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2017 Speaker Agenda

2017 Highlighted Sessions and Speaker's Bios
Return to Nebraska Tourism Conference page

TUESDAY, OCT. 17 - Casual Business Attire
Keynote Session 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM              
♦ "Tourism in the United States" 
     -Nan Marchand Beauvois of US Travel Association

Tourism in The United States: Learn how U.S. Travel works every day to protect the interests of the U.S. travel industry.  U.S. Travel represents members through a coordinated, cohesive strategy to communicate the industry’s concerns and priorities to elected and appointed federal officials. They are also the authoritative leader in travel research providing statistical data, published articles and economic impact studies to influence important travel policies and to assist you in strategically planning your marketing efforts, efficiently spending your travel promotional funds and making better educated business decisions.

Nan Marchand Beauvois is a strategic leader with more than 25 years of travel industry experience. Her successful career has been built on the personal tenets of creativity, passion and entrepreneurial thinking. Her innovation and strategic leadership were responsible for creating branded products and promotions that were engaging, imaginative, effective and able to increase the bottom line of both top destinations and Fortune 500 ravel companies.  Nan has been recognized two years in a row as one of Successful Meetings’ 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry.

Prior to joining U.S. Travel she was the executive director of Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau, responsible for branding the city as a year-round business and leisure destination, beyond the Rose parade and Rose Bowl, in the competitive Los Angeles market.  Concurrently, she led an aggressive sales program for its expanding convention center. Prior to joining the DMO world, Nan spent 15 years at Universal Hollywood, her last position being vice president and sales.

She has lent her skills to industry associations and has served as a member of U.S. Travel’s IPW Planning Committee, California Travel and Tourism Commission International Marketing Advisory Committee, the national Tour Associations marketing Committee, TTRA Board member, the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board Marketing committee and was a long-term board member CalTravel, where she served as chair in 2000-01.

Nan attended the University of California at Los Angeles, studying political science/international relations and romance languages. She is fluent in French and conversational Spanish. She lives in Arlington, VA. with her husband and son.

Breakout Sessions  2:00 PM to 3:15 PM               
♦ How to Tap into Group Tours 
     -Micheal Collins, Nebraska Tourism Commission Group Tours

Tap into Group Tours:  The multi-billion dollar group tour market is ever changing, and this session will show you what you can do to bring group operators to your attraction, community or area. You’ll learn the tricks of the trade to make yourself “group ready,” but also how you can work with the Nebraska Tourism Commission’s group tour manager. If you’ve always wanted to get into the group market, this session is for you.

Micheal Collins has been the group tour manager for the Nebraska Tourism Commission since 2012 and since then has worked to market and promote the state to group tour operators across the U.S. and Canada. He is a Certified Travel Industry Specialist and has regularly attended a number of group related conventions, including American Bus Association Marketplace, National Tour Association Travel Exchange, Select Traveler Conference, and Travel Alliance Partner’s TAP Dance. Micheal has had experience in creating group tour itineraries and has worked with DMO’s, attractions, and other tourist entities to make them “group ready.”

♦ Re-creating Authentic Downtown Communities
     -Dan Senftner, CEO Destination Rapid City

The creation of a central gathering space is an economic catalyst for downtown communities. Tourists and regional visitors seek out authentic experiences and are increasingly looking for “where the locals are.” In this session, learn how to successfully incorporate a central plaza into your downtown, foster community pride, increase tourist spending and capitalize on downtown revitalization projects.  This same session will also be offered at 2:15 pm on October 18.  Dan is open to meeting briefly with requesting attendees. Please let him know of your intent to schedule a time with him. 

*** Please note: This session is offered both on Tuesday and Wednesday to provide the opportunity for everyone to hear Dan's presentation. He will share how the creation of a central gathering space is an economic catalyst for downtown communities. Tourists and regional visitors seek out authentic experiences and are increasingly looking for “where the locals are.” In this session, learn how to successfully incorporate a central plaza into your downtown, foster community pride, increase tourist spending and capitalize on downtown revitalization projects.  Dan is available to spend one-on-one time with those that are interested.  Dan will be available the entire conference, so please let him know when you would be available for a 20 minute slot of his time. 

Dan Senftner Bio:
Dan Senftner, President and CEO of Destination Rapid City, has been a Downtown Rapid City business owner for 20 years. He served as Vice Chairman of Destination Rapid City since its inception in 2008, and was named President and CEO in 2010. His passion is in the betterment of Rapid City and the Downtown area, and increasing the quality of life for visitors and locals alike.

Senftner has served on many boards with several organizations in Rapid City including Capital Campaign Manager for the new Calvary Lutheran Church, Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Destination Rapid City, Rapid City Downtown Association, Rapid City Historical Society, the City Task Force for Future Development and the Rapid City Downtown Business Improvement District Board. Senftner also is very involved in the creation and implementation of an updated Downtown Master Plan. He is continually serving as a consultant for many Downtown communities throughout the United States.                                

♦ Turning a Wild Idea into a Successful Business
-Tim Vala, Vala's Pumpkin Patch

Tim, a city boy from Omaha with a Degree in Education and having trouble finding a full-time job in the school systems, had a wild idea that he could become a farmer.  Luckily, he came upon some land he could buy a little at a time, bought a tractor he didn’t know how to drive home and planted fruits and vegetables he didn’t know how to grow.  Research, self-education and perseverance helped him succeed.  Today, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch has grown into a 212-acre operation with nearly 55 acres of pumpkins planted every year.  His wife Jan took on the crucial business roles of marketer, merchandise manager, personnel manager and accountant.  Today she works full time for Vala’s Pumpkin Patch and is known to always remember each of the 600+ employees’ names.  Hear their amazing story of how a wild idea became a successful family business that is now slowly transitioning over to the next generation.

Tim Vala Bio:                                                                                      
Tim Vala studied education at Nebraska Wesleyan University, but when he had trouble finding a full time teaching job, he was inspired by his love of gardening to start his own business, a pick-your-own farm. He found some land an older farmer was willing to sell off bit by bit, he bought a tractor he didn’t know how to drive, and he planted fields of fruits and vegetables he wasn’t really sure how to grow. At first he focused on pick-your-own strawberries and ran several corner farm stands in the Omaha area, but after a lot of research and success growing pumpkins he switched to specializing fall attractions. Now heading into its 33rd season, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is a 6-week fall festival that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Tim and the Vala family continually work to create a wholesome, family friendly destination where people of all ages can have fun together and make magical memories to last a lifetime. 

Breakout Sessions  3:45 PM to 5:00 PM                                                           

♦ Thinking Outside the Box for Festivals and Events
Garner advice from a panel of four festival/event hosts as they each speak on the organization of, and the challenges they overcame in the events they host.  Find out how they addressed those challenges in order to create a sustainable and prosperous festival.  Learn where each event is headed in the future and go home with first hand knowledge and enthusiam to create/make better your own community's event.   

          -Brenda Leisy, Old West Balloon Fest
          -Stacy Ann Griffin, Nebraska Cigar Festival
          -Deborah Ward, Omaha Craft Brew Campaign
          -David Fudge, Nebraskaland Days

Old West Balloon Fest: The sunrise launch of 18 hot air balloons in 2015 was the first time a balloon launch had happened in Western Nebraska for over 16 years. The balloon event started in 1982 as part of the Old West Weekend. In 1988, 34 balloonists from across the country filled the Western Nebraska sky during the three day event. This year on Labor Day weekend, citizens from across Nebraska and neighboring states will have the chance to marvel at the launch of 30 hot air balloons in Mitchell. After liftoff, attendees will enjoy food booths and vendors, a national music act with a night glow and fun activities for the whole family. The Balloons will launch at the Old Airport in Mitchell Nebraska.

Brenda Leisy received her Bachelor of Arts with emphasis in Marketing from Chadron State College, where she was also named Marketing student of the year in 2006. Brenda started her professional career at Nebraska Northwest Development Corporation (Economic Development) in Chadron, Nebraska, and graduated from the Heartland Economic Development Course.

In 2012, Brenda started her position as the Scotts Bluff County Tourism Director, where she is responsible for promoting tourism in Western Nebraska.  Locally, Brenda is involved with several volunteer organizations including; Co-Chair for the Scottsbluff Celtic Gathering, Platte Valley Attractions, Valley Visions, Marketing Chairman for the Legacy of the Plains Museum, a member of the Monument Marathon Race Crew, and Committee Member of Friends of the Robidoux Trading Post.

Additionally, Brenda is also involved in many state wide tourism organizations including; the Nebraska Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, Nebraska Tourism Association, and the Western Nebraska Tourism Coalition.

Lastly, Brenda shares the honor of being named the Scottsbluff Star-Herald Citizen of the Year for 2015-2106 with Old West Balloon Fest Co-Chair, Becky Horne. Brenda also enjoys traveling throughout Nebraska, but more importantly; spending time with family and friends.

Nebraska Cigar Festival

Stacy Ann Griffin

Omaha Craft Brew Campaign: Visit Omaha created a collaborative partnership with local Omaha craft breweries to create a new Omaha attraction that would increase visitation and enhance Omaha’s regional image as a craft brew destination.

Deborah Ward, Vice President of Marketing and Communication for the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau, is responsible for the development and execution of marketing and advertising strategies that increase visitor demand and awareness of the city of Omaha. Her team recently won a national Telly award for the “Now Serving Omaha” video campaign.  The video series showcases Omaha’s unique contribution to the national food scene. Her team also won an ADDY award for the “It Happens on Bob” campaign which gave a one-of-a-kind bridge a larger-than-life personality.

Prior to that, Deborah spent 26 years as an award-winning journalist for the CBS affiliate in Omaha. She was recognized by Common Cause of Nebraska for an investigative news story that led to the FDA ban of Ephedra, and was recognized by the Associated Press for an in-depth news investigation into unsafe carnival rides in Nebraska, which resulted in a change in state law.

NEBRASKAland DAYS was created in 1965 by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and held in Lincoln for the first 3 years before it was moved to North Platte in 1968. There it joined the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, widely renowned as the world's first spectator rodeo. The festival was named Nebraska's Official State Celebration by the Legislature in 1986. 

The festival runs for 11 days in June, and includes 4 nights of Rodeo, large parades, food events, free family entertainment and ends with a concert series featuring A list entertainment from Country Music. The most recent festival that concluded in June featured the Legendary Alan Jackson, and 2 time male vocalist of the year Chris Stapleton. It drew nearly 90,000 visitors from 40 States. 

David Fudge has been involved with NEBRASKAland DAYS since 2005. He spent 6 years on the Board of Directors prior to being retained as the Executive Director in 2011. David is a graduate of North Platte High School and North Platte Community College. He spent 21 years in broadcast media, mostly in North Platte.

David enjoys contributing to the community, having served a variety of organizations. David currently sits on North Platte's Quality Growth Fund Citizens Review Committee, the North Platte Public Schools Foundation, and he is the current Treasurer of the Nebraska Travel Association (NETA).  He is Past President of the North Platte Ambassadors, Past President of the Nebraska Associated Press Broadcasters Association, serves his Church family as Chairman of the Youth Education Committee, past chair of the Building Committee.

David and his wife Lisa have two daughters, Ellie and Carli, who also enjoy helping with NEBRASKAland DAYS.
♦ Videos for Tourism Pros- How to Easily Create WOW!       
-Catherine Heeg, Customized Management Solutions

3, 2, 1 Action!  Video is the newest way to reach more fans and amplify your social marketing.  We’ll focus on providing tips to produce your own videos as well as tools to fire up your imagination.  Learn how to: •Create short videos of still photos •Secrets to Live video •Market your videos socially and amplify your messaging •Capture images and footage that inspire people to travel.  In this intermediate session you’ll walk away with examples, tools, best practices and techniques that will have you integrating a variety of types of video into a variety of social platforms.

♦ Use Marketing and Economic Impact Reports to Advance Your Community
-Leon Aliski, Dean Runyan & Associates

Sarpy County Showcase Event at Vala's Pumpkin Patch  6:00 PM to 9:00 PM    
Sarpy County Tourism would like to invite you to be our guests for the evening.  You will be treated to an evening at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch for a catered meal and two bonfires plus the Pavilion.  Sarpy County Tourism is happy to cover the cost for your admission fee and meal. Tim and Jan Vala will welcome us in the Pavilion before dinner is served (6:00-6:15pm) and they are providing passes to anyone who wants to ride the train around the property.

We will be there during their prime season so expect to see lots of guests.  In 2016, Vala’s saw over 300,000 visitors come through their gates in the five weeks they were open.  With over 50 attractions, three live shows daily, it is an attraction you will want to see!  We will experience as much as we can however we will only be onsite a few hours as they close at 9:00 pm.

Since it is an October event, we recommend you bring a jacket and wear comfortable shoes as the terrain is up and down and can be uneven. Bring money if you would like to take home delicious fudge, kettle korn, yummy pies, souvenirs, pumpkins and/or gourds.  Vala’s is located approximately eight miles from the La Vista Conference center. It is an easy drive if you want to take your own vehicle, or plan to hop on a bus provided by Sarpy County Tourism.

We hope you will join us for this fun event that showcases our community.  We are looking forward to seeing you at the 2017 Travel Conference at the La Vista Conference Center.   Linda Revis, Sarpy County Tourism Director.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18 - Casual Business Attire
Registration Open/Breakfast  7:30 AM                                  
Legislation Update 
8:00 AM to 8:30 AM

  -Andy Pollock                
General Session  8:30 AM to 9:45 AM               
♦ Tourism Powers Economic Development
     -George Zimmermann, Longwood International USA, Inc.

Breakout Sessions  10:15 AM to 11:30 AM             
♦ Social Media 
     -Dave Flugge                                                  
♦ Tourism Signage and Markers
Wayfinding Signage:
     -Matt Neemann, Nebraska Dept. of Transportation
Nebraska Tourism Marker Program:
     -Roger Jasnock, Kearney Visitors Bureau
     -Carol Schlegel, Red Willow County Tourism
♦ Nebraska Through British Eyes
     -Alan Wilkinson, Author 

Lunch  11:30 AM to 12:00 PM            

New Agency Update/General Marketing/ Brand Leverage 
12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Nebraska Tourism Serves, Passport & Marketing Update
     -Erin Wirth, Angela Sears, Jenn Gjerde, Nebraska Tourism Commission
Breakout Sessions 
2:15 PM to 3:30 PM  
♦ Earned Media in Travel
     -Trevor Meers, Editorial Content Director, Meredith Corporation
     -Tim and Lisa Trudell, The Walking Tourists Blog
     -Carson Vaughn, Freelance Writer
♦ Re-creating Authentic Downtown Communities
     -Dan Senftner, CEO Destination Rapid City
♦ Update from New Public Relations Agency
General Session 
4:00 PM to 5:15 PM   
♦ The Richest Man in Town
     -VJ Smith, Life's Great Moments LLC



Catherine Heeg, owner of Customized Management Solutions, is a tourism, travel and hospitality industry expert with over three decades experience. Her popular workshops and seminars earn rave reviews and drive results that clients can see in their marketing ROI.

She is committed to helping clients quickly learn the best ways to leverage the power of social media and other relevant marketing tactics. An engaging speaker, workshop leader and social media marketing and communications expert, Catherine delivers proven tools that help companies reach their target audience, differentiate themselves from the competition and achieve authentic visibility that translates into winning results.

Catherine designs and delivers customized interactive workshops with big picture ideas and valuable implementation tips.

She takes the mystery out of marketing by providing the step-by-step guidance that helps clients succeed. Catherine enjoys leading webinars and workshops and consulting with clients to help them build their social media buzz.

Social Media Solutions clients can opt to have their social sites built and maintained by a group of tourism professionals. Coaching and customized programs deliver ongoing market intelligence and support with simple tools and techniques that can be implemented immediately. Outcomes are monitored and results are measurable.

Professionals who are serious about taking consistent, winning actions every day to build their business and achieve measurable results love working with Catherine.


Dan Senftner, President and CEO of Destination Rapid City, has been a Downtown Rapid City business owner for 20 years. He served as Vice Chairman of Destination Rapid City since its inception in 2008, and was named President and CEO in 2010. His passion is in the betterment of Rapid City and the Downtown area, and increasing the quality of life for visitors and locals alike.

Senftner has served on many boards with several organizations in Rapid City including Capital Campaign Manager for the new Calvary Lutheran Church, Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Destination Rapid City, Rapid City Downtown Association, Rapid City Historical Society, the City Task Force for Future Development and the Rapid City Downtown Business Improvement District Board. Senftner also is very involved in the creation and implementation of an updated Downtown Master Plan. He is continually serving as a consultant for many Downtown communities throughout the United States.

George Zimmermann brings more than two decades of experience in tourism destination marketing and research to the Longwoods team and its clients.

He was the Vice President responsible for Travel Michigan at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation from October 2001 until April 2014.  Under his leadership, Travel Michigan and its advertising agency, McCann Detroit, created and launched the award-winning Pure Michigan branding campaign in 2006, a campaign that Forbes ranked among the top ten tourism promotion campaigns worldwide.  Initially a regional campaign, Pure Michigan became Michigan’s first significant national advertising campaign starting in 2009.   During his tenure, the annual tourism promotion budget rose from $5.7 million to $30 million.

In 2012, George was named one of the “Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales and Marketing” by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI).   In 2011, the National Council of State Tourism Directors named him State Tourism Director of the Year for his work at Travel Michigan.  Prior to joining Travel Michigan, George served as Ohio’s Tourism Director, and he was named State Tourism Director of the Year in 1997. He is the only person to have received this honor twice.

George served on the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the U.S. Travel Association and the Board and Executive Committee of the National Council of State Tourism Directors.  He was elected as Chair of the Council four times.

In 2014, George led the effort to create the National Council of State Tourism Directors Alumni Group and was elected the group’s first chair.  He has consulted with and/or presented to the state tourism offices in Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, as well as convention bureaus in Ashville, North Carolina; Green Bay, Wisconsin; the Poconos and York, Pennsylvania.

Before his work in tourism, George spent more than a decade in all phases of broadcasting, including serving as the Statehouse Bureau Chief for the Ohio Public Radio/Public Television Statehouse Bureau.  He was the editor of the situation comedies “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times” in Los Angeles, and he was the technical director for the two pilots of “Austin City Limits” in Texas.

He is the author of three travel-related books and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Return to Nebraska Tourism Conference page

2016 Conference Handouts/Presentations

2016 Nebraska Tourism Conference Handouts/Presentations

Shared presentations and speaker bios from the 2016 Nebraska Tourism Conference are linked or available as a download below. 

Speaker Presentations

Speaker Biographies  (download below)

Mom and Pop on Top: How to be Small, But Play Large  (linked)
        Jon Schallert, Creative Strategies Inc.

Turn Any Business into a Consumer Destination  (linked)
        Jon Schallert, Creative Strategies Inc.

A Taste of Success: Creating Wine and Beer Tasting Events in Nebraska  (download below)
        Lori Paulsen- Exe. Director of Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association
        Nathan Hoeft- Owner/Brewmaster of First Street Brewing Company
(This session will be available online as the Nebraska Tourism Industry Education webinar on Monday, Dec.5 at 2 pm)

Frequently Asked Questions about Special Designated Licenses (SDLs) from Nebraska Farm Wineries  (download below)
        Lori Paulsen- Exe. Director of Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association
        Nathan Hoeft- Owner/Brewmaster of First Street Brewing Company
(This session will be available online as the Nebraska Tourism Industry Education webinar on Monday, Dec.5th.)

Creating Compelling Sponsorship Offers   (download below)
        Bruce Erley, President and CEO Creative Strategies Group

Sponsor Service That Assures Success   (download below)
        Bruce Erley, President and CEO Creative Strategies Group

How DMOs and EDOs Can Champion the Three-Legged Race and Be Better Together  (linked)   
        Atlas Advertising   (or as a download below)

Mixing Business with Pleasure: How DMOs and EDOs Realize Ultimate Community Vitality  (linked)
        Atlas Advertising   (or as a download below)

The Care and Feeding of Exhibit Geeks   
        William "Biff" Baird   (download below)

Volunteerism in Nebraska
        Amanda Barker   (download below)


Join Nebraska Tourism Commission as we head to Broken Bow
on Feb. 21 - 23 for the Agri Eco-Tourism Workshop. 
Watch for information coming out soon regarding the Workshop.

NTC - Click for more details...

October 18 - 20, 2016 * GERING CIVIC CENTER * GERING, NE 
Hosted by Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau 

Register to Attend
Lodging Options
Carpooling Options
Silent Auction


TUESDAY, OCT. 18 - Casual Business Attire
8:00 AM                                  Registration Open
8:00 AM to 6:00 PM                Gering Shop Around/Attractions             
8:00 to 9:30 AM                      Lincoln Highway Scenic & Historic Byway Meeting            
9:30 to 11:00 AM                    Nebraska State Scenic Byways Meeting
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM              NETA/NACVB Joint Lunch Meeting       
1:00 to 3:00 PM                      Nebraska Tourism Commission Meeting
3:00 to 4:00 PM                      Newcomer’s Orientation             
3:00 to 4:30 PM                      Nebraska Festivals and Events, Inc. Mtg                      
4:30 to 5:30 PM                      Welcome Reception at Civic Center        
5:30 PM to 7:00 PM                Dine Around Gering/Scottsbluff      

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 19 - Casual Business Attire
7:30 to 8:30 AM                      Breakfast Buffet              
7:30 to 5:00 PM                      Registration Open          
8:00 to 9:00 AM                      Conference Opening Event
                                                     Legislative Update- Andy Pollock  
9:00 to 10:15 AM                    Keynote Session
                                                     Mom and Pop on Top: How To Be Small, 
                                                               But Play Large- Jon Schallert   
10:15 to 10:45 AM                  Break                   
10:45 AM to 12:00 PM            Breakout Sessions
                                                     A Taste of Success: Creating Wine & Beer Tasting 
                                                               Events- Lori Paulsen/Nathan Hoeft
Get Found on Google and Other Critical Digital
                                                               Strategies- - John Heaston
Breaking Through The Chaos: Marketing Your
                                                               Destination To Stand Out (And Get Noticed!)- 
                                                               Dennis Franczak
                                                     Turn Any Business In To A Consumer Destination-
                                                               Jon Schallert
12:00 to 12:15 PM                  Networking Break          
12:15 to 2:00 PM                    Lunch/General Session-                              
                                                      Nebraska 150 Celebration- Regan Anson
                                                      2017 Eclipse- Derryl Barr
2:00 to 2:15 PM                      Break   
2:15 to 3:30 PM                      Breakout Sessions
                                                      Mastering Hospitality Communication- David Webster
Creating Compelling Sponsorship Offers- Bruce Erley
Volunteerism in Nebraska, Impact on Tourism 
                                                                and Communities- Amanda Barker
3:30 to 4:00 PM                      Break
4:00 to 5:15 PM                      Breakout Sessions
                                                      Cyber Security for Planning and Project Management-
                                                                Chris Hobbs
Sponsor Service That Assures Success This Year
                                                                and Next- Bruce Erley
The Care and Feeding of Exhibit Geeks-
                                                                William 'Biff' Baird
DIY Research and Planning- Berkeley Young
5:15 to 5:30 PM                       Break
5:30 to 8:00 PM                       Legacy of the Plains Evening Event- Casual Dress                               

THURSDAY, OCT. 20 - Casual Business Attire                                                  
7:30 AM                                   Registration Open
8:00 to 9:00 AM                       Continental Breakfast
8:00 to 9:00 AM                       General Session
                                                       Mixing Business with Pleasure: How DMOs and
                                                       EDOs Realize Ultimate Community Vitality-
Guillermo Mazier
9:00 to 10:15 AM                     General Session
                                                       Tourism Update- Nebraska Tourism Commission
Marketing Update-
                                                                 Bailey Lauerman/Swanson Russell
                                                                 Nebraska Tourism Marketing 

10:15 to 10:45 AM                   Break
10:45 AM to 12:00 PM             Keynote Session
                                                        How to Flip a Complaining Customer-
                                                                  David Webster
12:00 to 2:00 PM                     Annual Luncheon with Awards- Casual Business Attire  
                                                         Awards Presentation-
                                                                   Nebraska Tourism Commission

For an agenda with session descriptions, please download the Conference Program at the bottom of this page.


Register today to attend the Nebraska Tourism Conference. 
Registrations will be taken until Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Register online here.  Prices for the conference are available on the downloadable registration form.
Please note there will be a small fee associated to registering online. 


Download and fill out the registration form below.

Mail your form and check to:
Nebraska Tourism Commission
Attn: Bryce Arens
PO Box 98907
Lincoln NE 68509

Make check to:  Nebraska Tourism Commission








Fur Trader
NET- Nebraska Educational Telecommunications
Kearney Convention and Visitors Bureau
North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau
Maly Marketing
Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau
Omaha World Herald
Western Nebraska Tourism Coalition- WNTC


Nebraska Lottery
Midwest Meetings
True West Magazine
Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau
South Sioux City Visitors Bureau
CTM Media Group
York County Visitors Bureau
Certified Folder Display, Inc
Columbus/Platte County Convention & Visitors Bureau

American Road Magazine

Thank you to our conference sponsors! 
To show your support and become a sponsor, click

Call now to make your arrangements!

Monument Inn and Suites, 1130 M Street, Gering, NE 69341, 308-436-1950, 1-866-436-1950, Fax: 308-436-1951/Headquarters Hotel, 
Check in:3:00 pm/Check out:12:00 pm
CONTACT: Melonie Warfield, 

Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel & Conference Center, 301 W Hwy. 26, Scottsbluff, NE 69361, 308-635-4022, Fax: 308-635-5238,,
Check in:3:00 pm/Check out:12:00 pm CONTACT: Mary Escamilla, Director of Sales, 

Super 8 Hotel, 2202 Delta Dr., Scottsbluff, NE 69361, 308-635-1600,    Reserve with credit card on file.  Check in:2:00 pm/Check out:11:00 am 


If you are interested in carpooling, please notify Lisa Karnatz by emailing her at  A list is being maintained for those who might be interested. 

Nebraska Travelers Association holds a NETA Silent Auction every year at the Nebraska Tourism Conference. Proceeds support conference scholarships and any administrative costs for the organization.  You will find a wide variety of items to bid on with the hopes of being the highest bidder.  Bidding begins with a preview of the items on Wednesday morning in the Gering Civic Center board room.  Bidding ends AT 10:35 A.M. on Thursday. Winners will be notified to pick their items following the luncheon.

If you are interested in donating an item for the auction, please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • All prizes donated should have a minimum value of $25.00
  • A clear, detailed description (dates, times, # of people, stipulations, etc) of the prize should be provided so those bidding will know exactly what they are bidding on.
  • If you are providing a gift certificate as your prize, please print up the actual certificate and place that in an envelope. Please DO NOT seal the envelope. We will contact you with the name of the top bidder for your records.
  • Please bring your prize donation to the conference. NETA will not be responsible for gifts/donations mailed. If you are not planning on attending the Travel Conference, NETA will assist you in locating someone who will be attending and can bring your donation.
  • Communities can put packages together by including an overnight stay, meals, admissions to attraction, etc.

If you plan to donate, please download and fill out the Silent Auction form below. Send the form Attn: Patty Glidden, Sandhills Motel & Canoe Rental, PO Box 368, Mullen, NE 69152.  308-546-2206 or email her at  You are responsible to get your donation to the conference, please DO NOT mail or ship your item to Gering or to Patty. 

Check back often for more updates!

Register Online Here 

Register With Check Payment- Download the form below.

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Ecotourism on the Prairie


The Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition at the Center for Great Plains Studies is teaming up with the Nebraska Tourism Commission to start a monthly newsletter on nature-based tourism in the Great Plains that we’re calling “Ecotourism on the Prairie.”

Our goal is to make the newsletter entertaining, informative, and fun — stories worth reading. Each month we’ll share stories about ecotourism, photos, nature facts, and more. We hope to share our passion for ecotourism with you and explore its role in the Great Plains. Subscribe to the newsletter and check out the archive of past issues.

2016 Agri-Ecotourism Workshop




February 22-24, 2016


Registration Now Open! 

Click Here to Register Online

*Online registration requires a small convenience fee



Alex Duryea: 402-471-3797 or

Karen Kollars: 308-249-3220 or

Interested in being a Sponsor or Exhibitor?

Go to:


Monday, February 22, 2016

11:00 - 1:00 p.m.  Registration - Midtown Holiday Inn

1:00 - 7:00 p.m.  B2B Tours & Dinner 

1:00 p.m.  Gather in the lobby of Midtown Holiday Inn to Carpool

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.  Depart for Nebraska Mushroom

  • Ash Gordon - 1982 E. Citation Way, Grand Island

3:30 p.m. -  5:00 p.m.  Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center

  • Brice Krohn - (I-80 Exit 305) 9325 S Alda Road, Wood River, NE

5:00 p.m - 7:00 p.m.  Dinner and Panel: 

  • Wayne Cyclery - John Wayne
  • Brice Krohn - Crane Trust
  • Ash Gordon - Nebraska Mushroom


Tuesday, February 23, 2016     Location: Raising Nebraska Facility

7:00 – 8-00 a.m.  Exhibitors Set Up

8:00 – 9:00 a.m.  REGISTRATION & CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST - Exhibitor Area

9:00 – 9:45 a.m.  General Welcome & Overview

9:50 – 10:45 a.m.  Building a Startup Culture

  • Sam Nelson - UNL Entrepreneurship Program

9:50  - Noon  Stop Lighting Money on Fire

  • Steve Maly, Maly Marketing 

11:00 - Noon  Partnering to Grow Your Community

11:00 – 12:00 p.m.  So you want to start a...                           

  • Brewery / Grow Hops - Caleb Pollard, Craft Brewers
  • Winery / Grow Grapes - Lori Paulsen, NWGGA
  • Profit off of the land with a Safe Agri/Eco-Tourism Business - Daryl Jones, Natural Resources Enterprise, Mississippi

12:15 – 1:45 p.m.  Farm to Fork Lunch - Brent Linder, Owner of Sin City, Wave Pizza, J Alfred Prurock's and the Glass Bar. 

1:45 – 2:30 p.m.  The Importance of Telling Your Story Effectively - Rebecca McCormick

2:30 – 2:50 p.m.  Break with EXHIBITORS

2:50 – 4:00 p.m.  Concurrent Breakout Sessions: 

  • Finances - Knowing what your Numbers are Telling You - Erin Pirro
  • Building Bicycle Tourism - Russ Roca & Laura Crawford, The Path Less Pedaled
  • Developing Your Story Online - Rebecca McCormick

4:00 – 4:20 p.m.  Break with Exhibitors

4:20- 5:30 p.m.  Breakout Sessions

  • Finances Part 2 - Erin Pirro
  • NE Star Party - John Johnson
  • Agritourism Studies Panel - Daryl Jones / Caleb Pollard / Mick McDowell
  • A Legal Roadmap for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses - UNL Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic                                            

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  Taste & Feel Event - Heavy Hor devours

  • Hastings CCC Culinary Class
  • Wineries
  • Breweries
  • Nebraska Made Food & Products

7:30 p.m.  Return to Hotel/ Vendors and Exhibitors Tear Down 


Wednesday, February 24, 2016     Location: Grand Theatre 


8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Continental Breakfast at Grand Theater - Downtown

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. Story Behind the Grand Theatre - Liz

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.  Tourism Update - Kathy McKillip - Nebraska Tourism Commission Executive Director

9:30 - 10:00 a.m.  Understanding the Agritouism Liability Law - Andy Pollock

10:00 - 10:15 a.m.  Break

10:15 - 11:45 a.m.  Creating Effective Multi-Media Pieces on a Limited Budget - Brad Mellema

11:45 - 12:15 p.m.  Round Table Discussions with Speakers

12:15 - 12:30 p.m.  Wrap - Up / Lunch         

1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Nebraska Tourism Commission Meeting

1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Nebraska Byway Meeting 

2:30 p.m. Optional: Hornady Tour & Carnivores Meat Supply Tour



Midtown Holiday Inn

2503 S. Locus

Grand Island, NE  68801

Phone: 308-384-1330

Rate:  87.95 + tax

Block of rooms available until 1/31/16

When making your reservation, ask for the Block listed under Nebraska Agri Eco Tourism.


* This agenda is subject to change until further notice.