Big WYO Award

Since 1977 The Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association (WLRA) has proudly awarded The Big Wyo Award to a private sector individual/s who has done an outstanding job promoting and improving the tourism industry for the State of Wyoming. This exceptional award is presented at the Salute to the Industry Gala which follows the annual Governor’s Tourism & Hospitality Conference.

If you would like to nominate someone for this prestigious award, please email your nomination to Chris Brown, Executive Director of WLRA.

Criteria for the Big WYO Award:

  1. The individual has made major contributions to generating visitors, servicing and developing the travel industry in the state of Wyoming. These efforts can take place through their business or as a volunteer in travel-related organizations if their fulltime work is not in the travel industry.
  2. The person has been a member and served actively on civic, community or travel industry association groups.
  3. There have been exceptions, but usually, the individual is not an elected official or travel industry public employee at the time of consideration. It is preferable that they not be currently serving on state boards and commissions. They could be nominated later.

2019 Big WYO Winner

Rick Hoeninghausen

Director Sales & Marketing, Xanterra Parks & Resorts

On behalf of the entire hospitality and tourism industry, the Wyoming Lodging & Restaurant Association and the Wyoming Office of Tourism happily recognized Rick Hoeninghausen as the 2019 recipient of the annual “Big WYO” award.

Rick has spent over 20 years working to better the tourism industry. His joyous personality and hard work exemplify just a few of the many reasons he received the award. As an advocate and supporter of lodging and tourism in Wyoming, Rick is known for his love of the Cowboy State, his joy of working in Yellowstone and the care with which he raised a family in Wyoming . . .


Past Big WYO Winners

  • 1977 Harry Smith
  • 1978 Marv Harshman
  • 1979 Bob Dohse
  • 1980 Duane Von Krosigk
  • 1981 Peter Hassrick
  • 1982 Ralph McMullen
  • 1983 Norm Parker
  • 1984 Dorris Stalker
  • 1985 Bill Bragg
  • 1986 Governor Ed Hershler
  • 1987 Clarene and Creed Law
  • 1988 John Olson
  • 1989 Quin Blair
  • 1990 Pat Self
  • 1991 Paul Smith
  • 1992 Pat Sweeney
  • 1993 Jim Hearne
  • 1994 Carol Waller
  • 1995 Clay James
  • 1996 Don and Doris Bunn
  • 1997 Wayne Worthen
  • 1996 Don and Doris Bunn
  • 1997 Wayne Worthen
  • 1998 Gene Bryan
  • 1999 Bill Sniffin
  • 2000 Trudy McCraken
  • 2001 Gene & Carol Kupke
  • 2002 Ted Blair
  • 2003 Jeff Heilbrun
  • 2004 Edna Kennell
  • 2005 Manuel Lopez
  • 2006 Claudia Wade
  • 2007 Dave Rader
  • 2008 Chuck Box
  • 2009 Jim McCaleb
  • 2010 Governor Dave Freudenthal
  • 2011 Steve Meadows
  • 2012 Rex Brown
  • 2013 Chuck Cook
  • 2014 Kari Cooper
  • 2015 Clay Miller
  • 2016 Jerry Blann
  • 2017 John Johnson
  • 2018 Doug and Kathleen Campbell