Conference Schedule

Download the 2019 Conference Book

Monday, February 4

 

Registration: 12 to 5 p.m.

2 p.m.

 

Welcome & Year in Review

2:30 p.m.

 

Opening Presentation
Sponsored by Adventure Creative and True Media

Finding Your True North

Director John Edman will be joined by members of Explore Minnesota’s new advertising agency, Adventure Creative, along with media strategy partner True Media, to debut the new Explore Minnesota campaign will launch this spring. Attendees will be among the first to learn about this cutting-edge campaign, and leave with new tools and ideas to integrate the message into their own efforts in the months and years ahead.

3:45 p.m.

 

Breakout Session 1

 

 

Get to Know Explore Minnesota
Sponsored by Fox Sports North

Presented by Explore Minnesota staff

A must-attend for Tourism Conference and tourism industry newbies, this session will give you an overview of the many ways you can get involved with Explore Minnesota programs. Get the 101 on international marketing, co-ops and partnerships, public relations, social media, grants, welcome centers, advertising opportunities and more.

Google's New DMO Dashboard
Sponsored by Casual Astronaut

Google's travel content ecosystem is evolving rapidly, introducing new products and features on a weekly basis and influencing more travelers than ever before. Did you know that, on average, 10 to 20 times as many people interact with your business within Google's products than visit your website? In this session, learn about how you can optimize your presence within Google to better promote your business to potential travelers.

Nate Huff is a senior vice president at Miles Partnership, a marketing agency that specializes in the travel and tourism vertical. Nate has spent the last 15 years working with destinations and travel brands to craft content and media strategies that generate measurable results. He is currently leading Miles Partnership's Google destination content initiative, which was unveiled at Destination International's 2017 Annual Conference and now includes more than 50 participating destinations.

Public Policy 101
Presented by MACVB

You are the expert in running your organization. You know what helps and what hinders success when bringing visitors into your community or region. However, sometimes public policy can seem tedious, daunting and difficult to navigate; like an "insiders only" club. In this session, you'll learn how to be an advocate for both your organization and Minnesota's tourism industry.

Todd Hill is the founder and president of Hill Capitol Strategies Inc. He has over 20 years of combined experience in government affairs and politics in Minnesota. Hill is nationally respected for his government affairs abilities and knowledge of both the legislative and political process. He has worked on a variety of issues ranging from telecommunication reform to taxes and business regulations to tort reform.

Tony Kwilas has worked in various capacities in the Minnesota Senate, most recently as committee administrator for the Environment and Resources Committee. Kwilas founded T. K & Associates in 1995, a public relations and public affairs firm that specializes in representing business, environment and natural resources interests. He has represented various clients at the State Capitol, including Hospitality Minnesota.

Sarah Psick established Psick Capitol Solutions Inc. in 2016 as a private lobbying firm focused on representing clients at the Minnesota Legislature and government agencies. With over 20 years' experience in government affairs, Psick and her firm represent corporations, trade associations, nonprofits and local governments in a fast-paced environment while providing individual service with attention to detail.

5 p.m.

 

Legislative Reception at the Minnesota State Capitol
Hosted by Visit Saint Paul

Meet and talk with elected officials and network with your industry peers at the State Capitol. Enjoy hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar and docent-led tours of the newly remodeled state Capitol, provided by the Minnesota Historical Society. Complimentary shuttles will run in a loop from the Capitol and InterContinental St. Paul.

     

Tuesday, February 5

 

Registration: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

8 a.m.

 

Networking Breakfast

8:45 a.m.

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Keynote Presentation 1
Sponsored by Take 5 Media

What Travelers Really Want … (and How to Give it to Them!)

In this thrilling presentation, global trends expert Daniel Levine will take you on a deep dive to reveal what today's travelers are actually thinking and feeling. You will discover the real values and attitudes behind why they buy, understand trends that are quickly changing the consumer landscape, and learn from organizations, brands and products that are embracing trends and change with spectacular results. Daniel will arm you with powerful tools your business can use to ride these same trends, attract more customers and increase sales – in ways your competitors simply can't.

Daniel Levine (DanielLevine.com) is one of the world's best-known trends experts. Called "the ultimate guru of cool" by CNN, he is the author of over 20 best-selling books and a frequent guest on international TV and radio. Daniel is the executive director of a New York-based trends consultancy, where he leads a team of trend-spotters who track the latest ideas and experiences from around the globe. As a consultant, Daniel works with travel businesses and destinations around the world to help them be more relevant, innovative and profitable.

     

10 a.m.

 

Break in Marketplace
Sponsored by Greenspring Media

10:30 a.m.

 

Breakout Session 2

Shiny New Objects
Sponsored by Hospitality Minnesota

Video, big data and websites continue to garner the majority of our attention in the day-to-day work of destination marketing organizations. If any of these statements resonate with you, you'll want to attend this session: "I don't have the time or staff to do video well." "My website has issues and I don't know where to start." "I know who I want to reach, I'm just not sure how to reach them." This session will be a mix of technology demonstration and Q&A.

Experts Panel: Creating Impactful Events
Sponsored by Miles Media

Do you want to create an event for your community but don't know where to start, or feel you can't because you're a one-person office? Hear from others in your position about how to create, manage and fund a signature event for your community, plus other creative tips and resources from event industry experts.

Julie Wearn, President & CEO
Roseville Visitors Association

Julie believes that ideas are the seeds of transformation, and she actively seeks out experiences that generate and incubate new ideas for promoting and increasing tourism to 'Perfectly Positioned' Roseville. It's been said that Julie has never met a bad idea ... and her team has the stories to prove it (both good … and bad)!

Linda Jurek, Executive Director
Visit Cook County

With a diverse professional background ranging from the Duluth Chamber to major event planning and entrepreneurship, Linda has seen it all. After 30 years in Duluth, Linda returned to her family's cabin just outside of Grand Marais as the executive director of Visit Cook County. During her tenure, lodging tax has seen double-digit increases and the brand has been firmly established in the DMO marketplace.

Ali Parsons Towle, Development Manager
The Loppet Foundation

Ali is responsible for all institutional fundraising and grant efforts at The Loppet Foundation, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that builds community through outdoor events and programs for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities. A Minnesota native, Ali has worked in nonprofit fundraising for 10 years, and is an avid cross-country skier, bike racer and runner.

Managing the Unknown: Crisis Communication Planning
Sponsored by Maly Marketing

The worst thing that can happen when a crisis hits is to not have a plan in place. In this session, you'll learn basic and essential steps for creating a foolproof crisis communication plan, and how to quickly integrate PR, social media and marketing during dire times. Hear tips, tricks and case studies from Greg Zimprich, director of finance communications at Medtronic and president of Minnesota Public Relations Society of America. You'll go back to work better prepared for potential tourism industry unknowns.

Greg Zimprich
Director of Finance Communications, Medtronic
President, Minnesota Public Relations Society of America

Greg Zimprich is responsible for driving communications for global finance at Medtronic. Previously, he served as director of global business communications for Honeywell. His 30-year career includes 20 years with General Mills, where he served as director of brand PR from 2005 to 2012, leading PR and social media efforts for 100+ brands. His agency experience includes leadership roles with Miller Meester Advertising, Weber Shandwick and Kohnstamm Communications. In addition, he's currently an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State University and president of Public Relations Society of America's Minnesota Chapter (PRSA).

 

11:45 a.m.

 

Lunch

12:30 p.m.

Nik Scott-Headshot

 

Keynote Presentation 2
Sponsored by Mall of America

All About The Benjamins: How to Optimize Your Brand in a Pay-to-Play World
Attendees will leave with the ability to identify budget-friendly digital marketing strategies, maximize their social media efforts and create a concrete action plan for optimizing their brand's digital marketing.

Nik Scott is an award-winning personal brand expert, speaker, teacher, influencer and president of Scott Media. Nik has taught thousands of executive-level professionals, small business owners and entrepreneurs how to use social media to grow their brands and influence consumers. Recognized by PR News as a "mover and shaker," Nik has worked with many big brands including Disney, Google and Unilever. Passionate about helping others leverage their unique qualities and strengths as tools to differentiate themselves, Nik is a firm believer in what she calls "selfless self-promotion."

     

1:40 p.m.

 

Break in Marketplace
Sponsored by Adtaxi

2 p.m.

 

Breakout Session 3
Sponsored by AAA Living Magazine

Video You Can Do

We are living in a video-driven world! In this session, gather fresh ideas to help bring video into your marketing mix. We'll review best practices for getting usable content from your smartphone and explore some tools that you can use to create impactful content on the fly. We'll also look at a few content distribution models that will ensure your content is seen by the right audiences. You'll walk away with new skills, creative ideas and practical strategies that will put video at the forefront of your destination's marketing plan.

Brian V. Matson, Senior Director of Strategy & Education
TwoSix Digital

Brian has been part of the travel and tourism industry since 2003. He was a long-time marketing director at the Fargo-Moorhead CVB, where he received Explore Minnesota's Travel Marketing Excellence Award and North Dakota's Governor's Award for Tourism Marketing. He's a great asset to the development of any tourism organization's marketing initiatives due to his vast experience working directly with destinations, along with his vast knowledge of digital marketing. He is known for his entertaining presentation style that makes his talking points stick with attendees.

Experts Panel: Ask the Travel Editors, Writers & Bloggers
Sponsored by The Group Travel Leader

A panel of talented local, regional and national travel media professionals will discuss story ideas that get traction, the type of content they seek, publishing formats they use and more. Get answers to your burning questions about dos and don'ts in story pitching, press trip tips, and freelancers vs. editors.

Gary Arndt is an award-winning blogger and travel photographer who has been traveling the world since 2007. His travels have taken him to 200 countries and territories and all 50 states. His blog, Everything-Everywhere.com, was named one of Time Magazine's "Top 25 Blogs" and has earned numerous awards. He's also won several photography awards, hosts multiple podcasts, and is an accomplished public speaker. He also serves on the board of directors for Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).

Ashlea Helpern is the editor-at-large for AFAR Media and a freelance travel writer for Conde Nast Traveler , Airbnbmag,Bon Appetit,Wired and New York Magazine. She moved to the Twin Cities in 2018 following an exhaustive 16-month, 40-state, 229-city search for the perfect home. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @ashleahalpern and stay tuned for the launch of Minnevangelist, a new digital magazine preaching the gospel of Minnesota's greatness.

Timothy Meinch was born in Ohio, reared in the mountains of North Carolina and transplanted to Des Moines, Iowa. He spent five years as a reporter for The Des Moines Register before joining Midwest Living as travel editor in 2016. Journalism has sent him floating down the Nile River in Uganda, bicycling across the entire state of Iowa and riding in motorcades with presidential candidates. He's a year-round bike commuter and always scheming his next outdoor adventure.

Travel editor Kerri Westenberg has twice been named Travel Journalist of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers. She previously worked at Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and National Geographic magazines. Westenberg's writing has appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Real Simple and other national publications. During her tenure, SATW has named the Star Tribune's Travel section among the top three in the country many times. She is also the author of "State of Wonder," a coffee table book that celebrates the beauty of Minnesota.

Experts Panel: Sports Marketing – Get in the Game with Sports Tourism
Sponsored by Madden Media

Globally, sports tourism is the fastest-growing sector within the travel industry, valued at $11.4 billion. The multiple tiers of benefits that sports tourism offer are unmatched by others, ranging from job creation and community growth to unlocking government funding. Learn from industry experts how to get started, and tips you need to know to grow your business in this arena.

Josh Anderson joined Minneapolis Northwest Tourism in 2014. In addition to his role as director of business development, he focuses on bringing sports tournaments, meetings and special events to the northwest suburbs while helping schedule, plan and execute numerous events for Minneapolis Northwest. Prior to Minneapolis Northwest, Josh worked at Visit Mankato where he helped formalize the Mankato Sports Commission. He currently serves as vice chair of Minnesota Sports, and has been on committees for the National Association of Sports Commissions Symposium.

Leading communications and marketing for the largest amateur sports campus in the world, Barclay Kruse has nearly 40 years of experience in sports events creation, management and marketing. He has managed events ranging from small local programs to components of World Cups and World Championships.

You could say that Al Stauffacher likes sports. In addition to his role as sports marketing director for Twin Cities Gateway, he currently serves as commissioner on the Ham Lake Parks Commission and Charter Commission, coaches baseball, basketball and soccer for Blaine, has served as governor of USA Broomball and is a member of the USA Broomball Hall of Fame.

Trevor Magnuson is a sales and event coordinator for Rochester MN Sports, a non-profit organization focused on selling Rochester as a destination for major state, regional and national sporting events. He has been in his role for nearly three years and has served as the tournament director for the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship, as well as the 2017 and 2019 NJCAA Division III Men's Basketball Championship. He also focuses on sales and event operations for youth basketball, baseball, lacrosse, slow-pitch softball and dance events.

3 p.m.

 

Break in Marketplace

3:30 p.m.

 

The Great Debate
Sponsored by Tempest

Moderator:

Dave Looby , President & CEO
Minneapolis Northwest Tourism

Dave has been the president & CEO of Minneapolis Northwest Tourism since 2007. He was the president of the Minnesota Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus and has served on the public policy committee of the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council and the advocacy committee for Destinations International.

Debate Topic #1: Special Events! Should DMOs get involved or not?

Anna Tanski, President & CEO
Visit Duluth

Anna Tanski has worked in the tourism industry since 1991, beginning in sales at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. In 2005, she joined Visit Duluth where she's served as president/CEO since 2014. Anna was recently appointed to the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council and serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus.

Terry Matson, President & CEO
Visit Saint Paul

A Minnesota travel industry advocate, Mattson was named Explore Minnesota's 2012 "Outstanding Individual in Tourism" and is also a recipient of MACVB's lifetime achievement award. After 28 years with Visit Duluth, he's on the fast-track to making a similar footprint in Minnesota's capital. His experience with events includes creating the Tall Ships festival, founding Duluth National Snocross, and managing several marquee activations surrounding events like Crashed Ice and the NCAA Frozen Four.

Debate Topic #2: All That Swag! A waste of money or marketing gold?

Kellie Sites, President
Waconia Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau

Kellie has served as president of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau since 2007. Working with great people is a highlight for her, and she appreciates the positive energy of the tourism industry. She is a wife, mom, traveler, reader, dancer, triathlete (kind of), and loves a hot microphone.

Megan Christianson, Executive Director
Visit Grand Rapids

As the executive director of Visit Grand Rapids since 2012, Meg also has 20 years of marketing, public relations and trade industry membership/advocacy experience. Christianson currently serves as a board member of the Minnesota Arrowhead Association, and is the northeast Minnesota representative on the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council. She also serves on the Mississippi River Parkway Commission.

4:45 p.m.

 

Marketplace Reception
Sponsored by InterContinental Riverfront Saint Paul Hotel

6:45 p.m.

 

Explore Minnesota Tourism Awards Dinner

     

Wednesday, February 6

 

Registration: 7 to 9 a.m.

8 a.m.

 

Breakfast

9 a.m.

 

Breakout Session 4
Sponsored by Conversant Media

Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas

Every DMO is leaving opportunities on the table when it comes to their digital marketing initiatives. This session will explore some of these missed opportunities and empower DMOs to start executing well-thought-out, fully integrated campaigns. Each attendee will leave the session with a better understanding of what integrated marketing can do for their destination and discover new ways to give their upcoming campaigns an extra boost of sophistication and success.

Brian V. Matson , Senior Director of Strategy & Education
TwoSix Digital

Brian has been part of the travel and tourism industry since 2003. He was a long-time marketing director at the Fargo-Moorhead CVB, where he received Explore Minnesota's Travel Marketing Excellence Award and North Dakota's Governor's Award for Tourism Marketing. He's a great asset to the development of any tourism organization's marketing initiatives due to his vast experience working directly with destinations, along with his vast knowledge of digital marketing. He is known for his entertaining presentation style that makes his talking points stick with attendees.

Social Media Content Strategies (201)

In this session, Arik will talk about how to develop a content strategy that works in the modern social media era, examples of tourism organizations pushing the envelope with content, and where social content is headed in 2019 and beyond. The tips and advice Arik provides promise to be pragmatic and useful, but will also inspire you to be a better social media marketer.

Arik Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications, a social media and digital marketing consultancy that has been driving business results for clients since 2008. With more than 20 years' experience in traditional and digital marketing, communications and public relations, Arik brings seasoned, strategic expertise to help today's leading organizations, including Select Comfort, Walgreens, General Mills, Toro, Cargill and Ingersoll Rand, define and deliver on their marketing and communications goals through the right mix of tools and strategies.

Google's New DMO Dashboard (Repeat)

Google's travel content ecosystem is evolving rapidly, introducing new products and features on a weekly basis and influencing more travelers than ever before. Did you know that, on average, 10 to 20 times as many people interact with your business within Google's products than visit your website? In this session, learn about how you can optimize your presence within Google to better promote your business to potential travelers.

Nate Huff is a senior vice president at Miles Partnership, a marketing agency that specializes in the travel and tourism vertical. Nate has spent the last 15 years working with destinations and travel brands to craft content and media strategies that generate measurable results. He is currently leading Miles Partnership's Google destination content initiative, which was unveiled at Destination International's 2017 Annual Conference and now includes more than 50 participating destinations.

10 a.m.

 

Coffee Break

10:30 a.m.

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Keynote Presentation 3

Chaos and Change: Become a Quick-Change Artist
Change is the norm, and to resist it can ruin your career. Learn strategies to develop the courage to invest energy in finding and seizing the opportunities brought by change. Attendees will learn the three key drivers of change, recognize the four stages of transition, identify the 13 mistakes we make when facing change, and consider 13 new work behaviors to become a quick-change artist.

A born public speaker and trainer, Kit Welchlin began public speaking at the age of 9 in 4-H. By 16, he was organizing and facilitating presentations on leadership, citizenship, community service and motivation for the 4-H and Future Farmers of America. Kit purchased his first manufacturing company at age 21, and by 26 was CEO and chairman of the board of three manufacturing companies in three states. In 2014, Kit was inducted into the Minnesota Speakers Association Hall of Fame and has delivered more than 3,000 presentations to more than 500,000 people over the past 26 years.

     

11:45 a.m.

 

Closing Remarks

12 p.m.

 

Grab and Go Box Lunches/Pick up Silent Auction Items