Digital Learning Lab - the great whodonnit! solving the mystery of digital marketing

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM

This in-depth workshop is a separate registration fee included on your form. Space is limited, so book early! We’re offering a 3-part lab that explores one of our greatest challenges - keeping current and effective with our online strategies. Explore one of life’s greatest mysteries during this hands-on and interactive lab.

Agents: Peter Ross & Bryan Hoban, 829 Studios

Part 1 - Measuring the ROI of your Marketing Efforts:  There are myriad different ways to market your business and all of them require time and money.  In this session, we will review data from dozens of mid-sized companies to determine where exactly you should be focusing your resources based on which are returning the best results.   We'll end by discussing how you can create a business dashboard for measuring your most valuable key performing indicators (KPIs) while referencing a few examples. 

Part 2 - Maximizing Social Media:  Where are all the results? What’s a pixel? Custom audiences? Did I get any leads or ROI? Despite investing an inordinate amount of time into social media, most company’s return on investment is bleak. Can you honestly say Facebook was a successful digital marketing tool driving leads and purchases? Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat and Youtube sure makes it easy to spend money but its a bit more tricky to really optimize their usage based on your own business goals.  We’ll even take a sneak peek into the backend of successful campaigns and discuss their approach.

Part 3 - SEO Part 1 – The Basics & the Myths:  There’s a lot of confusing misinformation floating around the Internet when it comes to search engine optimization. Do keywords still matter? What’s a rich snippet? Why set up Google Webmaster Tools? Should I trust this nice prince from Nigeria looking to help me generate backlinks? We’ve all read the same blog articles and attended the standard search engine optimization seminar. This is something different. We’re going to debunk the myths and give you actual strategies that you can put to work immediately.

Session Takeaways

  • Basic understanding of Google analytics

  • Basic understanding of SEO

  • How to negotiate with your agency

  • Email marketing automation

  • Further topics of discussion may be added.

morning keynote presentation
thursday, oct. 17
9:00 aM - 10:00 am

Rules for Travel on Life’s Greatest Adventure: Making the Most of Your Personal & Professional Journey
Agent: Tami Evans

Whether you collect passport stamps or never leave your zip code, we each embark on a new life voyage every single day. The choices we make and the paths we choose all help determine our own life’s adventure. But many times, we are surrounded by fellow travelers, and often we are expected to know where we are going, how to get there, and even how to guide others … not to mention the occasional ride-share with someone who doesn’t believe in stopping to ask for directions!

Session Takeaways:

  • Tools for improving communications

  • Methods for increasing your self confidence

  • Strategies for activating a positive workplace

Afternoon keynote presentation
thursday, oct. 17
4:15 pm - 5:10 pm

The Asheville Story: The Path to Becoming one of the World’s Best Destinations
Agent: Marla Tambellini, Explore Asheville CVB

Once a Southeast weekend getaway, Asheville, North Carolina, is now frequently highlighted as a top U.S. destination and was recently named one of the World’s Best Cities by Travel + Leisure. Follow the brand journey that led to this transformation and learn about some of the marketing efforts and initiatives that helped move Asheville into the spotlight. Along the way, pick up strategies and ideas to harness your own unique brand essence.  

 Session Takeaways:

  • Why authenticity matters and how to stay true to brand values

  • How to develop effective storytelling strategies

  • Using data driven insights to guide your marketing

  • When to take risks with out-of-the box ideas efforts

Morning breakout Sessions
Thursday, oct. 17
10:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Breakout session #1

Let’s Take the Wheel! Driving Exceptional Group Travel Experiences and Marketing
Agent: Melinda Huntley, Ohio Travel Association

Change is coming at us from every direction, and group travel is no exception. Based on results of tour professional surveys and discussions we’ve led throughout the Midwest, this session gets to the core of what’s needed to capture the attention (and dollars) of group travelers. It’s also an opportunity to be a change agent in the group market, as we’ll have an interactive discussion on criteria for creating exceptional group experiences that may be used as a yardstick for your business, as well as for defining the future of group travel in the Midwest.

 Session Takeaways:

  • Identify behavioral (not generational!) trends impacting group travel

  • Understand what closes the deal when selling your experiences to group tour professionals, as well as what could prevent them from a return visit

  • Contribute toward the development of criteria for group travel experiences 

Breakout Session #2

How To Work With Influencers
Agent: Nicholas Dekker, Breakast with Nick

This session will focus on training organizations to work with influencers, including defining influencers, how they can be effective at outreach, and how they can benefit travel destinations, attractions, and other organizations, discussing techniques to research and discern effective influencers, how to connect with influencers near you, and create and maintain successful and beneficial relationships with them, and how to generate ideas for pitching to influencers.

Session Takeaways:

  • Understand how influencers can help your marketing strategies

  • Learn how to discover and evaluate effective influencers

  • Identify ways to connect with and develop mutually beneficial relationships with influencers

  • Learn best practices for pitching influencers

breakout Session #3

Removing Barriers Through Authentic Communication
Agent: Ceci Dadisman, FORM

This session will show you how to breakdown silos and eliminate jargon so you can create meaningful, relevant communications that will resonate with your audience. We’ll look at case studies as well as data that will guide you to messaging your organization and events more effectively.  You’ll leave this session inspired to up your storytelling game in a way that increases engagement and sales.

 Session Takeaways:

  • The importance of authenticity in communications

  • What barriers audiences see in event attendance

  • Methods brands are using to deepen engagement through communications

*Breakout Sessions #1 - 3 will be held from 10:15 AM - 11:30 AM. When registering, you will be asked to choose one.

Afternoon breakout Sessions:
Thursday, OCt. 17
2:55 PM - 4:00 PM

Decoding Facebook: How to Make Facebook Work for You
Agent: Jason Bornfriend, 829 Studios

Where are all the results? What’s a pixel? Custom audience? Did I get any leads or ROI? Despite investing an inordinate amount of time into social media, most company’s return on investment is bleak. Can you honestly say Facebook was a successful digital marketing tool driving leads and purchases? Facebook sure makes it easy to spend money but if you are feeling frustrated with how to leverage Facebook as a digital marketing tool, Jason will explain various strategies from Organic to Paid. You’ll even take a sneak peak into the back end of successful Facebook campaigns and discuss their approach.

Session Takeaways:

  • How to implement targeted ads on the Facebook Ads manager

  • Why content strategy is so important 

  • In-depth strategies for finding your audience

breakout session #4

Building the Capacity for Change
Agent: Andrew Overbeck, MKSK Studios

Transformative community change today requires a multi-faceted and collaborative approach. These partnerships require involvement across the spectrum from municipalities to community development corporations, from MPOs to chambers of commerce, from cultural institutions to attractions, and from economic development agencies to convention and visitors bureaus. This session will highlight several case studies from across the country to illustrate how these dynamic partnerships have created transformational change and built cross channel cooperation strategies to ensure long lasting community capacity.

 Session Takeaways

  • Understand the types of projects and levels of expertise that are necessary to forge lasting change

  • Understand how these efforts have led to greater economic development and community visibility

  • Understand how to get involved in these partnership efforts

breakout session #5

The Sharing Economy. Friend or Foe? Including Airbnb Lodging Tax Collection & Remittance
Paige Alost, Athens CVB
Leslie Graf, Destination Cleveland
Joe Savarise, Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association

The sharing economy is a change agent for sure. How do we adapt?  Better yet, how do we leverage new P2P (Peer-to-Peer) platforms, like Airbnb, to enhance the customer experience at your attraction or destination? We’ll cover the pros and cons of how the sharing economy has impacted the Ohio travel economy and discuss ways to embrace or shift these changes for the good of our guests and the Ohio economy.

 Session Takeaways:

  • Understand the motivation behind and the power of the sharing economy

  • Identify steps you may want to consider for embracing a P2P platform relationship

  • Identify the customer and economic benefits, as well as cautionary flags

Breakout Session #6