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2024 Schedule of Events


 

U.S. Travel’s ESTO 2024 program is designed to Ignite your Spark – to grow, learn, and connect. Each session is intentionally curated to elevate your marketing efforts in the DMO space. Explore the program below and learn more about the content paths. Please note all sessions will take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC).

Conference Credentials: All delegates are issued a non-transferable name badge at registration, which is required for admission to all official ESTO functions. If you lose your name badge, please visit registration.

Monday, August 12
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7:00am - 4:00pm

Experience

  • Union Station Concourse
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Engagement Zones are opportunities for attendees to engage in experiences created by our sponsors. Learn more about what our sponsors have planned for you at each Engagement Zone:

    AdTheorent

    Please stop by to learn how AdTheorent uses machine learning and privacy-forward programmatic advertising solutions to drive business outcomes like visitation, in-market sales and bookings for travel and destination marketers. 

     

    CrowdRiff

    More details to come.

     

    Longwoods International

    More details to come.

     

    Smithsonian Media

    Baseball. Hot Dogs. Apple Pie. Smithsonian. And Cornhole?

    Beanbags will be flying at Smithsonian Media’s spot in the Engagement Zone. Join us for a quick game and learn more about Smithsonian Media while you enjoy one of summer’s favorite pastimes. Show off your skills and enter to win a free dedicated email blast to 100,000 Smithsonian Media subscribers.

    Smithsonian is America’s storyteller. 

     

    Tourism Economics
    More details to come.

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8:00am - 8:45am

Networking

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8:45am - 9:15am

Main Stage

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9:15am - 10:15am

Main Stage

  • Battelle Grand
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    In this keynote, Sekou challenges our traditional view of growth. Ever since we were little, we’ve been obsessed with growth. But in order for the transformational leader to keep reaching the proverbial "next level," you must first transform your concept of the word "growth" in a sustainable way. Prepare to supercharge your resiliency through an energetic and inspiring keynote like no other.

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10:00am - 5:00pm

Experience

  • A Pod Concourse
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Don’t leave Columbus without strolling through the pop-up shop experience, perfect for those searching for locally made artisan objects, retail and fashion items, goodies, and souvenirs. With a rotating slate of vendors each day, shoppers will get a peek at Columbus’ diverse and unique local businesses, including those from the Experience Columbus Minority Business Program.

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10:15am - 11:00am

Main Stage

  • Battelle Grand
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Join Jeni Britton, Founder & Chief Brand Officer of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, for a conversation on creating a personal brand and how to create, grow, and taste-test what works for you. From humble beginnings, setbacks, and challenges, Jeni’s story is a testament to resilience, creativity, and the art of building an iconic brand. In this session, Jeni will share her insights on strategic decisions, creative processes, and values. Learn how to move from scoop to success by gaining insight into creative thinking, brand development, and authenticity.

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10:30am - 1:30pm

Experience

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11:00am - 11:30am

Break

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11:30am - 12:30pm

All Access

  • A220 - A222
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Understanding data doesn’t always require a massive budget or dedicated research team. As a destination marketing leader, you have more data at your fingertips than ever before but knowing where to begin – or make sense of the numbers – can be overwhelming. This interactive session walks participants through the process of evidence-based decision making, providing clear next steps to create impactful and cost-efficient destination marketing strategies. All session attendees will receive a copy of the DMO Toolbox White Paper Project from the inaugural Travel and Tourism Research Association International (TTRA) Think Tank initiative.

  • A210 - A215
    Greater Columbus Convention Center
    No matter the size or scale of our destination strategies, one thing remains constant: the success hinges on how we activate those approaches. Failure to activate leads to disengaged stakeholders, misaligned resources, a lack of measurable outcomes, restless boards, and a plan gathering dust on a shelf. However, when we reorient to being strategy activators, our destination plans come alive and help our communities flourish. Strategy activators can be any one of us and it all starts with little insights that lead to big impacts. This session will explore actionable strategies, navigate common challenges, and uncover effective approaches that empower destination leaders to bring their strategies to life.
  • A110 - A115
    Greater Columbus Convention Center
    The results are in, you officially have three seconds to capture your audience’s attention before they scroll. This session will explore how short form video content isn’t going anywhere – making it more important than ever for destinations to prioritize content creation that inspires travel. Hear from content experts and DMOs that are seeing great ROI. Get ready to create short form videos that convert, because after this session, you’ll leave with actionable tools to inspire your content strategy and capitalize on best practices from destinations large and small.

CEO/CMO

  • A223 - A225
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    This session tackles a surging request for destinations: workforce development. Learn a clear framework for making informed decisions on your DMO’s role by exploring real-world scenarios from destinations who successfully managed it themself, those who delegated, and those who found a collaborative approach. Gain valuable insights into factors to consider, such as workload, resources, and existing skillsets. By the end, you'll be equipped to confidently navigate this decision and determine the best path for you and your team..

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12:30pm - 1:45pm

Networking

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1:45pm - 2:20pm

Main Stage

  • Battelle Grand
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Hear from content & social media experts Beautiful Destinations – a social media phenom with over 50 million followers and Wendy's Corporation – known for its authentic (and sometimes sassy) approach to building a brand on social media. Through sharing real-world examples, our experts will divulge actionable insights on content strategy that drives business impact and how you can best leverage social media for your own marketing success. This session promises to equip you with the tools and inspiration needed to navigate the evolving landscape of social media and content marketing. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from the best and elevate your destination’s digital presence and content strategy.

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2:20pm - 2:55pm

Main Stage

  • Battelle Grand
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Yohannan “Yogi” Terrell, a visionary leader dedicated to transforming Columbus into a fashion hub, shares insights on leveraging community and identity to enhance a destination and its marketing strategy. Through his initiatives, he has not only boosted local businesses and talent but also positioned Columbus as a vibrant cultural center. Yogi explores how fostering a sense of community can elevate a destination’s profile, and how by harnessing local talent, promoting authentic experiences, and celebrating cultural diversity, cities can distinguish themselves in the competitive travel landscape. Claude Molinari, President and CEO of Visit Detroit will then join Yogi on stage with an additional perspective on how Detroit has leaned into its own heritage, as the two leaders embark on an engaging conversation. Attendees will gain practical strategies for fostering community pride and leveraging local strengths to attract visitors.

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2:30pm - 4:30pm

Experience

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2:55pm - 3:25pm

Break

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3:25pm - 4:25pm

All Access

  • A220 - A222
    Greater Columbus Convention Center
    Influencers can play a critical role in DMO marketing strategy. However, influencers are people and people come with a variety of opinions and viewpoints that may not always be consistent with your brand. In an increasingly polarized world, learning to work with third-party validators without entangling your brand is imperative. In this session, we’ll explore how to avoid landmines when it comes to partnering with influencers, while also sharing best practices in justifying your influencer strategy to stakeholders.
  • A120 - A125
    Greater Columbus Convention Center
    Visibility without value is vanity. And in the dynamic landscape of destination marketing, we need metrics that add value and show relevance to our marketing objectives and strategies. In this session, we’ll delve into the multitude of KPIs available and equip you with the knowledge to decipher the difference between vanity and value. Whether your goal is to boost visitation numbers, enhance visitor experiences, or elevate destination awareness, you’ll leave this session understanding which metrics truly matter and how to leverage them for tangible results.
  • A110 - A115
    Greater Columbus Convention Center
    This session will take a deep dive into AI and the digital acceleration of how personalized recommendations, automated customer service, predictive analytics, and smart itinerary planning are transforming destination marketing. Discover AI-driven innovations that enhance traveler experiences and learn how to optimize marketing strategies and gain a competitive edge in the dynamic travel market. You’ll also walk away with a better understanding on the consumer landscape and how consumers are using AI.

CEO/CMO

  • A223 - A225
    Greater Columbus Convention Center

    Unleash the full potential of your destination. This session will explore the expectations between state tourism offices and DMO partners and how destinations of all sizes can leverage what their state has to offer to amplify their destination. Learn how to maximize state resources such as grants, co-op programs, and advocacy initiatives. Hear the state and local destinations’ perspectives on how they’ve successfully partnered together to market their destinations and how state tourism offices balance supporting destinations of all sizes with varying needs.

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4:30pm - 10:00pm

Networking

  • Sponsored by
    Zartico
    Spark Lobby Bar
    Hilton Downtown

    Art, Soul & Spirits by Zartico

    Each guest will receive one (1) drink ticket that can be used at Spark, located in the lobby of Tower 402 of Hilton Columbus Downtown. Tickets can be used towards any house draft and bottled beer, house wine, and well drinks. Tickets are valid from 8/10/24 through 8/14/24. Lost tickets will not be replaced.

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4:30pm - 11:59pm

Experience