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PROGRAM / SPEAKERS

(Click on Speakers' Images to Read Their Bio)

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Noah Galloway

MOVING FORWARD:
lIVING WITH NO EXCUSES


Has the hospitality and tourism industry in Tennessee ever had a more challenging year than the one we've just been through?  Probably not. Even with all we've experienced, though, few of us have had to face the challenges that Noah Galloway has. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to come back after losing two limbs in the Iraq War.  But he chose to focus not on what he'd lost, but rather what he had left. He has proven that through perseverance, commitment, and attention to detail, you can overcome anything. His journey led him to become a fitness enthusiast, landed him on the cover of Men's Health Magazine, and even as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.  Noah speaks to audiences about how he summoned up the courage to face his challenges and how they can too by embracing the mentality of "living with no excuses."

MOVING FORWARD:
GAUGING & UNDERSTANDING TRAVELER SENTIMENT


The travel industry is moving again, but predicting travel demand is challenging in a rapidly changing environment.  A number of factors can and continue to influence American consumer travel behavior.  Longwoods International has been surveying and analyzing traveler sentiment throughout the pandemic and recovery. In this presentation, Longwoods President/CEO Amir Eylon will share up-to-the-minute findings from Longwoods International’s seminal, ongoing American Traveler Sentiment Survey tracking Americans’ confidence in safely traveling outside their communities and how that impacts the travel industry’s future.

Amir Eylon
President/CEO
Longwoods International

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MOVING FORWARD:
RESEARCH TOOLS & RESOURCES


The tourism industry in Tennessee is broad and varied and is made up of many different sectors: destinations, attractions, lodging, dining, and more.  But one thing is necessary for all of these to be successful: good, practical, and easy to understand and use research: research that gives you a comprehensive understanding of the industry, your customers, your competition and your growth strategy.  This session will provide you with some outstanding tips on tourism research sources and available tools that you can use to plan your work, set your goals, and measure the ROI of your efforts. 

Jennifer Stoll, PhD
Stoll Strategies

 

Governor Bill Lee

 

GOVERNOR BILL LEE ADDRESSES THE INDUSTRY
(BY VIDEO)


Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, Governor Bill Lee has been a tremendous supporter of the Tennessee hospitality and tourism industry.  His support has translated to important funding for business recovery, marketing initiatives, and workforce and employment issues.  He has involved the industry in developing and implementing appropriate safety protocols as well as guidelines for reopening.  In his annual address to our industry (by video this year), Governor Lee will discuss the importance of the industry to the state's economic well-being. Following the Governor's presentation, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development will have special announcements and present the "Welcome Center of the Year" Award.

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MOVING FORWARD:
WHERE WE'VE BEEN, WHAT WE'VE LEARNED, WHERE WE'RE GOING


As tough as it was, our industry survived 2020 by responding to ever-changing conditions, adapting to new ways of doing things, and becoming more creative and resourceful than ever.  This panel discussion will bring together hospitality and tourism leaders from across Tennessee who will share their experiences, the lessons they learned and, most importantly, where they see the industry going in the future.

Jackie Leatherwood
General Manager
Graystone Lodge on the River

Rob Mortensen
President/CEO
HospitalityTN

Andy Marshall
CEO
A. Marshall Hospitality

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Mitch Patel
President/CEO
Vision Hospitality Group

Chris Massie
Vice President of Development
Titanic Attractions

Barry White
President/CEO
Chattanooga Area CVB

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MOVING FORWARD:
TOUCHPOINTS


You asked for it and we've brought it back!  One of the most popular sessions at the 2019 Governor's Conference, TouchPoints provides attendees with an opportunity to meet with leaders from various aspects of the tourism industry as well as their peers in informal discussion groups that will cover a wide variety of topics including: marketing, sales, public relations/promotion, government relations, advertising, tourism funding, and more.  In addition, this session will provide attendees with another opportunity to meet with exhibitors to learn how their products and services can assist them in their work. 
 

MOVING FORWARD:
THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL AND TOURISM


We've all seen travel trends come and go over the years. But the last year changed things more than we have ever experienced.  And as the world and our industry recover, we can expect travel to look different in the future than it did before.  In this engaging and entertaining session, nationally-known and highly sought-after speaker Crystal Washington will use her ability to take complex technology topics and make them easy to understand and accessible for everyday professionals. Whether talking about her crazy technology missteps or how to combine online with offline customer interactions to build relationships, conference attendees will relate to her practical, non-tech jargon approach that can make us all more efficient, effective, and connected.

Crystal Washington
 

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MOVING FORWARD:
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY | PROMOTING YOUR DESTINATION
TO REMOTE WORKERS AND POTENTIAL RESIDENTS


This last year has certainly changed the paradigm for the way people work.  Businesses and employees are able to work wherever they want -- and as a result, quality of life and place are replacing proximity to the office as a prime consideration.  Often, the same things that attract visitors to an area are factors in their "where-to-live-and-work" choices.  This session will examine how destinations are beginning to actively market to these travelers and will include the release of brand new research commissioned by Journal Communications in conjunction with the leading market research firm IPSOS about what's most important to this specific segment of travelers, along with actionable tips on how best to promote your destination to them.

Kim Holmburg
Chief Operating Officer
Journal Communications

Debbie Landers
Executive Director
Hohenwald/Lewis Co. Chamber

Lori Nunnery
Executive Director
Jackson CVB

Brenda Whitson
Executive Director
Visit Johnson City

MOVING FORWARD:
GETTING BACK TO WORK - WORKFORCE AND EMPLOYMENT ISSUES IN THE HOSPITALITY & TOURISM INDUSTRY


Americans are traveling again.  Hospitality and tourism businesses are open. But the pandemic radically shifted the job market, with many front-line and middle management persons losing employment, government unemployment programs being put into effect, former industry-employed individuals making career changes, and the overall shirt to a remote environment.  As a result, one of the biggest issues the industry is facing is finding employees.  This seminar will examine the shifts in employment attitudes, the specific challenges faced by the hospitality and tourism industry, and programs and initiatives designed to address the problem.

Hugh Morrow
President/CEO
Ruby Falls

Rob Regg
Director of Marketing
TN Dept. of Tourist Development

Jessica Stieben
Senior Account Manager
VMLY&R

Wayne Smith
Director of Workforce Development
HospitalityTN

Mark Ezell
Commissioner
TN Dept. of Tourist Development

 

MOVING FORWARD:
STATE OF THE INDUSTRY &
TN DEPT. OF TOURIST DEVELOPMENT PRESENTATION


In this always popular session, TDTD Commissioner Mark Ezell (who also served this past year as the Director of Governor Bill Lee's Economic Recovery Group) will review the many events and initiatives of 2020 and 2021 related to the pandemic and its impact on Tennessee, as well as discuss the work of the Department to support and assist the state's hospitality and tourism industry during this difficult period. In addition, the Commissioner will talk about the many exciting initiatives the Department has launched such as "Tennessee on Me", "Come Work, Come Play," Rural Tourism and Outreach, and the Department's marketing, advertising, and promotion plans designed to increase visitation and the economic impact of tourism on our state's economy.

 

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Rivers Rutherford
 

Entertainment for the closing lunch will be provided by Rivers Rutherford. Having grown up in the shadow of Elvis' Graceland home in Memphis, Rivers came out of the gates swinging, landing his first cut with American legends Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson (aka The Highwaymen).  What followed were 8 #1 hits, multiple Grammys, CMA and ACM nominations, over 20 ASCAP Awards, Country Song Of The Year, and Songwriter Of The Year. In October of 2019, Rivers was honored by his songwriting peers through his induction into the Nashville’s Songwriters Hall of Fame. You'll see Rivers' name on #1 songs by Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Rodney Atkins, Kenny Chesney, Montgomery Gentry, Gretchen Wilson, Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton just to name a few.  Known for his gritty, southern style, Rutherford is unapologetic about his love for God, devotion to his family, and making great music. His decades long career, the countless hits to his credit and his ability to write music that is timeless is a testament to a man that has come to be respected as an artist in his own right.