Schedule of Events

2018 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism
Schedule Announcements

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Sunday, February 25

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 third annual IVT event, the Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT), invites all conference attendees to give back to the Chicago tourism community. Don’t miss out on an afternoon of 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. If you've already registered for the conference, but would still like to attend the IVT event, please email Colleen Correll at

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

IVT Participant Thank You Reception

On behalf of the Illinois Office of Tourism, this exclusive event will pay thanks to the dedicated tourism professionals involved in the day's volunteer event.

Monday, February 26

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Monday Leader Lab – Anirban Basu, Chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group

At the Governor's Conference, we're always looking for new and exciting ways to sharpen our attendees. That's why ILGOV18 is proud to announce the return of our Monday Leader Lab. Join us Monday, February 26 as we learn from acclaimed economist Anirban Basu.

Back by popular demand, Anirban is the chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group, Inc., an economic and policy consulting firm in Baltimore, MD. Anirban is one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s most recognizable economists, serving a variety of prominent clients, including developers, bankers, brokerage houses, energy suppliers and law firms. On behalf of government agencies and non-profit organizations, he has written several high-profile economic development strategies. Among other roles, Mr. Basu serves as the chief economist to Associated Builders and Contractors (national) and as chief economic advisor to the Construction Financial Management Association.

5:00 pm - 6:00 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 Cory Jobe, Director of Illinois Office of Tourism, in addition to tourism professionals and other industry leaders from across the state.

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.

7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner

The awards honor innovative tourism marketing initiatives that promote the outstanding destinations, attractions and events throughout Illinois. Awards submission closes on January 5th, 2018 at 5:00pm CST. 

Tuesday, February 27

8:30 am - 9:15 am

Arrival and breakfast

Sponsored by Museums in the Park

9:15 am - 9:30 am

Break/Networking time

Guests will be given time to recharge, regroup and proceed to the next session on the schedule.

9:30 am - 10:30 am

Opening Keynote: Carroll Rheem, Vice President of Research & Analytics at Brand USA

A noted industry expert, Carroll is a sought after speaker and is quoted frequently in trade and consumer media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TIME magazine and Conde Nast Traveler. Carroll’s extensive background in travel distribution and marketing combined with her research expertise has established her as a trusted authority on global traveler and commercial trends. Carroll earned her Master of Management in hospitality from Cornell University and her BA in economics from New York University.

10:30 am - 11:00 am

Break/Networking Time

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.

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Breakout Sessions

Option A: Power to the Pitch

As anyone who’s ever tried getting a story on a news desk can tell you, earned media is tough work. Our all-star panel of PR and media professionals will help you determine what’s news-worthy and provide insider-tips to get your stories noticed.
Moderator: Marla Cichowski
Panel Speakers: Kit Bernardi, Jake Eastburn and Lisa Lubin

Option B: Secrets to Better Selling

From the smallest local bed & breakfast to the largest global corporation, there’s one skill that transcends all industries – selling. This session will provide you with the knowledge you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors by creating a sales strategy that adds value every day. Learn about new tools for your destinations, hotels, attractions and industry partners to quickly expand influence and meet customer needs.
Speaker: Dave Hamilton – Senior Vice President, Signature Worldwide

Option C: Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

So celebrity endorsements aren’t in your budget this year – that doesn’t mean you can’t do great marketing. From low-budget to no-budget, we’ll teach you how to utilize low-cost channels and leverage the Illinois Office of Tourism’s global efforts to make your marketing dollars go further.
Speaker: Coming soon!

12:15 pm - 2:15 pm

Crisis Management Luncheon featuring Dr. Peter Tarlow, PH.D., Founder and President of Tourism & More

Dr. Peter E. Tarlow is a world-renowned speaker and expert specializing in the impact of crime and terrorism on the tourism industry, event and tourism risk management and tourism and economic development. Since 1990, Tarlow has been aiding the industry with issues such as travel safety and security, economic development, creative marketing and creative thought.

Tarlow has appeared on nationally televised programs such as Dateline: NBC and CNBC and is a regular guest on radio stations around the country. He is the recipient of the International Chiefs of Police’s highest civilian honor for his work in tourism security.

2:15 pm - 2:45 pm

Break/Networking Time

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.

2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Breakout Session

Option A: Have Video, Will Travel

Video is ubiquitous in today’s digital landscape. As the easiest and best way to tell your brand’s story, video is a must for the savvy marketer. This insightful session demystifies video best-practices and provides immediately actionable tips to start producing high-quality videos for your audience.
Speaker: Lisa Lubin, Travel & Food Writer and Photographer, Emmy®-Award Winning TV Producer and Founder of LLmedia

Option B: The Importance of the Evolving LGBTQ Travel Segment

This session is designed for travel professionals interested in learning about the lucrative LGBTQ travel segment as well as best practices in marketing to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer travelers. Just bring an open mind and your questions. Join this interactive and informative panel with leading experts in LGBTQ travel.
Moderator: Ed Salvato
Speakers: Tracy Baim (additional speaker info coming soon)

Option C: Untitled Expedia Breakout

More info coming soon!

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Closing General Session

Details coming soon!

5:00 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.

Wednesday, February 28

8:30 am - 9:00 am

Break/Networking Time

Guests will be given time to regroup and proceed to the next session on the schedule.

9:00 am - 11:00 am

State of the State Tourism Address Breakfast

This breakfast 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 2018 another great year.

Cory Jobe, Director, Illinois Office of Tourism