Tourism Academy 2018 Highlights

Here are the top highlights and takeaways from Tourism Academy 2018.

Thank you so much to our clients, attendees, sponsors, and hosts in Louisville, KY, for a successful and inspiring event. We hope that you made connections with your peers and left Louisville with some actionable insights and new ideas. Here are a few of our top highlights from this year's event. Can't wait until next year! Tourism Academy 2019 will be May 21st through the 23rd in Pittsburgh. Save the date!

1. Visiting Churchill Downs & The Kentucky Derby Museum

Tourism Academy's opening reception took place at the world-famous Churchill Downs racetrack and The Kentucky Derby Museum. Fancy hats and fascinators were worn, delicious mint juleps were sipped, and a good time was had by all! The entire group took a tour of the track and learned about the history of horse racing and this unique landmark. Kicking off our event with a visit to Churchill Downs enabled everyone in our group to feel a sense of connection to Louisville's local culture and pride. At the end of the conference, a big group visited the track on a race night to see the ponies in action.

From the Twittersphere:

2. Thinking About Disaster Preparedness

The conference-wide panel on Disaster Response and Recovery featured expert insights and thoughts from those who have unfortunately had to live and work through dire circumstances in their destinations. Only a few minutes into this session, it was clear that there are basic steps DMOs can take today to be better prepared in the event of a local disaster. This was a difficult conversation to have, but ultimately we learned that DMOs can be doing a lot more to prepare for the worst. Thank you to Adam Johnson, Devon Perry, Jack Wert, and Brad Calkins for sharing your thoughts with our group.

From the Twittersphere:

3. Practice Authentic Storytelling

The theme of DMOs telling authentic, authoritative stories around your destination's assets weaved through several sessions at Tourism Academy including Amrita Gurney with CrowdRiff's session on visual storytelling. Amrita discussed how carefully chosen photography and video assets can highlight your destination's unique brand and message. In my presentation, I shared ways for DMOs to think more like publishers and how destination marketers can own and publish the best content on the web around their destination's key drivers of tourism. Finally, the Local Love panel, moderated by Sheila Scarborough with Tourism Currents, featured three destination marketers who are doing an excellent job of leveraging locals to generate authentic content and increase buzz and brand reach. Thank you to Adam, Gathan, and Josh for your insights!

From the Twittersphere:

4. Do The Math

Peter Drucker once said, "If you can't measure it, then you can't improve it." Many of the Tourism Academy sessions focused on the importance of data, analytics, and measurement for DMOs. Andreas Weissborn and Kate Skidmore from Destinations International helped attendees to better demonstrate their value and economic impact. Jenny Rose with Tempest walked through using cutting-edge technologies like programmatic media buying and Adara Impact data to better target your paid media strategy. Brian Matson with TwoSix Digital shared a data deep dive, with dozens of takeaways for DMOs to turn data into an action plan for improving campaigns.

From the Twittersphere:

5. Keep Looking Ahead

The travel and tourism space continues to evolve rapidly, and at Tourism Academy, we're always looking ahead. Our keynote speaker, Adam Sacks with Tourism Economics, shared his expert insights into where the industry is headed with respect to global policy and economic trends. In his session on Speaking the Language of Economic Development, Jake Buganski with Tempest encouraged attendees to embrace the tenets of economic development to create more economic impact and lasting value in their destinations. Alex Heimann, also with Tempest, walked attendees through the exciting landscape of voice search and artificial intelligence and how users are adopting and using this technology.

We also shared the iDSS product roadmap with attendees and throughout the conference, the Tempest team was excited to gather excellent feedback and hear new ideas from iDSS users about the future of this cloud-based CRM platform for travel and tourism.

From the Twittersphere:Speaking of looking ahead, we are already planning next year's event. Please save the date for Tourism Academy on May 21 - 23, 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA and stay tuned here for announcements about next year!

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