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Calendar of Events

Nebraska Tourism Conference 2018

Hosted by Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce and Nebraska Tourism Commission



To register for the conference fill out a registration form and mail it back or fill out the online registration at this link: Online Registration.

*Please note that online registrations require a 10% transaction fee in addtion to the amount of the registration. 

Registration types are detailed below:

Full Conference (Tues.-Thurs.) Registration (Includes materials, meals, breaks, and all activities)

CVB's/Chambers: $225

Non-CVB's/Chambers: $175

Student: $50


Tuesday Only (Includes materials, meals, and breaks): $100

Wednesday Only (Includes materials, meals, breaks, and Celebrate Nebraska Banquet) : $150

Wednesday Celebrate Nebraska Banquet Only: $60


If you have any questions about registration contact Bryce Arens at 402-471-3796 or


Lied Lodge & Conference Center

2700 Sylvan Road

Nebraska City, NE  68410


  • Ask for the Nebraska Tourism Conference Rate
  • Reservations must be booked by Sept. 15, 2018
  • $131.00 per room single occupancy per night + tax
  • $143.00 per room double occupancy per night + tax
  • This rate includes overnight accommodation and breakfast buffet in the Timber Dining Room


Tuesday October 16-Registration Open 8:00 A.M.-5:30 P.M.

6:30-8:00 A.M: Free Breakfast for Overnight Guests-Timber Dining Room

8:30-10:30 A.M: NTC Commission Meeting

8:30-11:30 A.M: Sports Roundtable with Jon Schmieder

10:00-5:30 P.M: Exhibit & Silent Auction Open

10:30-11:30 A.M: Newcomer's Orientation

10:00-11:15 A.M: Nebraska Festivals and Events Meeting

10:30-11:30 A.M: Nebraska Byways Meeting

11:45-12:15 P.M: Conference Welcome & Lunch

12:15-1:30 P.M: Keynote Session-Increase Your Influence: Eight Essential Attributes of Successful Leaders, Dean Savoca, Savoca Performance Group

1:30-2:00 P.M: Networking Break

2:00-3:15 P.M: Session One

  • Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign-Blocking out the Scenery-Matt Neeman and Jean Todd, Nebraska Department of Transportation
  • Best (&Worst!) Practices in Sports Tourism Marketing-Jon Schmieder, Huddle Up Group
  • Producing Videos on a Shoestring Budget-Jameon Rush, Optix Digital Medi

3:15-3:45 P.M: Networking Break

3:15-3:45 P.M: Session Two

  • Nebraska Tourism 2018-19 Grant Programs-Heather Hogue, Nebraska Tourism Commission and Rebecca Schademann, Nebraska Department of Economic Development
  • Developing Watchable Wildlife Adventures-Panel: Carol Schlegel, McCook/Red Willow County Vistors Bureau; Alie Mays, Nebraska Game & Parks; Patrick Ward, Northwest Missouri State University
  • Lead Like a Coach: How to Develop and Lead Like a Rock Star Team-Dean Savoca, Savoca Performance Group

5:00-5:30 P.M: Networking Break

6:00-9:00 P.M: Nebraska City Tourism Showcase

Wednesday, October 17-Registration Open 7:30 A.M.-8:00 P.M.

6:30-8:00 A.M: Free Breakfast for overnight guests-Timber Dining Room

7:30-4:00 P.M: Exhibtors Booths Open

8:00-8:50 A.M: Welcome/Legislative Update/ABA Comments/Sponsors

8:50-9:00 A.M: Stretch Break if time allows

9:00-10:00: Keynote Session: Unsafe Thinking-Jonah Sachs, Author/Speaker

10:00-10:30 A.M: Networking Break-Visit Exhibtors

10:30-11:45 A.M: Session 3

  • Things to Know Regarding Lodging Tax-Karen Barrett, Nebraska Department of Revenue
  • Event Safety-Greg Hollingsead, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Develop Community Prosperity through Bicycle Tourism-Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling Association

12:00-12:30 P.M: Lunch

12:30-1:30 P.M: General Session-Marketing Update

1:45-3:00 P.M: Session Four

  • Things to Know Regarding Lodging Tax-Karen Barrett, Nebraska Department of Revenue (Repeat of previous session)
  • Event Insurance-When is it Neccessary-Shane Ideus, UNICO & Andy Pollock, Remboldt Ludtke LLP
  • Travel & Editorial Trends-Turner PR

3:00-3:30 P.M: Networking Break -Sponsored by North Platte Visitors Bureau (2019 Conference Hosts)-Visit Exhibitors

3:30-4:45 P.M: Nebraska Tourism Commission 2019 Marketing Unveiling

6:00-7:00 P.M: Celebrate Nebraska Reception

7:00-9:00 P.M: Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet

Thursday, October 18

6:30-8:00 A.M: Free Breakfast for overnight guests-Timber Dining Room

8:30-10:30 A.M: NETA Meeting

10:30-11:30 A.M: Store Association Round Table Discussion (Bring list of top 10 selling items & vendors to share with group)


See the attached list for speakers at this year's conference. Information will continue to be updated leading up to the conference date.

Conference Speaker Bios


Tourism Industry awards will again be given out at this year's conference. Please fill out the nomination form below so we can recognize the good work that is going on in your community and throughout the industry.

Awards will be presented in the following categories:

Friend of Tourism

Outstanding Event 9,999 or below

Outstanding Event 10,000 or above

Outstanding Marketing Campaign

Outstanding Tourism Attraction

Outstanding Agritourism or Ecotourism Entity

Henry Fonda Award

Accepting 2018 Tourism Award Nominations

Tourism Industry Awards

Nebraska Tourism Commission recognizes outstanding contributions in tourism in the State of Nebraska.  Review the categories and guidelines below, download the nomination form and send in your nominations today!  



The Friend of Tourism award is given to a person, business, organization, or media outlet that may not be directly involved in the tourism industry but which has been very supportive of local, regional and/or statewide efforts to promote and develop tourism. Freelance writers, corporations, organizations, newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and other businesses are eligible for this award. The nominee must demonstrate creative involvement in promotional efforts and provide leadership and resources to various projects. Describe the nominee’s business or association and their efforts to increase tourism revenue in the area. Explain the nominee’s contributions to tourism promotion and include examples of their efforts to collaborate with the local tourism industry.


Only events that occurred between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018 are eligible.

               Category 1: Population 9,999 or below

               Category 2: Population 10,000 or above

Nominees include events such as festivals, themed events, community celebrations, and holiday programs. The nominated event should show a high level of organization, event production, and community involvement. Provide a brief history of the event, including why it was started and how it has evolved. Factors that can influence selection include attendance growth, innovative marketing and special promotional efforts. Include its effect on the local economy and any changes to the event that have occurred. Be sure to include the community population where the event takes place and provide a summary of volunteerism, press coverage, and annual attendance. New events are eligible in this category.


This award is given to a community, business, or organization that successfully conducted an advertising campaign or tourism awareness program. This may include a new brand campaign, a social media campaign, a new or updated website, or even a publication.  The nominees must show the various avenues used to promote tourism and the success of those projects. Describe how the tourism campaign increased revenue and/or local awareness about the importance and economic impact that tourism has on communities and areas. Be specific on how the nominee conducted its campaign, the targeted audiences, and how those audiences were chosen. Include budget information; samples of projects; and copies of photographs, advertisements, and other documentation about the history of the campaign and its tourism impact on the region. Judged on research, creativity, demographic target and strategy, nominations should have an explanation of how program was implemented and measurement of achievement and results originating from the targeting.


This award is given to Nebraska tourism attractions that have worked toward the continued success and growth of their communities and the state’s tourism industries. Attractions that have undergone significant improvements, changes, or additions to increase the number of visitors to the attraction, community, region, and state are encouraged. All Nebraska attractions are eligible for this award, such as museums, zoos, cultural and performance art centers, and historical sites and parks. Describe the attraction’s impact on the local, regional, and statewide tourism levels. Describe how the attraction has worked to increase the number of visitors to the community, region, and state. Describe how the attraction has collaborated with other tourism entities in the community, region, and state.


This award is given to an outstanding Agritourism and / or Ecotourism entity, such as outfitters, bird and wildlife watching facilities, working farms and ranches, farmers markets, wineries and vineyards, non-profit groups, and nature tourism related businesses that have had a substantial impact on the local, regional, and state’s tourism economy. Describe how the entity has influenced the tourism industry, its history, future plans and projects to further better this industry, and the services/activities/events it offers. Include supporting materials, such as letters of support, customer testimonials, marketing materials, and plans and other information to demonstrate the entity’s overall economic and tourism impact.

Henry Fonda Award


Named after a famous Nebraskan who never forgot his roots, the Henry Fonda Award recognizes an individual who has devoted many years of service to promoting Nebraska on a local, regional and statewide level. This person loves Nebraska and has made it their life’s work to support and promote education, tourism and the preservation of Nebraska’s precious historical treasures. Please include a brief bio of your nominee and why this person is deserving of this award. Please include greatest achievements, partnerships within projects, and tourism and economic development accomplishments.


Nomination Guidelines

In your nomination, please provide the requested information on the following pages for each Industry award category.  Please provide three copies (one original and two copies) of each nomination. Include letters of support and other supporting materials. (Please do not send letters of support and supporting materials separate from your nomination.)  Use no more than two typed pages for each Industry award nomination. Letters of support and other supporting materials do not count toward the two page maximum. Nominations must either be stapled or binder clipped. Nominations in notebooks or folders will not be accepted.  Please use the same nomination form for each award category. 

All award nominations were due Friday, September 7, 2018.

Winners Announcement

Award winners will be announced at the Celebrate Nebraska Awards Banquet on October 17, 2018.

Tourism conference award winners receive recognition in press releases following the event and will have their acceptance photos shared on the Tourism Commissions website and social media channels.

They also receive a FREE premium profile on the Tourism Commission’s website in 2019 (a $700 value). A premium profile allows for an enhanced photo gallery and the ability to include videos. It also allows the destination to have a longer description than the basic profile.


Nebraska Tourism Serves Program

2017 Nebraska Tourism Serves Projects














  1. Helped create a butterfly garden and cleaned the Visitor Center at the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center in Wood River
    Media Stories: Kearney Hub

  2. Repainted the Platte Valley Barn at the Lincoln County Museum in North Platte
    Media Stories: 1011 News, The North Platte Telegraph

  3. Painted and landscaped to help the Wessels Living History Farm in York get ready to welcome summer visitors. 
    Media Stories: York News Times

2016 Nebraska Tourism Serves Projects













The Nebraska Tourism Serves program was launched in 2016 with four service projects. 105 individuals participated, including Nebraska tourism industry members, University of Nebraska classes, 4-H clubs, community members, out-of-state visitors and Nebraska Tourism Commission staff. These volunteers put in 615+ man hours, making a significant impact on the tourism potential in Nebraska.


  1. Restored the historic Fort Robidoux Trading Post in Gering by making improvements to the exterior.

  2. Cleared old railroad ties along the Cowboy Trail near Chadron, preparing the 321 mile trail, which follows the old Chicago & Northwestern rail route, for completion in the future. When completed, the Cowboy Trail will be the world's longest rails-to-trails trail.

  3. Landscaped and cleaned educational signs along the Shannon Trail, which offers tourists an interactive journey through Lewis & Clark history. The trail runs through 16 communities in northeast Nebraska.

  4. Restored the Nebraska State Historical Society's Pavelka Farmstead in Bladen, which provided the setting for a large portion of Willa Cather's most famous work, My Antonia. Tasks included cleaning and repairing the home's interior and landscaping.

About Nebraska Tourism Serves

The purpose of Nebraska Tourism Serves is to:

  • Help preserve Nebraska’s tourism destinations

  • Rally tourism industry members to support each other and help each other complete restoration projects

  • Help tourism destinations build their local volunteer base

  • Help more Nebraskans and tourism industry members become more familar with Nebraska's tourism destinations


  • Nebraska Tourism Serves projects typically last one to two days

  • All Nebraska tourism destinations are invited to apply to be one of the service sites

  • Nebraska Tourism Serves is not a grant program and does not provide funds to any chosen service site - what makes Nebraska Tourism Serves valuable is the support given by the volunteers

Nebraska Tourism staff work with the selected service sites to:

  • Help gain tourism industry volunteers by marketing the event to the entire Nebraska tourism industry

  • Help gain local volunteers by sending out press releases to local and state media organizations

  • Help plan event logistics and complete any tasks that will ensure the project is a success

The responsibilities of the service site's leaders include:

  • Organizing supplies

  • Planning event logistics

  • Gaining local volunteers

How does Nebraska Tourism Serves benefit tourism destinations? Watch this video to see how Nebraska Tourism Serves impacted the Willa Cather Foundation.

Other Community Development Programs

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides Nebraskans with safe, affordable and accessible housing and infrastructure; quality jobs and investment through financing new and expanding businesses. Created under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, the CDBG program merged seven categorical programs into a pool of community development funds yearly distributed according to a formula weighing population and measures of distress (poverty, age of housing, housing overcrowding, and growth lag).

The purpose of the Tourism Development (TD) Category is to provide for investments in effective and affordable tourist attraction facilities to quality communities that are investing in long-term development.  This provides a sound basis for assisting tourist attraction projects that have attracted significant financial support and are likely to have long-term positive impacts on their local and regional economies.  Tourist attractions projects that service both a regional and a local economy of community need are a key element in satisfying the state objective.  The objective of Tourism Development is to assist tourism development projects that have already attracted significant financial support and are likely to have long-term positive impacts on the local and regional economics. 

  • Historic Restorations
  • Scientific and Educational Interpretive Educational Sites & Facilities
  • Participatory Sports Facilities
  • Convention Centers
  • Cultural and Heritage Recreational Sites and Facilities
  • Supporting activities that include removal of material and architectural barriers that restrict the mobility and accessibility to sites/facilities for the elderly and severely disabled individuals in support of eligible tourism activities. 

The maximum grant amount to be awarded is $350,000 of CDBG Tourism Development funds. All TD projects require a minimum 25% match.

Additional information:

2017 Conference Handouts/Presentations

Shared presentations from the 2017 Nebraska Tourism Conference are available as a download below.