Gov Con 2023 Conference Agenda

2023 Governor's Conference presented by HospitalityTN with partners:
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
Visit Knoxville
M&M Productions



Registration Office Opens
Exhibitor Set Up Begins   
Silent Auction Items Accepted
Knoxville Convention Center


Regional Directors Meeting & Breakfast (Invite Only)
Knoxville Convention Center, Room 300AB


Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development - Rural Tourism Sessions
Must register by September 5th | Click Here for Agenda
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom A


Play Tennessee Membership Meeting (Invite Only)
Knoxville Convention Center, Room 300CD


Opening Session
Welcome Remarks from HospitalityTN CEO Sara Beth Urban
Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas; TN Dept. of Tourist Development Commissioner Mark Ezell
Opening Speaker: U.S. Travel CEO Geoff Freeman
Hear from the leading advocate for the $1.1 trillion U.S. travel and hospitality industry
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom DEFG


Bus Transportation Begins provided by Olympus Car & Coach

  • 4:30-5:00pm: Buses shuttle to/from Knoxville Convention Center to Neyland Stadium for Women in Hospitality & Tourism Reception
  • 5:30-9:00pm: Buses shuttle to/from Knoxville Convention Center to/from Neyland Stadium for Opening Reception
  • 9:00-9:30pm: Buses shuttle from Neyland Stadium to Yee-Haw Brewing for after party
  • 9:30-11:15pm: Buses shuttle from Yee-Haw Brewing to Knoxville Convention Center


Women in Hospitality & Tourism Reception
Speaker: Joan Cronan, Tennessee Women's Athletic Director Emeritus

Celebrate the women of the Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism industry with a complimentary Knoxville-inspired cocktail and hear from the first female Director of University of Tennessee Athletics, Joan Cronan
Neyland Stadium, 6th Floor West (Enter at Gate 19)


Welcome to Knoxville Reception - Hosted by Visit Knoxville

Hosted at one of the most iconic sports landmarks in the nation, enjoy heavy appetizers and complimentary samples from twelve distilleries on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail while connecting with your tourism partners and friends. Wear your UT orange or your favorite sports team colors to celebrate sports tourism. Knoxville muralist, chalk artist, and creator Chloe Peterson (@chloartco) will be on-site completing a custom piece for the silent auction. Transportation to and from Neyland Stadium provided by Olympus Car & Coach. Two drink tickets for beer & wine included.
Neyland Stadium - Tennessee Terrace (Enter at Gate 19)


Welcome to Knoxville After Party

Continue celebrating the beginning of Governor's Conference while networking with other industry professionals at Yee-Haw Brewing Company's newest location in Knoxville. Enjoy options of craft beer from 62 taps, delicious local food, and an outdoor beer garden. Attendees will be responsible for their own food & drink purchases at the brewery.
Yee-Haw Brewing, 745 N. Broadway 



Mural Walk in Downtown Knoxville (Use link to sign up)

Knoxville is home to many murals that help tell the story of the city in a visual, artistic way. From alleys to stairwells, our talented local and visiting artists use a variety of canvases to enhance the natural landscape of Knoxville.
Mural Walking Tour--Governor's Conference 2023 – Visit Knoxville


Registration Office Opens


Breakfast & General Session
Presented by Journal Communications
Welcome Remarks from Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Introduced by Kim Bumpas
Unlocking the Potential of the Generations - Alicia Rainwater, Certified Keynote Speaker at The Center for Generational Kinetics
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom DEFG


Pet-A-Puppy Break
Presented by Humane Association of Tennessee Valley
Snacks provided by Northview Academy, Tennessee ProStart School with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation


Hospitality & Tourism Industry Break-Out Sessions

  1. Open Forum Panel with American Hotel & Lodging Association & Asian American Hotel Owners Association (Main Floor Ballroom A)
    • John Jarrard, AHLA Director of State & Local Government Affairs
    • Daniel New, AAHOA Director of State Government Affairs
  2. Open Forum with National Restaurant Association (Main Floor Ballroom B)
    • Joe Wallace, NRA Senior Manager of State Affairs
  3. Open Forum Panel with Tennessee Tourism Leaders (Downstairs Lecture Hall)
    • Debra Smith, Assistant Commissioner of Marketing
    • Melanie Beauchamp, Assistant Commissioner of Rural Tourism & Outreach
    • Pete Rosenboro, Assistant Commissioner of Welcome Centers
    • Josh Gibson, Research Director


Make-Your-Own-Trail-Mix Break - Tennessee State Parks


Break-Out Sessions

  1. Competitiveness, Connectivity and Partnership - Setting the Record Straight on International Marketing (Main Floor Ballroom A)
    • Liz Bittner, Travel South CEO & President
    • Nate Huff, President of Tourism Exchange USA
  2. The Rise of Engagement Marketing - Transforming Your Approach (Downstairs Lecture Hall)
    • Mary Blair, Sr. Director of Client Growth & Services, Designsensory
    • Brad Carpenter, VP of Engagement Marketing, Designsensory
    • Chris Cable, Creative Director, Designsensory
    • Chris Wise, VP of Insights & Strategy, Designsensory
    • Hunter Foster, VP of Media & Communications, Designsensory
  3. Using AI for Travel & Tourism: Tips and Tools for ChatGPT and Beyond (Main Floor Ballroom B)
    • Jessy Yancy, Sr. VP of Content Strategy, Journal Communications
    • Kim Holmberg, COO, Journal Communications
  4. Hotels that are Revolutionizing the Industry (Downstairs Room 200AB)
    • Wayne Smith, Director of Workforce Development, HospitalityTN
    • Chelsa Lourie, People & Culture Manager, Graduate Nashville
    • Jim Domanic, General Manager, Blackberry Mountain


Pre-Lunch Break


Governor’s Luncheon & Tennessee Department of Tourist Development Update
Remarks from Governor Bill Lee
Hear from Commissioner Mark Ezell about the growth & influence of tourism in Tennessee as he releases the 2022 economic impact numbers because tourism is REAL MONEY!
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom DEFG


Zoo Meet-and-Greet Break – Knoxville Zoo


Break-Out Sessions

  1. Play Tennessee – The Power of Sports Tourism in Your Community (Main Floor Ballroom A)
    • John David, President & CEO, Sports Events & Tourism Association
  2. Small Budget, Big Impact (Main Floor Ballroom B)
    • Kristin Luna, Co-Founder, Odinn Media
  3. Accessible Power: How Technology is Becoming More Powerful & Accessible to the Restaurant Industry (Downstairs Room 200AB)
    • Brian Foster, President, Source1
  4. Intentional Strategies for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace and Tourism Marketing (Downstairs Lecture Hall)
    • Milton Howery, VP of Marketing, Memphis Tourism


Afternoon Reception with Exhibitors


Break - On Your Own

Enjoy some down time in Knoxville; visit some of the popular spots offering FREE admission all weekend to conference attendees (the list includes historic house museums, The Star of Knoxville Riverboat, Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, and more); and get ready for the Stars of the Industry: Purple Iris Awards.
Click Here for the list of Knoxville Attractions offering free admission.


Stars of the Industry Reception (Included with Registration)
Knoxville Convention Center, 

Celebrate the best & brightest in hospitality & tourism by joining us for the return of the Stars of the Industry awards. We'll be honoring winners in lodging, restaurant, and tourism categories. One drink ticket included for the reception. Cocktail/Black Tie Optional Attire. We encourage everyone to wear purple to celebrate the theme of the night: the Tennessee State Flower: Purple Iris.


Stars of the Industry Dinner & Purple Iris Awards Presentation (Included with Registration)
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom DEFG

Celebrate and cheer for your peers as they are honored for their contributions and service to the industry. Emceed by HospitalityTN CEO Sara Beth Urban. Enjoy a delicious dinner of:

  • Poached Tiger Shrimp with tarragon, pineapple, and cucumber relish, shaved radish, drizzled with Georgia Oliva Farm EVOO, garnished with maldon and micro mint
  • New York Steak with parsnip puree and roasted root vegetables
  • Lavender shortcake with mixed berry compote, Chantilly cream, and balsamic drizzle


Stars of the Industry After Party (Included with Registration)
Marriott Knoxville Downtown, Park Lecture Concourse

Eat, Drink, and Connect! Keep the celebration going with an after party right across the street at the Marriott Knoxville Downtown, home to Knoxville's Maker Exchange. From coffee mugs to the art and fine crafts on display to even the furniture, Dogwood Arts sourced everything they could from Knoxville's Makers to immerge guests in a truly, authentically Maker City Celebration. Enjoy live music and specialty batch cocktails at the Tavern overlooking World's Fair Park and the Knoxville Museum of Art. Light appetizers provided and a cash bar.



Registration Office Opens
Silent Auction Last Chance Bidding (Auction Closes at 9am)


Hot Takes & Hot Crepes Roundtable Breakfast sponsored by Chattanooga Tourism Co.
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom DEFG

Enjoy an opportunity to ask your burning questions and follow up on topics from the previous day's sessions. This breakfast will provide a chance to further network with the speakers and share ideas with your peers.

10:00am – 10:45am

Welcome Center of the Year Presentation by Commissioner Mark Ezell & Assistant Commissioner of Welcome Centers Pete Rosenboro

Welcome Remarks from HospitalityTN Chair Shawn Danko

HospitalityTN Updates from CEO Sara Beth Urban
Knoxville Convention Center, Ballroom DEFG

Hear about the work and influence of the state's Hospitality & Tourism Association and what they do for you and your business.


Giveaways and Closing Remarks

A chance to win prizes & cash (must be present to win) and hear where the next TWO Governor's Conferences will be held.

Governor's Conference logo created by Designsensory