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Annual N.C. Governor’s Conference on Tourism Held this Week in Concord

By Tim Bullard

Sheri Moretz
Sheri Moretz, of Mast General Store, attending the N.C. Governor's Travel Conference in Concord. Photo by Tim Bullard

March 12, 2012. CONCORD — As 500 leaders from all over the state meet this week for the annual N.C. Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Concord, they will learn more about the year’s upcoming events and trends from experts.

Participants in the tourism conference will include representatives from resorts, attractions, destination marketing organizations hotels and motels, estate rental companies, restaurants and retail outlets.

The event is being held March 11 to 13 at the Embassy Suite in Concord.

On Sunday the Tourism Education Foundation of North Carolina is having a silent auction on donated items to support undergraduate and graduate scholarships for students attending N.C. schools and demonstrating promise as future leaders of the tourism and hospitality industry.

Wit Tuttell, director of tourism marketing for the Division of Tourism, says participants Sunday will find out about how to best invest limited marketing dollars with the division.

Communities like Scotland County have developed annual events like the John Blue Festival which celebrates agriculture and tourism.

Monday will include remarks by Keith Crisco, N.C. Secretary of Commerce, Lynn Minges, assistant secretary for Tourism, Marketing and the N.C. Department of Commerce, J. Scott Padgett, major of Concord, and Terry Crawford, board chairman of the Cabarrus County CVB.

Sally Hogshead, chief fascination officer for Fascinate Inc., will give the opening keynote on the seven triggers to persuasion and captivation.

Lorry Mulhern
Lorry Mulhern of the Green Park Inn attended an afternoon workshop Monday at the N.C. Governor's Travel Conference in Concord. Photo by Tim Bullard

Roger Dow at 10:45 a.m. will talk about his work as president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. That keynote on “Why Travel Matters” is sponsored by the Charlotte Motor Speedway ad The Speedway Club on the nation’s travel industry and how to reduce barriers to international visitors and expand your global footprint.

On concurrent education session will be on how to maximize social media messages. The Tourism Winner’s Circle Luncheon will be held at 11:45 a.m., sponsored by UNC-TV and West Carolina University.

“The Dating Game” will be one presentation with a game show host and speakers Amy Alipio, associate editor of National Geographic Traveler and broadcast producer Derek Helwig.

“Making Exit 49 and Entrance” will include Donna Carpenter, a speaker from the Cabarrus County CVB, Phil Cunningham of Great Wolf Lodge, Ray Soporowski, general manager of Concord Mills, Terry Crawford, general manager of Embassy Suits, and Jessica Kickenscher, vice president of special projects for Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Tom Rhodes of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will speak on the new N.C. Green Travel Initiative, the state’s first statewide green travel recognition program. Also speaking at “Going Green without Going into the Red” will be Alex Naar, director of Sustainable Tourism Outreach at East Carolina University, Shelly Green of the Durham CVB and Katie Allen of the Conservation Fund.

“Making the most of the Opportunity” will show participants how to maximize publicity through the Official North Carolina Travel Guide and improving a listing on VisitNC.com online.

Margo Metzger, public relations manager for the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development, will moderate “Project Runway: Tailoring Press Materials for the Digital Catwalk with crafting successful headlines, decks and leads to drive web visits for a big splash.

There are policy issues for the tourism industry, leaders will find, in the upcoming General Assembly session with new laws and proposed legislation affecting the business community. John Beatty of Green Park Inn will moderate a session.

Tracy Brown
Tracy Brown, of Blowing Rock Tourism Development, attending the N.C. Governor's Travel Conference in Concord. Photo by Tim Bullard

Did you know “Ironman 3” with Robert Downey Jr. is set to film soon in Wilmington?

There will be a panel discussion on print and broadcast media on current media insights and how to pitch a story idea. Speakers will include Kathryn O’Shea Evans, assistant editor of Travel + Leisure.

Sports will be the topic of one session with Kristi Driver, group travel manager of the Division of Tourism, Film & Sp[orts Development.

“Capitalizing on the Retirement Boom” will interest those 10,000 baby boomers reaching the age of 65 in the next 18 years. You will hear about demographics from the executive director of the Lumberton Visitors Bureau.

Using N.C. research will be a topic with Mike Applegate of the Charlotte Visitors Authority and Nancy Nichols of the Chowan County TDA. What are the emerging trends?

On Tuesday Danny Morrison, president of the Carolina Panthers, will speak on customer loyalty.

The closing luncheon will be hosted by Wilmington and the Beaches, the Wilmington Convention Center, Hilton Wilmington and Best Western Coastline Inn.

When John Beatty of the Grove Park Inn speaks, he will use his experience as a special projects coordinator, having grown up in Charlotte and attending college in New York.

“We will be turning 100 in 2013,” said K.C. Cronin, PR manager. “We will be kicking that off in July. We are doing the planning now, so people should stay tuned. Travel + Leisure called the venue’s spa the 7th Best Hotel Spa in North America in 2010, and SpaFinder Readers’ Choice Awards in 2010 put it in the category of the Top 10 Best for Romance.