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, December 6

1:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Registration & Media Auction Open

5:30 pm - 6:15 pm

Happy Hour for First-Time Attendees

Kick off the conference 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: Sable Hotel - Lirica

6:15 pm - 7:00 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: World Wide Technology Raceway

Location: Sable Hotel Ballroom

7:15 pm - 10:00 pm

Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards Dinner

Join us in the Aon Grand Ballroom 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.

The emcee for the evening will be Val Warner, the Emmy Award-Winning co-host of Windy City Weekend on ABC 7.

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

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

Tuesday, December 7

8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Registration Open

8:00 am - 5:15 pm

Trade Show Exhibits Open

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

Location: Lakeview Terrace

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 Group

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

8:30 am - 9:30 am

General Session: Keynote Speaker Adam Sacks

Navigating the Perilous Road to Recovery

The leisure market has led the recovery to date, and economic fundamentals point to a solid foundation for continued rebuilding. However, business and group travel remain suppressed and risks to the recovery remain. Adam Sacks will share Tourism Economics’ latest views on the economy, the mindset of travelers, and expectations for how and when travel will fully recover.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

9:45 am - 10:30 am

General Session: Keynote Speaker Arwa Mahdawi

While companies have spent a lot of time talking about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, the results have frequently been disappointing. Consultant, journalist and author of Strong Female Lead: Lessons from Women in Power Arwa Mahdawi looks at why so many corporate DEI initiatives have either backfired or made little ground--and reveals the surprising solution to diversity in the workplace.

Joining Arwa will be Gloria Castillo, Founder of CMC Enterprises, LLC, who is a pioneering advocate for diversity, inclusion and social and economic justice through the lens of business.

Sponsor: TimeZoneOne

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

10:30 am - 11:15 am

Trade Show Networking Break

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

Location: Lakeview Terrace

11:15 am - 12:00 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

How to Have a Successful Collaboration between DMOs and Sports Facilities

Speakers: Scott Dahl, Springfield CVB | Joan Kranovich, Visit Quad Cities | Jayne DeLuce, Visit Champaign County | Greg Mihalich, Illinois Office of Tourism (moderator)

Sports tourism continues to score as the booming industry is once again ready to reach pre-pandemic levels of economic growth. Top executives from Illinois' well-known sports destinations open up on how sports can drive tourism through full fan capacity stadiums and how "tournacations" are hitting home runs for local businesses that found themselves struggling just a year ago.

Everything You Need to Know About TikTok

Speakers: Rachel Atkinson, Brand Development Manager, TikTok | Genesis Villarreal, Social Media Manager, TimeZoneOne | Jenna Drenten, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Quinlan School of Business (moderator)

Millions of users turn to TikTok to find the best places to eat, explore and stay as the hot social media app continues to grow in popularity. Learn how consumers are using the platform, how it is utilized in travel and marketing, and get expert tips on creating compelling content.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Interactive Workshop

Speakers: Arwa Mahdawi, Brand Strategist and Author | Andrew Bell, VP of Client Engagement, TimeZoneOne

As our country continues to work towards advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, this session will bring together diverse voices with expert insights to help move the travel and tourism industry forward. Building off her keynote address, Arwa Mahdawi will facilitate an interactive workshop for attendees to learn how to eliminate behaviors that create barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Sponsor: Visit Quad Cities

Location: Breakout Rooms

12:15 pm - 1:00 pm


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

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

1:00 pm - 1:45 pm

General Session: Keynote Speaker Rishad Tobaccowala

Reinventing to Thrive

Rishad Tobaccowala is an expert in getting people to see, think and feel differently about how to grow themselves, their teams and their businesses. In this keynote, he will review the key long-term changes caused by Covid-19, how we can best change as people to thrive in the years ahead, and how to upgrade our ability to drive revenue and satisfy consumers/visitors in new ways.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

1:45 pm - 2:15 pm

Trade Show Networking Break

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.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

2:15 pm - 3:00 pm

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

Reigniting Demand – Insights & Solutions to Help Travel Marketers Recover and Rebuild

Speaker: Matt Hansen, Expedia Director, North America (Gaming, Programmatic, Display) 

This session will use insights from Expedia Group's first-party data and industry research to demonstrate how to recover and rebuild demand for destinations. Learn about the latest traveler trends including where, when, and how travelers are shopping for and booking travel. We’ll also share case studies showcasing how destinations are reaching and converting travel shoppers during this time.

Understanding Illinois Travelers Through Research and Data

Speakers: Ktimene Axetell, Vice President of Industry Relations at Arrivalist | Andria Godfrey, Vice President of Longwoods International

Arrivalist and Longwoods partner to provide Illinois and its DMOs insights from two key research instruments for a full picture of the Illinois traveler and opportunities along the road ahead. In this session you’ll be provided with key insights into the current and evolving Illinois domestic travel market and its position in the competitive travel landscape. The speakers in this session will share ways in which the Illinois' visitor has changed in the past two years, where recent visitors are going in the state, and what trends are presenting themselves as travel continues to stabilize.

What's Your Story? Get the Inside Scoop on Pitching Stories & Using Influencers

Speakers: Matt Lohmus, @chicagomatt | Leyla Tran, @secondcitymom | Cindy Richards, Editor at | Laura Powell, Veteran Travel Journalist and Destination Marketing Consultant | Kristin Bienert, Editorial Content Manager at Meredith / Midwest Living (moderator)

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 consumer engagement.

Sponsor: Illinois Restaurant Association

Location: Breakout Rooms

3:00 pm - 3:45 pm

Trade Show Networking Break

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.

Location: Lakeview Terrace

3:45 pm - 4:30 pm

General Session: Keynote Speaker Matthew Landkamer

Regional Collaboration

What happens when neighboring destinations start working together to draw common visitors, even if they are mismatched in terms of budget, destination assets, or target visitors? How can destination organizations team up to have a greater positive impact on their regional visitor economy?

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

4:30 pm - 5:15 pm

Last Call Exhibitor Trade Show 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 Trade Show Reception.

Sponsor: Crowdriff

Location: Lakeview Terrace

5:15 pm - 6:15 pm

Free Time

Guests will have some time to relax and prepare for the evening.

6:15 pm - 6:30 pm

Transfer to Event

6:30 pm - 10:00 pm

Evening Event: A Unique Navy Pier Experience

Navy Pier Centennial Wheel | Ride at your leisure

Our hosts have graciously provided all conference attendees the opportunity to ride the famous Centennial Wheel during the course of the conference. You will receive your tickets at registration, so make sure to take advantage by grabbing some of the best skyline pictures in the city!

6:30 - 7:30 | Light up the Lake

Enjoy a drink as you explore Chicagoland’s biggest indoor light garden, which features more than 600,000 lights and dazzling oversized sculptures. Stop and capture memorable photos as you stroll past a giant teddy bear, traverse a 60-foot light tunnel, and gaze in wonder at a 40-foot tree.

7:30 - 10:00 | Eat, Drink & Be Merry at Offshore

Cap off a day of tourism insights and vibrant networking at the nation’s largest rooftop venue, conveniently located atop Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. At Offshore, attendees can mix and mingle as they enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan, an elegant full-service bar, and several cozy fire pits. Food and beverage provided!

Host Sponsor: Navy Pier and Offshore


Wednesday, December 8

8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Destination Day

Destination Day is back for ILGOVCONF 21!

Join us in celebrating the final day of the Illinois Governor's Conference on Travel & Tourism by teaming up with your co-workers and representing your organization with your attire.

This can include your logo, your colors — or simply a creative expression of who you are. Not only is this a conversation starter, it's a great opportunity to represent your destination in a fun way on the last day of the conference.

8:00 am - 10:00 am

Registration Open

8:00 am - 9:15 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!

8:30 am - 9:15 am

Networking Breakfast

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

Sponsor: The Art Institute of Chicago 

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

9:30 am - 10:30 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 2022 another great year.

10:45 am - 11:30 am

Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions (subject to change):

Tourism Panel: What's Keeping Us Up at Night? 

Speakers: Scott Struchen, Founder & Chief Commercial Officer of Tangled Roots Brewing Company | Dave Herrell, President and CEO of Visit Quad Cities | Nora Gainer, Director of Civic Relations and Partnerships, Art Institute of Chicago | Dan Scott, Vice President of Operations for Posh Hospitality Group | Daniel Thomas, President & CEO of TimeZoneOne (moderator)

While the tourism industry continues to grow and strengthen, we still face tough challenges daily. In advance of this session, you'll be asked to send in one thing that keeps you up at night for our panel of travel and tourism industry professionals to address and provide actionable solutions for.

Niche Travel Trends: Cannabis, Wellness & Sustainability 

Speaker: Cathy Ritter, Founder and CEO of Better Destinations LLC

Dive into three of the most buzzed about travel trends: cannabis, wellness and sustainability. Why are they important, who is traveling this way and how can you capitalize on it?

Design & Photography: How You Can Easily Step It Up

Speakers: Angela Coster, Creative Director at OKRP | Kylee Krizmanic, Editor in Chief at Meredith (Midwest Living) | Cara Sanna, VP of Customer Success at CrowdRiff | Cara Sanna, VP Customer Success, Crowdriff | Melissa Luebbe, Client Management Director at OKRP (moderator)

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

Location: Breakout Rooms

11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Lunch/General Session: Keynote Speaker 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 Travel Marketing

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom

12:45 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Closure & Air New Zealand Ticket Winner Announcement

That's a wrap! Guests must be present to be eligible to win the Air New Zealand tickets.

Location: Aon Grand Ballroom