2019 Schedule of Events

Sunday, February 3

5:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Super Sunday Funday Watch Party

On Sunday, February 3 — the night before the conference kicks off — come mingle (or trash talk) with your fellow attendees with an all-American event: a watch party for the biggest game of the year!

Before the Rams and Patriots kick off in Atlanta, the ILGOV fun begins at Elephant and Castle (111 W. Adams St.).

From 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., we will have beer, wine and football fare — all for just $25.

To RSVP, please click here to register ahead of time.

Monday, February 4

8:00 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.


This Year's Event

Join your fellow conference attendees at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. Descend into an Egyptian tomb, explore Aztec and Inca empires, journey to the prehistoric land of dinosaurs, giant sloths and woolly mammoths or shrink to 1/100 of your natural size and explore the subterranean world. Work alongside Field staffers to create interactive scavenger hunts, personalized content for guests and learning guides for educational groups.

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 & IVT Reception

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.

IVT 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. (Please note, that this event is by invitation only.)

Location: Red Lacquer Room

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

Sponsored by: Chicagoland Speedway & Route 66 Raceway

7:45 pm - 10:30 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner

Featuring the Magic of Dennis Watkins

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: Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by: Illinois Office of Tourism

Tuesday, February 5

7:30 am - 4:30 pm

Registration Opens

8:00 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: Innovation Hall/State Ballroom

8:30 am - 9:15 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: Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by: Expedia Group Media Solutions

9:30 am - 10:30 am

General Session 1: 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, President, Futurecast

Location: Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by: Epsilon Agency

10:30 am - 11:00 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.

Sponsored by: AAA Living

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Breakout Sessions

Option A: Creating a Snackable Content Ecosystem

Headed by keynote speaker Jeff Fromm, this Breakout Session includes a short presentation followed by a lively, collaborative discussion. Creating easily digestible content that resonates with consumers is one of the digital marketing's biggest challenges. How can you create content that amplifies on social media, where consumers can't wait to share it with their networks? This session will cover how to use and create snackable content in line with best practices, equipping you with the recipes to create snackable content that's delicious enough to share.

Speaker: Jeff Fromm, President, Futurecast

Location: Salon 3


Option B: 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, International Speaker, Author and Business Strategist

Location: Salon 4


Option C: 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, Co-founder, HospitableMe

Location: Salon 7

Sessions Sponsored by: Nomadic

12:15 pm - 2:15 pm

General Session 2: Speaker Luncheon & Panel – “Road Trips Roll On” 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.


Speakers: George Zimmermann (Chairman, Longwoods International USA Inc.); Cathy Ritter (Director, Colorado Tourism Office); Paul Winkle (SVP Global Marketing, Miles Partnerships)

Location: Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by: The Magnificent Mile Association

2:15 pm - 2:45 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.

Sponsored by: AAA Living

2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Breakout Sessions

Option A: Multi-Generational Travelers – Are You Adapting?

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, International Speaker, Author and Business Strategist

Location: Salon 4


Option B: The Power of Pinterest and Visually Stunning Content

Pinterest is one of the most powerful guest engagement platforms out there, specifically for travel, because it’s 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 the latent opportunity for travel marketers. It’s an incredibly visual tool, which also means that visually stunning content is important – not just for Pinterest, but at other points in the consumer journey as well.

In this session, Karen Cahn, VP of Travel and Tourism for Nomadic Agency, will dive into insights on Pinterest and tips on taking advantage of this tool. Joining her is Aidan Ryan, Account Executive with Crowdriff, who will discuss the importance of visually stunning user-generated content, how to source it and use it to attract visitors.

Speakers: Karen Cahn (VP of Travel and Tourism, Nomadic); Aidan Ryan (Account Executive, CrowdRiff)

Location: Salon 7


Option C: The Lowdown on Illinois Tourism Grants

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. Application deadlines for 2019 Grants are fast approaching — and tourism grant managers are here to help.

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.

Speakers: Jan Kemmerling (Acting State Director, Illinois Office of Tourism), Greg Mihalich (Local Tourism and Convention Bureau Grant Manager, Illinois Office of Tourism), Tracey Minder (Tourism Grants Manager, Illinois Office of Tourism)

Location: Salon 3

Sessions sponsored by: TimeZoneOne

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

General Session 3: “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. Sit down with senior editors from Meredith publications to learn how you can start inspiring travel through the art of storytelling.

Moderator: MaryPat Moore, Integrated Account Manager, Meredith

Speakers: Trevor Meers (Editorial Content Director, Midwest Living); Jesse Ashlock (Executive Editor, Travel + Leisure); Kit Bernardi (Contributing Editor, Midwest Living | KitTravels.com)

Location: Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by: Meredith

5:00 pm - 6:30 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.

Location: Innovation Hall/State Ballroom

Sponsored by: Illinois Council of Convention & Visitor Bureaus

6:30 pm - 12:00 am

Dine Around Chicago

Delicious news! This year, the Governor's Conference coincides with Chicago Restaurant Week. In honor of the event, set out on your own to enjoy dinner amidst Chicago's legendary culinary scene.

Thanks to the support of Choose Chicago, we have worked with Concierge Preferred to get 11 great restaurants that will give you a complimentary appetizer as a sign of our appreciation. Please note that many of these restaurants also have Restaurant Week specials — in addition to the complimentary appetizer.

Simply let concierge extraordinaire Shannon Boland know which restaurant you’d like a reservation for, how big your party is and at what time and she will take care of it.

Attendees of ILGOV19 can take advantage of additional special offers available at these 11 restaurants:

Sponsored by: Choose Chicago

Wednesday, February 6

7:45 am - 9:00 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!

The Media Auction closes promptly at 9 a.m.!

7:45 am - 11:00 am

Registration Opens

8:30 am - 10:15 am

General Session 4: Networking Breakfast & Speaker – “Attract Raving Fans without Spending a Fortune”

Discover how to deal your own destiny with a Wow! Learn a two step process to attract more tourists no matter what you do in the Industry. Three million people listen to Kate on her syndicated radio show, she knows how to create buzz. After her session you'll have the same actionable steps for stronger connections and bigger profits.

Speaker: Kate Delaney

Location: Red Lacquer Room

10:30 am - 10:40 am

Welcome Remarks

Speaker: Erin Guthrie, Acting Director, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO)

Location: Grand Ballroom

10:40 am - 11:30 am

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 2019 another great year.

Location: Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by: Village of Rosemont