2019 Schedule of Events

Monday, February 4

7:30 am - 8:00 pm

Registration Opens

1:30 pm - 3:30 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 fourth annual IVT event, the Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT) invites all conference attendees to give back. 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.

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.

Location: 2nd Floor Mezzanine

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.

Location: Red Lacquer Room

7:45 pm - 10:30 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner

Roll up your sleeves and get ready for a night of magical entertainment. Over dinner and drinks, 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: Ballroom

Tuesday, February 5

7:45 am - 4:30 pm

Registration Opens

8:00 am - 8:45 am

Networking Breakfast

Join your fellow attendees for a plated breakfast in the Grand Ballroom — the setting for many of the day's travel insights, starting with our first General Session at 9:15 a.m.

Location: Ballroom

9:00 am - 6:30 pm

Tradeshow Exhibits Open

Many companies have come together to showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services. The Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism Tradeshow is conveniently located in the shared Exhibit Space next to the Grand Ballroom.

The Tradeshow will take place all day on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Location: Exhibit Space

9:15 am - 10:15 am

General Session: Marketing to Gen Z

A contributing writer for Forbes, Jeff Fromm has been an expert on consumer trends and marketing for more than 25 years. In that time, he's co-authored several books on marketing to different generations, including Marketing to Millennials, Millennials with Kids, and his latest, Marketing to Gen Z.

During this general session, Jeff shares his insights on one of the most powerful emerging forces in the market — the generation born between 1996 & 2010 known as Generation Z. Expect to come away with insights on topics such as how youth culture trends impact other consumer markets or what kind of information resonates with Gen Zers, especially when it comes to selecting a destination for their next trip.

Speaker: Jeff Fromm, Contributing Writer for Forbes

Location: Ballroom

10:15 am - 10:45 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.

10:45 am - 11:45 am

Breakout Sessions

Option A: The Power of Partnerships: Using Your Neighbors to Grow Your Tourism

Today’s smart communities understand that the sharing of ideas and resources among like-minded communities can lead to new found success. This seminar will give you the ideas and tools to develop and plan for long-term partnerships that will help grow your tourism for years to come. The opportunities for these little kinds of partnerships are endless. No matter what community or city you’re in, you share tourists with other communities. Find yourself a tourism buddy or two and pass those tourists around and keep them in your state.

Speaker: Barbara Wold


Option B: Genderbread Person: Tinkering with the Hospitality Gene

LGBTQ travel expert Ed Salvato is back by popular demand to help conference attendees achieve success in the LGBTQ market. This lively, interactive, informative session will help you:

  • Understand LGBTQ markets, specific issues and mindsets
  • Be comfortable and confident engaging with LGBTQ guests (rather than retreating from them)
  • Deliver personalized, anticipator service to diverse guests of all kinds travel

Speaker: Ed Salvato, Chief Content Officer for HospitableMe

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Panel Luncheon: Road Trip Research from Longwoods International

As one of the most trusted firms in advertising research, Longwoods International has gathered key insights on an important market segment, the Great American Road Trip. During this panel, Longwoods Chairman George Zimmermann and other industry experts will share their insights with attendees.

New research from Longwoods International will demonstrate the growth in both numbers and economic impact of road tripping. Along with sharing data, the discussion will include insights in how to market this booming segment and to create new product to attract touring travelers.

Location: Ballroom

1:45 pm - 2:15 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.

2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

Breakout Sessions

Option A: Multi-Generational Travelers

Tap into the hottest trend in travel. From grandparents to grandkids, families today are jet setting together. Forget leaving the kids at home or telling your parents you’ll see them next Thanksgiving. Today, more extended families are taking trips together. In fact, travel agents report that 35% of clients take multi-generational trips once a year. So what is behind this growing trend of families jet-setting together?

Speaker: Barbara Wold


Option B: Why Pinterest?

Pinterest is one of the most powerful guest engagement platforms out there, specifically for travel, because it is a search tool that can be used to engage along their entire journey. With over 200 million monthly users of which 68% of them are building boards for places they want to travel, it is latent opportunity for travel marketers.

Did you know that more exploratory searches happen on Pinterest than on Google? And unlike social platforms, the lifespan of a pin is as long as the relevance of its content. Best of all, people expect to link off to your site – where they can learn more and book!

Join Tim Washburn, Managing Partner of Nomadic Agency, for helpful insights and tips on how to take advantage of this tool before your competitors do.

Speaker: Tim Washburn, Managing Partner of Nomadic Agency

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.

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

General Session: “The Power of Storytelling” by Meredith Editors

Here in the travel industry, we're in the business of telling stories. And nobody knows the storytelling game better than our friends at Meredith Corporation. Sit down with senior editors from publications such as Parents, Travel + Leisure and Midwest Living to learn how you can start inspiring travel through the art of storytelling.

Speakers: Editors of Meredith publications

Location: Salons

Sponsored by: Meredith Travel Marketing

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Last Call Exhibitor Tradeshow

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.

Location: Exhibitor Hall

Sponsored by: Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus

6:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Dine Around Chicago

Set out on your own to enjoy dinner amidst Chicago's legendary culinary scene. The local experts at Concierge Preferred will be on hand to make recommendations (and help make reservations) for Chicago restaurants.

Sponsored by: Choose Chicago

Wednesday, February 6

7:45 am - 4:30 pm

Registration Opens

8:15 am - 9:00 am

Networking Breakfast and 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!

Location: Grand Ballroom

10:30 am - 1:30 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 2018 another great year.

Location: Ballroom