recognized and prominent role model for women both on and off the field. She continues to maintain exceptionally high standards of the young women and the organization that have been entrusted to her care since 1991. In her own right, she has become a dynamic leader who is "often imitated, but never equaled."


Steve Goldberg

As Southwest Airlines' Senior Vice President Operations & Hospitality, Steve Goldberg serves the world's finest Operations Employees that deliver the best Hospitality and Customer Service in the airline industry.

With more than 25 years of experience in the airline industry, Steve joined Southwest in 1996 as a Customer Service Agent in Las Vegas. Since that time, he's had the joy of leading People across Southwest's operation, from Hartford, CT, to Baltimore, MD, to Fort Lauderdale, FL, and now Dallas, TX. Today, Steve oversees the strategic planning and operational execution of Southwest's Ground Operations and Provisioning Departments and champions hospitality efforts for all Southwest Employees. 

Steve earned his bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina. He and his wife, Gaby have four wonderful sons, Raymond, Jake, Luke and Sam.


Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and in the speaking profession. 

Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic®, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer, The Amazement Revolution and Amaze Every Customer Every Time. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

Adam Medrano 

Representing District 2, Adam Medrano was elected to the Dallas City Council in June 2013. For more than ten years, Medrano has dedicated his personal and professional time to help the community, especially its youth.

A lifelong resident of District 2, Council Member Medrano has a proven record of achievement and accomplishment on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. First elected in 2006, the youngest person ever elected to the Dallas ISD School Board, he brought a fresh prospective to the Dallas School Board. His leadership for reform earned him the respect of his colleagues. In 2007, Mr Medrano was elected to serve as the Board's First Vice-President in a unanimous vote. He was elected three separate times to serve as President of the School Board.


John Norman

John Norman applied for a part-time position at The Container Store in 1993 after hearing rave reviews about the company from a family member. After being hired, he quickly fell in love with the sales floor and The Container Store's mission of improving customers' lives by helping them get organized. John has held a variety of positions in the stores and the company's customer solutions department, including Operations Manager, Store Manager, General Manager and Area Director.


Judy Payne

Judy Payne is the Director of Meetings & Travel at GameStop, the largest video game retailer in the world with a family of brands including pop culture collectibles, consumer electronics and wireless services, operating more than 6,900 stores in 14 countries.

With 17+ years in events, her responsibilities at GameStop include overseeing roughly 50 events annually as part of the strategic meeting management program, the US & Canadian annual Conferences & Expo, as well as managing the travel program and policies for a fortune 300 company.


Linda B. Rutherford 

Linda Rutherford is Senior Vice President, Chief Communications Officer, for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the nation's largest airline in terms of domestic Customer boardings. Responsibilities include overseeing media relations, special event planning, crisis communications, emergency response and business continuity planning, community relations and charitable giving, corporate community affairs, public relations, social business, multimedia and visual communication, legislative communication/grassroots activities, Southwest's Speaker's Bureau and employee communications.

Prior to joining Southwest Airlines in 1992, she was a journalist in the Dallas area, including working for the Dallas Times Herald, and she began her career with Newsweek magazine in New York.


Carl Sewell

Carl Sewell joined the family automobile business in 1967, after graduating from Southern Methodist University and serving a stint in the Army.  His father had begun selling cars in 1911.  Carl is a third generation automotive dealer.  His daughter, Jacquelin, and son, Carl, are the beginning of a fourth generation.  In 1967, the business had one franchise with sales of $10 million.  Today, sales are in excess of $1.9 billion.  Sewell Automotive Companies consists of 17 dealerships representing the following franchises:  Audi (3), Buick-GMC, BMW, Cadillac (4), Infiniti (3), Lexus (2), Mercedes-Benz, MINI and Subaru.

Carl has served as chairman of Audi, Lexus and Cadillac National Dealer Councils, as well as a member of the Infiniti Marketing and Product Dealer Councils.


Brooks Thomas

Brooks Thomas is a Social Business Advisor at Southwest Airlines. He is part of a team that is dedicated to integrating social and digital behavior throughout the company. Brooks plays a key role in Southwest's content strategy across its social spaces. Brooks began his career in broadcast journalism before joining Southwest Airlines.


Carol Wise

Carol Wise reports to the President/Executive Director and brings more than three decades of knowledge to DART from transit agencies in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC. She has experience in managing, bus operations, vehicle maintenance, revenue equipment systems, engineering, strategic planning, policy and budget analysis. In her role at DART, Wise leads Operations, Bus, Light Rail, Maintenance, Materials Management, Mobility Management and Transit Police. 


Nina Vaca

Since founding Pinnacle Group in her mid-20s, Nina Vaca has strategically developed it into the dynamic powerhouse that is today, providing information technology services and workforce solutions to iconic global brands. Under her fearless leadership, Pinnacle Group has become one of the largest Latina-owned businesses in the United States, earning it a ranking among the Inc. 500/5000 fastest-growing companies in the country for the last decade. In 2015, it was named fastest-growing women-owned/led company in the nation by the Women Presidents' Organization, as well being named among the top two in 2016 and 2017.

Phillip Jones

Phillip Jones joined VisitDallas as President and CEO in 2003. Under Jones' direction, the Dallas/Fort Worth area is now the No. 1 visitor destination in the state, and Dallas is a top 10 convention city nationwide. Significant achievements under his leadership include the voter-approved Omni Dallas Hotel connected to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas, the creation of the state's first Tourism Public Improvement District, the implementation of the BIG Things Happen Here marketing campaign, and the creation of the Dallas Sports Commission, charged with hosting top amateur and professional sports championships and events.

An avid triathlete, Jones has completed Ironman competitions in France, Arizona, California, Florida, Germany, Idaho, Texas, Utah, Canada and Australia and recently completed the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. In addition, he qualified for Team USA in long-course competition at the world triathlon championship in 2007.