Carrie Digman
Alumni Spotlight

Finding a Home in Hospitality

Carrie Digman is making West Virginia into a home for everyone – even the people who are just passing through.

◆ 5 minute read

Finding a Home in Hospitality

Carrie Digman has a lot on her plate.  

A Chambers College graduate with degrees in both Hospitality and Tourism Management and Accounting, Digman works full-time for Travelers as a premium auditor, consults for West Virginia’s State Parks system, serves on two different community boards, teaches at the Chambers College as an adjunct professor and is training to be a raft guide in her spare time.  

“When you stay busy, you stay out of trouble,” Digman said. “I love meeting new people and building my network. I’m always looking and learning and trying something new.”

That work ethic hasn’t just kept Digman out of trouble – it’s placed her at the forefront of West Virginia’s outdoor recreation industry, which is quickly becoming one of the most successful regional operations in the country. Young alumni like Digman are the tip of the spear, and thanks to the Chambers College, that tip is plenty sharp.

Q: What’s the deal with you becoming a raft guide? Is that the next step of your career? 

A: No, it’s just for fun. It'll probably take me two years to get certified since I can only go on Saturdays, but this is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s all part of hospitality: you’re taking people down the river, telling them about its history, getting to know them and making them feel important. You meet some really cool people too!


Q: Where does your interest in outdoor recreation come from? 

A: It partly comes from my dad. It’s always been interesting to me, but my dad was super active back in his college days. The more I got out and explored, the more serious I got about it. My first full-time job out of college was as the revenue manager at Adventures on the Gorge. I love to facilitate other people having fun in our backyard.

Photo of Carrie Digman white water rafting in the New River Gorge

Q: What was the most important experience you had as a hospitality student at the Chambers College?

A: When I was a student, I had conversations with Professor Frank DeMarco, whom I’m very close with, and he thought I’d be a good fit for the Division of Tourism, which was focused on marketing our state parks. That turned into a part-time job while I was still in college. At the time, they weren’t fully ready to pursue the project I was working on, so I said, ‘When you’re ready to implement these strategies, let me know.’ That was in 2018. They called me in 2022 and said, ‘We want you to come back on board.’ Now I do rate analysis and build revenue management strategies for the entire state park system.

If I didn’t have a hospitality background, I don't know that I would be able to communicate with [my clients] and build a trusting relationship.

- Carrie Digman

Q: It’s easy to see how your accounting experience plays into your role as an auditor – but what about hospitality?

A: Traditionally, the audit process is looked at as a negative: ‘Oh gosh, here comes an auditor, I don’t want to deal with them.’ In West Virginia, people tend to be a little hesitant to give out their personal information, but there’s always a connection to be made. If I didn’t have a hospitality background, I don't know that I would be able to communicate with them and build a trusting relationship. Being in hospitality and dealing with people face-to-face, you have to be able to switch and adapt and anticipate people’s needs to focus on what makes them feel special. Translating that to the insurance world has been really beneficial to me – people trust you more, and you can have a more caring relationship. 


Q: In your opinion, what’s the outlook of hospitality in West Virginia, especially where outdoor recreation is concerned?

A: It’s only going to grow from here. The designation of New River Gorge National Park has been a testament to the amount of travel, both domestically and internationally, that we’ve seen across seasons. The more visitors and exposure we get, the more that hoteliers and restauranteurs offer to our guests, the more people will see all that West Virginia has to offer.

Photo of Carrie Digman sitting on a swing at Cacapon State Park

Q: How will the development of West Virginia’s outdoor recreation industry work in tandem with conservation and preservation efforts?

A: People don't just want to enjoy West Virginia’s outdoors: they want their grandchildren to enjoy them too. However, there have to be ancillary services to support outdoor recreation, like restaurants, hotels and hospitals. If we, as ambassadors of West Virginia, value the preservation of our outdoors, that mentality will translate to the people who visit us too. It starts with us. We have to take pride in what we’ve been given. 


Q: What’s the most important thing you learned during your time at the Chambers College?

A: Learning to communicate, especially in a world where we’ve gone away from face-to-face conversations. I got a very strong foundation that I think really set me apart from other candidates in the jobs I’ve pursued. I’m able to read the room and adapt based on the signals I’m getting. Strong communication can get you through just about any difficult situation you might encounter.  

Put yourself in uncomfortable situations... You never know what doors that’ll open for you.

- Carrie Digman

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to current hospitality students?

A: Put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Be the one who takes charge in a group projects. Be the one who presents. Be the one who does a lot of heavy lifting. Take that initiative. Don’t just wait for someone to address you – ask them how they do something and how you can learn it. You never know what doors that’ll open for you.