Tuesday, Sept. 25

DMO Bootcamp
Sponsored by Fahlgren Mortine

Join us for this intensive workshop designed with CVBs in mind. Through collaboration with the Ohio Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, the Ohio Travel Association has designed this workshop around your greatest challenges and opportunities. This is a must-do event, whether you’re a brand-new recruit to destination marketing or a five-star DMO general.


How Healthy is your DMO? Using Financial Statements to Determine the Wellbeing of your DMO

Kyle Topy, Mulligan, Topy & Company CPAs

Taught by a CPA, this session explores ways to measure your organization’s financial health. We’ll explore top indicators, as well as key ratios. We’ll also discuss which indicators should routinely become part of your board agendas. We recommend bringing copies of your last FY profit and loss statement, as well as balance sheet, so you can practice what you learn right away.   


Establishing Strong Relationships with Local Government

Eric Wobser, Sandusky City Manager

Whether you are a regional, county or city DMO, a strong working relationship with local government is important if you want to reach – and exceed – your destination goals. Local government officials have multiple demands and less resources to meet them. What type of relationship should you be seeking? How can you get there? After listening to Wobser’s thoughts and examples, we’ll spend some time sharing ideas and challenges. with a dialogue facilitated by Larry Fletcher of Lake Erie Shores & islands. 


How Does Your DMO Stack Up when it comes to Board Governance?

Dan Moder, Experience Licking County Executive Director and OTA Board Governance Ad-hoc Committee Chair
Diana Thompson, Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau

Without a strong, engaged and informed board, your DMO is at risk. And it’s a balancing act for sure. We’ll look at results from a new Ohio benchmark study on best practices to see how your organization fares against others. Then we’ll talk about the policies and procedures your organization should have in place.     


Crisis Management

Carol Merry, Fahlgren Mortine Senior Vice President

A natural disaster. Contaminated water. An accident. Even a negative news story gone viral. All of these can put your destination in a tailspin. How do you protect your guests, your staff and your destination’s reputation? 


Busting the Myths: Tools for Responding to Naysayers

Melinda Huntley, OTA Executive Director

It’ll be all hands on deck for this one! We’ve gathered the most challenging questions any DMO may get and have started to create talking points for responding. This interactive session will be a no-nonsense discussion on how to “sell” our industry’s importance to partners, stakeholders and the community at large, as well as how to answer even the most difficult questions. Following this session, we’ll follow-up with bullet talking points you can use.  

3 to 4 p.m.

Ohio Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau Board Meeting

Non-OACVB members are invited to remain for the board meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Keynote - TourismOhio and the Economic Impact of Ohio's Tourism Industry
Matt McLaren, TourismOhio

Through the efforts of lodging, retail, restaurants, attractions, convention & visitor bureaus, the Ohio Travel Association, and the Ohio. Find it Here. campaign, we set a record number of visits (219 million) to Ohio in 2017 and are working to set another record in 2018. In his presentation, TourismOhio Director Matt MacLaren, Esq. will discuss the economic impact of Ohio's growing tourism industry, TourismOhio's Co-Op program, the award-winning Ohio Travel Guide, the Ohio Adventure Trails, and the #OhioFindItHere social media partnership opportunities that TourismOhio provides. MacLaren will also offer insight into visitor research and TourismOhio's plans to continue to partner with the industry in ways that will increase the number of visits, and number of overnight visits, throughout Ohio.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Keynote - 2020 Focus: What Tourism Leaders are Thinking about Now
Hannah Paramore, Paramore Digital

Tourism is changing. Every aspect of the visitor's experience, from the way they plan and book travel to how they share their experiences at the end of their trip, is different than it was before.

In 2020 Focus, we address four areas of focus, three challenges and one underlying cause of all of this change. In addition to the qualitative research, we added quantitative research to confirm or challenge our learnings.

Focus #1 is based on building a great place in addition to training workers in the hospitality industry and building a great place to live so you'll have a great place to visit. Focus #2 is how tourism leaders now have a seat in the economic development trade, and therefore their focus should include building value and experiences for locals and building an authentic experience. And, as a staple for the tourism leader, focus #3 helps you to understand gaps between your product and the traveler's desires. Lastly, focus #4 hones in on the transparency and immediacy of  digital advertising, helping to get a balanced and measurable ROI.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Wednesday Morning Breakout Sessions

1. Measuring Your Successes: How to Present Marketing Data and Content
Sponsored by Travel Spike

James O'Brien, O+B|P
Hannah Paramore, Paramore Digital

This workshop covers how to present data in new, more compelling ways. Think annual reports via video, marketing data spreadsheets as living infographics, plus new platforms to increase team performance, insight and collaboration. This workshop shows you how to best present your data, marketing and success stories in a way that better positions your organization and proves ROI.

2. Hooking the Leisure Traveler - Shifting Your Marketing Techniques Through Voice Search

John Daters, Ripple Effect Interactive
Bryan Edwards, Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Voice search is proving to be a disruptor in online search. From wayfinding to quick queries and even in-depth research, it’s expected that by 2020 nearly 50% of all searches will be voice-activated. Today’s travel and leisure customer is ever-more likely to either start or supplement their digital search with a question to Siri, Alexa or Google. With voice search rising in usage and adoption, coupled with a savvy, impatient traveler how does your brand and location stay relevant and accurate, and how do you even get considered for a voice query result? We’ll explore how voice search results work, what’s expected from users, and emerging strategies you can employ today to rank for this growth-oriented search trend.

3. Play Ball! Get in the Sports Tourism Game

Jenn Cartmille, Greater Columbus Sports Commission
Ben Huffman, Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Linda Logan, Greater Columbus Sports Commission (moderator)
Duff Milkie, Cedar Fair
Michael Mulhall, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

In 2017, the sports tourism industry generated more than $11 billion in direct visitor spending and as the industry grows, so does Ohio's status as a sought-after sporting event destination.

Bidding, winning and hosting these events does not happen without the expertise and strategies of skilled marketing teams affiliated with CVBs and Sports Commissions.

Join industry professionals for an informative session discussing the dos and dont's of sports tourism marketing, including the ever-evolving social media landscape, the positive impact of strong marketing partnerships, an overview of effective metrics to ensure you reach your target audience and more.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Wednesday Afternoon Breakout Sessions

1. A Leadership Playbook for the Travel Industry: How to Create Success with 10 Attributes of Winning Teams

Tami Brown, Greater Cleveland Aquarium
Pooja Desai, Best Western Plus West Akron Inn & Suites
Larry Fletcher, Lake Erie Shores & Islands
Jim Mahon, Akron/Summit County CVB (moderator)
Jason McClure, Cedar Point

Being a team leader in the travel economy means wearing multiple hats at once. Managing in today’s industry is a juggling act that requires having a diversity of talents. No one leadership style fits or inspires all, but you could be the type of leader that makes it happen. To learn the nature of the talents needed to meet the needs of your guests and staff, you must think like an owner. Join us for the Leadership Playbook for the Travel Industry: How to Create Success with 10 Attributes of Winning Teams.

2. Bringing the Experience to the Audience: How to Leverage Engaging Video to Connect, Convince and Convert

Craig Israel, thunder::tech
Madison Letizia, thunder::tech

Shorter attention spans mean that consumers are now more likely to watch instead of read. In fact, online video accounts for more than 70% of all online traffic. So don’t just tell them, show them! Video and other multimedia gives your audience a preview of what they can expect from the unique experiences you offer and drives higher ROI through increased online engagement. Discover why video and photography are so effective at captivating your audience and bringing your destination to life.

3. Trails, Go Beyond Your Borders

Elizabeth Connor, Great Miami Riverway
Melinda Huntley, Ohio Travel Association (moderator)
Juliana Khusid, TourismOhio

Trails. Trails. Trails. Whether they are hiking, biking, paddling or experiential, trails are hot right now.  Trails not only connect communities and businesses, boosting visitor spending, but they also are visitors experiences themselves. What are best practices for creating and marketing trail experiences? How can businesses get the most return? How do you reach beyond your business or destination to create a trail that encourages overnight stays?

Thursday, Sept. 27

Keynote: Leading a Culture of Service Excellence
Dennis Snow, Snow & Associates
Sponsored by GateHouse Ohio

In today's competitive market, developing a service excellence strategy is an important part of any leader's role. Beyond developing the strategy, however, there is the challenge of executing the plan. It's in the execution that service excellence strategies become a reality or simply another "flavor-of-the-month" program. Employees watch to see how committed the organization truly is to customer service and take their cues directly from their leaders. In order to effectively implement an organization-wide service excellence strategy, today's leader must rely on the skills of a facilitator and idea champion and must walk the talk of service excellence.

Based on the leadership principles Dennis learned, lived, and taught during his 20 years with Walt Disney World, this presentation highlights specific leadership behaviors that bring a service strategy to life and describes how to "hardwire" service excellence into an organization's culture.

Participants will learn:

  • The behaviors that will define your organization's service culture.

  • Hiring processes that ensure that service-oriented individuals are recruited and selected for employment.

  • New-hire and ongoing training practices that reinforce your organization's service culture.

  • Effective communications strategies that keep employees focused on the customer experience.

  • Techniques for involving employees in the forward movement of the organization and empowering customer-focused decision marking.

  • Accountability processes that ensure service excellence is nonnegotiable.