2018 Conference Program

44th Annual Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism

Natural Connections

March 11-13, 2018 | West Memphis, Arkansas


Sunday, March 11

11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.     

Registration Open 
Guest Services Desk

11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The Natural State Gift Shop Open
VIP Kennel Association Room

1:30 - 4:00 p.m.

Great River Lodge excursion
Visit our Conference Events page for more information

6:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Opening Reception & Early Bird Party
Starting Gate
Featuring live music by a few of the Arkansas artists in our commercials, this event will
include heavy hors d’oeuvres and a full bar. Mingle with colleagues from across the
state – and possibly meet a retired racing greyhound or two.
West Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau; Southland Park Gaming & Racing
Musicians: Drew deFrance; Amy Garland Angel; Greg Spradlin

8:00 - 11:00 p.m.

Hospitality Suite Open
Comfort Suites Hotel (Ford Room)
Sponsor: Arkansas Broadcasters Association

Monday, March 12

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Registration Open
Guest Services Desk

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The Natural State Gift Shop Open
VIP Kennel Association Room

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Opening Ceremony
Kennel Club
Featuring: Jim Shamburger, State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission Chairman;
West Memphis High School Junior ROTC; Maggie Benton, Miss Arkansas 2017; Senator
Keith Ingram

9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

General Session: Keep Arkansas Weird -- Branding Your Community to Stand Out
in the Crowd

Kennel Club
Will Wynn’s innovative approach to city branding led to the success of the “Keep Austin
Weird” movement, which garnered worldwide recognition for his community. By focusing
on key selling points such as cycling, music and technology, Will launched Austin to the
forefront of travelers’ awareness. Learn how to adapt his unique philosophies to help your
community stand out from the crowd to attract visitors.
Featuring: Will Wynn, former mayor of Austin, Texas
Sponsor: Southland Park Gaming & Racing

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Break with vendors
Bourbon Steakhouse
Sponsor: Arkansas Living

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Session A: Co-op Marketing–Leveraging Partnerships in Today’s Marketing Environment
Kennel Club
Learn how Arkansas Tourism has developed programming that affords the smallest tourism
partner an opportunity to leverage the state's $15 million+ annual marketing campaign and
compete within the travel industry marketplace.
Featuring: Jay Salyers of Miles Partnership
Sponsor: TripAdvisor

Session B: Mississippi River Country for the Entire State
Little Rock Room
Gather tips on how to leverage the popularity of the Mississippi River and the Great River
Road in your area. These American icons appeal to domestic and international travelers and
can spur visitation across the state.
Featuring: Lyn Pilch & Susanne Thiede-Barnet of Pilch & Barnet
Sponsor: Arkansas Delta Byways

Session C: Destination Selling for Everyone!
Crittenden Room
No matter how large or small your destination or attraction, learn how to effectively market
it to travelers and increase your traffic at trade shows. Even if you're not marketing-minded,
destination sales experts will help you with positioning, messaging, and more.
Featuring: J.R. Shaw, Jessica Ledbetter
Sponsor: Arkansas Lamination Products & Services

11:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.     

Hall of Fame Luncheon
Starting Gate
Join Governor Asa Hutchinson and your peers to honor our 2018 inductees into the
Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame!
Featuring: Governor Asa Hutchinson; Maggie Benton, Miss Arkansas 2017; Roby Brock,
Talk Business
Honorees: Cathy Drew, Ozark Gateway Tourist Council; Mike Mills, Buffalo Outdoor

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Session A: 21st Century Tourism -- Creating Extraordinary Experiences That People Will
Remember Forever
Kennel Club
Every community, county, and region has assets that can attract visitors. In this workshop
you will learn how to add value to your assets to create experiences that draw people to
your community and create jobs.
Featuring: Mark Peterson, Professor, Community and Economic Development, University
of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
Sponsor: AARP Media

Session B: Explore the U.S. Civil Rights Trail
Little Rock Room
Learn how to promote and develop civil rights tourism sites and attractions in your area.
Featuring: Virgil Miller of Arvest Bank; Kentrell Curry of the Crystal Bridges Museum of
American Art; Faith Morris of the National Civil Rights Museum
Moderator: Pam Jones of Culturally Connected Communications
Sponsor: Arkansas Life

Session C: Destination LIVE: Tactical Tips For Embracing Social Media to Tell Your
Brand Story
Crittenden Room
In this workshop, get acquainted with the social media landscape and take home practical
tips for live-streaming on Facebook and Instagram, guidelines and tactics for your social
media strategy, and more so you can tell your story effectively.
Featuring: Theresa Overby of Miles Partnership
Sponsor: TripAdvisor

2:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Break with vendors
Bourbon Steakhouse
Sponsor: Hoffman Media

3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

NEW THIS YEAR! Professional Development Network Sessions
These specialty-specific discussions are a great way to learn from your peers, make new
connections, and openly discuss key issues within your segment of the travel and
hospitality industry. Each discussion will have a facilitator.
Community Promotions (Large) - Crittenden Room
Community Promotions (Small) - Little Rock Room
Regional Tourism Associations - Vendor Area
Tourism Attractions (Large) - Market Square
Tourism Attractions (Small) - Kennel Club

5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Silent & Live Auctions
Starting Gate
Bid on everything from gift baskets to weekend getaways. Proceeds will fund scholarships
for individuals seeking careers in the tourism and hospitality industries.
Featuring: Hunter Sims, auctioneer; David Bazzel, MC
Musicians: Runaway Planet

7:00 - 11:00 p.m.

Hospitality Suite Open
Comfort Suites Hotel (Ford Room)
Sponsor: Arkansas Broadcasters Association

Tuesday, March 13

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Registration Open
Guest Services Desk

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The Natural State Gift Shop Open
VIP Kennel Association Room

8:00 - 9:15 a.m.

Breakfast Session: The Americana Music Triangle: The Heart of America's
Starting Gate
Enjoy some food and hear about the Americana Music Triangle, a nonprofit
organization that seeks to educate and inspire visitors with music information and
itineraries within the Nashville-Memphis-New Orleans triangle.
Featuring: Aubrey Preston Preston of the Americana Music Triangle; Cliff Jones
of ASU Mid-South

9:30 - 10:30 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Session A: Beautiful Music: How Communities are Using Music as a Tourism
Kennel Club
Harness the power of sound to promote your community by developing music
sites and attractions visitors will love.
Featuring: Aubrey Preston of the Americana Music Triangle; Daren Dortin of
Ozark Highlands Radio; Austin Barrow of Murphy Arts District
Moderator: Cliff Jones of ASU Mid-South
Sponsor: Arkansas Delta Byways

Session B: Marketing to a Diverse Audience
Little Rock Room
Keeping your marketing messages diverse can help you attract new audiences.
Learn how to boost your business by being more inclusive.
Featuring: Pam Jones of Culturally Connected Communications; Miguel
Fuentevilla of Cinco Media; Catherine Crisp of UA Little Rock; Joshua Ang Price
of Hybrid Strategies
Moderator: Kane Webb, ADPT Executive Director
Sponsor: Hot Springs Village Property Owners' Association

Session C: How a Tiny Town in Arkansas Received National Buzz
Crittenden Room
This session will examine the brand strategy and marketing tactics that MAD
employed to create regional and national awareness. MAD has experienced more
than 6 billion(!) impressions via online, print and broadcast publicity since July
2017, and almost 30,000 attendees to its grand opening. Included will be an
examination of the brand building effort, advertising and media strategies, and
challenges to stay visible and relevant. There will be takeaways for those wrestling
with similar issues.
Featuring: Bob Tarren of Murphy Arts District (MAD)
Sponsor: Arkansas Life

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Break With Vendors & Slot Tournament
Bourbon Steakhouse / Blounge
Win your share of $500 in cash! Sign up at Player Rewards anytime between Sunday
and the beginning of the tournament. The cost to participate is $10, and up to 300
entrants may take part. Also, visit with vendors and peers during this networking
Sponsor: Meredith Travel Marketing

11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.    

Luncheon: ADPT Marketing Panel
Starting Gate
Hear about Arkansas's marketing strategy and learn how the state is leveraging
resources to attract more visitors and grow our tourism industry.
Featuring: Jim Dailey, Arkansas Tourism Director; Jay Salyers of Miles Partnership;
Denise Miller of SMARInsights; Brian Kratkiewicz of CJRW
Moderator: Kane Webb, ADPT Executive Director

1:15 - 2:30 p.m.

Feedback Workshop
Starting Gate
Share your thoughts with the Arkansas Tourism team! What can we do to improve?
How can we serve you better? Share your ideas about how to grow tourism across
The Natural State.
Featuring: Jim Dailey, Arkansas Tourism Director
Facilitator: Bryan Day of the Little Rock Port Authority

2:30 - 3:00 p.m.

Break with vendors
Bourbon Steakhouse
Sponsor: City of Marion Advertising & Promotion Commission

3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Session A: Enhancing Tourism Through Walking Trails
Kennel Club
Discover the positive impact that community walking trails can offer for residents
and visitors alike.
Featuring: Bryan Day of the Little Rock Port Authority; Martin Smith of Ecological
Design Group; Daniel Hintz of the Velocity Group
Sponsor: AARP Media

Session B: SMARInsights and Arkansas Tourism: Turning Insights into Action
Little Rock Room
Delve into current research from Strategic Marketing and Insights Research
(SMARI) and learn how to turn data into action items.
Featuring: Denise Miller of SMARInsights; Alisha Valentine of SMARInsights
Sponsor: Hot Springs Village Property Owners Association

Session C: Employee Desires are Management Opportunities
Crittenden Room
Gather tactics that can help you motivate and inspire employees to achieve business
Featuring: Conley Ferguson of Southland Park Gaming & Racing
Sponsor: Arkansas Lamination Products & Services

4:00 -6:00 p.m.

Slot Tournament Additional Play
Did you miss the chance to win your share of $500 in cash? Southland will offer
more time to play if capacity was reached during the morning tournament session.

6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Henry Awards Reception
Starting Gate
Sponsor: Murphy Arts District, El Dorado -- 2019 Host City
Featuring: Music by Jason D. Williams

7:15 - 9:00 p.m.

Henry Awards Banquet
Starting Gate
Celebrate the people, organizations, and businesses that have earned recognition
in the Arkansas tourism industry during the past year. The Arkansas Tourism Person
of the Year will also be announced.
Featuring: Montine McNulty, Arkansas Hospitality Association; Kane Webb, ADPT
Executive Director; Maggie Benton, Miss Arkansas 2017

9:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m.

Hospitality Suite Open
Comfort Suites Hotel (Ford Room)
Sponsor: Arkansas Broadcasters Association

Wednesday, March 14

8:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.      

Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Tour
Shuttle departs from Comfort Suites promptly at 8:15 a.m.
Sponsors: Arkansas Delta Byways; ASU Heritage Sites; West Memphis Convention
and Visitors Bureau
Guest Host: Joanne Cash