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2015 South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism, January 20-22
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Plan now to attend the 2015 South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism. This conference is dedicated to visitor industry marketing, education, and trends. By attending, you'll have the opportunity to network with more than 600 people from across South Dakota and the United States. Please note that the conference kicks off Tuesday evening, January 20, with an opening reception. Additionally, the first keynote begins right away Wednesday morning. Learn more about all of our speakers by clicking on their photos, below. Check back often for additional information and updates.

 

Why Travel Matters to South Dakota

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  • Shep Hyken

    Shepard Presentations

    KEYNOTE:  A customer service expert, professional speaker and bestselling author, Shep works with companies and organizations on building loyal relationships with their customers and employees. Watch him in action.

    Shep Hyken

    Shepard Presentations

  • Roger Brooks

    Roger Brooks International

    KEYNOTE & BREAKOUT SPEAKER:  As CEO of Roger Brooks International, Roger has assisted more than a thousand communities over the past 30 years in their quest to become outstanding destinations. Watch him in action.

    Roger Brooks

    Roger Brooks International

  • Anirban Basu

    Sage Policy Group, Inc.

    KEYNOTE: Anirban is the CEO of an economic and policy consulting firm in Maryland. He is considered one of the most recognizable economists in the country. He will supply a comprehensive perspective of the ongoing economic expansion, focusing on South Dakota’s tourism and hospitality sector.

    Anirban Basu

    Sage Policy Group, Inc.

  • Michelle Ray

    Lead Yourself First Institute

    BREAKOUT SPEAKER:  Michelle's company helps organizations and individuals learn to take initiative. She encourages open, constructive communication in the workplace by practicing personal leadership. See her in action.

    Michelle Ray

    Lead Yourself First Institute

  • Clayton Reid

    MMGY Global

    BREAKOUT SPEAKER: Clayton, a destination marketer with more than 20 years of experience, will delve into marketing to millennials – why they travel, how they travel and where they really go. He’ll expose the myths and truths when it comes to how travel generations differ from each other.

    Clayton Reid

    MMGY Global

  • Sheila Mahoney

    Meredith Corporation

    BREAKOUT SPEAKER:  Sheila is the Director of Brand Development for Midwest Living and Meredith Travel Marketing. She will share what women are looking for when planning their vacations. See more about Meredith Travel Marketing.

    Sheila Mahoney

    Meredith Corporation

  • Marge Peterson

    Travel Journalist

    Marge has been a travel journalist for 30 years, working the last 8 years as a freelancer for several AAA magazines including Home & Away South Dakota. She travels to South Dakota each summer to research stories and rates it as her second favorite state (after her home state of Nebraska).

    Marge Peterson

    Travel Journalist

  • Kaeli Conforti

    Digital Editor

    Kaeli began working at Budget Travel in 2011, she is now the Digital Editor. She has been writing, editing and traveling the world ever since. Her writing has been featured on BudgetTravel.com, CNN Travel, NBC News Travel, Yahoo Travel, Huffington Post Travel and other outlets.

    Kaeli Conforti

    Digital Editor

  • Kit Bernardi

    Travel Journalist

    Kit is a travel journalist, photographer and marketer. She is a contributing editor for Midwest Living Magazine and has published articles in Chicago Parent, Chicago Sun-Times, FamilyTravelForum.com, and others. More about Kit.

    Kit Bernardi

    Travel Journalist

  • Amir Elyon

    Brand USA

    Amir, Vice President of Partner Engagement, will update us on Brand USA, established and emerging markets, and national travel trends. Learn about partnering opportunities to keep South Dakota on the global map. More about Brand USA.

    Amir Elyon

    Brand USA

  • Nan Marchand Beauvois

    U.S. Travel Association

    OPENING REMARKS: Nan, Senior Director of the U.S. Travel Association’s National Councils and the General Manager of the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), will update us about U.S. Travel. More about U.S. Travel Assoc.

    Nan Marchand Beauvois

    U.S. Travel Association

  • Jim Hagen

    South Dakota Dept. of Tourism

    TOURISM BRIEFING: Jim has served as the Secretary of the Dept. of Tourism since 2011. He serves on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and the U.S. Travel Association board. Recently named State Tourism Director of the Year, Jim is passionate about the travel industry and South Dakota.

    Jim Hagen

    South Dakota Dept. of Tourism

1:00pm - 6:00pm
Registration

Location: Ramkota Lobby

7:00pm - 9:00pm
Opening Evening Reception

 
Kick back and kick off the conference with colleagues at the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center in Fort Pierre. Grab your boots and hat and head over for a boot scootin’ good time. Transportation to and from the Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center will be provided.
Attire: Casual Western Wear

7:00am - 4:00pm
Registration

Location: Ramkota Lobby

Wednesday Attire: Business Logo Apparel Day

8:00am - 9:00am
Continental Breakfast

Location: Courtyard at the Ramkota

8:15am - 5:00pm
Networking Lounge

Stop in to check email, catch up on work, or use this space as a place to hold small meetings with colleagues. 

9:00am - 10:30am
Keynote Address

 
How to Create an Amazing Customer Experience – Shep Hyken

Creating an amazing customer service experience is within the grasp of everyone in any organization. In today’s competitive business environment, you must add value to the customer experience. In this fast-paced, content-rich and entertaining keynote session, Shep will share strategies and tactics to help you take your customer service to the level of...amazement!

10:45am - 11:45am
Breakout Sessions #1

 
Understanding Today’s Female Traveler – Sheila Mahoney
Join Sheila from Meredith Travel Marketing, as she unveils their newest proprietary study regarding the female traveler. In this session, learn what women are looking for in their dream vacation and how travel marketers can message to them more effectively. Discover how and when women are planning their vacations and where they receive travel inspiration from.

Marketing on a Minuscule Budget – Roger Brooks
Communities have less and less money to spend on marketing – but without marketing the hole just get deeper. When the hole gets deeper, funding continues to diminish. In this presentation, learn seven things you can do today for practically no money that will generate local and visitor spending. And no, it’s not solely ideas based on social media, that’s a given. The marketing solutions you take away will make you a local hero in tough times.

Travel Writers Panel – Kit Bernardi, Kaeli Conforti and Marge Peterson
With a combined 58 years in the travel writing industry, Kit, Kaeli and Marge will collaborate on this panel discussion lead by MMGY Global’s Julie Freeman, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Public Relations. You will leave with tips on how to tell your story well to make your destination stand out, and tactics on how to make your destination more attractive to story gathering journalists. Learn the best practices in getting your destination on the editorial radar for journalists and what these writers expect once they arrive at your business.

Marge knows South Dakota’s back roads and provides regional perspective to the panel, Kaeli’s specialty is in online and digital stories, while Kit looks through both the tourism marketing lens in addition to her travel writing experience for nationally distributed publications.

12:00pm - 1:30pm
Tourism Briefing Luncheon

 
Secretary Jim Hagen will deliver the tourism briefing during this luncheon. Join him as he recaps the efforts of 2014 and gives a glimpse at what’s ahead for 2015 and beyond.

1:45pm - 2:45pm
Breakout Sessions #1 (repeat)

 
Understanding Today’s Female Traveler – Sheila Mahoney
Join Sheila from Meredith Travel Marketing, as she unveils their newest proprietary study regarding the female traveler. In this session, learn what women are looking for in their dream vacation and how travel marketers can message to them more effectively. Discover how and when women are planning their vacations and where they receive travel inspiration from.

Marketing on a Minuscule Budget – Roger Brooks
Communities have less and less money to spend on marketing – but without marketing the hole just get deeper. When the hole gets deeper, funding continues to diminish. In this presentation, learn seven things you can do today for practically no money that will generate local and visitor spending. And no, it’s not solely ideas based on social media, that’s a given. The marketing solutions you take away will make you a local hero in tough times.

Travel Writers Panel – Kit Bernardi, Kaeli Conforti and Marge Peterson
With a combined 58 years in the travel writing industry, Kit, Kaeli and Marge will collaborate on this panel discussion lead by MMGY Global’s Julie Freeman, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Public Relations. You will leave with tips on how to tell your story well to make your destination stand out, and tactics on how to make your destination more attractive to story gathering journalists. Learn the best practices in getting your destination on the editorial radar for journalists and what these writers expect once they arrive at your business.

Marge knows South Dakota’s back roads and provides regional perspective to the panel, Kaeli’s specialty is in online and digital stories, while Kit looks through both the tourism marketing lens in addition to her travel writing experience for nationally distributed publications.

2:45pm - 3:15pm
Networking Break

Location: Ramkota Lobby

3:15pm - 4:45pm
Keynote Address

 
Tourism by the Numbers – Anirban Basu

With his highly energetic and uniquely humorous approach to economics, Anirban will provide up-to-date information regarding global, national, and regional economies with a focus on South Dakota’s visitor sector. While the nation has successfully completed five years of economic expansion, Americans continue to struggle with reduced incomes. At the same time, the pace of job growth has accelerated and consumer confidence has expanded. Anirban will provide an economic outlook for the year ahead.

7:00pm - 10:00pm
Evening Event

 
Hear the Roar and Feel the Thunder
Join the City of Riders as they celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally! Come as a gang, or just a rider, dressed appropriately in your favorite biker gear! A prize will be given to the best dressed biker. Enjoy heavy hor d’oeuvres, music and the experience of a lifetime as the largest event in the Black Hills celebrates this milestone anniversary year.

7:00am - 4:00pm
Registration

Location: Ramkota Lobby

Thursday Attire: Business Casual

8:00am - 9:00am
Continental Breakfast

Location: Courtyard at the Ramkota

8:15am - 4:00pm
Networking Lounge

Stop in to check email, catch up on work, or use this space as a place to hold small meetings with colleagues. 

8:30am - 9:30am
Regional Tourism Reviews

 
Join the four regional tourism directors as they host this session to recap 2014 and discuss the benefits of belonging to an association and the marketing opportunities they offer their members. Following the presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to gather with the directors across the hall in Lewis & Clark to network with the regions and pick up material from the regions.

8:30am - 9:30am
RMI Roundup is Coming to South Dakota

 
Rocky Mountain International’s Roundup is coming to South Dakota in April. RMI Roundup provides an opportunity for businesses, destinations and attractions to do business one-on-one with international tour operators from Europe, Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand. If you’ve ever been interested in marketing to international visitors, RMI Roundup provides a cost-effective way to test these markets. In this session, learn how you can be involved in marketing to the international visitor and showcase what your business has to offer.

10:00am - 11:30am
Keynote Address

 
Time to Up Your Game: Tourism for the 21st Century – Roger Brooks

Roger is a well-known thought leader and change agent – he is skilled in energizing communities into action. He has worked with more than a thousand communities around the globe – and is no stranger to South Dakota. In this fast paced keynote, full of “how-to-make-it-happen” ideas, he showcases the power of tourism and the thirteen things you can do today to jump start product development, branding and marketing for your business and community.

12:00pm - 1:15pm
Destinations Luncheon

 
Join us as we celebrate destinations across South Dakota! During this luncheon, the Visitor Industry Alliance and the U.S. Travel Association will brief attendees on what’s ahead for the 2015 travel and tourism industry within South Dakota and internationally.

1:30pm - 2:30pm
Breakout Sessions #2

 
Brand USA – Amir Eylon
International visitation to the United States is booming and Brand USA is playing a major role in this growth. In this session, Brand USA will share the latest trends and marketing updates from established and emerging markets; learn about the Brand USA cooperative marketing programs in which the South Dakota Department of Tourism is currently a partner; and, finally, learn about ways in which the visitor industry in our state can partner with the Department of Tourism and Brand USA to entice even more international visitors to our Great Faces and Great Places.

Cracking the Mystery of Traveler Behavior – Clayton Reid
Join MMGY Global’s Clayton Reid as he unravels the mystery and exposes the myths surrounding how travel generations and wage earners differ and where you can tap into these nuances. He will delve into the most talked about generation, the millennial. Learn why these segments travel, how they travel and where they really go. The session will include insights from MMGY’s latest Portrait of the American Traveler research.

No More Drama: How to Achieve High Engagement, High Morale and a Happier Work Place – Michelle Ray
Organizations everywhere are feeling the pressure of delivering results for their clients and stakeholders in less time, with fewer resources. Teams are expected to be efficient, engaged and happy. However, the demands of today’s workplace often take a toll on the most important resource of all: Your People. Foster talent retention by learning practical solutions to the most common cause of disengagement: workplace drama.

2:30pm - 3:00pm
Networking Break

Location: Ramkota Lobby

3:00pm - 4:00pm
Breakout Sessions #2 (repeat)

 
Brand USA – Amir Eylon
International visitation to the United States is booming and Brand USA is playing a major role in this growth. In this session, Brand USA will share the latest trends and marketing updates from established and emerging markets; learn about the Brand USA cooperative marketing programs in which the South Dakota Department of Tourism is currently a partner; and, finally, learn about ways in which the visitor industry in our state can partner with the Department of Tourism and Brand USA to entice even more international visitors to our Great Faces and Great Places.

Cracking the Mystery of Traveler Behavior – Clayton Reid
Join MMGY Global’s Clayton Reid as he unravels the mystery and exposes the myths surrounding how travel generations and wage earners differ and where you can tap into these nuances. He will delve into the most talked about generation, the millennial. Learn why these segments travel, how they travel and where they really go. The session will include insights from MMGY’s latest Portrait of the American Traveler research.

No More Drama: How to Achieve High Engagement, High Morale and a Happier Work Place – Michelle Ray
Organizations everywhere are feeling the pressure of delivering results for their clients and stakeholders in less time, with fewer resources. Teams are expected to be efficient, engaged and happy. However, the demands of today’s workplace often take a toll on the most important resource of all: Your People. Foster talent retention by learning practical solutions to the most common cause of disengagement: workplace drama.

5:30pm - 7:00pm
Social

Location: Ramkota Lobby

7:00pm - 10:00pm
Awards Night Gala

 
Join the Governor and First Lady for an uplifting and inspirational event celebrating South Dakota’s visitor industry. Enjoy this evening filled with merriment, cuisine, laughter and award’s for our industry’s finest. Tickets for the Awards Night Gala are included with conference registration. 

Gala Wear: Formal/Semi-Formal/Business Attire

Opening Reception

Tuesday, January 20

07:00PM – 09:00PM

Kick back and kick off the conference with colleagues at the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center in Fort Pierre. Grab your boots and hat and head over for a good time. Transportation to and from the Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center will be provided. Plan for entertainment and light snacks at the event. Attire: Casual Western Wear

Hear the Roar and Feel the Thunder!

Wednesday, January 21

07:00PM – 10:00PM

Join the City of Riders as they celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally! Come dressed as a gang, or just a rider! A prize will be given to the best dressed biker. Enjoy heavy hor d’oeuvres, music and the experience of a lifetime as Sturgis brings the largest event in the Black Hills to Pierre for this milestone anniversary party. Attire: Sturgis Rally Biker Attire

Awards Night Gala

Thursday, January 22

05:30PM – 09:30PM

Join the Governor and First Lady for an uplifting and inspirational event celebrating South Dakota’s visitor industry. Tickets for the Awards Night Gala are included with conference registration. The social hour will be from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Attire: Formal/Semi-Formal/ Business Attire

The annual South Dakota Governor's Conference on Tourism is fully supported by sponsorships, registration fees, and by exhibitors. These businesses and organizations offer valuable information, expertise and opportunities for conference attendees. We appreciate their participation!

Exhibitor Booths
  • AAA – H&A Media Group
  • Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of South Dakota
  • Certified Folder Display Service
  • City of Sturgis Rally & Events Department
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Custer State Park and Resorts
  • Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau
  • Epicosity
  • Executive Lodging/Akela Spa
  • Joy Ranch
  • Mount Rushmore Society
  • Nahan Printing
  • Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce
  • PryntComm
  • Red Shed Technology Corp.
  • Robert Sharp and Associates
  • Rocky Mountain International
  • Rural Electric Economic Development
  • Sisseton Area Chamber of Commerce
  • South Dakota Historical Society Press
  • South Dakota Hotel & Lodging Association
  • South Dakota National Parks
  • South Dakota Newspaper Association
  • South Dakota Opportunity Group
  • South Dakota Retailers Association
  • South Dakota Small Business Dev. Center
  • Tourism & Hospitality Management, BHSU
  • Visitor Publishing
  • Xanterra Parks and Resorts
Made in South Dakota Exhibitors
  • BB’s Scarves
  • BHSW, Inc.
  • Dakota by Design
  • Dakota’s Best
  • Double R-Art
  • Jewelry Designs by Morgan
  • Marshall’s Art
  • MNF Calligraphy
  • Pip’s Squeaky Clean Soaps
  • Promise Essentials
  • Red Door Creations
  • Shaviq Designs
  • South Dakota Magazine
  • The Cookie Lady
  • Trisha Waldron Designs
  • Valiant Vineyards Winery
  • Wheeler Farms Candy Co.