2022 Governor’s Conference Agenda

Ready for three days of learning, networking and fun? See what we have in store for this year’s conference! This year we are thrilled to be gathering in Huntington, WV. Learn more about our host city before arriving!

Please note that this schedule is subject to change. Check back for updates!

Click on the buttons below to view the schedule for each day.

View Monday, September 12 Schedule

3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. – Registration

Location: DoubleTree by Hilton Huntington, 1001 3rd Ave, Huntington, WV 25701

Head to Huntington early and spend some time exploring our host city. Huntington is full of unique dining, entertainment and nightlife options.

View Tuesday, September 13 Schedule

8:00 A.M. to 9:15 A.M. – Grab-and-Go Breakfast

Location: Bootleggers (inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Huntington)


8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. – Registration

Location: DoubleTree by Hilton Huntington Lobby 


9:15 A.M. to 10:15 A.M. – The Future for West Virginia Tourism

Speaker: Chelsea Ruby, Cabinet Secretary, West Virginia Department of Tourism 

And a welcome from Huntington’s Mayor, Steve Williams

Location: The Theater

View Session Description

West Virginia Secretary of Tourism Chelsea Ruby kicks off the 2022 Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism with a look at where we have been as an industry and where we are going in 2023 and beyond. 


10:15 A.M. to 10:45 A.M. – Networking Break with Coffee

Location: Media Marketplace on the Mezzanine 


10:45 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. – Destination Development Breakout Sessions

Option A – Working with International Travel Operators

Speaker: Sean Bayliss, International Tourism Resources Group

Location: Kentucky Room

View Session Description

This session will cover 101 basics of working with the International Tourism Market. Topics covered will include pricing, supply chain, Do’s and Don’t’s, and general guidelines you need to know before entering these markets.

Option B – Be a Stewardship Leader Through Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics

Speaker: Jodi French-Burr, National Park Service 

Location: Virginia/Maryland Room

View Session Description

Outdoor recreation is one of the main activities that attract tourists to West Virginia. Want to be a leader in outdoor stewardship? Explore the basics of Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics (LNT) and how anyone can be a good steward of the land in any outdoor situation. Plus, learn hot tips on advancing these concepts to the next level at your site and in your community as a leader to help others to take these sound outdoor ethic concepts from principles to practice. This session will include ideas and activity samplers that can help to inspire others toward stewardship action in your tourism region. 

Option C – Growing West Virginia’s Tourism Businesses: Financing and Expansion Toolkit

Moderator – Jeffrey Lusk, Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority

Panelists – Justin White, Partner Community CapitalEmily Wilson-Hauger, Woodlands Development GroupJoe Boffo, Rustic RavinesJoseph Brouse, West Virginia Economic Development AuthorityEnnis Smith, West Virginia Department of Tourism

Location: Pennsylvania/Ohio Room

View Session Description

This panel brings together professionals from across the industry working to create economic development in West Virginia’s tourism and hospitality sectors. Topics of discussion include incentive and lending programs and new resources to address challenges in the industry, including workforce development. The panel aims to serve up useful information and discussion for both start-ups and well-established tourism businesses looking to expand. 


11:30 A.M. to 11:45 P.M. – Break


11:45 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. – Keynote Luncheon – Why Would Anyone Want to be Led by You?

Speaker: Sara Meaney, Coraggio Group

Location: The Theater

View Session Description

Regardless of your role, position or tenure, strong leadership is essential to success in all aspects of our professional lives. With every business challenge comes the opportunity to positively influence situations and inspire others to be their best—whether they are our direct reports, our co-workers in other functional areas of our organization— or external partners and stakeholders who depend on us for our knowledge and expertise. In this lively and interactive presentation, our speaker will share valuable insights that will help to better ground every individual who aspires to improve their personal influence and increase their leadership effectiveness.  


1:00 P.M. to 2:15 P.M. – Special Address from Governor Justice

Location: The Theater


1:30 P.M. to 2:15 P.M. – Destination Development Breakout Sessions

Option A – Working with International Travel Operators

Speaker: Sean Bayliss, International Tourism Resources Group

Location: Kentucky Room

View Session Description

This session will cover 101 basics of working with the International Tourism Market. Topics covered will include pricing, supply chain, Do’s and Don’t’s, and general guidelines you need to know before entering these markets.

Option B – Be a Stewardship Leader Through Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics

Speaker: Jodi French-Burr, National Park Service 

Location: Virginia/Maryland Room

View Session Description

Outdoor recreation is one of the main activities that attract tourists to West Virginia. Want to be a leader in outdoor stewardship? Explore the basics of Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics (LNT) and how anyone can be a good steward of the land in any outdoor situation. Plus, learn hot tips on advancing these concepts to the next level at your site and in your community as a leader to help others to take these sound outdoor ethic concepts from principles to practice. This session will include ideas and activity samplers that can help to inspire others toward stewardship action in your tourism region. 

Option C – Growing West Virginia’s Tourism Businesses: Financing and Expansion Toolkit

Moderator – Jeffrey Lusk, Hatfield McCoy Regional Recreation Authority

Panelists – Justin White, Partner Community CapitalEmily Wilson-Hauger, Woodlands Development GroupJoe Boffo, Rustic RavinesJoseph Brouse, West Virginia Economic Development AuthorityEnnis Smith, West Virginia Department of Tourism

Location: Pennsylvania/Ohio Room

View Session Description

This panel brings together professionals from across the industry working to create economic development in West Virginia’s tourism and hospitality sectors. Topics of discussion include incentive and lending programs and new resources to address challenges in the industry, including workforce development. The panel aims to serve up useful information and discussion for both start-ups and well-established tourism businesses looking to expand. 


2:30 P.M. to 3:15 P.M. – Looking to the Future of Tourism: Forecasts from Across the Industry – Sponsored by Blue Ridge Country

Moderator: Jeremy Whitt, BVK

Panelists: Derek Price, Expedia Todd Schechter, Sojern James McCloskey, TravelzooSharon Houghton, Outside

Location: The Theater

View Session Description

This session brings together insights from tourism industry leaders, including Expedia, Sojern, Travelzoo, and Outside, Inc. Jeremy Whitt, Senior Vice President of Media Strategy for BVK, will guide a data-centered discussion on the future of travel and the implications on marketing and product development as we look to 2023 and beyond.


3:15 P.M. to 3:45 P.M. – Afternoon Snack & Networking BreakSponsored by MetroNews Radio Network, WVRC Media

Meet our Media Partners

Location: Media Marketplace on the Mezzanine 


3:45 P.M. to 4:45 P.M. – Let’s Talk Data

Moderator: Chelsea Ruby, Cabinet Secretary, West Virginia Department of Tourism 

Panelists: George Zimmerman, Longwoods InternationalLeon Aliski, Dean Runyan Associates Cree LawsonArrivalist

Location: The Theater

View Session Description

This panel brings together three of the nation’s premier travel research firms for an in-depth discussion on the latest travel trends.  All partners of the state —Longwoods International, Dean Runyan Associates and Arrivalist — will provide national trends and recent West Virginia data points.  Collectively, they will provide a detailed look into the industry leaving partners with an understanding of the past several years, as well as actionable future predictions.


6:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. – Opening Reception Sponsored by the Huntington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Location: 21 at the Frederick


7:00 P.M. – Dinner on Your Own

Dine around options presented by the Huntington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

View Wednesday, September 14 Schedule

8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. – Registration

Location: DoubleTree by Hilton Huntington Lobby 


8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. – Networking Breakfast with West Virginia Tourism Team

Join the West Virginia Department of Tourism staff for breakfast. This is your opportunity to get to know our Team!

Location: Bootleggers (inside the DoubleTree by Hilton Huntington)


9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. – Social Media Best Practices for Engagement  with Travel + Leisure 

Speaker: Maggie Delgadillo, Travel + Leisure

Location: The Theater

View Session Description

Social Video is the name of the game in this workshop aimed at the novice video content creator. This workshop will prepare participants for executing their own video content and outlining some best practices that can elevate smart phone media capture meant for social distribution. In short, we’ll help you find your angles and get posting!


10:15 A.M. to 11:00 A.M – Marketing Breakout Sessions

Option A:  Don’t Take It, Make It: A Guide to Capturing Moments that EngageSponsored by WV Press Association

Speakers: Ben Amend and Abbey Reifsnyder, Digital Relativity

Location: Kentucky Room 

View Session Description

We all know that compelling brand imagery is one of the most powerful tools to capture your audience’s attention, but simply “taking” a picture or video is different from capturing a moment that will inspire. Join fellow marketers to learn best practices, tips, and tools for creating moments that will engage audiences and elevate your brand.

Option B: Uncovering Hidden Wonders: Place-Based Storytelling with Atlas Obscura

Speaker: Michelle Cassidy, Atlas Obscura

Location: Pennsylvania/Ohio Room

View Session Description

In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, Atlas Obscura celebrates a different way of looking at the world. For more than a decade, we’ve been cataloging unusual, extraordinary, surprising, or otherwise amazing places, from a gigantic flaming crater in the Karakum Desert to the preserved middle finger of Galileo.

But you don’t have to hike out into the desert or even get on a plane to find the kinds of places that ignite your curiosity and expand your sense of what’s possible—they might be just down the road. In this workshop, we’ll talk about finding and sharing these places. How do you uncover the hidden wonders that are right under your nose? What kinds of stories capture a reader’s attention? What motivates someone to plan a road trip just so they can experience a place in real life?

Option C: Your Destination’s Story – Print & BeyondSponsored by Dotdash Meredith Travel

Speakers: Katy Hildman and Kylee Krizmanic, Dotdash Meredith

Location: Virginia/Maryland Room

View Session Description

This session will focus on telling your destination’s story in print & beyond. We will provide research on the value of print & how it reaches travelers in a different way than other mediums. We will dive into how to include print in your destination’s media mix & collateral and show examples of how to develop that collateral in ways that inspire travelers to take action and book their trip to your destination. We will round the session out by giving insight into leveraging your print pieces across other platforms such as social, digital, etc. 


11:00 A.M. to 1:15 P.M. – Explore Huntington – Lunch on Your Own + Scavenger Hunt


1:15 P.M. to 2:15 P.M. – The Trends That Are Shaping Travel Today 

Speaker: Pauline Frommer

Location: The Theater

View Session Description

The days of the one-size-fits-all vacation are over. Today’s travelers expect their interests to be catered to, and expect to feel welcomed—no matter who they are. Frommer will discuss how those goals are achieved by other destinations, and what trends are in place shaping the interests and budgets of today’s vacationer.


2:30 P.M. to 3:15 P.M – Marketing Breakout Sessions

Option A:  Don’t Take It, Make It: A Guide to Capturing Moments that EngageSponsored by WV Press Association

Speakers: Ben Amend and Abbey Reifsnyder, Digital Relativity

Location: Kentucky Room 

View Session Description

We all know that compelling brand imagery is one of the most powerful tools to capture your audience’s attention, but simply “taking” a picture or video is different from capturing a moment that will inspire. Join fellow marketers to learn best practices, tips, and tools for creating moments that will engage audiences and elevate your brand.

Option B: Uncovering Hidden Wonders: Place-Based Storytelling with Atlas Obscura

Speaker: Michelle Cassidy, Atlas Obscura

Location: Pennsylvania/Ohio Room

View Session Description

In an age where everything seems to have been explored and there is nothing new to be found, Atlas Obscura celebrates a different way of looking at the world. For more than a decade, we’ve been cataloging unusual, extraordinary, surprising, or otherwise amazing places, from a gigantic flaming crater in the Karakum Desert to the preserved middle finger of Galileo.

But you don’t have to hike out into the desert or even get on a plane to find the kinds of places that ignite your curiosity and expand your sense of what’s possible—they might be just down the road. In this workshop, we’ll talk about finding and sharing these places. How do you uncover the hidden wonders that are right under your nose? What kinds of stories capture a reader’s attention? What motivates someone to plan a road trip just so they can experience a place in real life?

Option C: Your Destination’s Story – Print & BeyondSponsored by Dotdash Meredith Travel

Speakers: Katy Hildman and Kylee Krizmanic, Dotdash Meredith

Location: Virginia/Maryland Room

View Session Description

This session will focus on telling your destination’s story in print & beyond. We will provide research on the value of print & how it reaches travelers in a different way than other mediums. We will dive into how to include print in your destination’s media mix & collateral and show examples of how to develop that collateral in ways that inspire travelers to take action and book their trip to your destination. We will round the session out by giving insight into leveraging your print pieces across other platforms such as social, digital, etc. 


3:15 P.M. to 3:45 P.M. – Afternoon Snack & Networking Break Sponsored by WV News

Location: Media Marketplace on the Mezzanine 


3:45 P.M. to 4:45 P.M. – What’s Your Story? Get the Inside Scoop on Pitching Stories & Working with InfluencersSponsored by Madden Media

Moderator: Don Smith, West Virginia Press Association

Panelists: Philip Bowen, Musician and Influencer with West Virginia RootsMadeline Weinfield, Freelance WriterJason Armstrong, Content Creator and Photographer

Location: Virginia/Maryland Room

View Session Description

This all-star panel of travel writers and influencers will help you navigate how to leverage your destination or attraction with traditional and social media. The panel discussion will include best practices for pitching and securing stories, current trends, and how to work more effectively with influencers to get the most consumer engagement.


6:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. – Picnic Under the StarsSponsored by Dotdash Meredith Travel

The Stars of Industry Awards: Recognizing 2021 & 2022 Winners
Reception, Dinner and Performance

Join us for a night of music and picnic-inspired cuisine, celebrating our industry’s brightest stars! Celebrate your communities, hometown teams, and regions all day with casual attire that represents your local stars and star destinations. 

Desserts provided by the 2022 West Virginia Chef Ambassadors 

Location: The Theater

View Thursday, September 15 Schedule

11:00 A.M. – Hotel Checkout Time

Thank you for joining us!

Not heading out just yet? Huntington is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before hitting the road or grabbing a unique gift, with countless local boutiques and shops.

Back to Conference

Have any questions? Text the Department of Tourism Team at (681) 459-0211.

Thank you to our Sponsors

Happening Now at Governor’s Conference