2020 Governor’s Conference

2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism

November 30-December 2, 2020
IP Casino Resort & Spa
Biloxi, Mississippi

Information on this page is constantly being updated. Please check back periodically.


TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30

1:00 – 4:00 p.m.   |   Activities
Betsy Ann Riverboat
Walter Anderson Museum of Art
Downtown Shopping in Ocean Springs
Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum

3:00 – 6:00 p.m.   |   Registration – Foyer
Exhibitor Set Up – Ballroom C&D
IP Casino Resort Spa 

4:30 – 5:30 p.m.   |   DMO/CVB Director’s Forum
Ballroom E-F
IP Casino Resort Spa 

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.   |   First Time Attendee/New Member Reception
Chill Ultra Lounge
IP Casino Resort Spa

7:00 – 9:00 p.m.   |   Opening Reception
Mississippi Aquarium
Sponsored by Coastal Mississippi & IP Casino Resort Spa 

9:00 p.m.   |   Late Night Social
Chill Ultra Lounge
IP Casino Resort Spa

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1

8:00 a.m.   |   Exhibits Open
Ballroom C&D
IP Casino Resort Spa 

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.   |   Breakfast
Ballroom C&D
IP Casino Resort Spa
Sponsored by Visit Corinth 

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.   |  Opening Session
Ballroom A

Welcome
Keynote Presentation: Robert St. John
Sponsored by Advance Travel & Tourism 

10:00 – 10: 45 a.m.   |   Bloody Mary Break
Ballroom C&D
Sponsored by Snapshot Publishing

10:45 – 11:45 a.m.   |   General Session
Ballroom A
Amir Eylon – President & CEO
Longwoods International
Sponsored by Maris, West & Baker

12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.   |   Luncheon
Ballroom B

Tori Emerson Barnes – Executive Vice President  
Public Affairs & Policy – U.S. Travel Association
Sponsored by Visit Columbus

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.   |   Concurrent Sessions
1. Hotel Industry Trends & Mississippi Forecast
Jennifer Foster, STR Business Development Executive
STR – Ballroom E-F

2. Best Practices on Diversity & Inclusion
Rickey Thigpen – Executive Director
Executive Director, Visit Jackson
Ballroom G-H

2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.   |   Break
Ballroom C&D

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.   |   Concurrent Sessions
1. Hotel Industry Trends & Mississippi Forecast
Jennifer Foster, STR Business Development Executive
STR – Ballroom E-F

2. COVID 19 Recovery Panel
Laura Beth Strickland, Visit Vicksburg – Moderator
Panelists:
Christy Burns, Visit Corinth
Kinney Ferris, Visit Oxford
Milton Segarra, Coastal Mississippi

5:00 – 6:30 p.m.   |   Evening Reception
Walter Anderson Museum of Art
Sponsored by Visit Jackson

7:00 p.m.   |   Dine Around Coastal Mississippi

9:00 p.m.   |   Late Night Event
Downtown Pub Crawl – Ocean Springs

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.   |   Breakfast
Ballroom B
IP Casino Resort Spa 

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.   |   General Session
Ballroom A
TBD

10:00 – 10:15 a.m.   |   Break
Foyer
IP Casino Resort Spa

10:15 – 11:30 a.m.   |   General Session
Ballroom A
Visit Mississippi Tourism Marketing Presentation
Presented by Craig Ray – Director, Visit Mississippi
Sponsored by Visit Mississippi

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.   |   Awards Luncheon
Ballroom B
Sponsored by Tempest


SPEAKERS

Robert St. John Robert St. John Dad, Husband, Chef, Restaurateur, Author, Enthusiastic Traveler, & World-Class Eater

Robert St. John

Robert St. John has spent almost four decades in the restaurant business. Thirty-two of those years
have been as the owner of the Purple Parrot, Crescent City Grill, Mahogany Bar, Branch, Tabella,
Ed’s Burger Joint, The Midtowner, and Midtown Donut in Hattiesburg, MS. St. John is a restaurateur,
chef, columnist, and author. For over 20 years he has written a weekly syndicated newspaper column.

St. John has been named the state’s top chef three consecutive years and was honored as Mississippi Restaurateur of the Year.
He is the author of eleven books, including four collaborations with watercolorist Wyatt Waters. Their book,
An Italian Palate, was written in Europe while St. John, his wife, and his two children traveled through 72 cities,
in 17 countries, on two continents for six months. His 11th book, A Mississippi Palate, another collaboration with
Waters was released in 2018. St. John is also the creator, producer, and co-host of the Public Broadcasting series Palate to
Palette with Robert St. John and Wyatt Waters which will soon film its fifth season.

In 2009, St. John founded Extra Table, a statewide non-profit organization that ships over 20 tons of healthy food to over
50 Mississippi soup kitchens and mission pantries every month. St. John is a founding member of the national board of
the Independent Restaurant Coalition, and currently serves on the boards of the Mississippi Alzheimer’s Association, Special
Olympics of Mississippi, The Mississippi Book Festival, the Hattiesburg-Forrest County Public Library, and is the founder of
Hattiesburg Hundred, an organization that assists sworn law enforcement and first responder’s families in their times of need.
He is also the founder of the Midtown Merchants Association in Hattiesburg.

He and his wife Jill have two children.

 

Opening Session/Keynote:

Topic: TBA

 

Amir Eylon Amir Eylon President & CEO Longwoods International

Amir Eylon

A thirty-year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry, Amir leads the entire team responsible for the development and execution of all facets of the organization from program development to customer acquisition and retention.

He joined Longwoods in 2015 from his previous role as Vice President, Partner Engagement with Brand USA, the public-private partnership serving as the destination marketing organization dedicated to increasing international visitation to the US. He led the team responsible for helping to increase Brand USA’s partnership base and ensuring that participants received excellent service throughout Brand USA’s deployment of joint marketing programs. During his tenure, Brand USA grew its base to 475 partners, comprised of destination marketing organizations, convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, travel brands, airlines, and tour operators.

Prior to joining Brand USA, Amir served as Director of the Ohio Office of Tourism. Under his leadership, the state’s marketing programs realized a tremendous return on investment and contributed to the growth of the state’s $40 billion tourism economy. The programs he developed leveraged industry and nontraditional partnerships that generated $14 in new state and local taxes for every $1 invested and included active participation by thousands of Ohio’s tourism-related businesses. He has also served as Executive Vice President of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, Assistant Director of the Ohio Tourism Division, and Sales & Marketing Manager with the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau.

He has been recognized with a number of Industry honors including: Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing award (2014) by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI); The Ohio Tourism Industry’s Highest Honor, The Paul Sherlock Award; and The State of Ohio Distinguished Service Medal.

Amir holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton.

Tori Emerson Barnes Tori Emerson Barnes Executive Vice President, Public Affairs & Policy - U.S. Travel Association

Tori Emerson Barnes

Tori Barnes serves as Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy at the U.S. Travel Association, where she leads the government relations, policy development, communications, marketing and research teams. She was appointed to this role in March 2019 after serving as the association’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations.

Elevating the importance of the travel industry in the trade, commerce and security arenas—including upgrading America’s air travel infrastructure, improving connectivity and growing the future of mobility along with promoting common-sense policies that effectively balance security and travel facilitation—are primary objectives of Barnes and the organization.

Prior to joining U.S. Travel in November 2017, Barnes was an integral member of General Motors’ federal affairs team for more than fourteen years, playing a crucial role in strengthening GM’s presence on Capitol Hill, leading the company’s tax policy and trade strategies and managing political operations. She most recently served as Executive Director of Federal Affairs, and managed a diverse portfolio that included tax, trade, fuel economy, transportation, pension issues and political operations. Previously, she served as a Congressional Liaison for the Republican National Committee and as Director of Fundraising and Events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s National Capital Chapter.

Barnes is on the board of the Congressional Women’s Softball Game and coaches the Members of Congress team, which plays an annual game against women in the press to raise money for the Young Survival Coalition, an organization that works with young women facing breast cancer.

Barnes graduated from George Mason University, and attended Miami University of Ohio.

Jennifer Foster Jennifer Foster STR Business Development Executive

Jennifer Foster

Jennifer Foster is a Business Development Executive for the Destinations team at STR. She joined STR in 2015 and is responsible for building and maintaining positive relationships with destination clients located in the Southeast, Midwest and East Coast regions of the U.S, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. She is often featured as a guest speaker at hotel industry meetings and conventions. Prior to joining STR, Jennifer served as the Regional Sales Manager for Mayflower Tours and Vacation Express, where she worked on worldwide tour packages for groups and travel agencies. A graduate of Vanderbilt University with a bachelor’s degree in European Studies, Jennifer resides in Nashville, TN with her husband Dave.

STR provides clients from multiple market sectors with premium, global data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights. STR was acquired in October 2019 by CoStar Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSGP), the leading provider of commercial real estate information, analytics and online marketplaces.

Joseph DiTomaso Joseph DiTomaso CEO & CoFounder, All The Rooms

Joseph DiTomaso

Joseph DiTomaso, MBA is the Founder and CEO of AllTheRooms and AllTheRooms Analytics, one of the world’s largest accommodations search engines, containing the world’s largest collection of accommodations industry based data.

In addition to being the Founder of AllTheRooms, Joseph has over 18 years of experience on Wall Street and was a senior portfolio manager, leveraged & acquisition finance, credit and restructuring banker at Morgan Stanley, Houlihan Lokey and Macquarie. Joseph DiTomaso has extensive portfolio management, leveraged finance, distressed, credit and risk management experience. Prior to Founding AllTheRooms, Joseph was a Senior Portfolio Manager at Macquarie and managed a two billion dollar long/short U.S. leveraged credit-focused book. Prior to this, he was a restructuring banker at Houlihan Lokey, where he structured DIP financing, exchange offers, corporate viability assessments and securities valuation, as well as representing buyers and sellers in the securities of distressed companies, divisions dn assets. He started his career at Morgan Stanley 1997 where he executed over $150 billion in leveraged & acquisition finance and restructuring transactions and eventually rose to the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Morgan Stanley Bank. His experience include: long/short credit analysis and portfolio management, acquisition financing, LBO, dividend recapitalizations, special situations, distressed M&A, turnarounds and Chapter 11 planning.

Joseph earned his MBA from Columbia University with Beta Gamma Sigma Honors, and a BA from Colgate University with a concentration in Physics and Philosophy, where he was also elected to Student Body President.

Craig Ray Craig Ray Director, Visit Mississippi

Craig Ray

Craig Ray is the Director of Visit Mississippi, the Tourism office of the Mississippi Development Authority. In this role, he promotes Mississippi as a travel destination and film location by highlighting the state’s culture, heritage, history, natural resources and recreational opportunities through a multi-faceted marketing effort. Ray oversees a diverse number of programs and initiatives, such as International, Outdoor Recreation & Sports , MS Blues & Country Music Trails, the Mississippi Film Office and the State’s 13 Welcome Centers.

Ray returned to the Mississippi Development Authority in 2016 after serving as a Principal in The Talon Group, LLC, a government relations firm providing advice, advocacy and access to federal and state government agencies. Prior to joining The Talon Group, Ray served as President of DCRAY Consulting and as Executive Producer of a number of statewide and national events, including Mississippi Night at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles and the Mississippi GRAMMY Celebration. Ray has also served in senior-level positions at the White House for two U.S. Presidents and for two Mississippi Governors.

Ray previously served as the Director of the Tourism Division at the Mississippi Development Authority from 2004 – 2009. During his tenure he played a key role in developing the branding campaign for “Mississippi – The Birthplace of America’s Music,” as well as launching the groundbreaking Mississippi Blues Trail. Today, the Mississippi Blues Trail has more than 200 markers throughout Mississippi and the world.

A Mississippi native, Ray graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He has one daughter, Emma Claire.

Rickey Thigpen Rickey Thigpen Executive Director, Visit Jackson

Rickey Thigpen


HOSTS

Coastal Mississippi would like to welcome you to Biloxi, MS for the 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism, November 30-December 2. The Coastal Mississippi Promise: When you visit The Secret Coast, you will be met with warm welcomes and 62 miles of shoreline dotted by unique coastal communities. Here, you can expect excitement and relaxation in equal measure, with plenty of room to roam. Click here to see everything Coastal Mississippi has to offer.

 

 

Winner of the elite AAA Four Diamond award, The IP Casino Resort Spa, is the Gulf Coast’s premier entertainment resort destination. Towering 32 stories over the scenic Back Bay of Biloxi, the IP is home to more than 1,000 elegantly appointed hotel rooms and suites with full amenities. Our Biloxi Casino Resort features a vast array of live entertainment options, great restaurants, and a first-class spa to indulge your senses. We also offer specialized golf packages to the Coast’s premier golf courses. We invite you to come stay with us. We’ll make your next visit to the Coast a trip you won’t forget. CLICK HERE TO BOOK ROOM (Group Code: S201025)


LODGING

IP Casino Resort & Spa
850 Bayview Avenue
Biloxi, Mississippi 39530
888-946-2847

$79.99/night
Dates available: November 30-December 1

CLICK HERE TO BOOK TODAY (Group Code: S201025)

Located in Biloxi, Mississippi, the AAA Four Diamond-recognized IP Casino Resort Spa is the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s premier casino resort. A true entertainment destination, the IP features nearly 1,100 elegantly appointed hotel rooms and suites; a 70,000-square-foot casino offers 1,600 slot machines and 60 table games; a 1,400-seat theater offering regular headline entertainment; 65,000 square feet of meeting and convention space; and a spa and salon. Seven restaurants offer a range of dining experiences sure to delight any palate, including two AAA Four Diamond offerings: thirty-two, our steak and seafood restaurant, and tien, an upscale Asian restaurant. If you’re looking for non-smoking gaming options, the IP offers a completely smoke-free, 14-table poker room, as well as a dedicated non-smoking slot section.

  • The Mississippi Gulf Coast’s premier casino resort
  • 1,400-seat theater offering regular headline entertainment
  • 70,000-square-foot casino offering 1,600 slot machines and 60 table games
  • Nearly 1,100 elegantly appointed hotel rooms and suites
  • Seven restaurants offer a range of dining experiences sure to delight any palate
  • 65,000 square feet of meeting and convention space

DoubleTree by Hilton Biloxi
940 Beach Blvd.
Biloxi, Mississippi 39530

Enjoy a Weekend Stay prior to Governor’s Conference
$109/night

Dates available: November 28-30
CLICK HERE TO BOOK TODAY (Group Code: GCT)


EXHIBITOR REGISTRATION

Exhibitor registration for the 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism is now open. If you signed up at the beginning of the 2020 year as a Media Partner, please contact Rochelle Hicks to confirm your number of attendees included, if you need to add more attendees and receipt of payment.

Registration fee is $1,000 and ends November 15, 2020. This fee includes booth space with skirted table, identification signage, & conference registration for 1 company representative.  For guaranteed booth space and inclusion on all collateral you must register by November 6, 2020.

If you have questions regarding the conference, contact Rochelle Hicks at 601-605-1825 or rhicks@mstourism.com

Reserve Your Space Today!


ATTENDEE REGISTRATION

Registration to attend the 2020 Governor’s Conference on Tourism is now open.

Online Registration ends November 18, 2020. If you have questions regarding the conference, contact Rochelle Hicks at 601-605-1825 or rhicks@mstourism.com

Register Today!


SPONSORS

VIEW SPONSORS

 

STYLE BLUEPRINT

EXHIBITORS

2020 MEDIA PARTNERS

Editor Level Partner

 

 

Writer Level Partners

AAA Magazines / AJR Media Group

American Road

Hoffman Media

Madden Media

Mississippi Tour Guide

Snapshot Publishing, LLC

 


AWARDS - Now Accepting Nominations

CALL FOR ENTRIES - REQUIREMENTS

Eligibility: Any individual or organization meeting the specific awards criteria may be nominated. Projects and promotions must have been completed between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, except for the Governmental Tourism Leadership Award, MTA Member of the Year and The Tourism Achievement Award. These awards may include projects and achievement that span a long period of time over a person’s career and their support of Mississippi tourism.

Who May Submit Nominations: Members or employees of the following organizations: Bed & Breakfast Association of MS, MS Convention & Visitors Bureaus, MS Chambers of Commerce, MS Hotel & Lodging Association, MS Hospitality & Restaurant Association, MS Gaming & Hospitality Association, MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks, MS Development Authority Division of Tourism, MS Main Street Association, MS Tourism Association, MS Welcome Centers, Museums/Attractions and Fairs/Festivals.

Judging Criteria: Entries are judged by a panel of industry peers. Decisions by the judges are final. Failure to follow the entry format will result in disqualification.

Entry Format: Please provide a written overview, on 2 pages or less, of the following information.

  • Title of award nomination, include category if applicable
  • Name of organization or person nominated
  • Overview of the nominee’s accomplishments and how they relate to the advancement of tourism in Mississippi and the award criteria
  • Description of programs initiated or implemented after June 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020.
  • Special recognition or awards received.
  • Other factors making the nominee a valuable asset to the Mississippi tourism industry.
  • A brief biography.
  • Supporting materials to support the nomination such as newspaper articles, brochures, photographs, videos, press releases, audio, etc. in the following formats (doc, dock, jpg, .pdf, zip, mp3, mp4, wav, ppt, mpg, ai, wmv). We are using a different platform and will accept up to 2 files per entry with a max of 20MB each. If submitting more than two files per entry, try zipping files together. For additional assistance, contact Kristin Lape at klape@mstourism.com.

Entry Deadline & Submissions: All entries, supporting materials and payment must be received by Friday, October 2, 2020. Payment must be made online with credit card at the time of submission.

Notification: Only the person submitting the nomination will be notified prior to the awards ceremony.

Presentation: The recipient will be honored at the Awards Luncheon, Wednesday, December 2, 2020 during the Mississippi Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the IP Casino Resort & Spa in Biloxi, MS (November 30-December 2, 2020)

For more information contact Rochelle Hicks at rhicks@mstourism.com

 

AWARD CATEGORY DESCRIPTIONS

MTA Member of the Year

This is presented to an outstanding MTA member that goes above and beyond for the organization.

DMO of the Year – $1,000,000 and Over

CVB with a budget of $1,000,000 and over recognized for outstanding efforts in promoting tourism in their area through events and activities that generate visitors. They must show they are willing to work with surrounding tourism endeavors that not only promote their own area but also other partners.

DMO of the Year – $500,000 to $999,000

CVB with a budget of $500,000 to $999,000 recognized for outstanding efforts in promoting tourism in their area through events and activities that generate visitors. They must show they are willing to work with surrounding tourism endeavors that not only promote their own area but also other partners.

DMO of the Year – $0 to $499,000

CVB with a budget of $0 to $499,000 and over recognized for outstanding efforts in promoting tourism in their area through events and activities that generate visitors. They must show they are willing to work with surrounding tourism endeavors that not only promote their own area but also other partners.

Tourism Promotion of the Year

This is awarded to the promotional campaign that is innovative in attracting visitors to an area or event.

Tourism Investment Award

This award will honor an entity or person who has made an enduring contribution to the economy. This award is eligible for those who have built or invested their time, talents and money into a hotel, restaurant, attraction or other tourism related project.

Tourism Achievement Award

This is awarded to a tourism entity that has successfully increased visitation to their community. Through advertising, promotion and campaigns, this entity enhances the travel and tourism experience through their vision and commitment to tourism in their community.

Governmental Tourism Leadership Award

This is awarded to a government entity that supports tourism and helps attract visitors while working with their tourism partners. Examples of government entities include but are not limited to: state legislators, local government officials such as mayors, alderman/supervisors, city and county clerks, etc.)

Community Volunteer of the Year

This is awarded to a person that gives freely of their personal time to help attract visitors to their city. They are willing to work on either an individual project or multiple projects tirelessly with the desire of making their city grow through tourism.

Travel Attraction of the Year

This is presented to an attraction that is new or unique in attracting visitors to its city. It shows results in bringing in tourists and visitors.

Large Festival/Event of the Year (Attendance of over 5,000)

This is awarded to a unique festival or event that is well attended, attracts a large variety of visitors and is well publicized. This category is for events with over 5,000 in attendance

Small Festival/Event of the Year (Attendance of 5,000 and below)

This is awarded to a unique festival or event that is well attended, attracts a large variety of visitors and is well publicized. This category is for events with 5,000 and fewer in attendance.

Travel Media Award

This is awarded to a publication, travel writer, or media entity that goes the extra mile to help give editorial or coverage to a tourism entity beyond the purchased advertising. They diligently work to help promote tourism to a specific area through their coverage.

Travel Media Award – Travel Trade Publication

This is awarded to a publication specific to the travel trade industry that goes the extra mile by giving editorial coverage to a tourism entity beyond the purchased advertising. They are helpful with their coverage to promote tourism or conventions to a specific area.

Travel Media Award – Travel Writer

This is awarded to a specific travel writer that has given great coverage in their journalism of a specific area, event, or activity.

Travel Media Award – Newspaper

This is awarded to a newspaper that has gone above and beyond the purchased publicity to help promote tourism.

Travel Media Award – Broadcast

This is awarded to a broadcast media source that, through its broadcast, promos, and coverage help attract tourist to a specific area or attraction.

Social Media Campaign of the Year

This is awarded to a tourism entity that has effectively created a social media campaign to promote a specific event, area, attraction, branding, etc. This entity also proved the campaigns success through interaction with fans, increase in likes and website traffic.

Social Media Overall Strategy

This is awarded to a tourism entity that has effectively integrated social media into their marketing and communications plan by developing relationships and building users that are valuable. In addition, this entity has also analyzed, adapted and improved their strategy to perfect their social media efforts.

Best Social Media Presence

This is awarded to a tourism entity that has effectively created a social media presence beyond Facebook. This entity must have at least 2 of the following platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube) in addition to Facebook.

The tourism entity must provide examples of design, style, content and usability along with statistics showing their success in promoting their area.

The entity must also prove success through interaction with fans, increase in likes and website traffic. Below are the following criteria required for each platform:

For Facebook Page Insights –

  1. a) Increased count in likes for the given time period
  2. b) Reach per person (Increase in page Reach/Total likes)

For Other Forums( twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest ,LinkedIn) –

  1. a) Number of Followers
  2. b) Frequency of posts (posts/month)