UMCVB Fall Conference Agenda

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 (Pre-Conference)

6:00 pm | Campus Tour of University of Illinois meet in the I Hotel lobby

Aerial shot of the University of Illinois campus.

Join Visit Champaign County on a walking tour of the sprawling campus, coming in at #15 on US News & World Report’s Best Colleges for a Public University. We’ll end the tour on Green St. where you can eat (and drink) like you are in college again. We can’t guarantee you can recover quite as quickly.


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (Conference Day 1)

8:00 am – 5:00 pm | Registration located in the Ballroom Foyer

9:00 am | 5K(ish) Art Walk meet in the Ballroom Foyer

Wandell Sculpture Garden

Start your Monday with a 5K(ish) walk and discover the bountiful public art in Champaign-Urbana. We’ll start in Meadowbrook Park in Urbana in the Wandell Sculpture Garden surrounded by native plants and prairie. Then we’ll head to West Side Park located in downtown Champaign where you can find more art in this urban park. We’ll bring the coffee!

9:00 am – 2:00 pm | Exhibitor Set-Up located in the Ballroom Foyer

10:00 am – 12:00 pm | Pre-Conference Sessions located in Alma Mater Room

Tempest, Huddle Up Group, RootRez will be co-hosting a pre-conference session

Building a CRM that Engages Your Community

Mark Lynch, Chief Client Officer at Tempest: The DMO has never been more important to the local community and your CRM technology is a key tool in delivering the DMO’s mission to that community. Learn how destination organizations are structuring and leveraging their CRM functionality to engage with their local businesses and create prosperity for their communities.

Cole McKeel, Director of Partnerships at Huddle Up Group: Learn how to take advantage of the new partnership between Tempest and the Huddle Up Group’s Sports Tourism Index + Scout™ platform. We’ll show how you can connect your iDSS CRM data with this dynamic sports tourism platform which includes benchmarking data, a spending calculator for your events, and search tools to find and land more business for your destination.

Mark McGill, VP of Sales and Business Development at RootRez: Learn how savvy destination organizations are using modern reservation technology to connect travelers to hotel and short-term rental inventory. We’ll break down the options, and show you how different destinations are using booking technology to drive economic impact for their communities.

2:00 pm – 2:15 pm | Conference Welcome located in the Illinois Ballroom

Welcome to the 25th annual UMCVB Fall Conference!

Presented by: Brent Cory, President & CEO of Enjoy Eagan and the UMCVB Board President; Jayne DeLuce, President & CEO of Visit Champaign County; Mayor of Urbana Diane Marlin & Mayor of Champaign Deborah Feinen

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm | Opening Keynote located in the Illinois Ballroom

3 + 4 + 5 = Sustained Success for DMOs

  • The 3 “Ps” of a great DMO culture
  • The 4 attributes of successful DMO leaders
  • The 5 business objectives of DMOs

Presented by: Leonard Hoops, President and CEO of Visit Indy

3:15 pm – 3:30 pm | Break & Visit Exhibitors

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm | General Session located in the Illinois Ballroom

Get to Know Other UMCVBers

Get to know your peers in this new interactive session. We’ll be getting the conversation going by discussing opportunities we see on the horizon, and sharing ideas about how we can create lasting success for our communities.

4:30 pm – 5:15 pm | First Timers Program and Mixer located in Technology Room

Join Tempest and the UMCVB Board in a welcome reception to first time attendees. All are welcome to come and network.

Thank you to our sponsor:

5:15 pm – 5:30 pm | Travel to Opening Reception

5:30 pm – 9:30 pm | Opening Reception at Memorial Stadium

We are going to start the conference out with a bang at Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the pride of Fighting Illini Football. Conference attendees will be able to experience our very own UMCVB tailgate party just steps from the host hotel. We will have food trucks, entertainment, and a couple of surprises in store.

Thank you to our sponsor:


TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 (Conference Day 2)

7:00 am – 5:00 pm | Registration located in the Ballroom Foyer

7:30 am – 8:30 am | Breakfast Buffet located in the Illlinois Ballroom

8:30 am – 8:40 am | Welcome & Announcements located in the Illinois Ballroom

8:40 am – 9:00 am | Mini Keynote A located in the Illinois Ballroom

The New Imperative of Destination Leadership

While the rules of the game have been changing for a decade, the pandemic put an exclamation point on the evolution of DMOs. Bill Geist (author of “Destination Leadership” and host of the DMOU Podcast) will lay out his case for how Destination Leadership Organizations (DLOs instead of DMOs) must actively engage other community leaders to drive the future direction of our destinations and be a meaningful player in talent and investment acquisition.

Presented by: Bill Geist, Chief Instigator at DMOproz

9:10 am – 9:30 am | Mini Keynote B located in the Illinois Ballroom

Rethinking ROI for the Modern DMO

As privacy policies become more strict and direct causation becomes more untenable, DMOs are struggling to build data analysis and measurement programs that accurately capture their ROI. Add in the additional pressures introduced over the past two years and it’s easy to see why traditional ideas about ROI and attribution may be in need of reinvention.

Presented by: Matt Clement, Managing Partner at Madden Media

9:30 am – 9:40 am | Break & Visit Exhibitors

9:40 am – 10:25 am | Concurrent Sessions 1

1A in Technology

Roundtable: CEO Roundtable on New Revenue Streams

In this session, Bill Geist will kick off discussions with a myriad of new (and old…but not outdated) alternative revenue streams that are available to today’s DLOs…and revenue streams that should be considered in an effort to build brand, relevance and community development.

Presented by: Bill Geist, DMOproz

1B in Lincoln

Talent Attraction

Learn how DMOs can bring their community expertise to help attract talent to your community, create ambassadors, and promote quality of life to grow your population, and attract and retain talent.

Presented by: Tim Carty, RoleCall

1C in Alma Mater

Group Travel – Where it was. Where it is. And where are you?

The motor coach industry is ever changing. And since COVID, the industry has seen dramatic changes. From the loss of companies to companies that are seeing record sales as the industry rebounds. Hear from motor coach planners and suppliers who work within the industry in the panel discussion.

Presented by: Paul Larsen, Ed-Ventures, Inc. Rochester, MN; Rose Jordan, Peoria Charter Peoria, IL; and Rebecca Peters, Okoboji Tourism

1D in Quad

Growing Esports in Your Community

Hear from an expert how your community can embrace Esports and learn more about this growing industry.

Presented by: AJ Taylor, President of Illini Esports & Esports Consultant

10:25 am – 10:35 am | Break & Visit Exhibitors

10:35 am – 11:20 am | Concurrent Sessions 2

2A in Technology

Roundtable: Workforce Development

Join RoleCall to continue to discuss talent attraction and workforce development with other DMOs.

Facilitated by: RoleCall

2B in Lincoln

Why You Should Care about Public Relations Measurement

This session will provide an overview of the findings from our baseline survey and insights into the future of public relations measurement.

Presented by: Caitlyn Blizzard, Destinations International & Claire Koenig, Visit Milwaukee

2C in Alma Mater

Digital Content Strategies that Uplift Communities

In this session, we break down how forward-thinking destination organizations are structuring their online content plans to deliver compelling, engaging community stories that connect with visitors and build loyalty with local stakeholders.

Presented by: Kyle Huff, Tempest

2D in Quad

Strategic Planning for Sports Organizations

Leading sports industry consultant Jon Schmieder will discuss how organizations need to be highly focused, skilled, and creatively funded in this competitive space. 

Presented by: Jon Schmieder, Huddle Up Group

11:20 am – 11:30 am | Break & Visit Exhibitors

11:30 am – 12:00 pm | Luncheon Keynote located in the Illinois Ballroom

The Fundamentals of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

This session equips participants with understanding basic concepts of DEI: definitions, terms, and behavioral modifications that foster DEI and create a strategic approach throughout the organization. Attendees leave with the confidence and skills to engage in meaningful conversations around the issues of DEI.

Presented By: Greg DeShields, Executive Director of Tourism Diversity Matters

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm | Lunch Buffet located in the Illinois Ballroom

12:30 pm – 1:00 pm | Bureau Innovation Presentations located in the Illinois Ballroom

1:00 pm – 1:15 pm | Award Presentations located in the Illinois Ballroom

1:15 pm – 1:30 pm | Break & Visit Exhibitors

1:30 pm – 2:15 pm | Concurrent Sessions 3

3A in Technology

Roundtable: Sales

This roundtable discussion if for sales and marketing professionals to connect with your peers and discuss how sales and marketing have changed over the past few years.

Facilitated by: UMCVB Board

3B in Lincoln

Field of Dreams Case Study

Keith Rahe has been integral in bringing a permanent Field of Dreams stadium and MLB games to the orignal movie site. He will discuss how this project came about, lessons learned during the process, and impact this has had on tourism and economic development.

Presented by: Keith Rahe, Travel Dubuque

3C in Alma Mater

Destination Reputation Management

DMOs and their partner businesses are no stranger to the value their public image can provide by
persuading people to visit and spend dollars. In today’s world or 24/7 real time reviews, destination leaders
must understand the tools and how to use them.

Presented by: Randy McDaniels, McDaniels Marketing

3D in Quad

Language of Diveristy

The language of diversity is evolving and requires awareness, understanding, and skill much in the same way as other areas of diversity competencies. Language provides a means for communication among and between individuals and groups.

Presented by: Greg DeShields, Tourism Diversity Matters

2:15 pm – 2:25 pm | Break & Visit Exhibitors

2:25 pm – 3:10 pm | Concurrent Sessions 4

4A in Technology

Roundtable: Special Events

Join Travel Dubuque for more Q&A and discussion on executing amazing special events in your area.

Facilitated by: Travel Dubuque

4B in Lincoln

The Business of Photography

Putting the power of great photography to work in your DMO requires thought and preparation. This session will cover: what makes an image “work”, can we do this in-house, digital asset management, photo release, working with professional photographers, social media, and launching your DMO’s images into the wild.

Presented by: Brad Mellema, Visit Grand Island

4C in Alma Mater

Remaining Top of Mind During Times of Change

A case study, presented by veteran web developer Jim Rudny, focuses on educating organizations on steps they can take to identify their visitor’s need for content change.

Presented by: Jim Rudny, JRudny interactive design solutions

4D in Quad

Maintaining Engagement with Boards

Bored with boards? Are your Board members bored with your Board? Lets have a workshop about board operations to discuss the best practices for board engagement. We want your board to be the most desired board in the community; the board that leaders want to be on; the meeting they are excited to attend and the meeting that you don’t dread. Let’s do this!

Presented by: Berkeley Young

3:10 pm – 3:30 pm | Break & Visit Exhibitors

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm | Visit Champaign Experience Tours meet in Ballroom Foyer

Experience BEER

Remember how we mentioned all the beer? Discover two of our local stops, all with something a little different to offer. Triptych Brewing, a mult-award winner for their most popular beer, the Dank Meme; and Riggs Beer Company, the epitome of innovation, utilizing grain from their family farm in their traditional German brewing techniques that are 95% solar-powered.

Experience ART

Our community is built on our arts & culture scene and we’ve got two experiences lined up for you. Take part in a tea ceremony at the University of Illinois Japan House that is guided by a “one life, one opportunity,” principal encouraging you to free your mind. You’ll then walk the gardens where you’ll spot the Azyuma, built by actor Nick Offerman. You’ll also experience the Krannert Art Museum, second-only in size to the Art Institute in Chicago. This entirely free museum features medieval collections to modern art focusing on social justice.

Experience NATURE

Did you know we have reindeer in Central Illinois? Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch is home to over a dozen Alaskan reindeer that enchant visitors every year. Head out to this unique spot and get a reindeer kiss. You can also wander the 10-acre corn maze…but you’ll have to find your own way out.

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm | Downtown Champaign Pre-Dinner Party

The Virginia Theatre

Attendees will all come together at The Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign after the tours. This historic theatre is the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable evening. Guest can admire the architecture, enjoy the entertainment, or pose with a statue of Roger Ebert before heading out to dinner and to explore the rest of Downtown Champaign just steps away.

Thank you to our Sponsor:

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm | Dine Around Champaign – dinner on your own

9:00 pm – 11:00 pm | Downtown Champaign Meet-Up

After dinner, come join us at Pour Bros Craft Taproom in Downtown Champaign for some networking and after dinner drinks. Pour Bros. is a locally owned, family operated taproom featuring pour your own craft beer, a game room, and live music.


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 (Conference Day 3)

7:00 am – 12:00 pm | Registration located in the Ballroom Foyer

7:30 am – 8:30 am | Breakfast Buffet located in the Illlinois Ballroom

8:30 am – 8:40 am | Welcome & Announcements located in the Illinois Ballroom

8:40 am – 9:45 am | Morning Keynote located in the Illinois Ballroom

Accessible Tourism

As a DMO, we strive to provide welcoming destinations for all abilities to participate in and enjoy tourism experiences. Join us on Wednesday morning for a panel discussion from both DMO’s and area experts on how we can all continue to strive to do better for our communities.

Presented by: Alison Brooks, Visit Mesa; Jeff Robinson, Visit Indy; Matt Buchi, University of Illinois; Mylinda Netherton, University of Illinois

9:45 am – 10:00 am | Break & Visit Exhibitors

10:00 am – 11:00 am | Closing Keynote located in the Illinois Ballroom

Three Transformational Opportunities – For DMOs and Destinations

The travel landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade. There was a time, not too long ago, that all we had to worry about was putting out consistent messaging and measuring the growth. The sky was the limit. Everything has changed. Everything.

UMWCVB’s closing keynote will reveal three transformational opportunities that destination leaders (Thank you Bill Geist) can embrace to move their organization and destination forward. The future is bright and exciting, as long as you embrace transformation.

Presented by: Berkeley Young, Owner & President of Young Strategies, Inc

11:00 am – 11:15 am | 2023 Welcome Presentation located in the Illinois Ballroom

Visit Brookings welcomes you to join us next year at the 26th Annual Upper Midwest CVB Fall Conference! Save the date for September 11-13, 2023

Presented by: Laura Schoen Carbonneau, Executive Director of Visit Brookings

11:15 am – 11:30 am | Conference Closing located in the Illinois Ballroom