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2023 Schedule of Events

All concurrent and general sessions will take place at the Savannah Convention Center. 

Full schedule and events available on the mobile app.

*Please note, times are subject to change.  


Monday is Destination Day sponsored by Tinybeans!
Wear your favorite destination attire for a chance to win two 2024 registrations.

Full details PDF.


Conference Credentials: All delegates are issued a name badge at registration. This non-transferable badge is required for admission to all official ESTO functions. Should an identification badge be lost, a replacement may be obtained at registration. Badges must be worn at all ESTO events.  

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Saturday, August 19
TIME & LOCATION Event
Sponsored by Tempest

The Destiny and Mercury Awards Lounge makes its fifth-annual return for you to take a look at each finalist's submissions, media files, and judges' comments. Stop by the lounge to view the top three finalists from each category in the digital gallery. Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 22 at ESTO's Awards Dinner and Presentation.  The ESTO Awards enable states and destinations to showcase their creative accomplishments and foster the continued development of imaginative marketing and profitable promotional programs and campaigns in destination marketing. The Destinations Council's Destiny Awards recognize marketing and promotion at the city, local and regional level. The National Council of State Tourism Directors' Mercury Awards recognize state and territory destination marketing and promotion.

11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
Sponsored by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is here to inspire you, to guide you, and to connect you with epic destinations, near and far. Join Lonely Planet as the brand celebrates 50 years of unforgettable adventures. Transport yourself with our Webby Award-winning content, flip through our freshly designed guidebooks and get your hands on new merch. We’ll say it: 50 has never looked so good.

11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Tourism Economics

Bring your questions to the award-winning Tourism Economics team and benefit from the same help we offer to more than 500 destinations, companies & associations, globally. We’ll also share some exciting new data partnerships and features for our best-in-class Symphony platform!

11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
11:00am to 4:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
11:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Tondee's
Networking

PRE REGISTRATION REQUIRED

What to Expect:

Check-in at the desk begins at 12:15 PM. We will begin boarding the trolly at 12:30 PM for a prompt 12:45 PM departure. 

What to Wear:

Casual, cool, and comfortable.  The temperature in August averages between 90–95 degrees.  Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and we recommend a hat. 

In case of inclement weather, attendees should bring rain ponchos and/or umbrellas.

About the Immersion:

Southern charm and so much more flows through Savannah’s famous squares, parks and icons. The Savannah trolley tour provides an overview of how a city can strategically leverage its unique landmarks and new developments to attract visitors and boost local tourism. This classic trolley tour highlights some of the most popular sites including River Street, Forsyth Park and some of the loveliest examples of Savannah's 22 squares.  Explore Plant Riverside, a restored 1912 power plant turned edgy thriving entertainment district and see firsthand how Savannah has reclaimed this industrial space as a lively destination for visitors and residents alike. Join this experience to learn how Visit Savannah plays an active leadership role in community development to successfully raise brand awareness and support redevelopment efforts in creative and unexpected ways.

12:15 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED

What to Expect:

Check-in at the desk begins at 12:15 PM. We will begin boarding the trolly at 12:30 PM for a prompt 12:45 PM departure.

What to Wear:

Casual, cool, and comfortable.  The temperature in August averages between 90–95 degrees.  Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and we recommend a hat. 

In case of inclement weather, attendees should bring rain ponchos and/or umbrellas.

About the Immersion: One of the unique characteristics that makes Savannah so enchanting is its ability to maintain a delicate balance between preserving its history and embracing modern development. The city's rich history is seamlessly integrated with new businesses and residents, which is reflected in its historic buildings, public spaces, and commercial structures. The Savannah historic tour provides a narrative timeline of the city's fascinating past from French Gothic to Greek Revival and continuing through the different architectural styles and techniques that have shaped the city's urban design context. Learn how Savannah successfully manages historic preservation and growth for a thriving community and tourism landscape. You’ll walk away from this experience with insights on the many ways Visit Savannah boosts the visitor economy through highlighting the beautiful and historic, yet, also the quirkiness and funky one-of-a-kind architectural characteristics that may surprise you.

12:15 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED

What to Expect:

Check-in at the desk begins at 12:15 PM. We will begin boarding the trolly at 12:30 PM for a prompt 12:45 PM departure.

What to Wear:

Casual, cool, and comfortable.  The temperature in August averages between 90–95 degrees.  Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and we recommend a hat. 

In case of inclement weather, attendees should bring rain ponchos and/or umbrellas.

About the Immersion:

As America's first planned city, Savannah boasts a rich and fascinating history that spans nearly three centuries. Founded in 1733 by British General James Oglethorpe, the city played a significant role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, leaving behind many historical marvels that offer glimpses into its past. From the long-standing port to the cultural heritage of the African Gullah-Geechee people and the founding of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Savannah's landmarks are a testament to its rich and diverse history. Get ready to be transported back in time while learning how community collaboration has been central to delivering authentic experiences showcasing Savannah’s living history. You’ll discover how Visit Savannah finds creative ways to communicate the destination’s value proposition and how history and heritage put Savannah on the global map and creates reasons for people to visit this destination.

12:15 pm to 4:45 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED

What to Expect:

Check-in at the desk begins at 12:15 PM. We will begin boarding the trolly at 12:30 PM for a prompt 12:45 PM departure.

What to Wear:

Casual, cool, and comfortable.  The temperature in August averages between 90–95 degrees.  Be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and we recommend a hat. 

In case of inclement weather, attendees should bring rain ponchos and/or umbrellas.

About the Immersion: Savannah's food scene is renowned for its delectable Southern cuisine, attracting foodies from all over the world. From the succulent fried chicken and tender collard greens to the classic shrimp and grits, locally sourced ingredients play a key role in the city's flavorful dishes. However, Savannah's culinary offerings are not limited to traditional Southern fare. The city's award-winning chefs are always pushing the envelope, creating unique fusion concepts and inventive twists on local favorites. As a testament to its vibrant food scene, Savannah was recently recognized by Trip Advisor's Travelers' Choice as the "Best Food Destination in the United States" in January 2023. As the food scene continues to evolve, Savannah has seen greater visitor spend on the city’s culinary offerings. Savor the flavors of Savannah, as you discover how the destination has leveraged great partners and businesses who promote its storied food scene and renowned restaurants to establish Savannah as a leading culinary destination firmly.

12:15 pm to 5:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
Sunday, August 20
TIME & LOCATION Event
Sponsored by Tempest

The Destiny and Mercury Awards Lounge makes its fifth-annual return for you to take a look at each finalist's submissions, media files, and judges' comments. Stop by the lounge to view the top three finalists from each category in the digital gallery. Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 22 at ESTO's Awards Dinner and Presentation.  The ESTO Awards enable states and destinations to showcase their creative accomplishments and foster the continued development of imaginative marketing and profitable promotional programs and campaigns in destination marketing. The Destinations Council's Destiny Awards recognize marketing and promotion at the city, local and regional level. The National Council of State Tourism Directors' Mercury Awards recognize state and territory destination marketing and promotion.

8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
Sponsored by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is here to inspire you, to guide you, and to connect you with epic destinations, near and far. Join Lonely Planet as the brand celebrates 50 years of unforgettable adventures. Transport yourself with our Webby Award-winning content, flip through our freshly designed guidebooks and get your hands on new merch. We’ll say it: 50 has never looked so good.

8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Tourism Economics

Bring your questions to the award-winning Tourism Economics team and benefit from the same help we offer to more than 500 destinations, companies & associations, globally. We’ll also share some exciting new data partnerships and features for our best-in-class Symphony platform!

8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
8:30am to 5:30pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
8:45am to 10:30am
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience

ESTO gives back to the communities we visit. This year, ESTO attendees, under the guidance of our host DMO, Visit Savannah, will be joining the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia in pursuing volunteer activities right on-site at the Savannah Convention Center. This is an easy walk from the headquarters hotel for many attendees.

If you were involved in Scouting in your younger years, you recall the all important badges earned along your path to achievement.  We will be assisting in this process via two assembly lines putting together 400 bags that will contain materials girls need to complete different badge work.   

Volunteering and giving back are at the heart of the Girl Scouts' mission and we couldn't be in a better, nor more historic city, to work with Girl Scouts.   Did you know the Girl Scounts were founded in Savannah in 1912, just over 110 years ago?  The founder, Juliette Gordon Low, crafted a mission for the girl scouts that, in part, included the committment "To help people at all times.".  ESTO Cares is looking forward to helping the people of Savannah along with the historic girl scout troop.

Join your ESTO colleagues doing something meaningful for the Savannah community all while enjoying the camaraderie ESTO is known for.  Kick of your ESTO 2023 Sunday morning at ESTO Cares.   

Registration opens at 8:45 AM with coffee available.  The program begins at 9:00 AM.

Donations are still open here.

8:45 am to 10:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
9:00 am to 11:00 am
Savannah Convention Center
Tondee's
Networking

The Savannah Pop-up Shop Experience presented by Visit Savannah will host a pop-up shop experience featuring a unique collection of handmade and small batch products all made by Georgia’s popular, business and artisan makers. ESTO attendees will have the opportunity to purchase these items at the conference or have them shipped home. 

The pop-up shop will be open various hours during the conference. 

  • Sunday 8/20: 10am-6pm 
  • Monday 8/21: 10am–6pm 
  • Tuesday 8/22: 10am–3pm  

Make a BIG impact by supporting Georgia makers from diverse backgrounds.

10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
Sponsored by MMGY Global

This exclusive session presented by the Destinations Council’s Advisory Board is designed by and for U.S. Travel’s member DMOs. Gain insights into the board's proactive efforts in addressing pressing issues facing DMOs today. The hot topic segment spotlights a panel of colleagues candidly discussing the negative spotlight on their city and the bold measures they've adopted to confront these issues head-on. Be inspired by the success stories and strategies employed by Philadelphia, San Francisco, Jackson, Mississippi, and Fort Lauderdale in their journey of destination image repair and branding.

Attend the hot topics discussion and learn how the Advisory Board is working on your behalf to address current issues. Don't forget — if you represent a city destination and your organization is a U.S. Travel Association member, that makes you a member of Destinations Council!

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn about the Destinations Council's latest resource for member DMOs to advocate for consistent or increased investment in tourism.
  • Discover how DMOs tackle negative media perceptions and navigate post-crisis recovery.
  • Explore approaches to engaging with online detractors and handling sensitive issues.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the DMO Hot Topics session to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding! 

10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
General Session
11:30am to 3:30pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
11:30 am to 3:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Nativo

Data is changing, it's never been more important to have a clear understanding of who your audience is, and how to best reach them. Now you can research, activate, and understand your audience with or without cookies, all in one place. In this session, Nativo’s Travel Team will dive into how content – the very content you have at your fingertips – can paint an incredibly accurate picture of who your audience is, what they care about, and how to capture new audiences through what they are already engaging with.

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Madden Media

Navigating the complex world of AI can be both exciting and daunting. If you're seeking to understand its core, maximize its potential, and be alert to its pitfalls, it's essential to have a guide. How are your visitors engaging with it? What implications does it hold for them, your team and your destination? The 12 Laws of AI, presented by Madden Media's Matt Clement, will help provide clarity and direction as you navigate this ever-evolving frontier.

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Expedia

Destination Marketing Organizations are at the intersection of culture and commerce, facilitating new experiences and connections for travelers even amidst fluctuating factors. This Solutions Hub session explores Expedia Group’s new Path to Purchase Study, uncovering the factors influencing traveler behavior and their journey to booking, ultimately helping destination marketers identify the motivations and mindsets behind purchasing decisions

12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

This Peer Open Forum will delve into the hot button issues affecting travel to and within the United States and discover the approaches destinations are employing to address them. Gain insights on how destinations are proactively tackling issues such as public safety concerns, travel bans and inclusivity, as well as how they are combatting negative perceptions, navigating politically charged decisions and involving local leaders. Learn from your peers on how we can foster a more welcoming and secure travel environment across the nation.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Westin Savannah
Grand Ballroom A
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

In today's complex tourism landscape, destination development and stewardship activities are increasingly important aspects of a destination organization's strategy. Destination development and stewardship is essential to fostering robust destinations that offer authentic, world-class experiences for all travelers, while preserving, enhancing, and celebrating local culture and assets. 

Investments in this work are also critical to building awareness of the value of tourism within local communities and can be leveraged to retain and increase your funding. In this session, attendees will be encouraged to share strategies to successfully leverage destination development and stewardship activities to strike a healthy balance of driving tourism, enhancing local quality of life, and protecting natural areas for years to come.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Westin Savannah
Grand Ballroom B
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

Join us at the travel trade Peer Open Forum and ensure that your organization is on the right path towards success. In this structured yet informal session, we will address high-level issues, share success stories, and provide a platform for critiquing ideas pertaining to international and domestic travel trade. Our discussions will be enriched by insights from professionals representing all levels of state, city, local, and regional DMOs. 

This forum offers an opportunity to actively participate in focused discussions, expand your industry network, and broaden your educational scope. By learning from your peers, you can bring the latest trends to the table for in-depth exploration, while sharing your own knowledge and experiences. Additionally, you'll gain valuable insights into the strategies that drive other trade sales and development teams. 

During this session, we encourage open dialogue and aim to foster an environment that promotes productive exchanges. Whether you are a seasoned professional or new to travel trade, this forum is designed to provide a valuable platform for enhancing your decision-making abilities and gaining fresh perspectives.  Don't miss out on this opportunity to collaborate with industry leaders, build meaningful connections, and gain a deeper understanding of what drives success in the travel trade sector.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
102-104
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

Informal, interactive and informative discussion on current issues, challenges and opportunities including industry and traveler pressure points, measuring community impacts and other KPIs and the evolving traveler. We look forward to a thought-provoking and engaging discussion to learn from each other, share best practices, pitfalls and new data sources.

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
202
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Westin Savannah
Westin Harbor Ballroom AB
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Westin Savannah
Grand Ballroom DEF
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

Did our workload just double?! How has your PR program of work changed since last year? Are social media and influencer partnerships taking more time than traditional media relations? Is your team being asked to communicate with local audiences in addition to out-of-state tourism targets? How is your team managing increased demands? We are excited to share best practices with our PR peers working at DMOs from coast to coast. PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
200-201
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
204-205
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

Partnerships. We’ve been told that to succeed in life and business you need partnerships. In this era of scarce resources, that’s the case even more. There are many opportunities for partnerships in the travel and tourism industry, but they take focus, planning and work. Let’s get creative and discuss how these partnerships are creating new opportunities for inventive approaches to grant funding, workforce development, tribal tourism, sports tourism and so much more. By empowering others and reaching beyond your borders, you too can boost your tourism economy and make the visitor experience more meaningful. PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
101
Peer Open Forum
Sponsored by InFlightFlix

This Peer Open Forum is for individuals and organizations on the front-line, promoting their destination directly to the public. During this participant-led session, we will discuss best practices from the experts… You! Be ready to share your success stories, missed opportunities, or just soak in the experience of your peers. 

PLEASE NOTE: We ask that all ESTO sponsors refrain from attending the peer open forums to foster an environment of collaboration for staff from DMOs and state tourism offices. Thanks for your understanding!

1:35 pm to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
105-106
Peer Open Forum
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Tondee's
Networking
3:50pm to 4:10pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Break
3:50 pm to 4:10 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Break
Sponsored by Matador

Soft landing?  Something harder?  Whither inflation?  This presentation will supply in-depth analysis of the major factors shaping economic outcomes, including central bank policymaking, worker attitudes, business confidence, and geopolitics.  It will then turn toward a forecast for the year to come, highlighting the major risks that economic stakeholders will likely encounter.

4:15 pm to 5:15 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session
Sponsored by Brand USA

Join us at the Welcome Reception for U.S. Travel’s ESTO where colleagues and new friends will come together to kick off this event. Immerse yourself in the charming atmosphere of a speakeasy-style soirée at the Westin, inspired by the vibrant essence of Savannah. Delight in an array of delectable light hors d'oeuvres and handcrafted cocktails reminiscent of the city's rich heritage during the Prohibition era. While savoring the elevated low country cuisine and themed libations, enjoy music by the Bill Peterson Orchestra. Prepare to mingle and make memories as we kick off ESTO 2023!

5:45 pm to 7:15 pm
Westin Savannah
Grand Ballroom A-F
Networking
Monday, August 21
TIME & LOCATION Event
Sponsored by Tempest

The Destiny and Mercury Awards Lounge makes its fifth-annual return for you to take a look at each finalist's submissions, media files, and judges' comments. Stop by the lounge to view the top three finalists from each category in the digital gallery. Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 22 at ESTO's Awards Dinner and Presentation.  The ESTO Awards enable states and destinations to showcase their creative accomplishments and foster the continued development of imaginative marketing and profitable promotional programs and campaigns in destination marketing. The Destinations Council's Destiny Awards recognize marketing and promotion at the city, local and regional level. The National Council of State Tourism Directors' Mercury Awards recognize state and territory destination marketing and promotion.

7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
Sponsored by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is here to inspire you, to guide you, and to connect you with epic destinations, near and far. Join Lonely Planet as the brand celebrates 50 years of unforgettable adventures. Transport yourself with our Webby Award-winning content, flip through our freshly designed guidebooks and get your hands on new merch. We’ll say it: 50 has never looked so good.

7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Tourism Economics

Bring your questions to the award-winning Tourism Economics team and benefit from the same help we offer to more than 500 destinations, companies & associations, globally. We’ll also share some exciting new data partnerships and features for our best-in-class Symphony platform!

7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
7:00am to 4:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
7:45 am to 8:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Networking
8:30am to 9:00am
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session
8:30 am to 9:00 am
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session
Sponsored by Atlas Obscura

With disruption at its full force, leadership today is different than any time in recent history. Leaders today and tomorrow can thrive more than ever if done correctly. Scott’s storytelling style mixes both humor and practicality so the audience doesn’t just enjoy the talk, but has tools that could be used immediately to better themselves and their company.

Key Takeaways:

  • To acknowledge not only what we've been through, but where we can go in the future.  
  • How to create a stronger team bond. 
  • The most important leadership trait going forward.  
  • How dealing with problem customers can strengthen your company.  
  • Create an environment where a multi-generational workforce can thrive.
9:00 am to 10:00 am
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Keynote
10:00am to 1:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience

The Savannah Pop-up Shop Experience presented by Visit Savannah will host a pop-up shop experience featuring a unique collection of handmade and small batch products all made by Georgia’s popular, business and artisan makers. ESTO attendees will have the opportunity to purchase these items at the conference or have them shipped home. 

The pop-up shop will be open various hours during the conference. 

  • Sunday 8/20: 10am-6pm 
  • Monday 8/21: 10am–6pm 
  • Tuesday 8/22: 10am–3pm 

Make a BIG impact by supporting Georgia makers from diverse backgrounds.

10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
10:05 am to 10:25 am
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Break

We worked with eight DMOs in Kentucky to design and fund the development of Queer Bourbon Week, a community-focused set of events and activities that creates a state-wide marketing effort towards LGBTQ+ visitors. We’ll tell you how we did it, and help you brainstorm a community partnership in your destination that can serve as a pillar for LGBTQ+ engagement.

10:30 am to 10:50 am
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
All Access
Marketing

This engaging panel will explore the influential role of local voices and experiences in attracting travelers and generating high-value bookings. Panelists will share insights on why and how their respective destinations have successfully partnered with local voices to highlight authentic and distinct experiences, driving record-breaking tourism. Join us as best practices and real-world examples for creating and supporting local experiences are shared, as well as the strategy behind building relationships with local voices within their communities

10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
202
All Access
Marketing
Marketing

Marketers today have a bewildering number of data sources that can help to strengthen and hone their marketing effortsbut how can one know what data and data sources really matter? In this session, three experts will share their unique perspectives on harnessing research and performance insights to strengthen marketing efforts and enhance brand storytelling. Don't miss this opportunity to learn about the ever-changing landscape of data-driven marketing and its lasting impact on shaping compelling brand narratives. 

Key Takeaways:

  • How travel brands can utilize public and third-party research to inform their approach to creative and content.  
  • Ways the data from your programs can increase program efficiencies.  
  • How marketers can use data within specific channels to better target their audience.
10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
105-106
All Access
Marketing
Marketing

Crafting authentic marketing strategies that truly speak to niche audiences and executing creative for diverse audiences can be daunting for destination organizations as they adapt to DEI initiatives.  In this session, we will address how diverse travelers are evolving through the lens of data-driven DEI, how to approach this challenge with creative articulation, and how to push it forward through community partnerships & storytelling. We will explore if the way we express our creativity matches with human inclinations and take into account if our ideas are practical and can be successful to increase business. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the Future of Travel Study findings, a tourism colab between Esra Calvert Consulting, ShareMoreStories & The Culturist Group, and decode human emotions through storytelling and AI.  
  • Explore how Pennsylvania is memorializing the stories of African American heritage within large and small communities through collaborative context. 
  • Be inspired by Santa Ana's authentic voice in building bridges within its diverse audience through digital touch and engagement.
10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
200-201
All Access
Marketing
Data & Insights

In this session, we will navigate the evolving mindset of travelers. As we emerge from the impact of recent events, individuals are approaching their trips with a fresh perspective compared to pre-pandemic times. Join us as we delve into the latest research and data, uncovering the transformations that have taken place, as well as those aspects that have remained consistent. Gain valuable insights on how to effectively leverage market opportunities and skillfully anticipate the predominant trends that are currently influencing the revival of international inbound travel. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Walk through the latest research and data on international consumers. 
  • Learn how to leverage market opportunities. 
  • Discuss how to anticipate trends.
10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
All Access
Data & Insights
Destination Management

Striving to streamline your DMO's strategic direction and articulate its value more clearly? Our panel of experts will engage in a focused discussion about how you can get there, no matter the size of your destination or team.

We'll explore how crafting a clear, dynamic mission statement and aligning Key Business Objectives (KBOs) with SMART Goals can fortify your DMO's foundation. Our speakers will share their thoughts and firsthand experiences in implementing similar strategies in their respective organizations.

Learn to drive success through refined measurement and communication strategies and bring your organization's vision to life.

10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
All Access
Destination Management
Destination Management

Do a deep dive into advocacy strategies for DMOs. This session is designed to empower DMO professionals with the knowledge, tools, and strategies to navigate the complexities of financial advocacy successfully. We will cover identification of the audience, message development, choice of messenger and execution.  

Featuring a dynamic display of real-world examples, our session will delve into innovative strategies and valuable lessons learned. Inspiring success stories will guide your funding advocacy journey, providing you with actionable insights. We will also explore effective strategies for fostering relationships with local government entities, ensuring fruitful collaborations.    

Key Takeaways:

  • Equip yourself with strategies to navigate financial advocacy.  
  • Gain actionable insights from inspiring success stories and innovative strategies in funding advocacy to enhance your strategies.  
  • Discover proven approaches for building impactful collaborations with local government entities to support your advocacy goals.
10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
102-104
All Access
Destination Management

Sports events can have some of the biggest impact on communities across all metrics — and not just the economic ones. While they generate millions of room nights, they can also contribute to the quality of life of residents in cities of all sizes. The range of sports organizations looking for partners on events is also considerable and goes far beyond the professional events you see on TV or stream on your phone. 

In this session, you’ll gain an understanding for the scope of the $40 billion sports-events industry, including the latest data on sports-related travel, insights into what sports-event organizers look for in host cities, hotels and partners, and how several states are combining the power of their destinations’ sports-hosting capabilities into statewide marketing efforts that benefit communities large and small.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how engaging with sports-events can benefit your destination. 
  • What sports-event organizers look for in a destination. 
  • Practical examples from states expanding their marketing efforts.
10:30 am to 11:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
101
All Access
Sponsored by Simpleview

*Limited Capacity

Immerse yourself in the The Fishbowl — an interactive session where active listening and engagement are both needed as you explore the art of destination marketing. Discover the ideal balance of strategic marketing that captivates both locals and visitors. Overcome stigmas and navigate the unpredictable terrain of destination marketing, utilizing social media and collaborations with local businesses. Unravel the complexities of audience targeting beyond generational differences, gaining fresh perspectives and tactics from industry peers. 

Join us in engaging fishbowl-style discussions to craft authentic connections and revolutionize your approach to destination marketing, propelling your efforts to new heights.   

  • Marketing to Locals vs. Visitors: a Recipe for Success    
  • Promoting the Truth About Your Destination with Balanced Content  
  • Generational vs. Life Stage Marketing: Is It Just About Age?
10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
204-205
All Access

*Please note only CEOs or similar levels are eligible to attend.

Destination leaders nationwide are leveraging the Collective Impact framework as an effective approach to tackling tough tourism-related issues such as those tied to housing, workforce, transportation, infrastructure, and crime & safety—all of which are essential for a successful tourism program but typically fall outside the direct control of the destination organization itself. This collaboration-driven approach establishes community ownership of strategic initiatives and clearly defines roles, accountability, and expectations for plan management across organizations. With this knowledge, destination leaders can strengthen their organization’s ability to collaborate effectively and productively with key community stakeholders and sustain long-term impact of transformational destination management efforts.

In this session, Sara Meaney will provide participants with an introduction to the framework and its potential role in supporting successful implementation of their destinations’ strategic planning efforts. Next, we’ll facilitate a conversation with Destination Leaders who are actively leveraging this model in their destinations. Finally, we’ll open up to Q&A for lessons learned and tips for any destination, large or small.  

10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
203
CEO
11:45am to 1:30pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Networking
11:45 am to 1:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Networking

Post-pandemic, the industry is faced with questions about whether to return to business as usual or seize the opportunity to reinvent itself. How can we benefit from more flexible and sustainable travel patterns that actually help address the issues of feast or famine that so many destinations struggle with when it comes to tourism? How do bleisure, shoulder travel, and a demand for new experiences build more sustainable economies? Non-traditional travel benefits both destinations and consumers. We’ll look at how the stories we tell can shape and influence patterns of travel that are a win-win for us all.

1:30 pm to 2:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session

Explore the next-generation analytics platform — Google Analytics 4 (GA4) where you will experience its impact as it safeguards user privacy with granular controls and seamlessly integrates app and web data for comprehensive insights. Accelerate your marketing endeavors with faster reporting, embedded machine learning, and automated insights. Unleash the potential of advanced audience activation, strategic bidding, and accurate attribution by centralizing and analyzing diverse data sets. Witness the alchemy of GA4 as it combines data into intricate audience segments, optimizing ROI across multiple channels and devices.
Join us on this journey to unlock GA4's true power, ignite your marketing potential, and elevate your strategies to new heights.

2:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session
2:00pm to 4:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
2:35 pm to 2:55 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Break

In June, we hosted a community round-table with Explore Asheville, bringing together the DMO and local LGBTQ+ community leaders and tourism partners. We’ll tell you how we put it together, and how your destination leadership can benefit from engaging with your local LGBTQ+ community.

 

3:00 pm to 3:20 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
All Access
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Accessibility has evolved beyond physical modifications and has become a crucial element of a traveler's entire journey. Cory Lee and a panel of industry leaders will share their expertise on creating inclusive content and curating accessible experiences. Learn about developing strategies that prioritize accessibility, as well as the nuances of digital and sensory accessibility. Acquire practical tips and techniques to transform your destination’s approach to accessibility and enhance the overall travel experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to begin your destination’s accessibility journey. 
  • Integrate accessibility into your marketing efforts.   
  • Gain insights on digital accessibility from web design to online content creation.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
200-201
All Access
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Destination Management

U.S. Travel will moderate a discussion with industry leaders on how to communicate travel’s essential role in our communities, economy and future growth. Learn what advocacy means and why it is so important for furthering the travel industry’s narrative and policy goals at the local level. Hear best practices on how to activate your grassroots network, ways to engage your local and federal policymakers and the power in doing so.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn why advocating for the travel industry is vital for community, economy, and future growth.  
  • Discover best practices to activate and engage your grassroots supporters for impactful advocacy. 
  • Gain insights on building relationships and influencing policy decisions at the local and federal levels.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
203
All Access
Destination Management
PR/Communications

In the aftermath of a crisis, it's essential for destinations to effectively communicate their recovery plans to the public. In this session, we'll delve into the post-crisis communication strategies that destination marketers can use to promote their destinations and restore traveler confidence. We'll explore the importance of empathy, transparency, and authenticity in communication, as well as the role of social media in shaping public perception. By the end of the session, attendees will have the tools and knowledge necessary to effectively communicate their destination's recovery plans and build traveler confidence in the aftermath of a crisis.    

Key Takeaways:  

  • The importance of developing a post-crisis communication strategy that aligns with your destination's recovery plan and reflects your destination's unique identity.   
  • The role of social media in shaping public perception and how to use it effectively to communicate with travelers and restore confidence in your destination.   
  • The importance of empathy, transparency, and authenticity in post-crisis communication and how to use these qualities to build trust and establish a positive brand image.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
202
All Access
PR/Communications
Destination Management

America’s urban centers received the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. As travel returned, many people had a strong desire to be outdoors, and so cities took an outsize hit. While much of that business has returned, many cities have yet to see the full return of group and international business, while also struggling with the perception of being unsafe. Hear from a panel of urban marketers as well as data-driven insights about where urban travel is headed.   

Key Takeaways:

  • Data on urban demand and visitation during and after the pandemic from key industry partners. 
  • Urban marketing strategies from DMO leaders from across the country. 
  • Tactics to help address visitor concerns about downtown safety issues.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
101
All Access
Destination Management
Innovation

GA4 has new and exciting features and we want to make sure you are up to speed on the latest. In this Google-led session we will walk through the standard GA4 reports to understand user and traffic acquisition, create exploration reports and create audiences, especially the machine learning based predictive audiences.

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
102-104
All Access
Innovation
Marketing

If you think you are seeing more "content creators" than ever before, you're not alone! DMOs across the country are seeing an evolution of people adopting the term creator to describe themselves. But what makes an influencer and a creator different?  

In this session, we'll explore the differences and how the "influencer" has evolved in the creator economy. Learn how destinations are using creators to connect with consumers on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, and the importance of using creators to help authentically tell their destination's story.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify how to spot the ideal creator for your destination 
  • Practical steps to crafting a creator strategy 
  • Measurement of successful partnerships 

 

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
204-205
All Access
Marketing
3:00pm to 4:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
All Access
Marketing

Join us as we delve into the forefront of video marketing in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Get ready to be inspired by Danielle Johnson, Travel Vertical Director at TikTok, as she shares her insights on how TikTok continues to celebrate our thriving community of 150 million Americans. Prepare for an eye-opening fireside chat with distinguished DMOs who have mastered and continued to harness the power of TikTok's content and dynamic community. Learn from their secrets of crafting immersive experiences that forge a deep connection with travelers. 

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
All Access
Marketing

In a world where talent acquisition and workforce development are paramount, states face the challenge of attracting skilled individuals to meet the demands of their businesses and communities. This two-part session delves into the strategies employed by different states in tackling this pressing issue. This first session focuses on broader talent attraction efforts and explores the role of tourism offices in attracting new residents and workers across all industries within their respective states. Attendees will gain insights from three state tourism directors with distinctly different approaches, allowing them to determine their own roles in talent acquisition and workforce development. Whether as the state's chief marketing officer, playing a supporting role, or opting out entirely, attendees will leave with valuable insights to define their role in talent acquisition and workforce to make informed decisions that align with your organization's goals.

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
105-106
State Tourism DMO
Sponsored by Rove

The ESTO Debates are back! New format but the same unpredictable (and sometimes questionable) content. You never know what to expect when your friends and colleagues take the stage to debate their points of view. Don't miss laughs, learning, and liquid refreshments at these reimagined debates.

Topic 1 - Insights and Measurements

We all wish there was a single, silver bullet measurement or metric for our DMO to prove success. This panel of experienced data brains will debate just what is the right measurement for today and in the future. 

Topic 2 - The Future of Marketing

The world of marketing is continuously reinventing itself. Some areas are revolutionarily new, almost straight from science fiction, while others are tried and true standards from long ago. These marketers will debate what is the next great thing in destination marketing. 

Topic 3 - DMO Hangover

In the high-stakes world of DMOs, not everything goes right, every time. There are a lot of things at play as we try to do our jobs, build our destinations, and most importantly connect with our communities. This group of senior leaders will discuss the future of DMOs.

4:15 pm to 6:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session
5:45 pm to 7:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Tondee's
Networking
6:00pm to 11:59pm
Savannah Convention Center
Experience
6:00 pm to 11:59 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Experience
Tuesday, August 22
TIME & LOCATION Event
7:30am to 2:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
7:30 am to 2:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Tempest

The Destiny and Mercury Awards Lounge makes its fifth-annual return for you to take a look at each finalist's submissions, media files, and judges' comments. Stop by the lounge to view the top three finalists from each category in the digital gallery. Award winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 22 at ESTO's Awards Dinner and Presentation.  The ESTO Awards enable states and destinations to showcase their creative accomplishments and foster the continued development of imaginative marketing and profitable promotional programs and campaigns in destination marketing. The Destinations Council's Destiny Awards recognize marketing and promotion at the city, local and regional level. The National Council of State Tourism Directors' Mercury Awards recognize state and territory destination marketing and promotion.

7:30 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
Sponsored by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet is here to inspire you, to guide you, and to connect you with epic destinations, near and far. Join Lonely Planet as the brand celebrates 50 years of unforgettable adventures. Transport yourself with our Webby Award-winning content, flip through our freshly designed guidebooks and get your hands on new merch. We’ll say it: 50 has never looked so good.

7:30 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
7:30 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Tourism Economics

Bring your questions to the award-winning Tourism Economics team and benefit from the same help we offer to more than 500 destinations, companies & associations, globally. We’ll also share some exciting new data partnerships and features for our best-in-class Symphony platform!

7:30 am to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
8:45 am to 9:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Networking
9:00am to 1:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience

The world of destination marketing has undergone a transformative shift that will have lasting effects. Rapid advancements in technology have revolutionized the landscape, while the pandemic and generative AI have accelerated customer and employee expectations, equivalent to a leap of 10 years. In this changing world, we seek leaders who can fearlessly navigate these challenges. These drivers are forcing everyone to reimagine their entire organizations. How can we stay relevant as destination marketers? How do we cultivate a mindset that embraces disruption? How do we deliver better experiences to our clients, customers, and teams? Today, we need to be bold, brave, and experimental. In this high-energy talk, Shawn Kanungo provides an optimistic roadmap for the future. Discover how unconventional approaches to innovation can help us remain competitive and relevant in an ever-evolving industry.

9:30 am to 10:30 am
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session

The Savannah Pop-up Shop Experience presented by Visit Savannah will host a pop-up shop experience featuring a unique collection of handmade and small batch products all made by Georgia’s popular, business and artisan makers. ESTO attendees will have the opportunity to purchase these items at the conference or have them shipped home. 

The pop-up shop will be open various hours during the conference. 

  • Sunday 8/20: 10am-6pm 
  • Monday 8/21: 10am–6pm 
  • Tuesday 8/22: 10am–3pm 

Make a BIG impact by supporting Georgia makers from diverse backgrounds.

10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Rotunda
Experience
10:35 am to 10:55 am
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Break
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

People with disabilities and their companions face numerous difficulties when planning a trip based on their needsand every requirement differs. How can destinations and hospitality providers speak to the more than 500 million travelers yearly who are ready to take a trip but don’t have the resources they need?

During this session, you’ll gain insight as to the value of this segment and better understand how to be a resource for travelers with accessibility needs and learn actionable steps on how DMOs can effectively market to this community/segment. 

11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
204-205
All Access
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Marketing

Join a panel of industry experts for a thought-provoking discussion on the current state of the group sales environment and uncover strategies for DMOs to thrive in courting lucrative group business. This engaging session will be moderated by a seasoned professional, offering updated data and valuable insights into the evolving sales landscape. Gain insider knowledge from association executives and experienced DMO professionals, who will share their expertise on incorporating nontraditional benefits that captivate event planners. Don't miss this opportunity to gain a competitive edge and discover innovative approaches to group sales.

11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
202
All Access
Marketing
11:00am to 12:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
All Access
Innovation

Talk about ChatGPT is seemingly everywhereis the technology sentient? Will my kids use it to cheat on term papers? If it’s so great, why is the blog post it wrote for me so terrible?  Let’s take a breath and focus on how destination marketers can save time by using this technology today.  We’ll review use cases that have nothing to do with content creationfrom creating rubrics to writing pivot tables, there are dozens of tasks that can be simplified thanks to the organizational powers of generative AI.  Whether you’re a novice or a pro, you’ll be inspired to create your account or dive into prompt engineering after this session.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Keep a tab with ChatGPT open on your computer and challenge yourself to find a use for it every day.   
  • Those who stand to benefit most are the folks who already have deep subject-matter expertise. 
  • Generate stronger outputs by taking advantage of ChatGPT’s love of structure.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
All Access
Innovation
Destination Management

As pressures mount on destinations to prove the value of tourism, DMOs can build strength and relevance by expanding or shifting their traditional roles. This session shares insights into how destination organizations can find new purpose by directing energy and resources to address important local and state priorities. By finding new ways to relate to the communities, DMOs can demonstrate the value and power of tourism in convincing new ways.      

Key Takeaways:

  • Find out how Travel Nevada is building a model destination development program from the ground up, fostering creation of new traveler experiences that align with local priorities while sparking entrepreneurship and rural development.  
  • Learn how extensive community engagement led the Town of Vail to embrace a "Community-Positive" vision for tourism to make Vail more liveable and create a stronger sense of community while building more resilience into its visitor economy.  
  • Consider new ways to broaden the value of tourism in your destination beyond direct economic returns, by creating, highlighting and measuring meaningful benefits for residents.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
105-106
All Access
Destination Management
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

In this session, attendees will better understand the values, attitudes, and beliefs that influence Black and Hispanic consumers' purchasing decisions. The session will provide a comprehensive overview of these markets, including their preferences for media and communication channels, and hands-on practice identifying and effectively marketing to them.   

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand Black and Hispanic purchasing decisions. The session will provide a valuable opportunity for attendees to analyze their own media mix and marketing efforts. 
  • Identify areas for improvement in DMO outreach to these diverse and growing consumer groups.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
200-201
All Access
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
PR/Communications

Do your PR and Marketing teams work together, or do they operate as separate teams? Where does the agency fit in? In this session, we will explore how DMOs and state tourism offices structure their PR/Communications and Marketing departments. We will review PR/Communications as a function of the Marketing team vs. PR/Communications outside of the Marketing team. Based on these structures, we will learn how marketing and PR plans are crafted and executed.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Develop a better understanding of which structure might work best for their team.   
  • Understanding of the role agencies can play in amplifying effectiveness of marketing campaigns.  
  • A description of modern PR tools that can be harnessed to achieve success.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
203
All Access
PR/Communications
Marketing

In our ever-evolving world, exponential technologies propel our ability to innovate, driving us forward at an unprecedented pace. The Great Reimagination is a strategic conversationa purposefully designed experience to build understanding and stretch participants’ mindsets in 45 minutes around the new world of work. 

This will be a highly immersive group competitionthink Hunger Games meets American Idol.  Each group of 4-5 will develop ideas and an experimentation roadmap that will transform how they look at talent.  Teams will pitch their plans back to the broader group.  Prizes will be given to the top team(s).  

Key Takeaways:

  • Build excitement and engagement around building an exponential organizationhow can we do way more with way less? 
  • Work with peers to gain a better understanding about the changing external landscape as it pertains to the future of talent.  
  • Dive deeper into how disruptive trends will drive change in how we approach work, such as the gig economy, generative AI, and more.
11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
102-104
All Access
Marketing

*Please note only CEOs or similar levels are eligible to attend.

Destination organizations and their leaders are embracing a new level of responsibility. A greater purpose fuels a shift towards long-term thinking and Destination Stewardship for a thriving future. The decisions tourism leaders make as industry influencers impact residents and the communities where they live. This reality requires something very different from all destination leaders and presents a critical question: How can I maximize my impact when I’m not in control?

In this lively presentation, Michelle Janke will share practical and tactical insights on how tourism leaders can leverage their unique style of influence to engage and inspire others across industry sectors.

Next, a group of DMO Leaders will share their experiences with starting important conversations that are waiting to be had and enlisting others to do the same.

Finally, we’ll open up to Q&A for lessons learned and tips for any destination, large or small.

11:00 am to 12:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
101
CEO
12:15pm to 1:15pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Networking
12:15 pm to 1:15 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Networking

Ground-breaking advancements in generative AI applications have sparked intense discussions across industries. As destination marketing professionals, it's time to explore how this cutting-edge technology is reshaping our field. This presentation will dive deep into the world of generative AI and its profound impact on text, video, images, and audio. Discover how these advancements are redefining the way we create captivating content, design immersive experiences, and develop data-driven strategies to promote our destinations. Join us as we journey through the current state of generative AI, its latest trends, and the exciting future possibilities that lie ahead. Gain invaluable insights on how to harness the power of AI to overcome challenges, drive innovation, and elevate your destination marketing efforts. Don't miss this opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and revolutionize your approach to destination marketing in the age of generative AI.

1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
General Session
2:00pm to 5:00pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Georgia International Gallery
Experience
2:35 pm to 2:55 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Break
Destination Management

In this session, learn how three DMOs are navigating the transition to destination stewardship as a primary focus, noting it is a holistic movement, not one that focuses solely on environmental issues.  The session will explore how a DMO can prioritize sustainable development and positive resident sentiment without abandoning economic objectives.  Panelists will discuss specific challenges faced in urban and great outdoor destinations, as well as KPIs that provide data-driven benchmarks to inform destination stewardship planning and reporting of results.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover how DMOs are holistically embracing destination stewardship beyond environmental considerations. 
  • Explore how destinations can balance the need for sustainable development and community sentiment with economic goals. 
  • Gain insights into how KPIs can help inform destination stewardship planning and performance reporting.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
200-201
All Access
Destination Management
Data & Insights

Armed with a vast array of data from many sources and research methods it is critical to determine what is most actionable to guide your strategy and plan execution. The real value of the information will be determined by how it is used and communicated to others.    

Key Takeaways:

  • It takes a mix of data, analytics and first-party research for a DMO to have success. 
  • There is no one size fits all solution. DMOs have to determine which data is best to guide their strategy.
  • Providing meaningful research guidance to partners and community leaders enhances the value of the DMO.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
202
All Access
Data & Insights
Marketing

Georgia is the home state of the world’s busiest and best (industry rankings) airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. Air service is top-of-mind among many destination marketers. For some the question is “How to begin a partnership?” While others ponder whether they should focus on marketing what they have. 

This session will cover how small destinations work with an air service development company to expand reliant new air service on financial investment by the destination, and just how much is needed. This session will also include an airline’s (Delta) point of view and how they factor into the decision-making process when deciding whether air service meets their goals for a regional airport. 

In the end, destination marketers of small, medium and large destinations that attend this session will leave with a better understanding of how air service development companies, airports and DMOs work together to make a destination as appealing as possible.  

Key Takeaways:

  • The role of a DMO in air service development. 
  • The state of air service development post-COVID.   
  • The roles and responsibilities between development and marketing, including who best serves in the role of development versus marketing when working with airport partners.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
105-106
All Access
Marketing
Marketing

Video marketing can be time-consuming and resource-intensivebut it doesn’t have to be. This session is for anyone looking to improve their productivity without sacrificing the quality of work. We will share automation tools, tactics to streamline video production processes, and data to inform marketing decisions. You’ll learn how to optimize video content for multiple channels without burning out your team or depleting your budget. Whether you are just starting out or managing an in-house creative team, this session will provide actionable insights for achieving more with less.   

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to streamline video production processes.
  • Use data to inform marketing decisions.
  • Learn how to extend your marketing budget by optimizing assets.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
102-104
All Access
Marketing
Marketing

Learn how destinations have expanded their brands through non-endemic partnerships. Understand the importance of choosing and aligning partners for brand success. Success doesn’t always come easy. Hear some of the pitfalls when partnerships fail. Carolann Ouellette from Maine’s Office of Outdoor Recreation and Mitch Whitten from Visit Fort Worth will explain how they partnered with lifestyle brands and organizations to expand their overall destination’s brand awareness.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn about the importance of brand partnerships. 
  • Discuss challenges that come with starting new partnerships. 
  • Hear two examples from DMOs on how their partnerships began.
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
204-205
All Access
Marketing
Innovation

Revolutionize. Personalize. Optimize. This immersive, hands-on workshop is designed to explore the transformative potential of generative AI.

Together, we will delve into practical applications of generative AI and learn how to leverage its potential to improve sales, enhance product personalization, craft highly effective and targeted marketing campaigns, and optimize pricing strategies. Through collaborative exercises with fellow marketing professionals, you’ll exchange ideas, and develop new skills to amplify your marketing strategies.

Stay ahead of the game and enhance your toolkit with the power of AI-driven solutions.

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Oglethorpe Auditorium
All Access
Innovation

This second session of a two-part series on talent acquisition and workforce development shifts the spotlight onto tourism and hospitality specific programs. In this session, we delve into the strategies implemented by states to support or develop initiatives aimed at filling jobs specific to the travel industry. As the demand for skilled professionals in the travel industry continues to grow, states are taking proactive measures to address this pressing need. Join us to explore the innovative programs and initiatives implemented by different states to attract and cultivate industry talent. From targeted training programs to collaborative partnerships with educational institutions and industry associations, this session will unveil the strategies employed to fill job vacancies and nurture a skilled workforce.

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
101
State Tourism DMO

This discussion delves into the heart of data accountability and exposes the intricate methodologies employed to ensure transparency. Through interview-style conversations between three states and the research vendors they have collaborated with, this session will provide specific use cases for data and discuss practical approaches to evaluate and comprehend data effectively. Drawing on real-life examples, colleagues from Wyoming, Idaho and North Dakota will share compelling use cases where data has been leveraged for advocacy, educating stakeholders and strategic decision-making. By demystifying the research process, this session empowers attendees with the tools to assess and understand data more effectively.

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
203
State Tourism DMO
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Tondee's
Networking

Some say that Savannah is the most spirited city in America. Visitors come from far and wide to explore all things paranormal, enjoying the beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery, visiting ethereal historic homes or touring the city aboard a “haunted” trolley. Our stone walls are known to talk, revealing an otherworldly but captivating past waiting to tell its own story. The closing reception is inspired by this supernatural side of Savannah, so don your best dark and dramatic cocktail attire and join us for an “eerie-sistable” evening.

6:30 pm to 7:15 pm
Savannah Convention Center
River Concourse
Experience
Sponsored by Miles Partnership

Gather 'round, dear guests, and listen closely to a tale of haunted places in the state of Georgia. As we celebrate the best of destination marketing, be sure to dress in your finest all-black cocktail attire, for the spirits of Georgia's past will surely be in attendance as you savor your meal. Perhaps a flicker of a candle or a sudden drop in temperature will alert you to their supernatural presence. So, join us to raise a toast to the spirits of Georgia, and enjoy an unforgettable evening filled with ghostly tales and a celebration of eerily good work by destination marketing’s best and brightest.

Suggested attire: Dark & Dramatic Cocktail

7:15 pm to 9:00 pm
Savannah Convention Center
Chatham Ballroom
Experience