Last week, I attended the Illinois Governors Conference on Tourism, a three-day meeting for tourism professionals who work at hotels, restaurants, tour companies, transportation companies, and convention and visitors bureaus. We get updates on anything and everything in Illinois Tourism, and speakers often try to stress that we must not forget what’s outside of Chicago. As with any state with a major city, the tourism seems to revolve around the grand metropolis. This was my second year at the Illinois Governors Conference, and again I found that though I’m one of few tour operators that attend, it’s a valuable experience for both professional and personal reasons.
Why Attend the Illinois Governors Conference?
Professionally, I got to attend meetings that get my entrepreneurial wheels turning. Particularly I enjoyed the lively presentation of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy’s CEO Howard Tullman. As a public speaker myself, I’m particularly sensitive to when people are, or aren’t, comfortable in front of the room, and especially if they don’t manifest sincerity in the tone of their voice and body language. Mr. Tullman is a pro. And on top of being a good speaker, he shared really helpful concepts in social media.
I like to think that I’m on top of trends in social media, which of course at any of these events is all the buzz. But wow – did you know that Americans spend more time on Facebook than Google, Wikipedia and a bunch of other sites combined? And we’ve been pouring so much more energy into Twitter. And how will mobile technology enhance our everyday lives in ways we haven’t yet imagined? He shared tips on how to avoid social media blunders.
(p.s. in poking around Tullman’s website I found an interesting Tribune article that discusses the blurring lines between for-profit and non-profit businesses, such as with yours truly, Chicago Detours. We are very much in that grey zone!)
Big Ideas for Illinois Tourism
Another speaker at the Illinois Governors Conference was Chris Perkins of Brand USA, who gave a helpful “show and tell” of the United States’ new campaign to promote tourism internationally (new website launched in November, 2011). It’s about time! The U.S. has been lagging behind just about every developed country with no department dedicated to marketing to other countries. It’s almostlike we’ve just been arrogantly sitting around, just assuming foreigners will come to us because we’re “America.”
I’m impressed by the clean website design for DiscoverAmerica.com, which probably appeals to a more international crowd. Check out their promotional video. Note their tag: “Awesome possibilities.” Is this because “awesome” has been imported into slang across the world?
Don’t you love the 1960s sparkle pink decor of the Convention Center in Rosemont (pictured)? So you may be wondering then, what are these “personal” reasons why I like going to the Conference? Well for one, it’s fun to go out to Rosemont. It’s a 30-minute train ride for me, but it feels like I’m on vacation. And two, I love learning about intriguing places to visit in Illinois – outside of the Chicago. I’ll address that in the next blog post – you’ll just have to wait in anticipation.
— Amanda Scotese, Executive Director