Schedule of Events

2017 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism
Schedule Announcements

Download 2017 Mobile Program Book

Sunday, March 19

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Illinois VolunTourism Team
Illinois VolunTourism (IVT)

Illinois VolunTourism (IVT) is a volunteer opportunity for tourism organizations and their partners across our state. IVT is a chance to come together by donating our time and giving back to the areas and historic attractions that make Illinois the great tourism destination that it is. At our second annual IVT event, the Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT), working in conjunction with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), invites all conference attendees to give back to the Springfield tourism community by volunteering at the Old State Capitol Building. Don’t miss out on an afternoon of giving back to the community, networking with fellow conference attendees and making a difference for Illinois tourism.

With every $30 registration, attendees will receive a branded volunteer t-shirt, water bottle and the opportunity to network amongst tourism professionals post the volunteer event at an exclusive cocktail reception at the historic Dana Thomas House with rejuvenating drinks and hors d’oeuvres! If you've already registered for the conference, but would still like to attend the IVT event, please email Tim Osborn at

Sponsored by Enjoy Peoria

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

IVT Participant Thank You Reception

On behalf of the Illinois Office of Tourism and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, we would like to thank ALL of our participants involved in making a difference during the Illinois VolunTourism event. The Dana Thomas House, one of Springfield's best venues will play host to our IVT reception with rejuvenating drinks and hors d'oeuvres!

Sponsored by Stone Heritage

Monday, March 20

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Monday Leader Lab – Tearing Down Your Roadblocks

Whether you're a CVB, restaurant or somewhere in between, you've definitely got a few goals up your sleeve. So...what's stopping you? This lab will help attendees identify and address roadblocks to their organization's success, empowering teams to work more effectively and achieve goals faster and more efficiently.

Speaker: John Mautner, founder of one of America's 500 Fastest Growing Companies and leader of the Cycle of Success Institute (COSi) 

Sponsored by Visit Springfield Illinois

5:30 pm - 6:15 pm

Happy Hour for First Time Attendees

President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – A Doubletree by Hilton
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 Cory Jobe, Director of Illinois Office of Tourism, in addition to tourism professionals and other industry leaders from across the state.

6:15 pm - 7:15 pm

Chicagoland Speedway “Race to the Reception”

President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – A Doubletree by Hilton
Prepare for the Awards Dinner with Chicagoland Speedway -- mingle, greet and network with your fellow travel and tourism industry peers.

Sponsored by Chicagoland Speedway

7:15 pm - 9:45 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner


In the spirit of tinsel town’s greatest and glitziest, the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism will be hosting “A Night on the Red Carpet” awards program presented by Travel Channel. This star-worthy event will celebrate the greatest and most innovative tourism marketing initiatives throughout the state, and honor some of Illinois’ tourism’s biggest advocates. Don’t be surprised if you recognize a few of our special awards presenters throughout the night.

Hail your stretch limos and prepare your acceptance speeches. The Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards are on the way.

  • ATTIRE: Black Tie Optional – Who will you be wearing?
  • WHEN: Monday, March 20 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm
  • WHERE: President Abraham Lincoln Springfield - Doubletree by Hilton

Tuesday, March 21

8:00 am - 8:30 am

Arrival and breakfast

8:30 am - 9:30 am

Opening Keynote Session – The Power of Social in the Digital Age

Erik Qualman, Professor at Harvard & MiT’s edX labs, international best selling author, Pulitzer Prize nominee, and former Head of Marketing at Travelzoo

Called a Digital Dale Carnegie and the Tony Robbins of Tech, Erik Qualman is the author Socialnomics. Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany, and was a finalist for ”Book of the Year.” His book Digital Leader helped him be voted the 2nd “Most Likeable Author in the World” behind Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Sponsored by Great Rivers Country


9:30 am - 9:45 am

Tradeshow Hall/Networking Break

Visit our Tradeshow exhibitors now and throughout the day to network with fellow tourism and travel professionals, acquire new business opportunities and more!

Sponsored by The Magnificent Mile

9:45 am - 10:45 am

General Session – Engaging Millennials

Speaker: Paul Moya, Harvard millennials expert & leading generational consultant

Harvard Millennials Expert Paul Moya is best known for the world-class results his clients receive at Millennial Labs—a full-service consulting firm trusted by globally recognized brands to solve their most complex generational challenges in the workplace, marketplace, and voting booth. Over the last decade, he has impacted leaders from brands ranging from Citibank to Microsoft and General Motors to Nestle Centroamerica in audiences as large as 54,000 on 3 continents worldwide.

Sponsored by Meredith Travel Marketing

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Breakout Sessions

Option A: International Program - It's Different Over There

Garage or car-park? Bathroom or water-closet? When it comes to international marketing, it's just different over there. To be an effective international marketer, it's crucial that we not only understand, but embrace these differences. This high level international discussion would be facilitated by a panel consisting of GSA's, a DMC, and an International Tourism Publisher.

Option B: What's behind the social media curtain?

Tagging and boosting and targeting ... oh my. In this practical and highly relevant training, we'll help attendees navigate the vast and often murky waters of social media. From when to boost a post to how many hashtags is too many, attendees will learn the fundamentals of social media management through live demonstration of best practices. We'll also take a closer look at analytics, algorithms and targeting, to amplify your social reach.

Option C: Get your tickets here! A profile of the American attractions visitor.

Wouldn't it be great if we already knew what visitors wanted? Well, consider this your lucky day. This breakout will offer a detailed look at the motivations, preferences and purchase behaviors of the American attractions visitor, giving attendees immediately actionable insights.

12:15 pm - 2:15 pm

Annual State of the State Tourism Address Luncheon

President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – A Doubletree by Hilton
This luncheon 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 2017 another great year. Sponsored by Rosemont

Cory Jobe, Director, Illinois Office of Tourism

2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Tradeshow Hall/Networking Break

Visit our Tradeshow exhibitors now and throughout the day to network with fellow tourism and travel professionals, acquire new business opportunities and more!

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Breakout Sessions

Option A: Mobile Matters - 5 Tips to Engage Travelers via Mobile

In fact, Travelzoo’s global travel trends survey revealed more than 69% of travelers booked a hotel via their mobile device. And more travelers researched their vacation via mobile. Learn five actionable tips to engage visitors and drive business via mobile.

Option B: Is your content king?

"Content is king," etc, etc. We've heard it a million times. But has anyone ever told you that not all content is created equal? Some content doesn't get to be the king. To be successful in the content marketing arena, we can't simply produce any old content - we must produce good content. In this practical how to session, we'll walk attendees through how to create amazing content that effectively engages their target markets.

Sponsored by Miles Partnership

Option C: The Sustainable Traveler

Who are they, and how do we get them here? Sustainable travelers are more than backpackers wandering in the forest. In 2016, these broad-minded visitors spend more, stay longer, bring more multi-generational travelers, and are more frequent leisure and business travelers. In The Sustainable Traveler breakout, we'll discuss the importance of sustainability in travel and tourism, and offer a profile for this valuable and growing market.

4:00 pm - 4:15 pm

Tradeshow Hall/Networking Break

Visit our Tradeshow exhibitors now and throughout the day to network with fellow tourism and travel professionals, acquire new business opportunities and more!

4:15 pm - 5:15 pm

General Session – Designing a Brand Experience

Speaker: Johnny "Cupcakes" Earle, Brand Expert, Entrepreneur and founder of Johnny Cupcakes, World’s First T-Shirt Bakery.

The Ultimate Branding Tool Box
If you were a product what box would you come in? If you were a business what uniform would your staff wear? In a world where millionaires are made on blogs, and a website review can break a billion-dollar business, what are you doing as a person in business to grow your brand?
Nobody understands the power of a brand more than Johnny Earle and in this passion fueled presentation he talks to employees, CEO’s and business owners on how they can generate a world-class reputation that is impossible to ignore.

Key takeaways include:

Shiny packages – simple tricks that you or your team can use to stand out
Disruptive marketing – ways to create a buzz that people share
First up – how to take a ‘great’ first impression and make it unforgettable
Cut through – the messaging you can use to ensure you are remembered

Sponsored by Choose Chicago

5:15 pm - 6:00 pm

Tradeshow Reception

Close the day by mingling with exhibitors and industry peers you connected with earlier in the day over a cocktail at the closing Tradeshow Reception.

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


The Illinois Governors Conference annual Tuesday networking event will be held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Attendees are invited to relax and unwind at this famed Springfield destination, with hors d'oeuvres and beverages on hand throughout the night. Explore the Museum's rich history, and make a few new connections along the way!

Sponsored by ICCVB and The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

9:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Rock the “Statehouse” After Party

You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here" says Abe. No problem. Join us for a night cap after Tuesday night's reception. Stroll over to the Old State Capitol Building for a special after party featuring live music from Chicago's own The Gold Web.

Opener for KISS and The Smashing Pumpkins and recipients of Chicago Reader’s ‘Best Onstage Psychedelic Costume Party’ award, The Gold Web has produced three albums, including “The Gold Web”, “Freaks”, and “Natural Born Mystic”, while continuing to make their mark in the art and music communities. “These characters live in a world where the underground art party never stops,” shared Chicago Singles Club. “The Gold Web is an exciting and refreshing mix of today’s taste and nostalgic greats,” reputes Columbia Chronicle.

Wednesday, March 22

8:00 am - 8:45 am


Sponsored by Museums in the Park

8:45 am - 9:00 am

Break/Networking time

President Abraham Lincoln Springfield – A Doubletree by Hilton
Guests will be given time to recharge, regroup and proceed to the next session on the schedule.

9:00 am - 10:00 am

Closing General Session – The Power of Museums

Speaker: Don Wildman, Television Explorer and Host of the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum

For the past two decades, Don Wildman has built his reputation as a television explorer investigating historical mysteries at home and abroad.  As host and narrator of Travel Channel’s long-running hit series, Mysteries at the Museum, he escorts his audience to institutions iconic and obscure, searching out the amazing artifacts and relics from civilization’s most fascinating and unlikely events.

Sponsored by FleishmanHillard

10:15 am - 11:00 am

Optional Enjoy Illinois New Website Training

Speaker: Daniel Thomas, CEO of TimeZoneOne

Speaker: Dan Holowack, CEO and CoFounder of CrowdRiff