Conference Schedule

Please continue to read conference e-news blasts, and check in here to see programming updates! All times, locations, speakers and topics listed below are subject to change. Suggested attire:

  • Business or business casual for day time activities.
  • Comfortable casual wear for Monday and Tuesday receptions/dinners/entertainment.
  • Weather appropriate clothing, with comfortable footwear, for Monday morning field trips.
  • Biking field trip attendees, bring a helmet and bike if you have one, or NYBC can provide them for you if needed.

We welcome your sponsorship of one of our events or professional development programs. Opportunities

Most events to be held at the Rivers Casino & Resort, unless otherwise noted.

SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 2018

Local activities for early birds (TBD)

12:00pm to 4:00pm: Registration Desk Open.

5:00pm: Early birds, join NYSTIA staff and friends at Mexican Radio in downtown Schenectady for dinner and socializing. Meal costs on your own. We need a headcount! On your registration, please include "ESTC Add-On Activity - Dinner at Mexican Radio (Sunday, 4/22, 5pm, $ on your own)" in your menu of options.

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018

7:00am: Registration Desk Open.

10:00am to 12:30pm: Field Trip (20 slots. Pre-register. $20): Digital Enhancement in an Analog World: Inserting Technology into Visitor Wayfinding and Local Experiences. Hosted by Discover Schenectady and Partners. SOLD OUT.

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.

Field Trip (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.

11:30am to 1:15pm: NYSTIA Board of Directors Meeting/Lunch at the Courtyard Schenectady at Mohawk Harbor.

Noon: Silent Auction opens for bidding through Tuesday, 4/24 at 7:00pm. Tables in pre-function area with exhibitors.

1:30pm to 2:30pm: Opening Session and Welcome. Featured speakers:

  • Jill Delaney, President & CEO, New York State Tourism Industry Association
  • Ross Levi, Vice President and Executive Director, Empire State Development, Division of Tourism - I LOVE NEW YORK
  • Patrick Kaler, Vice Chair, NYSTIA and Conference Committee Chair
  • Rich Funke, New York State Senator, 55th District, and Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation.
  • Daniel O'Donnell, New York State Assemblymember, 69th District, and Chair of the Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development Committee.
  • Cathy Gatta, District 3 Representative to the Schenectady County Legislature, and Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Special Events

Join fellow attendees for the opening session, featuring welcomes by NYSTIA, local industry leadership, and New York State legislative leadership.

2:30pm to 3:00pm: NETWORKING BREAK WITH SPONSORS

3:00pm to 4:00pm: Kick-off/Keynote Session. The "Trip Sisters" with Colleen Kelly and Catie Keogh.

The Trip SistersTravel 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 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.

4:30pm to 10pm: Round-trip shuttle service begins for Reception, Dinner and On-the-Town Exploration (end time subject to change. We suggest casual, comfortable, fun clothes for the evening at the aquarium, entertainment complex and downtown exploration.


5:00pm to 6:00pm:
Reception at VIA Aquarium, 93 West Campbell Rd., Schenectady, NY 12306

Join your fellow attendees in exploring one of Schenectady County's newest and very exciting attractions, a full-scale aquarium with over 75,000 gallons of water and more than 2,000 sea creatures.

6:00pm to 7:30pm: Dinner Buffet at VIA Entertainment, 93 West Campbell Rd., Schenectady, NY 12306

Walk across the hall from the Aquarium for a festive buffet dinner in the VIA entertainment complex. Let's be kids again and have some silly fun! Our friends at VIA are supplying arcade gift cards for dinner attendees. You can also take advantage of the on-site bowling alley ($).

7:30pm to 10:00pm: Evening Shuttles and After-Hours Entertainment

Shuttles will be running round trip between the Rivers Casino (conference headquarters), VIA Entertainment, and downtown Schenectady through approximately 10pm. Take advantage of the free ride to stick around for fun at VIA, grab some friends and explore the Schenectady nightlife (info will be available), visit the delights of the casino, or maybe just go back to your room and relax ahead of a busy Tuesday agenda.

If you miss the shuttles, Uber and Lyft operate in the Schenectady area.


TUESDAY, APRIL 24, 2018

7:00am: Registration Desk Open.

7:30am to 8:30am: Hot Breakfast Buffet.

7:30am to 8:30am: Meeting for Haunted History Trail of New York State. ROOM 1. Grab breakfast/drink and take to meeting room. Replaces meeting slated for Wednesday morning.

8:30am to 9:30am: 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.

9:30am to 10:00am: NETWORKING BREAK WITH SPONSORS

10:00am to 11:00am: Morning Breakout Sessions (4 sessions, pre-registration required). SESSION DESCRIPTIONS. Select one:

  • Tech Track: When New Technology Kicks You in the Budget. Travis Bort, Owner/Creative Director, ABC Creative Group. (This session replaces: What's in a Face? How Emotion Tracking Tech Can Build Better Creative).
  • Digital & Social Media Track: "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. Sara Mannix, Founder and CEO, Mannix Marketing, Inc. SESSION MAXED OUT.
  • DMO Track: Tourism Improvement Districts: A Stable Funding Source for Local and State DMOs. Tiffany Gallagher, Eastern US Branch Manager, Civitas
  • Marketing & PR Track: The Travel Guide of Tomorrow. Josiah Brown, "The New York Sherpa," New York Welcomes You

11:00am to 11:30am: NETWORKING BREAK WITH SPONSORS

11:30am to 12:30pm: Repeat Morning Breakout Sessions (4 sessions, pre-registration required). SESSION DESCRIPTIONS. Select one:

  • Tech Track: When New Technology Kicks You in the Budget. Travis Bort, Owner/Creative Director, ABC Creative Group. (This session replaces: What's in a Face? How Emotion Tracking Tech Can Build Better Creative).
  • Digital & Social Media Track: "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. Sara Mannix, Founder and CEO, Mannix Marketing, Inc. SESSION MAXED OUT.
  • DMO Track: Tourism Improvement Districts: A Stable Funding Source for Local and State DMOs. Tiffany Gallagher, Eastern US Branch Manager, Civitas
  • Marketing & PR Track: The Travel Guide of Tomorrow. Josiah Brown, "The New York Sherpa," New York Welcomes You

12:30pm to 1:50pm: 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.

2:00pm to 3:00pm: Afternoon Breakout Sessions, 4 sessions, pre-registration required). SESSION DESCRIPTIONS. Select one:

  • Tech Track: Don't Crash and Burn: Drone Technology for Legal Tourism Content Creation. Roger Rosenbaum, President, Brand-News-Team, Inc.
  • Digital & Social Media Track: LIve Storytelling Through Social Media. Deborah Garry, President & CEO, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations. Note: a practical companion session to pair with the Monday Keynote address. 40 attendees max per session. SESSION MAXED OUT.
  • DMO Track: 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 of Marketing & Brand Management, Destination Niagara USA.
  • Marketing & PR Track: Harness the Power of the Media, with I LOVE NEW YORK and its PR firm, Finn Partners.

3:00pm to 3:30pm: NETWORKING BREAK WITH SPONSORS

3:30pm to 4:30pm: Repeat Afternoon Breakout Sessions, 4 sessions, pre-registration required). SESSION DESCRIPTIONS. Select one:

  • Tech Track: Don't Crash and Burn: Drone Technology for Legal Tourism Content Creation. Roger Rosenbaum, President, Brand-News-Team, Inc.
  • Digital & Social Media Track: LIve Storytelling Through Social Media. Deborah Garry, President & CEO, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations Note: a practical companion session to pair with the Monday Keynote address. 40 attendees max per session. SESSION MAXED OUT.
  • DMO Track: 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 of Marketing & Brand Management, Destination Niagara USA.
  • Marketing & PR Track: Harness the Power of the Media, with I LOVE NEW YORK and its PR firm, Finn Partners.

6:00pm to 7:00pm: Reception in the Pre-Function Area.

7:00pm: Silent Auction closes for bidding.

7:00pm to 8:00pm: Plated Dinner. Bring your dinner ticket.

8:00pm: Live Scholarship Auction to benefit the Destinations of NYS Travel, Tourism, Hospitality & Culinary College Scholarship Fund.

After Hours Social: Following the scholarship auction, host ABC Creative Group welcomes you to kick back and relax at Van Slyck's Lounge, just off the casino gaming floor. Wind down after a full day of seminars and networking with live music and complimentary snacks and beverages.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2018

7:30am: Registration Desk Open.

8:00am to 9:00am: Hot Breakfast Buffet.

9:00am to 10pm: 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, Director of 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.

10:00am to 10:30am: NETWORKING BREAK WITH SPONSORS (hotel check out).

10:30am to 11:30am: General Session - I LOVE NEW YORK 2017 Year in Review with Ross Levi, Executive Director of Tourism, I Love New York, and staff.

11:30am: Wrap up and findings.