Schedule of Events

This schedule will be updated regularly as we near the start of the conference. *Schedule is subject to change*

Monday, December 5

1:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Registration Open

Sponsor: Illinois Restaurant Association

1:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Media Auction

Looking to spend some media budget? Why not snag some incredible media at an incredible price with our third annual ILGOV Media Market? Get your dollars ready!

5:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Happy Hour for First-Time Attendees

Kick off the conference early with a special reception for all first-time attendees! You'll have the opportunity, along with participating mentors, to network with the Illinois Office of Tourism in addition to tourism professionals and other industry leaders from across the state.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

6:00 pm - 6:45 pm

Pre-Awards Cocktail Hour

Prepare for the Awards Dinner as you mingle, greet and network with your fellow travel and tourism industry peers.

Sponsor: World Wide Technology Raceway

Location: Lakeview Terrace

7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner

Join us in the Aon Grand Ballroom over dinner and drinks and marvel at the greatest and most innovative tourism marketing initiatives throughout the state during an awards show honoring some of Illinois tourism’s biggest advocates.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

Sponsor: Spurrier Group

Tuesday, December 6

8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Registration Open

Sponsor: Illinois Restaurant Association

8:00 am - 5:15 pm

Trade Show Exhibits Open

A variety of companies come together to showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

8:00 am - 4:45 pm

Media Auction

Looking to spend some media budget? Why not snag some incredible media at an incredible price with our third annual ILGOV Media Market? Get your dollars ready!

8:30 am - 9:00 am

Networking Breakfast

Join your fellow attendees for breakfast — the setting for many of the day's travel insights.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

9:00 am - 10:00 am


Coffee Talk | Chris Thompson, President and CEO, Brand USA

Grab a coffee and join us for this Tuesday morning kickoff discussion with Chris Thompson, President and CEO of Brand USA, for an insightful look at what is happening in national and international travel now and what to expect in the future.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

10:00 am - 11:00 am

General Session: The Workforce of Tomorrow

Keynote Speaker | Eric Termuende | Life-long entrepreneur and best-selling author

The pandemic shutdown changed the way we work and continues to make filling jobs a struggle. In this lively presentation, Eric Termuende shows how to turn the great resignation into the great reconfiguration. The truth is that the opportunity has never been greater to establish a one-of-a-kind culture that attracts and keeps an incredible team. After all, people aren’t leaving the workforce, they’re aligning with a lifestyle that suits them. This is where the secret to building great teams lies.

In this head-scratching, insight-filled, and unexpectedly funny keynote, workplace culture and future of work expert Eric Termuende takes us on a journey filled with out-of-the-box ideas that are budget-free and immediately actionable as we work to not just survive ‘The Great Resignation’ but thrive through it. Just because there is a national talent shortage, doesn’t mean your team has to have one too.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

11:00 am - 11:15 am

PechaKucha: Sustainability – Environmental or Economic?

Speaker #1: Kristie Campbell, Firefly Grill

Speaker #2: Kathy Casstevens, Starved Rock (pictured left)

What does sustainable travel mean?

According to Expedia Group Media Solutions’ Sustainable Travel Study, 90 percent of consumers look for sustainable options when traveling. But what does sustainability mean to them? The study showed that 69 percent see sustainable travel as “lessening environmental impacts” while 66 percent see it as “supporting local economies.” We’ll hear about both perspectives in this rapid-paced PechaKucha.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

Sponsor: TimeZoneOne

11:15 am - 11:45 am

Trade Show Networking Break

Guests will be given time to recharge, regroup and proceed to the next session on the schedule. The exhibitor hall will also be open at this time.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

Sponsor: AAA Living

11:45 am - 12:30 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

Winning the Sports Tourism Game

Michelle Lupo

Curtis Francois

John Groh

Kara Bachman

Speakers: Michelle Lupo, Business Development Manager - Sports Division, Northstar Meetings Group | Kara Bachman, Chicago Sports Commission | Curtis Francois, Owner & CEO, World Wide Technology Raceway | John Groh, President & CEO, Rockford Area CVB

Sports tourism is back and stronger than ever. But you've got to get in the game to win. Find out what it takes for your destination to attract sporting events and tournaments in 2023 in a competitive market.

Location: Room 201

Sponsor: Northstar Meetings Group

The Perfect Pitch: Working With Freelancers to Tell Your Story

Amy Carr

Lori Rackl

Danielle Braff

Elaine Glusac

Speakers: Amy Carr, General Manager, USA, and Chief Storyteller for TimeZoneOne; Lori Rackl, Freelance Journalist; Danielle Braff, Freelance Journalist; Elaine Glusac, Freelance Journalist

When it comes to writing about travel and tourism, freelancers make up the majority of writers these days. Learn how to pitch freelancers and play by their rules to get your pitch noticed and secure an earned placement in top outlets like Forbes, Conde Nast Traveler, TripSavvy or Chicago Tribune.

Location: Room 203

Reimagining Your Destination

Dave Herrell

Dr. Sharon Suiwen Zou

Chad Pregracke

JD Lorton

Speakers: Dave Herrell, President & CEO, Visit Quad Cities | Dr. Sharon Suiwen Zou, Assistant Professor, Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign | Chad Pregracke, Founder & President, Living Lands & Waters and Bison Bridge Foundation | JD Lorton, Director of Operations, Aerie's Resort

How do you take what your destination already has, reimagine it and turn it into a unique and long-lasting attraction? Destination development has many different faces but it all boils down to economic development, growth and sustainability. In this session you'll learn different ways destinations have injected new life into their community from saving historical structures to strategies for rural communities.

Location: Room 205

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm


Settle in for a lunch break in the Grand Ballroom before we continue our day of tourism education!

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

OMG! Did You See That video?

Teddy Heidt

Alice Goode

Flo Lawnicki

Courtney Viverette

Speakers: Teddy Heidt, Founder & CEO, The Gauge Collective | Alice Goode, Product Marketing Manager, Crowdriff | Flo Lawnicki, Content Creator and Social Media Strategist | Courtney Viverette, Digital Strategist, Spurrier Group

How many times have you seen a video on social media and found yourself going down a rabbit hole watching dozens of others? You're not alone. In today's world of social media, short form video is king. Learn practical tools and tips for creating effective Reels, TikToks and stories to boost your social following and engagement and why it's so important to your social strategy.

Location: Room 201

Access Granted: How to Ensure Your Destination is Accessible to All

Craig Compagnone

Eric Lipp

William Maas

Speakers: Craig Compagnone, COO, MMGY Global | Eric Lipp, Founder, Open Doors | William Maas, Team Lead, Field Museum

Our panel of experts will help you navigate the many needs in accessibility from headphones to special performances of theatre productions to wheelchair-accessible hotels and attractions. You will learn key insights from a recent accessibility and mobility study conducted by MMGY Travel Intelligence including travel booking behaviors of travelers with mobility impairment.

Location: Room 203

The Future of DE&I

Seema Jain

Anui Marwaha

Speakers: Seema Jain, Founder & CEO, Seva Global | Laritza Lopez, President, The Purple Group | Anuj Marwaha, Director of Sales & Marketing, Renaissance Chicago Hotel

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - three words that carry enormous weight in today's world. Join this interactive panel to gain key insights and learnings from DEI leaders and visionaries in the travel and tourism industry and learn how to increase your 'cultural competency' and ensure your brand is following best practices.

Location: Room 205

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Trade Show Networking Break

Guests will be given time to recharge, regroup and proceed to the next session on the schedule. The exhibitor hall will also be open at this time.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

Sponsor: ADARA

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

General Session: Why Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is Important

Keynote Speaker | Tyronne Stoudemire | SVP of Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion globally requires a commitment at all levels to create an open and welcoming environment where people can bring their whole selves to work each day – so they can be their best and better care for others. In this timely keynote, Tyronne Stoudemire, SVP of Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, explains how this mindset can power your ability to outperform the competition.

In June 2020, Hyatt announced its Change Starts Here commitments focusing on three key areas: Who the company employs, develops and advances; Who it supports; and Who it buys from and partners with. Tyronne will share why and how Hyatt is prioritizing these areas to drive meaningful change for our workforce, industry, and communities – and further support its vision for a world of understanding and care. 

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

4:00 pm - 4:15 pm

PechaKucha: Iconic vs. Off-the-Beaten Path

Speaker #1: Samantha Krause, Skydeck

Speaker #2: Nick Nagele, Whiskey Acres (pictured left)

What do travelers want: “iconic” or lesser-known “authentic” experiences?

Do travelers want to fill their visits with trips to “bucket list” institutional tourist attractions, or are they looking for unique independent experiences they can’t find at home? Maybe they can have both. In this PechaKucha, we’ll hear from voices on both sides of the coin about why they matter and what they are doing to attract today’s (and tomorrow’s) travelers.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

Sponsor: TimeZoneOne

4:30 pm - 5:15 pm

Last Call Exhibitor Trade Show Reception

Close the day by mingling with exhibitors and industry peers you connected with earlier in the day, over appetizers and cocktails at the closing Trade Show Reception.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

Sponsor: Crowdriff

5:15 pm - 11:59 pm

A Night Out on the Town!

Get ready to dine, drink and enjoy the magic of the city’s downtown nightlife — and even attend a special Broadway In Chicago experience.

After networking at the Last Call Exhibitor Trade Show Reception, attendees will have an opportunity to embark on a Chicago dine-around with colleagues and industry peers.


7:30PM at CIBC Theatre

The world’s greatest entertainers unite for a spellbinding and incredible holiday production – A MAGICAL CIRQUE CHRISTMAS! Experience the enchantment of Christmas as Magical Hostess Lucy Darling takes you through an evening of dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live.


7:30PM at Nederlander Theatre

Winner of 6 Tony Awards® including Best Musical and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, DEAR EVAN HANSEN is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it.

Wednesday, December 7 - IT’S DESTINATION DAY!

8:00 am - 12:15 pm

Destination Day

Today is Destination Day! Join us in celebrating the final day of the conference by teaming up with your co-workers and representing your organization with your attire. This can include your logo, your colors — or simply a creative expression of who you are. Not only is this a conversation starter, it's a great opportunity to represent your destination in a fun way on the last day of the conference.

8:00 am - 11:00 am

Registration Open

Sponsor: Illinois Restaurant Association

8:00 am - 9:00 am

Media Auction

Looking to spend some media budget? Why not snag some incredible media at an incredible price with our third annual ILGOV Media Market? Get your dollars ready!

8:30 am - 9:00 am

Networking Breakfast

Join your fellow attendees for breakfast — setting the stage for the day's travel insights.

9:00 am - 10:00 am

General Session: The Next Generation of Global Travelers

Keynote Speaker | Shaina Zafar | Gen Z’er and Chief Marketing Officer

Gen Z is on the move. According to a recent survey, 77 percent of GenZers are planning or thinking about splurging on a huge getaway trip in 2022. They are ready. Are you? An insider look at Gen Z, their lifestyles, their travel goals and what makes them tick.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

10:00 am - 10:15 am

PechaKucha: Inside or Outside?

Do travelers want to be inside or outside?

Speaker #1: Christina Shutt, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Speaker #2: Kristin DiCenso, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (pictured left)

COVID has changed the way people think about destinations. In this general session thought-starter, two speakers will be given 20 slides (with 20 seconds per slide) to make their case for where tourists want to be now, where they'll want to be in the near future, and what each option has to offer, regardless of the season.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

Sponsor: TimeZoneOne

10:15 am - 10:30 am


10:30 am - 11:15 am

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

The Buzz about Gen X, Y, Z

Tiffany Aubry

Shaina Zafar

Kevin Lilly

Christie Bierlein

Speakers: Tiffany Aubry, President, Aubry Research | Shania Zafar, CMO, JUV Consulting | Kevin Lilly, Head of Strategy, OKRP | Christie Bierlein, Director, Travel and Tourism - Epsilon

During this session we will break down the misperceptions vs. reality of our generational differences. Hear from tourism leaders representing Gen X, Y and Z about the dos and don'ts of making sure your brand gets noticed and not ignored.

Location: Room 201

Sponsor: Aubry Research

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Bienvenidos...Welcoming Back Global Travelers

Mary Twomey

Nadine Skopp

Linda Dixey

Kathy Formosa

Speakers: Mary Twomey, SVP Global Trade Development, TimeZoneOne | Nadine Skopp, Account Director, Lieb Management | Linda Dixey, Trade, Sales & Marketing, GoshPR | Kathy Formosa, Senior Contracting Manager North America,

International travel to the U.S. is finally making its big comeback. Hear insights from leading international agencies on how consumer travel behaviors have changed during the COVID pandemic and what global tourists want to do & see most when visiting the US/Chicago/Illinois.

Location: Room 203

Navigating the Paid Media Landscape

Donna Spurrier

Sam Lauer

Matt Hansen

Speakers: Donna Spurrier, CEO, Spurrier Group | Sam Lauer, Director of Customer Success, Adara | Matt Hansen, Director of Business Development, Expedia 

In this educational session, you'll learn how to understand and navigate the world of paid media with a focus on achieving the best ROI. Whether you're looking to run a local campaign, want to efficiently spend grant dollars or need help setting up KPIs to demonstrate performance, this is a not-to-be-missed session.

Location: Room 205

Sponsor: Expedia Media Solutions

11:30 am - 12:15 pm

State of the State Tourism Address


Sylvia Garcia

Emanuel “Chris” Welch

Keynote Speaker: Sylvia Garcia, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)

Opening Speaker: Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives

This annual address will be taking a fresh look back at the marketing and advertising strategies that contributed to an amazing year for Illinois tourism. We will share our vision for the industry and offer a sneak preview of the exciting new initiatives and programs sure to make 2023 another great year.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom