Here is a quick overview of what was presented at the conference. Click on the title to view a PDFs of the individual sessions. Additional presentations are being added.
General Session: “Minding the Gap –Marketing to the Generations”
Featuring Seth Mattison
An internationally renowned expert on workforce trends and generational dynamics, Seth pointed out that, when dealing with the different generations in the workplace, flexibility is one of the most important factors. The current four generations are:
*Traditionalists– born pre-1946 – now numbering 75 million
*Baby Boomers – born between 1946 – 1964 – now numbering 80 million
*GenerationX – born before 1965 – 1981 – now numbering 60 million
*Millennials– born before 1982 – 2000 – now numbering 82 million
When marketing to a specific generation, you need to speak to their values, which vary dramatically. Traditionalists are family-oriented and financially conservative.Baby Boomers are idealistic and highly competitive. GenXers are fiercely independent and require a work/life balance. Millennials are technologically savvy and they want to be entertained.
“The Right Media Mix for Small Market Budgets”
Featuring Lynn Berry, Scott Crider, Regena Bearden, Jim Karrh, Amanda Keeney
*Regena Bearden: Make partnerships and utilize locals as ambassadors as part of the media mix. A YouTube video
of Memphis Jones, a local showing off locales in Memphis was shown.
*Lynn Berry: Work with the Arkansas Film Commission to get movies filmed in your area.
*Scott Crider: Turn Facebook and Twitter followers into promoters for businesses and use paid promoted posts in social media. Videos should be short (15 seconds) and engaging, using humor and“cute.”
*Jim Karrh: Smaller players in the media game have built-in advantages and a better culture for sharing. Be able to pitch your message in 30 seconds.
*Amanda Keeney: Suggested businesses set-up a retail calendar that shows every important date with an overlay of a media plan to coincide with it.
“Managing the Workforce of the Future”
Featuring Seth Mattison
Millennials, those individuals born between 1982 and 2000, are the workforce of the future. Communication is KEY when dealing with Millennials. They want to discuss everything – nothing is off-limits. Millennials are collaborators. They like to be with and work with others. The Millennial generation didn’t have to “learn” technology. They grew up with it –they embrace technology. They would rather text or email someone than speak on the phone.
Panel Discussion:“Living History: Attracting Visitors with Colorful Characterizations”
Featuring Miss Laura, Bass Reeves and Verna Garvan
Moderator Barbara Ward with the Historic Arkansas Museum encouraged those in attendance to contact the Arkansas Living History Association for information on re-enactors in their area and for assistance as to how to create their own character from the past.
The three panel characters, who came straight from the annals of Arkansas history, told their colorful backgrounds.
*Bass Reeves: Baridi Nkokheli, director of Sanitation Services for Fort Smith, told the story of the U.S. Deputy Marshal. Reeves was born a slave, became a fugitive from justice during the Civil War, then became the third African American law enforcement officer in the country.
*Miss Laura: Carolyn Joyce explained the life and career of the famed Fort Smith madam. A prosperous business woman, she and her girls paid off the $3,000 loan used to start the business in 17 months.She owned the “grandest bordello in the West” at a time when prostitution was legal.
*Verna Cook Garvan: Portrayed by Susan Harper, Mrs. Garvan was one of the first prominent female business owners in the state. She took over her father’s brick manufacturing company in Malvern. The 210-acre gardens were originally her private acreage where she was to construct an estate. After her husband died, she was offered $2 ½ million for the property. Instead, she willed the gardens to the University of Arkansas for everyone to enjoy.
Partners Luncheon: “Arkansas at the Crossroads”
Featuring Jeff Collins
Economist Collins stated unequivocally that “Investments in tourism are investments in economic development.” Noting that Arkansas is in a fierce competition for the best and brightest, Jeff said the state has unique tourism amenities which can be used to attract those highly sought employees. These are the people Arkansas must recruit to boost the state’s per capita income.
How to Become a Bike Friendly Business
Featuring Joe Jacobs
Four cities in Arkansas are ranked as Bicycle Friendly Communities by the League of American Cyclists: Bentonville, Fayetteville, North Little Rock, and Conway. A key point to becoming a bike friendly business is accepting cyclists like everyone else -- make sure you are filling their needs as tourists.
General Session: Create Their Escape: Build Your Business by Building Visitor Engagement
Presented by Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods and Aristotle, Inc.
Online media and social media are important tools for visitors. Eighty-nine percent of leisure travelers use the internet for planning. Use social media to your advantage and be sure to make your website mobile friendly.
“Breakfast with Bennett: Issue 1 Approved by Voters. Now What?”
Featuring Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett, director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, stated that the partnership between ADPT and AHTD is a “natural” fit. The next signage project is the Arkansas Wine Country Trail, featuring eight Arkansas wineries. The biggest partnership is the Arkansas Welcome Center, which AHTD maintains and ADPT staffs.
Bennett pointed out that the highway system in Arkansas is the 12th largest in the United States, larger than New York and California, coming in at 16,430 miles in The Natural State.
Arkansas voters passed the Interstate Rehabilitation Program, a constitutional amendment allowing a temporary, 1/2¢ sales tax that will directly support highways, roads and streets across The Natural State, this past year. It will fund $1.2 billion in The project will continue construction off our-lane highways to connect all four corners of the state, and widening existing highways to help ease congestion over the next 10 years. The tax goes into effect on July 1, 2013.
“Why Tourists Shop”
Featuring Barbara Wold
Retail expert Barbara Wold gave eight reasons why tourists like to shop. They are:
1. Stress-free time to shop
2. Price and value
3. A gift or an obligation
4. Extending the travel experience
5. Planned purchase such as souvenirs
6. A time to shop with family and friends
7. Unique and interesting merchandise with impulse appeal
8. Appealing environment
She encouraged attendees to get in on the tourist trade by merchandising their tourist-targeted offerings with the traveler in mind. The retailer should make tourist items and state merchandise easy to spot,attractively displayed and nicely priced -- an irresistible little something as a remembrance from their visit or a gift for the folks back home.
"Show & Tell"
Featuring Art Meripol
Former Southern Living Senior Photographer and now freelance photojournalist, Art Meripol presented some of his most stunning photographs, one of the highlights of the session.
Points made during the talk included:
*Successful photos convey an attitude or an emotion;
*One of Art’s first photo editors told him to “shoot with heart, not with a camera;” and
*Art’s photo philosophy is “joyful moments and beautiful light”
During the question and answer session, Art gave helpful photography tips including how to take better quality photos with a Smartphone camera.
“Past, Present and Future Trends of Online Marketing”
Featuring Susan Sweeney
In the past, travelers used search engines then visited websites of destinations and properties they were interested in. Today they still do so, but they follow up by visiting review sites such as Trip Advisor or consult friends through social media before making a decision.
Sweeney strongly encouraged attendees to make sure their websites are mobile friendly because “by 2014 mobile internet should take over desktop internet usage.”
Location-based deals during people’s stays are becoming more and more popular. The end of cash is in sight, according to Susan, with mobile commerce such as Google Wallet.
Packaging a Downtown Area as a Tourist Destination”
Featuring Barbara Wold
Find out what tourists want…then deliver. Ask everyone in the community to learn what tourists want...then deliver on it.
Create a slogan that’s believable, that captures the essence of your community, and stick to it. Tourists want you to deliver, and if you do and give them exactly what they want, they will tell others and they will come back.
Make contact with every aspect of the industry – from the owners of hotels, restaurants and attractions, to those who drive cabs and wait tables. Share information on your area with them, they are the gateway. Eighty-two percent of all tourists ask questions, and the people they are asking aren’t the ones who make the managerial decisions.
“Great Online Gadgets, Tools and Resources”
Featuring Susan Sweeney
Susan gave a list of websites that take away some of the mystique of website programming, analytics, marketing and social media. Some of these included:
*Issuu, where an interactive brochure can be created
*Fiverr, where people can be found who will do projects, such as voice over recording, video production, Beatboxing a song, for $5
*NetMechanic, which checks links on websites and gives detailed reports on those that are broken
*Rescue Time, which tracks where they, or their employees, are spending time on the computer
*HideMyAss, which protects online privacy
Arkansas Industry Luncheon: “There’s Always A Story”
Featuring Larry Foley
What makes a good story? Something that grabs you. For a good story---what you are trying to do is find the one interesting jelly bean in the jar—look deeper than face value and capture the moment. If the audience can feel what you feel at that moment, then you have told a good story. Make viewers and readers care about your story and motivate them to learn about the places you are talking about in your stories. Click on the links below to see Larry's video presentations.
Up Among the HillsThe Forgotten Expedition
The Buffalo Flows -- Part 1
The Buffalo Flows -- Part 2
The Art of Crystal Bridges
It Started Here
“Strength in Numbers”
Featuring Ira Blumenthal
Ira stated he is very optimistic about the hospitality and tourism industry. He said that in the past, the “foot” (driving) was the most important part of the body pertaining to the industry but now the “thumb” is (using a Smart phone). He then explained that the world is too complicated nowadays to go it alone, everyone needs to develop partnerships. According to Blumenthal, “Arkansas has a great untold story.” He encouraged attendees to develop relationships with local universities and colleges to involve students in practical application of marketing, advertising, and research. Ira defined a partnership as a sharing of resources.
He summed up his philosophy with the ASK theory:
“2013 Legislative Update”
Featuring Montine McNulty
Montine McNulty, executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association and along-time supporter of the tourism industry, gave session attendees some pointers for dealing with legislators. Montine stated that it is very important to build a relationship with your elected officials…they need to know you and know about your business.
Most importantly, Montine explained, when you contact a legislator about a proposed bill or piece of legislation, get right to the point, state your case and get off the telephone. The representatives and senators are very busy and you need to take the time you have with them and use it sensibly. State your case or your concerns, thank them for their time, and hang up the phone.
Montine also explained how important it is for members of the hospitality industry to stay on top of issues and upcoming bills that deal directly with or will impact the group. And don’t wait until the last minute to let your legislators know you are against an issue…don’t wait until it’s already a bill and about to be presented on the floor. Let your elected officials know of your opposition as early as possible…it’s much easier to get something changed while in committee.
“The Arts: A $ensible Approach to Growing Tourism”
Featuring Sandy Edwards, Todd Herman, Dr. Bob Bledsoe
Panel members from the Arkansas Arts Center, Garvan Woodland Gardens, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art told those in attendance to create a mission statement to define themselves. It’s important to know what you are about and why you are doing what you are doing. Check your actions to make sure they fit with your mission statement.
General Session: “Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional”
Featuring Ira Blumenthal
In this session, Ira told attendees to market and sell their business as their life depends on it…because it does. He used the example of his idea to put McDonald’s in Walmart stores years ago to illustrate both change and growth. He explained a paradigm -- which is a model, a standard – then stated people are often paralyzed by their paradigms because they’ve always done it a certain way. “Growth isn’t optional, it’s necessary.” Change is the one, single undeniable reality in the world today with the speed of change faster than ever before. He encouraged those listening to get ahead of change instead of just waiting for it. He closed by saying there are three things you can do with change:
*Make additional changes; figure out how to do something better, differently or uniquely