Schedule of Events

Check the ILGOV schedule below to get a taste of what the event offers. This schedule will be updated regularly as we near the start of the conference. *Schedule is subject to change*

Monday, March 16

8:00 am - 8:00 pm

Registration & Media Auction Open

10:00 am - 11:15 am

ICCVB Board of Directors Meeting

11:30 am - 1:00 pm

ICCVB General Lunch Meeting

ICCVB members are invited to attend the Winter Membership Meeting & Luncheon at the Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare.

Click here to register!

1:15 pm - 2:30 pm

ICCVB Niche Market Meetings

Following lunch, niche market meetings will be held for Sports IL, Tour IL and Market IL. Meetings will conclude by 2:30 pm.

Click here to register!

3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Grant Program & Film Office Updates

Join us for an informational session regarding the various grant programs offered at the Illinois Office of Tourism. Grant programs can help you enhance your attractions, market your areas, and draw new events and visitors to your communities.

During this session, tourism grant managers will be available to answer your questions on everything from what makes the best application to how the Government Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) has affected the grant process. Leave with the inspiration to guide your proposal and the knowledge to send in your application with confidence.

Plus, this year we'll have Peter Hawley joining us to give us an update from the Illinois Film Office.

Speakers: Jan Kemmerling, Tracey Minder, Tom Becker, Greg Mihalich & Peter Hawley


5:45 pm - 6:30 pm

Happy Hour for First-Time Attendees

Kick-off the conference an hour 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.

6:30 pm - 7:30 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: Chicagoland Speedway 

7:45 pm - 10:30 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner

Join us 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.

Sponsors: Choose Chicago and O'Keefe, Reinhard & Paul 

Tuesday, March 17

7:30 am - 4:30 pm

Registration Open

8:00 am - 6:30 pm

Tradeshow Exhibits

Many companies have come together to showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services.

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Networking Breakfast

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

Sponsor: Expedia

8:30 am - 9:30 am

General Session: Roy Spence

The Power of Purpose in Business, Life and the Life of America

In today’s world of hyper-connectivity, people are feeling more disconnected from themselves and their core Purpose—both in life, in their work and even in their country—than maybe ever before. This is where the power of Purpose comes in. Seeking and discovering Purpose in your life and your life’s work is a challenging and yet energizing and a powerful force to counter chaos and divisiveness.

We humans are social animals and we need to get to know each other again. Every day leaders in the travel, planning and convention business  get up and work on ways to inspire and motivate people to come convene and visit your community. You can’t shake hands over the phone. You can’t really have a conversation on Twitter. People need to be together. That’s what you do. Bring people together. It’s a mighty Purpose. And America needs more Purpose in our daily lives.

9:30 am - 10:00 am

Exhibitor Hall Networking

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.

10:00 am - 11:00 am

General Session: Shawna Suckow

Trend Watch 2020: Recession-Proof Your Sales & Marketing Strategy NOW

There’s one constant in today’s economy: recessions are cyclical. We’ve all been through several economic downturns, but each one is unique based on the national and consumer trends that are brewing at the time. Savvy hospitality and tourism insiders don’t wait and react; they leverage the latest data and interpret the trends to form a strategy. One thing is certain: insight and preparation are key.

Join Shawna as she shares her latest findings on the major and minor trends that will impact your business in the year ahead. She’ll start with national trends affecting us all, then move into consumer behavioral shifts that are forming due to the looming recession. She’ll then distill it all down to how all this could impact your organization in the near future. It’s not just data though; she’ll translate these trends into relevant steps you can take to recession-proof your strategy NOW.  Her insights will help you empower you and your team to not only survive the next recession, but to be in the best shape possible to come out ahead.

11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

Tourism as an Economic Driver: Kimberly Bares, President & CEO, The Magnificent Mile; Nora Gainer, Director of Partnerships and Tourism, Art Institute of Chicago; Kristin DiCenso, Chief of Staff, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Richard Gamble, Chief Operating Officer/Executive Vice President of Operations, Brookfield Zoo; Randall Williams, General Manager, 21c Museum Hotel

Hear from Kimberly Bares, newly appointed President & CEO of The Magnificent Mile® Association, along with innovative and iconic member businesses and attractions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Brookfield Zoo, 21c Museum Hotel and the Department of Natural Resources, as they discuss tourism’s impact at their organizations from local, regional and international visitors.  Learn strategies for how your destination, business or attraction can attract more visitors and increase market share by focusing on targeted messaging, outstanding audience experience and creative partnerships. Understand how to measure your results with demographics, economic data, surveys and more.

Crisis Management: Are You Ready For Whatever's Next?: Greg Staley, Senior Vice President, Communications, U.S. Travel Association; Scott Caufield, Senior Destination Manager, TripAdvisor

The freedom to travel is one of the many liberties we enjoy as Americans, but we are operating in an era with shifting landscapes and unexpected challenges. To ready yourself, your organization and your staff for travel crises that may arise, learn best practices for planning, response and recovery.


Generational Travel Trends by Expedia: Matt Hansen, Director of Business Development, NA, Expedia 

Research from Expedia Group Media Solutions examines the latest traveler trends and what influences travel decisions across generations around the world – from established Boomers to the newest Generation Alpha (those born after 2010). You will walk away with a deeper understanding of the mindsets and motivations of travelers across generations and geographies, and how you can turn these insights into action to connect with these audiences.



12:30 pm - 1:00 pm


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

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

General Session: Arwa Mahdawi

The Surprising Solution to Workplace Diversity

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace has become an increasingly hot topic, with a plethora of statistics demonstrating that a heterogenous workforce is good for business. But while companies have spent the last few years talking about the importance of D&I, the results have frequently been disappointing. In an update of her viral TedX talk, consultant and journalist Arwa Mahdawi looks at why so many corporate D&I initiatives have either backfired or made little ground--and reveals the surprising solution to diversity in the workplace.

Sponsor: TimeZoneOne

2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

What's Your Story? Get the Inside Scoop on Pitching Stories & Using Influencers: Danielle Smith, Lifestyle Entrepreneur; Matt Lohmus, Instagram Influencer, Kristin Bienert, Midwest Living Editorial; Laura Powell, Freelancer,; Moderated by Marla Cichowski, SVP Media Relations, TimeZoneOne

Our all-star panel of travel writers and influencers will help you navigate how to leverage your destination or attraction with traditional and social media. This panel discussion will include best practices for pitching and securing stories, current trends, and how to work more effectively with influencers to get the most return on your investment.



Don’t Become Extinct! Join the Sales Evolution: Shawna Suckow, Speaker, Author, Exceptional Parallel Parker

Welcome to the era of Relationship Marketing! Consumers all over the world are evolving and changing, and American B2B buyers are particularly different than they were just a few years ago. Following the recession, buyers changed how they behave, how they prefer you to connect with them, and how they make their buying decisions. The days of cold calling are over, and buyers don’t respond to email anymore. They’re using technology and procurement processes more and more to lock you out of their sales process. The traditional sales role is dying. What’s a salesperson supposed to do?Sponsor: ICCVB 

How to HR When You Don't Have HR: Jessica Adams, VP HR Brad's Deals; Robert Bernstein, Partner Laner Muchin

Are you wondering how legalized marijuana might affect a workplace? Did you know you can no longer ask someone their salary history? Do you have an action plan in your office for Coronavirus? Join our expert Human Resources professionals as they walk through some simple strategies for HR’ing, even in the smallest of offices. You’ll learn about new tools and innovative resources, plus they’ll cover some of the IL laws implemented in 2020. Come with questions, and walk away with new strategies and tools that you can easily implement in your own office.


3:15 pm - 3:45 pm

Exhibitor Hall Networking

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.

Sponsor: AAA Living

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

General Session: Jamie Clarke

The Adventure of Business

Jamie Clarke believes that the passion that drives an adventurer is akin to that of a business leader…and he should know. The renowned adventurer and founder & CEO of the award-winning Canadian retailer Live Out There Inc. has successfully transferred the ideas, skills, lessons and passion from summiting the world’s highest peaks to make his booming e-commerce business one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. With his trademark spirit and high-energy, Clarke excites audiences as he draws parallels to the dynamic environments found in the office and in nature to provide business leaders with the framework to achieve success in any competitive setting. Clarke shows how to adapt to forces outside of one’s control and uphold one’s mission despite distractions and dangers, all while encouraging a healthy dose of risk balanced with an ample measure of humility. Simply put: Clarke delivers insights and strategies for taking one’s organization to the peak and conquering the adventure of business.

Sponsor: Meredith


5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Last Call Exhibitor Tradeshow 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 Tradeshow Reception.

Sponsor: Crowdriff

6:45 pm - 7:15 pm

Transportation to Pete’s

Shuttle transportation will be provided to our evening networking event at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar. Pick up will be at the Hilton Hotel, 5550 N River Rd.

Sponsor: Aries Charter Transportation 

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Evening Networking Event: Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar

Join your fellow conference attendees at Pete's Dueling Piano for an incredible, high energy evening of fun. You'll have the chance to unwind from a full day of tourism insights while mixing, mingling, networking and listening to amazing piano performances. Transportation to Pete's will be provided, more details to come!

Sponsor: O'Keefe, Reinhard & Paul

Wednesday, March 18

8:15 am - 11:00 am

Registration Open

8:15 am - 9:30 am

Media Auction

Looking to spend some media budget? Why not snag some incredible media at an incredible price with our second annual ILGOV Media Market? We'll be selling off over $25,000 in media (and counting). Get your dollars ready!

8:45 am - 9:15 am

Networking Breakfast

Join your fellow attendees for a networking breakfast on our final day of tourism insights.

Sponsor: Mag Mile

9:30 am - 10:45 am

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

It’s all in the numbers!:  Key learning and insights from IOT’s most recent research and data analytics: Ktimene Axetell (VP, Insights, Arrivalist), Amir Eylon (President & CEO, Longwoods International), Jaime McGill (Director of Brand Strategy, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul). 

Illinois Office of Tourism uses Longwoods International to evaluate its advertising campaign and Arrivalist to learn more about visitors who are responding to our advertising. Key takeaways will be Illinois image perceptions from visitors and non-visitors as to our experiences and vs. our competitors' experiences; as well as return on investment of the recent 2019 advertising campaign; in addition to learning more about the markets both exposed and unexposed visitors are coming from, and where they visited on their trip to Illinois. Insights will also be provided on some of our competitive destinations to provide you with actionable information as you plan your marketing efforts. Sponsor: Arrivalist


Design & Photography: How You Can Easily Step It Up: Marian Williams, Group Creative Director, OKRP; Angela Coster, Creative Director, OKRP; Kylee Krizmanic, Editor in Chief, Meredith Corporation; Moderated by Liz Mowinski

This session will leave you with tricks and tips on creating simple, effective designs in your marketing campaigns. From fonts to photo selections, you'll walk away with tools to step things up.

Harnessing the Power of Sports to Drive Tourism: Scott Paddock, President of Chicagoland Speedway; Tom Valdiserri, Executive Vice President of KemperLesnik; Dave Herrell, President/CEO of Visit Quad Cities; and John Groh, President/CEO of Rockford Area CVB. 

Sports tourism continues to grow regardless of the economic climate, generating an estimated $11.4 billion in visitor spending each year. During this session, learn from a panel of industry experts how you can use sport to market and leverage your destination. Research shows families forego traditional vacations to participate in competitions and tournaments. It’s time to get in the game! Sponsor: Northstar Meetings Group


11:00 am - 12:30 pm

State of the State Tourism Address

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 2020 another great year. PLUS, we'll announce the winner of the plane tickets from Air New Zealand!