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Joint Conference Sessions and Speakers

October 19, 2022 - October 21, 2022

Thursday, 10/20

9:00-9:45 AM

“American Traveler Sentiment: What’s Impacting Travel Today and Tomorrow”

When broadcast media were the most powerful tools available, destinations reached mass audiences to inspire travelers at the top of the funnel. Powerful digital tools enable DMOs to target messaging to specific types of travelers based on their online behaviors.
How do we balance broad reach with targeted messaging? How do we decide who to target? How do we ensure that our ad dollars are spent wisely on those to whom the messaging is relevant, while ensuring that we continue to feed the pipeline? Three DMO leaders will share their experiences navigating these decisions.


Anna Blount

Longwoods International

Anna Blount, Longwoods International’s Vice President, Research, focuses on developing research strategies to obtain tactical insights. She works with clients and industry leaders to effectively translate market research into actionable findings and develop recommendations that assist in destination marketing strategies. With over fifteen years’ experience in market research, Anna designs, conducts, and reports quantitative and qualitative research projects, primarily focusing on visitation, resident sentiment, and image/brand assessment studies. She is currently a Travel & Tourism Research Association (TTRA) International board member.

Before joining Longwoods, she was the Director of Market Research for MMGY Global, a leading integrated travel and hospitality marketing agency. While there she led the agency’s signature Portrait of American Travelers® syndicated research project for six years. Before that, she worked for seven years in the Market Research department of  Publix Super Markets, a Fortune 100 company.

Anna earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida (Tampa, FL) and completed Master’s degrees at the University College London and the University of Westminster (London, UK).

10:00-11:15 AM

“Get Your Kicks (and Research) on Route 66!”

In this session, Dan Mishell of Dean Runyan Associates will moderate an esteemed panel of marketers and researchers to reveal the ongoing value of Route 66 to destinations in both the Central and Western regions. Traveling from east to west, we’ll first hear from Robert Navarro of the Heritage Corridor CVB about their dedicated promotion of travel along the route’s origins through the First Hundred Miles initiative. Next, Patrick Tuttle of Visit Joplin (Missouri) will talk about city-level promotion and travel impacts as well as the regional partnerships they have with other destinations along Route 66’s tri-state corridor. Arizona will be our next stop, as Josh Coddington of the Arizona Office of Tourism will present their latest marketing initiatives relating to travel along the Mother Road as well as how they monitor campaign engagement and success. Finally, John Packer of Arrivalist will bring us home with a presentation of recent GPS-based travel trends along Route 66’s nearly 2,500 miles. It’s a session you won’t want to miss!  


Robert Navarro

Heritage Corridor CVB

Bob Navarro has served as the President /CEO of the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) since 2006. Since 1984, the CVB has promoted the communities and counties along the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal Heritage Area (I&M Canal Towns), the starved Rock State Park area (Starved Rock Country), and the nostalgia of The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 from Chicago to Pontiac, IL.

Mr. Navarro recently secured a $1.5M grant for Route 66 Illinois product development in the First Hundred Miles and statewide marketing/advertising initiatives. The promotion of Route 66 finds Bob traveling both domestically and internationally. He recently returned from a successful Sales Mission to London/Dublin to promote Route 66 Illinois to the tour operators, media, and sales agents.

Bob has a passion for service and currently holds a seat on a variety of Boards and Commissions including the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission, Treasurer of Illinois Council of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Board, Joliet Area Historical Museum Board, and Illinois State University Board of Trustees.

John Packer


John has been working in the travel research and the marketing research industry for over 20 years. He started out as a research manager on the client side managing research suppliers and generating in-house insights for a trade association supporting the ski and snowboard industry before transitioning to the marketing research supplier side of the business in 1999.

Through dedication to client needs and service, he has earned the reputation as one of the most trusted supplier advisors in the industry. In John’s current role as an Account Director for Arrivalist, he is responsible for working with travel and tourism clients to fully understand their business issues so as to deliver and present effective insights that will help travel and tourism clients succeed. 

He is the past president of the Travel and Tourism Research Association International, and he is affiliated with numerous professional societies. Educationally, he holds a BA (Physics) from the University of Connecticut and a MA (Tourism Administration) from George Washington University. He also a graduate of the American Marketing Association School of Marketing Research at the University of Notre Dame.

Patrick Tuttle

Visit Joplin, MO

Patrick Tuttle has served the tourism market of Joplin, Missouri since 1995 in event management and promotions. In 2009 he became the director of the Joplin Sports Authority and in early 2011 became the director for the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau & Visit Joplin where he serves today.

With Joplin’s location in southwestern Missouri, at the crossroads where I-44, I-49, and historic Route 66 meet at the Kansas and Oklahoma borders, regional tourism partnerships are vital to the hospitality industry of the area. Under Patrick’s leadership he has nurtured several borderless relationships into strong tourism alliances. The foundation of many of these relations originate back to the mid-1800s when the region was known as the Tri-State Mining District.

Today, the focus is to build this past heritage into a multi-faceted cultural destination. The primary connectivity for this; the Mother Road – historic Route 66 offers an assembly of Americana which produces a sustained global appeal. With the centennial of the Route coming in 2026, the emphasis has changed to harness this opportunity for the 8-states and communities large and small.

Josh Coddington

Arizona Office of Tourism

Josh Coddington serves as Director of Communications and PIO for the Arizona Office of Tourism, the state agency responsible for growing Arizona’s economy through tourism collaboration, promotion and development. He guides the agency’s overall communications strategy, including handling media requests and relations, PR campaigns, crafting internal and external stakeholder messaging and collaborating with industry partners. Prior to joining AOT, Josh served as Communications Director at the state’s economic development agency, the Arizona Commerce Authority, and at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Josh also spent a decade as a journalist and editor at the Arizona Capitol Times.

Dan Mishell

Dean Runyan Associates

Dan Mishell is Client Relations Manager for Dean Runyan Associates. In this role, Dan helps identify new business opportunities and facilitates relationships with clients nationwide. In his previous role as Research Director of Visit California, Dan oversaw the research, analysis, and evaluation of data related to the California travel industry. Prior to Visit California, Dan managed the research program at LA INC., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Dan also served six years on the board of the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA), including a term as President in 2015. Dan holds a master’s degree in biometry from the University of Southern California.


“Aviation Travel Trends: Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going?”

The aviation sector has seen an abundance of highs and lows over the years, especially in response to financial implications brought on by the recent pandemic, supply and demand issues, and changes in the mindset of travelers. Industry leaders and DMO’s are now compelled to gracefully respond to these changes, ensuring continued overall growth in air travel. In this session, you will learn Central and Western regional specifics regarding aviation: where we are, how the traveling public are changing their habits, and what to anticipate for the future.


Jeff Pelletier

Airline Data

Mr. Pelletier started with Airline Data Inc (www.airlinedata.com) in July 2015 as their Vice President of Product Management and Delivery. In January of 2017, he assumed his current role of Managing Director, where he is responsible for the overall development, delivery, operations, and execution of the Airline Data Inc organization, including their suite of aviation data solutions. 

Mr. Pelletier has more than 24 years of aviation, data management, and business intelligence experience. He works daily with airports, airlines, and other travel-related clients to help them understand and navigate the aviation industry through data analysis, all the while applying and communicating his in-depth knowledge of how the industry operates and performs. Mr. Pelletier is one of the few subject matter experts in the industry regarding the intricacies of processing and adjusting the U.S. Department of Transportation’s airline demand and revenue data (O&D, T-100, Form 41 and On-Time Performance).  Mr. Pelletier is routinely called upon by local, national and international media outlets to provide commentary and expertise on the aviation industry.


Student Symposium

1:30 – 1:45 pm Tourism from a bubble: Consumer observations during the early stages of COVID-19

Steve Migacz, & Angela Durko

Roosevelt University

Texas A&M University

1:45 – 2:00 pm Preliminary findings about destination stakeholders’ and rural tourists’ perspectives on diversity and rural identity

Emma Lundin, Joelle Soulard & Suiwen (Sharon) Zou

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

2:00 – 2:15 pm


Understanding the conspicuous consumption posting scale (CCPS): An application of the big 5 personality traits

Zachary A. Russell & B. Bynum Boley

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Georgia

2:15 – 2:30 pm Tour guide and tourist loyalty toward cultural heritage sites: A Signaling theory perspective

Mohammad M. Alazaizeh, Malek M. Jamaliah, & John T. Mgonia

Zayed University, UAE

The University of Jordan, Aqaba, Jordan

Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

2:30 – 2:45 pm Break Time
2:45 – 3:00 pm Rural tourists’ behaviours and decision-making 

Hyunseo (Violet) Yoon, Suiwen (Sharon) Zou, Joelle Soulard, & Emma Lundin

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

3:00 – 3:15 pm Exploring Sustainable Travel Behavior for Generation Y and Z 

Huilin Bao, Becky Liu-Lastres & Amanda Cecil

IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)

3:15 – 3:30 pm


Comparing Wine Travelers and Beer Travelers with Other Travelers

Matthew J. Stone

California State University, Chico

3:30 – 3:45 pm Exploring the motivations and challenges for sustainability initiatives at a destination level: Practical implications for destination marketing and management organizations

Kennedy Makay Weaver, & Bingjie Liu-Lastres

IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis)


“Innovative Approaches to Qualitative Research”

Going beyond the in-person focus group. Join us for a discussion on innovative techniques in qualitative research. Numbers can tell us how many people visited a place, but they can’t tell us why they visited. Or what it would take to get them to return. The nuance and insights we gain from qualitative research are important companions to the vast array of data we all now have access to. The ability to capture and share those insights is critical to making brand and marketing decisions. Join us as we discuss cutting-edge approaches to both capturing and using qualitative research, including new affordable tools that help narrate tourism stories to our stakeholders and communities.


Jordan Musall

SMARI Insights

Jordan is a research analyst for SMARInsights where he specializes in geolocation data and data visualization. Jordan is the newest member to the SMARInsights team, joining in early 2022. Prior his current role, Jordan spent 8 years as the Data Intelligence Manager with Hamilton County Tourism in Hamilton County, Indiana. During his time at Hamilton County Tourism, he delivered insights to support the marketing staff, monitored the health of the local tourism economy and used data to advocate for the tourism industry. He and his wife have two daughters and a son, all under the age of 5.


“Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matters for Travel & Tourism”

Responsible tourism is about reducing social and economic inequalities and building awareness. Centered on internal and external commitments that are not always perceived as being measurable, join this session to understand concepts and insights on how organizations internally should implement strategies to operationalize DEI within their company culture; and externally on how destinations should look to execute strategies in their local hospitality community.


Roz Stuttley

Choose Chicago

Roz Stuttley holds dual certifications, Certified Meeting Professional and Certified Diversity Executive blending twenty+ years of experience serving within the hospitality, travel, and tourism industry.

Roz is an enthusiastic & strategic planner, creative thinker, and collaborator of innovative ideas and integrated plans to execute. Recently stepping into the role of Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion with Choose Chicago, and the Choose Chicago Foundation, she develops and leads a comprehensive EDI strategic action plan for both Choose Chicago’s Choose Compassion initiative; internal programming, education, and training as well as external community engagement; EDI Apprentice Program, recruitment & support of ethnically diverse partners to the tourism economy, and Choose Chicago Student Tourism Days designed to expose ethnically diverse students of younger demographics to career paths in tourism & hospitality.

Roz is an active member of PCMA – Greater Midwest Chapter, Destinations International, Emerging Leader with the U.S. Travel Association Destinations Council and board member with Tourism Diversity Matters.


Melissa Cherry

Miles Media

Melissa Cherry is the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Miles Partnership. In this new executive role at Miles, Cherry leads the development of the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting practice to serve current and future clients, in addition to guiding the company’s internal DEI processes and best practices.  


From 2016 to 2021, Melissa Cherry served as the Chief Operating Officer at Destinations International and was responsible for the development and execution of the overall marketing and communications, information technology, meetings and education strategies to promote and elevate the association’s mission and brand to drive awareness of its impact to advance the success of the destination marketing industry. She also led and developed the association’s first equity, diversity and inclusion strategic roadmap released in 2020.   


Prior to joining Destinations International, Cherry was senior vice-president for marketing and cultural tourism at Choose Chicago leading domestic and international marketing strategies, including all efforts for brand strategy, integrated marketing, research, advertising and event marketing. Additionally, she launched the first-ever Cultural Tourism Strategy to increase visitation and awareness to Chicago’s cultural entities, events and neighborhoods. Cherry’s 25 years of experience in the industry includes prior positions at the Chicago History Museum and was responsible for implementing marketing and communications strategies, and the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board where she was responsible for promoting the cultural destinations of Los Angeles. 


Friday, 10/21


“How Consumers Use Media To Plan Travel”

Digital, traditional, streaming, addressable, programmatic….consumers and marketers have more media options than ever before. How are travelers choosing what to read, watch, and listen to? Dave will reveal the latest research from MRI-Simmons on the current media landscape and how to get your message in front of the right people. Get an inside look at how media planners make investment decisions and target travelers across the entire media ecosystem. 


David Riordan


Dave is an account director at MRI-Simmons, the essential source of trusted consumer insights, where he leads efforts around digital partnerships. Marketers of all kinds use MRI-Simmons’s flagship USA Study to get a complete view of the attitudes, lifestyles, purchasing, and media habits of the American consumer. Dave works with agencies, brands, and media companies to facilitate advanced targeting and make their data work harder for them. Prior roles include agency sales at MRI-Simmons and an account director position at Programmatic Mechanics.


“National and Regional Paid Lodging Trends and Outlook”

With a crazy couple of years in the travel industry behind us, how is the accommodation sector faring this year and beyond? Global, national, and regional factors continue to influence traveler behavior when it comes to booking lodging, and the data for destinations to make informed decisions is becoming more important than ever. We will take a look at the hotel and vacation rental industries not only on a national level but also regionally to explore shifting trends in supply, ADR, occupancy and more. 


Robert Kelly


Robert Kelly is a Sales Associate for STR.  He joined STR in 2017 as a member of the census / research department before moving to the client support team in 2018. In July 2021 he joined the sales team with a focus on the Central Region of the U.S.

Robert is CHIA and CAHTA certified and earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Mississippi.

He resides in Gallatin, TN, near the STR North America Headquarters.

Chris Christmas

Key Data

Chris has been in the short-term rental industry for a number of years now, with companies focusing on varying different aspects of the industry. His journey started as a project manager building vacation rental homes in Jackson Hole, WY, before moving to an SAAS company that focused on municipal compliance and tax collection for STR operators. That transition really opened his eyes to the complex (and sometimes contentious) conversation surrounding the industry, and spurred his interest as the market continued to boom. After that company was acquired, he joined some industry friends at Key Data to head up DMO sales across the US, focusing on past, current and future metrics in the vacation rental market. He loves that they are able to give organizations unique visibility into the short-term rental space and drive informed decisions.


“Target Marketing: Demographics and Beyond”

Digital, traditional, streaming, addressable, programmatic….consumers and marketers have more media options than ever before. How are travelers choosing what to read, watch, and listen to? Dave will reveal the latest research from MRI-Simmons on the current media landscape and how to get your message in front of the right people. Get an inside look at how media planners make investment decisions and target travelers across the entire media ecosystem. 


Rita Chen

Choose Chicago

Rita is a creative, digital-savvy marketing leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and over twenty years of experience transforming iconic brands including 3M, Nestle, DreamWorks, City Winery, Choose Chicago, to name a few. 

Rita is the Vice President, Marketing at Choose Chicago and has been in tourism for over 6 years. She is honored to lead the Choose Chicago Marketing team and share her love of Chicago with others from around the world. linkedin.com/in/ritaswchen

Graham Gee

Visit California

Graham is the Research Manager for Visit California and has been with the organization for over 3 years. His primary responsibility is managing consumer research and marketing insights for the organization including consumer tracking, advertising effectiveness, and strategic insights studies. Prior to Visit California and the travel industry, Graham worked for traditional marketing research house Nielsen in their Entertainment division partnering with studio clients like Warner Bros, Disney, and Universal Studios. Graham is a third-generation Southern California native who loves spending time in both Los Angeles and his adopted hometown of Sacramento.

Gretchen Nussbaum

Explore Minnesota

Gretchen Nussbaum is a Research Analyst with the State of Minnesota Tourism Office.  In the last year her key projects have focused on MN Welcome Centers, marketing campaign ROI, monthly travel indicators and industry business conditions.

Before joining Explore Minnesota, Gretchen led business continuity planning and undertook continuous improvement projects at the MN Department of Labor and Industry. Previously, Gretchen spent a decade working in a variety of marketing research and project manager roles with Nielsen, a federal government contractor and Rotary International. Highlights include leading digital marketing ROI studies for Google and conducting a youth exchange program evaluation in Brazil.  She enjoys conducting quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, and applying a variety of methodologies to answer tough questions and identify new opportunities.

After fourteen years in the Chicago area, Gretchen was happy to return to her home state of Minnesota in 2018 with her husband, Simon, and boys, Hank and Gus. A busy mom, Gretchen fits in yoga classes and novel reading when she can. Between weekend home improvement projects, her family likes to hike along the Mississippi river with their dog and ride roller coasters at the local amusement park.


Andrea Brown


Andrea is a research analyst for SMARInsights where she partners with clients to conduct research that supports strategic decision-making. She works with many of our large metro DMO clients, as well as state and smaller destination CVBs. Her favorite thing about tourism research is that it gives her the opportunity to work together with interesting people to solve problems creatively. Andrea is very interested in learning more about and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tourism space. She and her husband have 4 teenaged boys and a bunch of dogs and cats.


October 19, 2022
October 21, 2022
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