GTC19 Agenda

The Georgia Governor's Tourism Conference is the premier educational and networking event in the state for travel professionals and destination marketers.  The conference will be held Sunday, September 8 - Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at the Great Wolf Lodge in LaGrange, GA. 

Each year GTC provides its attendees the opportunity to exchange ideas with peers, learn from expert panelists, draw inspiration from nationally renowned speakers, and discover cutting-edge products and services. 

In addition to professional development, GTC is an occasion to celebrate. The state's tourism industry employs 471,000 Georgians directly or indirectly and generated a record-breaking $66.2 billion in business sales impact in 2018, up 4.7 percent, according to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics. 

And the Governor's Lunch and Tourism Awards Ceremony, the conference’s closing session, recognizes the achievements of the leaders, marketers, and innovators who each year propel Georgia’s tourism industry to new levels. For more information please contact [email protected]

Click here for things to do in LaGrange before or after the conference.

All conference attendees are invited to stay after the conference for the Dwight Yoakam Concert at Sweetland Amphitheatre on Thursday, September 12, 2019.  Pick up your complimentary general admission lawn ticket at the Will Call window at our Tuesday night event!

All sessions will be held at the Great Wolf Lodge Conference Center, 150 Tom Hall Parkway, LaGrange, GA 30240.

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Time Session
All day Early arrivals
1:00pm - 5:00pm Registration Open
Prefunction Area
1:00pm - 5:00pm Early Sponsor/Exhibitor Setup 
Prefunction Area
5:30pm - until

GACVB BBQ Cornhole Tournament & Scholarship Fundraiser
Wild Leap Brew Co. - just voted best new brewery in the U.S.
308 Main St, LaGrange, GA 30240
(not included in conference registration - separate ticket purchase required) 
Register Here 

Plan to come early and join your colleagues for a BBQ dinner and beverages at the Wild Leap Brew Co. as teams battle it out to be the cornhole champions - all in support of GACVB education programs. The 3rd GACVB BBQ & Cornhole Tournament benefits our educational programming including the annual scholarship opportunities for attending industry conferences. Support tourism education and bring your cornhole team or just come for the food, fun and fellowship with old and new friends. 

$50 Dinner ticket includes Dinner and Beverages - All proceeds go to Education Programs.
Cornhole Tournament Registration is $25 per person / $50 for a team.
Limited to 32 Teams. First Place Team wins $100.

 

Monday,September 9, 2019

Time Session
8:30am - 5:30pm Registration Open
Prefunction Area
8:30am - 12:30pm Sponsor/Exhibitor Setup
Prefunction Area 
9:00am - 10:00am GACVB Board of Directors Meeting 
Barnwood
10:00am - 11:30am Georgia Tourism Partner Program Overview
White Oak IV
GDEcD Tourism, Marketing and Communications staff will present a portfolio of partner opportunities to include print and digital advertising, content marketing and domestic and international sales initiatives
1:30pm - 3:00pm

Conference Begins  
Welcome and Presentation of Colors
Speaker: Mayor Jim Thornton, City of LaGrange

Opening General Session:  Reactivate your Human KINDNESS
Speaker:  Juliet Hall, Own Your Opportunities
White Oak I-II-III
We are born as free spirits. We want to experience and explore and do everything. However, some of the first words we learn as children are “NO”, “DON’T” and “STOP.” We build fences around our community. We learn to doubt people and their intentions. We put labels on everyone because it’s safe. And somewhere along the way, we lose our ability to be kind. 

But what if the person you pass on the street is the key to your future? What if a kind word or interaction changed a life and changed yours? 

We’ve been taught, “It’s not personal. It’s business.” However, in my talk, “Reactivate Your Human KINDNESS”, I charge the audience to flip that, and to know that in tourism, every business is personal.

 Takeaways - the attendees will learn:
1.  Examples of kindness-in-action through admired brands
2.  The seven basic needs of humankind
3.  Five ways to reactivate their human KINDNESS

3:00pm - 3:45pm Afternoon Break
sponsored by 365 Degree Total Marketing, ADARA and Blue Sky
Prefunction Area

GACVB Silent Auction Opens
Fallen Timbers I
3:45pm - 5:00pm Breakout Session Series
 

Right in Your Own Back Yard! Georgia's State Parks Offer Partnerships and Pathways to the Outdoor Economy Panel Discussion
Moderator:  
Colby Moore, Georgia DNR - Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division
White Oak IV
With the rising demand for parks, trails and outdoor activities fueling the state's $27.3 billion* outdoor recreation industry, Georgia's 63 state parks and historic sites serve as popular and mature destinations with the capacity to be even stronger community partners and economic drivers. Georgia's state parks also offer invaluable opportunities to spur and support new businesses serving park visitors, to drive park visitors to nearby communities and businesses, and to develop innovative local partnerships to host on-site experiential events, from wine tastings to kayaking tours. Georgia’s state parks also have the ability to engage new Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z audiences seeking healthy and active outdoor lifestyles. Colby Moore, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, leads a conversation among park representatives and business owners who are leveraging Georgia's state parks and natural resources to creatively and sustainably grow tourism. Stay tuned for a full list of participants! *Outdoor Industry Association, 2017

 

Best (and worst!) Practices in Sports Tourism Marketing
Speaker:  Jon Schmieder, Huddle Up Group
White Oak V

According to Sports Events Magazine, the $11.4 billion sports travel market is the fastest growing and most recession resistant segment in tourism. The organizations and communities that understand the industry and how to capitalize on sports tourism have benefited the most from this growth. 

An ever growing industry, the sports travel market provides ample opportunity for organizations to capitalize on the industry growth if they understand how to play the game. In this interactive session, sports tourism industry consultant, Jon Schmieder, will discuss the best and worst practices of sports tourism marketing. The session will include the Huddle Up Group’s 2019 list of the 10 critical trends every community should consider when marketing their destination. 

Takeaways:
1.  Determine the elements of sports tourism best practices that can be applied to your destination including business development strategies, branding, and servicing and creating events.
2.  Identify the worst practices your destination currently uses and develop a plan to improve your organization’s sports tourism efforts.
3.  Define what success in the sports tourism industry looks like for your organization.

 

Brand Bootcamp
Speaker:  Haile McCollum, Fontaine Maury Brand and Design
White Oak VI
You have a lot of people to please, limited resources, and a long to-do list when it comes to marketing. Haile will share with you a fun take on what branding is and why it’s critically important to your work (hint: branding is not your logo). She will walk you through how deliberately building a core brand focus makes your job easier - and way more impactful.

All places have assets that together create a brand experience. Understanding and leveraging that brand and it’s one-of-a-kind personality is the key to place-based marketing. Haile’s fast-paced session includes exercises that help you find words and creative ideas that grab the imagination of people and lead to better overall engagement and higher tourism revenue.

You will leave with an understanding of how building a foundation and personality for your tourism brand will enable you generate better results while doing more relevant, meaningful work.

Takeaways:
- How branding, marketing, advertising and PR are different. 
- A list of brand personality traits that help bring clarity and direction to your tourism brand. 
- Understanding how a brand’s personally can help you wrangle the look and feel of printed materials, your website, photography, advertising and social media content. 
- A framework you can use again and again to focus your work and share with others in your community.

 

LEC Tier 3 - Strategic Excellence
Get the Big Things Right - Your Future Depends on It Part 1
Speaker:  Shana Young, Leadership Institute at Columbus State University
Fallen Timbers II

Participants will work through the elements of strategic planning: Vision, Strategy, Leadership (Direction, Movement, and Alignment) and Measurement. The ability to recognize the difference between tactical and strategic planning and thinking will become clear. Participants will gain a deeper appreciation for the impact of vision. This session will provide the building blocks for a strategic plan for your organization. 
You must attend both parts 1 & 2 to receive LEC credit.  Click here for more info on the LEC program.

5:30pm - 6:30pm First Time Attendees Meet & Greet (by invitation only)
6:30pm - 9:00pm Adventure Awaits Evening Event 
sponsored by Great Wolf Lodge and City of LaGrange
Great Wolf Lodge Pool Deck

Adventure awaits as you discover the activities and recreational options at Great Wolf Lodge Georgia. We will “glamp” poolside to taste and sip the flavors of our childhood outdoor explorations, adult-style. Great Wolf Lodge Georgia, our conference headquarters, has a 40,000-square-foot adventure park and nearly 100,000-square-foot water park. There are adventures for guests of any age!

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Time Session
7:30am - 8:30am Continental Breakfast
Prefunction Area
7:30am - 5:00pm Registration Open 
Prefunction Area
8:15am - 9:15am Georgia Visitor Profile Study
Speaker:  Vicki Allen, DK Shifflet
White Oak I-II-III
Come hear about who Georgia's domestic visitors are and their travel characteristics. Information will also be provided on overall domestic visitation in the United States to give context to where Georgia fits in nationally and regionally.
9:15am - 9:30am Stretch Break
9:30am - 10:30am General Session - GDEcD Tourism Division Annual Update
Speaker:  Lisa Love, GDEcD Tourism Division
sponsored by Atlanta Magazine Custom Media
White Oak I-II-III

Recognized as one of the state's top industries, tourism in Georgia has enjoyed an impressive stretch of year-over-year growth. The Tourism leadership team from the Georgia Department of Economic Development will share an overview of strategic programs, campaigns and initiatives designed to support the continuation of record-breaking growth and leverage state resources to boost the efforts of partners statewide.

10:30am - 11:00am Morning Break
sponsored by Meredith Travel Marketing, Southern Living & Carrollton Area CVB
Prefunction Area
11:00am - 12:15pm Breakout Session Series sponsored by AJR Media Group
  The Rising Importance of Influencer Marketing
Moderator:  Meggan Hood, GDEcD Tourism Division
Speakers:  Raven Bennett, 22squared; Kristen Heetland, The Home Depot
White Oak IV
According to Social Media Today, influencer marketing delivers an 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing, and 94% of marketers who've used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective. From brand ambassadorships to sponsored content, event coverage to product reviews, influencer marketing continues to increase in importance and effectiveness among marketers across industries. Learn how and why The Home Depot works with influencers, and how to build your own successful influencer program.
  Compliance vs. Commitment: Disability, Diversity and Destination Marketing
Speaker:  
Josh Loebner, Designsensory
White Oak V

A half century after the Civil Rights Act and over two decades since the Americans with Disabilities Act, destination marketers and advertising agencies still often struggle to create messaging that accurately reflects a diverse make-up. Many are asking about ADA compliance, but does this simply check off a box or move towards greater commitments?

Takeaways
1. Educate on the size, scope and buying power of minorities and in more detail, that of people with disabilities, the largest minority group in America
2. Bring powerful stories and examples of the transformation of portrayal and inclusion of people with disabilities in tourism advertising and the pitfalls and pathways to accessible websites and disability marketing
3. Elevate the presentation with ideas on how attendees can increase connections with diversity and inclusion in their destination marketing and in their community

 

Accommodations Tax 101 Q&A
Speakers:  
Tyler Reinagel, Ph.D. and Jackson Lilly, Georgia Department of Community Affairs
White Oak VI
Attention attendees - review the Georgia's Hotel-Motel Excise Tax Webinar before the conference so you're familiar with the basics.  Then come to class ready for a full question & answer session with the Department of Community Affairs.  The session is designed to provide CVBs, hoteliers, and local governments what they need to know about reporting, audit disclosure, and general compliance requirements, as well as clarification of the allowable uses of the tax.

 

LEC Tier 3 - Strategic Excellence
Get the Big Things Right - Your Future Depends on It Part 2
Speaker: Shana Young, Leadership Institute at Columbus State University
Fallen Timbers II

Participants will work through the elements of strategic planning: Vision, Strategy, Leadership (Direction, Movement, and Alignment) and Measurement. The ability to recognize the difference between tactical and strategic planning and thinking will become clear. Participants will gain a deeper appreciation for the impact of vision. This session will provide the building blocks for a strategic plan for your organization. You must attend both parts 1 & 2 to receive LEC credit.  Click here for more info on the LEC program.

12:15pm - 1:15pm Networking Luncheon
sponsored by Arrivalist
White Oak I-II-III
1:30pm - 2:45pm Breakout Sessions
 

Beercation Destination: Tapping into Georgia’s Emerging Craft Beer Tourism
Moderator:  Nancy Palmer, Georgia's Craft Brewers Guild
Speakers:  Franklin Dismuke, Eagle Creek Brewery; Ale Sharpton, Beer Blogger;  Steve Farace, Sweetwater Brewery
White Oak IV 
Nancy Palmer, Executive Director of Georgia’s Craft Brewers Guild, leads a panel of creative brewery owners and marketers to discuss the state of Georgia’s beer industry, profile beer tourists, and explore effective marketing opportunities, including new product launches, product placement, festivals, events, tours, itineraries, beer blogs and more.

  Creating the Ultimate Consumer Escape with Social
Speaker: 
Jamie Dalton, Sprout Social
White Oak V

We can all agree that - from brand awareness to community management to sales and lead generation - we put a lot of energy into social and want our efforts to be successful. However, we’re often strapped for time and resources and can’t run our social programs the way we want. 

We know that when consumers plan a trip, they base their decision on the promise of a great experience. It’s our job to create this consumer escape and guide them on their journey using social media. 

After this session, you will know:

The role social media plays in the travel/tourism/hospitality industry
How to apply emerging trends and consumer expectations to your social strategy
Best practices and routines from those leading the pack today

  Accommodations Tax 201: Short Term Rentals
Moderator:  Lee Hughes, Hughes Public Affairs
Speakers:  Sarah McQuade, Hall County Planning Department; Michael Owens, Tourism Leadership Council; Lauren Pollow, J. L. Morgan Company
White Oak VI
How have local governments addressed this issue and what should we be expecting as the state continues to explore statewide legislation. 
 

LEC Tier 3 - Strategic Excellence
Get Engaged Without the Ring - Creating a Culture of Engagement Part 1
Speaker: Chelsea Powell, Leadership Institute at Columbus State University
Fallen Timbers II

According to Gallup 7 out of 10 workers are apathetic or totally disengaged. The root cause – Dysfunctional organizational culture. Participants will learn about the impact culture has on an organization and discuss how to create an engaging environment that motivates, stretches and inspires your team. The climate and culture of an organization is determined by a variety of factors, including artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and underlying assumptions. Participants will understand what organizational culture means, what influence culture has on an organization, and discuss how one goes about building, influencing, or changing an organization’s culture.  You must attend both parts 1 & 2 to receive LEC credit.  Click here for more info on the LEC program.

2:45pm - 3:30pm Afternoon Break 
sponsored by Advance Travel & Tourism, Hoffman Media and Medieval Times
Prefunction Area
3:30pm - 4:45pm General Session:  Trends to Attract Raving Fans
Speaker:  Kate Delaney, The Kate Delaney Show, NBC Sports Radio
sponsored by Conversant Media
White Oak I-II-III

Change is constant in our industry. No need to look for a crystal ball, Emmy Award winning journalist Kate Delaney has you covered. Her talk is full of PR plays, marketing moves and clever tactics to attract tourists without spending a fortune.
Takeaways:
1. The three biggest technology shifts that will impact the hospitality and tourism businesses the most.
2. How to zero in on what the consumer wants.
3. Creating leverage in an industry dealing with consolidation, constant market shifts and future economic downturns.
4. PR and Marketing strategies and tactics you can roll out as soon as you leave Kate’s session.

5:45pm - 6:30pm Transportation provided from the Great Wolf Lodge and Home2 Suites to Sweetland Amphitheatre
6:00pm - 9:00pm Rhythm & Brews Evening Event - Sweetland Amphitheatre
Sponsored by City of LaGrange and Sweetland Amphitheatre
The 2500-seat Sweetland Amphitheatre at Boyd Park provides an intimate outdoor venue for star-studded performances and community events, all within walking distance of downtown restaurants and shops.  Guests will enjoy an evening under the stars with local craft beer and wine tastings, southern cuisine and the soulful sounds of the blues by live entertainment—an evening of Rhythm & Brews!  
8:00pm - 9:30pm Transportation provided from Sweetland Amphitheatre to Great Wolf Lodge and Home2 Suites

 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Time Session

7:30am - 8:30am 

Continental Breakfast
Prefunction Area

8:00am - 12:30pm Registration Open 
Prefunction Area
8:30am - 9:45am General Session:  For the Love of Place
Speaker:  Peter Kageyama, co-founder and producer of the Creative Cities Summit
White Oak I-II-III
Good things happen when more people become emotionally engaged with their places, when more people fall in love with those places. Peter speaks about emotional engagement with PLACES – cities, towns, villages and neighborhoods. How to spark that love and  to encourage people to go from saying they love a place to actually doing something for that place. He talks about how to market and tell that story and how to  build places that attract visitors and investment and also resonate with tourists and locals alike.  Learn how to create the set of conditions where love is more likely to happen and about the importance of small, inexpensive and sometimes even silly expressions of that love for making great places. 
9:45am - 10:30am Morning Break
sponsored by Media One, Miles and tripFiles 
Prefunction Area
GACVB Silent Auction Closes
Fallen Timbers I
10:30am - 11:45am Breakout Sessions
  Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism Meeting
Speakers:  Chairman Ron Stephens, Georgia House of Representatives; Chairman Frank Ginn, Georgia State Senate
White Oak IV-V
  Conquer Content: Tips, tactics and ideas that will lead to content marketing success
Moderator:  Emily Murray, GDEcD Tourism Division
Speakers:  Mike Jordan, Thrillist Atlanta; Megan Miller, Atlas Obscura; Betsy Riley, Atlanta Magazine
White Oak VI
Not all content is created equal, and not all content is good content. Whether it’s social, website, newsletter or print, the content you create needs to be relevant, helpful and meaningful, and also customized and modified for usage across multiple platforms. Our panel of content creation gurus will share their own tested techniques that will help you improve the quality of your content and platform-specific adaption to achieve your goals.
  LEC Tier 3 - Strategic Excellence
Get Engaged Without the Ring - Creating a Culture of Engagement Part 2
Speaker: Chelsea Powell, Leadership Institute at Columbus State University
Fallen Timbers II
According to Gallup 7 out of 10 workers are apathetic or totally disengaged. The root cause – Dysfunctional organizational culture. Participants will learn about the impact culture has on an organization and discuss how to create an engaging environment that motivates, stretches and inspires your team. The climate and culture of an organization is determined by a variety of factors, including artifacts, espoused beliefs and values, and underlying assumptions. Participants will understand what organizational culture means, what influence culture has on an organization, and discuss how one goes about building, influencing, or changing an organization’s culture.  You must attend both parts 1 & 2 to receive LEC credit.  Click here for more info on the LEC program.
12:00pm - 1:30pm Governor's Lunch and Tourism Awards Ceremony
Speaker:  Governor Brian P. Kemp, State of Georgia
sponsored by AAA - T
he Auto Club Group and the Tourism Leadership Council
White Oak I-II-III
1:30pm Adjourn
GACVB Silent Auction Checkout 
Fallen Timbers I