Presentations and Sessions

Keynote Session, General Sessions, Lunch Presentation & Field Trips:

Monday Afternoon:
Kick-off/Keynote Session. The "Trip Sisters" with Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh.

Trip Sisters Logo from email.pngTravel experts and sisters, Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh, uncover the best in food, culture and adventure through their new travel series, "Trip Sisters." Gathering information from their experiences working with the Travel Channel as the Live Digital Contributors on Facebook (4 million followers) and Instagram (1.7 million), the “Trip Sisters" will share their tips and best practices, creating key takeaways for CVBs and attractions through the new mediums and digital platforms of Facebook Live, Insta-gram Live and Insta-stories! The “Trip Sisters" will share with attendees their insights on building a brand in a fun and engaging way, that will appeal to all sized CVBs, tourist boards, hotels and attractions. After all, these new mediums are free, so anyone can take advantage of them! The Trip Sisters will show you how to do it with insider tricks and tips for engaging your audience, getting more followers and getting new and current followers to know more about your location and what it has to offer in a dynamic and fun keynote presentation.

Monday Afternoon:
Opening Session and Welcome
Join fellow attendees for the opening session, featuring welcomes by NYSTIA, local industry leadership, and New York State legislative leadership. Featured speakers:

  • Daniel O'Donnell, New York State Assemblymember, 69th District. Chair of the Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee.

Tuesday Morning:
General Session. Tourism Powers Economic Development.
George Zimmermann, Chairman, Longwoods International USA, Inc.
Using the award-winning Pure Michigan campaign as a case study, George Zimmermann will explore the impact of Pure Michigan on the state of Michigan, not just for tourism, but also how the campaign changed the state's image for economic development.The Longwoods “Halo Effect" research will be presented.
The presentation will demonstrate how tourism marketing and visitation improves a destination's image for both tourism and economic development, and explore the role tourism and DMOs should play in every destination's branding and economic development efforts.

Wednesday Morning:
General Session. Adventure Travel: Trends, Initiatives, Adventure NY, and the 2019 ATTA AdventureELEVATE Conference.

Russell Walters, Strategic Director North America, Adventure Travel Trade Association, and Laura DiBetta, Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Outdoor Recreation, NYS DEC.

Adventure travel is an evolving cornerstone of NYS tourism. Governor Cuomo has been a strong and vocal champion of outdoor adventure travel during his tenure, and the NYS DEC is implementing the Adventure NY initiative. Now is the time to discuss topics related to adventure travel and how we can improve market readiness, develop threshold experiences, distinguish between adventure travel and recreation, and create and strengthen partnerships ahead of the Adventure Travel Trade Association's AdventureELEVATE Conference slated for Lake George, NY, June 2019.

Wednesday Morning:
General Session. I LOVE NEW YORK 2017 Year in Review with Ross Levi, Executive Director of Tourism, I Love New York, and staff.

Session details TBA.

Lunch with Presentation. "ThinkDIFFERENTLY."
Marcus Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive.
Established in 2015, Marc's inclusive “ThinkDIFFERENTLY" initiative is a call to action, a challenge for Dutchess County residents to look at the potential in their neighbors with special needs instead of dwelling on their differences. “ThinkDIFFERENTLY" asks individuals, businesses, communities and municipalities to break down barriers for residents with special needs. In 2016, he appointed Dutchess County's Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, the first such position in New York State who serves as an advocate for individuals and families with special needs and abilities. Marc has also brought his “ThinkDIFFERENTLY" message statewide, holding forums across New York State to encourage other communities to embrace the initiative; several dozen have since adopted “ThinkDIFFERENTLY" resolutions, showing their support for residents of all abilities.

Monday Morning:
Field Trip (Two sessions. 20 slots per session. Pre-register - $20): Digital Enhancement in an Analog World: Inserting Technology into Visitor Wayfinding and Local Experiences.

Hosted by Discover Schenectady and Partners.
Using local transportation services, attractions and digital services, attendees will take the classroom “on the road" in Schenectady, to immerse themselves in the customer experience of using technology like apps, VR and other programs to enhance their visitor experience, encourage more hands-on interaction, and increase the wonder and joy. The take-away? How could you incorporate similar enhancements into your business, or encourage your local attractions to do the same? How is tech improving interest in and engagement with brick and mortar operations? Stops include miSci (The Museum of Innovation & Science) and Via Aquarium.

Monday Morning:
Field Trip (One session. 20 slots. Pre-register - $20)
. Let's Ride. Keeping the Bike Tourist Safe and Happy.
Hosted by Ken Crandall and Tom Polk, New York Bicycling Coalition.

Bicycle tourism offers a unique perspective to experience New York's outdoors, history and culture. Many visitors seeking to enjoy the roads and trails by bicycle, however, are by no means experienced cyclists. In this hands-on, indoor/outdoor session, NYBC's nationally-certified instructors will lead you through the best practices for safety and give you the skills necessary to make your bike tourist clients happy, confident and safe. The session will include a short bike ride using local bike-share bicycles. You'll sample the flat and traffic-free bike path nearby to round out the bike tourism experience from the perspective of a client.. Bikes and helmets provided if needed, or bring your own.

Tuesday Breakout Sessions:

Tech Track:

Tuesday Morning Sessions:
When New Technology Kicks You in the Budget.
Travis Bort, Owner, Creative Director, ABC Creative Group.

As marketers, we rely on new technology to do our jobs. Whether it's the latest tracking software or the trendy new social media platform, it's important to be aware of risks while also taking advantage of early adoption. Travis Bort will tell a very recent story about how being an early adopter of new technology can become an issue, even making you change the topic for an upcoming speaking engagement. In this session, we will explore five new technologies out there that can help you market yourself and your destinations or attractions, and discuss the changing world of social media and how you can take advantage.

This session replaces: What's in a Face? How Emotion Tracking Tech Can Build Better Creative. Read Travis Bort's blog, "Early Adoption of Technology: The Good, Bad and Ugly Faces" for background related to our NEW and IMPROVED morning tech session!

Tuesday Afternoon Sessions:
Don't Crash and Burn: Drone Technology for Legal Tourism Content Creation.
Roger Rosenbaum, President, Brand-News-Team, Inc.

Don't Crash and Burn is a lively presentation showcasing the benefits and risks of aerial drones to raise the visibility and profitability of tourism destinations and attractions. Attendees will learn flying a drone is much more than child's play. The presentation will cover myths, realities and federal regulations surrounding drone flights for commercial purposes. Presenter Roger Rosenbaum will show samples of 4K ultra-high definition video and 20-megapixel stills and insights on drone best practices for the tourism industry.

Digital & Social Media Track:

Tuesday Morning Sessions:
"Why Aren't We #1 for...?" Tired of Hearing that Complaint? What Impacts Search Engine Ranking and What You Can Do To Immediately Improve Your Ranking, Traffic and Tourism Impact.
Sarah Mannix, Founder and CEO, Mannix Marketing, Inc.

A practical approach to understanding what impacts your websites ranking for search phrases and how to improve your traffic and website visibility. The session will start with an overview of the ranking factors and dive into a live website analyses of a tourism destination website or two. Attendees will learn what to look for to improve their website ranking and how to better communicate their needs to a digital marketing partner. They will learn the role they can play to increase traffic, rankings and tourism destination visibility.

Tuesday Afternoon Sessions:

Live Storytelling Through Social Media.
Deborah Garry, President & CEO, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations

Is your destination or tourism business appealing to Millennial travelers? Learn from destination marketing experts how to tell your stories in real time via social media. In this hands-on workshop, we'll show you how to use Facebook Live, Instagram stories and Snapchat. To end the session, we'll break up the audience into groups, give them scenarios to use each tool, oversee a brainstorming session, and assist them with using each tool in real time. A practical companion session to pair with the opening keynote address! 40 attendees maximum per session.

Have you considered adding Facebook LIVE videos to your marketing plan? Tune into a LIVE video on Tuesday, February 13 at 2 p.m. on NYSTIA's Facebook page at, to learn more about BBG&G Advertising's "Live Storytelling" breakout session at our conference this April.

DMO Track:

Tuesday Morning Sessions:
Tourism Improvement Districts: A Stable Funding Source for Local and State DMOs
Tiffany Gallagher, Eastern US Branch Manager, Civitas

This session will include an introduction to Tourism Improvement Districts, provide the history behind TIDs, TID case studies, and an overview of the TID formation process. Following the success of TIDs, many other business types have looked into creating similar assessment districts to fund collective marketing. Participants will learn the latest news on innovative restaurant, winery, and golf marketing districts. The session will include a presentation, Q&A session, and take home resources for attendees.

Tuesday Afternoon Sessions:
Building a Defense for Your Marketing Strategy: Why Analytics Are Essential in Justifying Existence.
Don Jones, Senior Sales Manager, Tourism Analytics, ADARA, and Julie Gilbert, Vice President, Marketing & Brand Management, Destination Niagara USA

ADARA and Destination Niagara USA will demonstrate how they have worked together to track and measure their digital media. Travel data is now critical to the success of a DMO, and they will discuss the evolution of survey data to new data that is available in real time. DMO's will learn how Destination Niagara USA utilized the ADARA data to help with measuring all of their digital marketing. DMO's will learn the importance of data and how it can improve their marketing, justify their marketing spend, and ultimately how it can help to grow their marketing budgets.

Marketing & PR Track:

Tuesday Morning Sessions:
The Travel Guide of Tomorrow.
Josiah Brown, "The New York Sherpa," New York Welcomes You

Print directories are basically dead or close to it...but guides and magazines are in their golden age. So what's the difference ,and how does a print piece stay relevant for tomorrow's traveler? Josiah Brown - aka the New York Sherpa - talks to over 10,000 travelers per year in a booth filled with print guides, and has distilled down what people really want, what gets picked up, and how the curator is winning the future. For a destination to stay competitive they must stay ahead of the curve on consumer habits. So what should you do to "future proof" your travel guide? Learn the four pillars of successful print travel guide creation.

Tuesday Afternoon Sessions:
Harness the Power of the Media, with I LOVE NEW YORK and its PR firm, Finn Partners.
Linda Ayares, Senior Partner, Finn Partners; Philip Novoa, Assistant Vice President, Finn Partners; Lisa Soto, Director of Tourism Marketing, Licensing, and Public Relations, Division of Tourism - I LOVE NEW YORK

Get the most out of I LOVE NEW YORK's public relations activities! This intensive one hour workshop with I LOVE NEW YORK and its PR firm, Finn Partners, will focus on the changing nature of media today and how to most effectively work with traditional media, bloggers and influencers; maximizing media events so they work for you; best ways to convey compelling news about your region; and how to get the most coverage from immersive press visits.