2023 Marketing & Communications Summit | Norfolk, VA, USA
Norfolk, VA map
event February 13-15, 2023
location_city Norfolk, VA, USA
location_on Hilton Norfolk The Main

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The summit is the preeminent gathering place of marketing, communications and public relations professionals dedicated to helping destination organizations thrive. This year's summit will challenge you to think about your role within destination organizations as communities tackle new and diverse issues.

Creativity icon
Creativity & Innovation
Data Technology icon
Data-Driven Marketing
Community Engagement icon
Community Engagement
Networking icon
Peer-to-Peer Networking

Topics include social media and blog content strategy creation, building creative environments for your agencies and staff, working with freelancers and influencers, developing your optimal technology resource toolbox and using real-time data to influence destination stewardship and management. You will not want to miss these valuable insights, best practices, and case studies, as well as the peer-to-peer networking opportunities.

Social Media Toolkit

Since our summit falls on Valentine's Day, local restaurants are expecting a large crowd. We recommend making your dining reservations as soon as possible! Please click below for our Norfolk Dining Guide, provided to us by our friends at Visit Norfolk.

Norfolk Dining Guide


Use your Destinations International login to register for the summit, or contact us for assistance.


Monday, February 13

Schedule subject to change.

Hearts Afloat Welcome Reception
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Details +
VisitNorfolk wants to welcome you and share the love by highlighting our city on the water! At this two-hour event, attendees can eat from a buffet, socialize with a full bar and dance to their heart’s desire. While the Spirit will be docked a majority of this welcome reception, we will be ending the party with a 30-minute cruise for everyone to take in the beautiful skyline of the city.
Presented by Visit Norfolk

Tuesday, February 14

Schedule subject to change.

Networking Breakfast
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Welcome and Overview
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
Decoding the Future Traveler: Consumer Trends for 2023 & Beyond
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM
Details +
Travel is back but the way people are approaching their vacations may never be the same as new value systems impact where, how and why we travel. By looking at consumer trends both within and outside the travel category we can get ahead of the curve to better understand the future traveler. Through the lens of key trends from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s flagship report The Future 100, we will unlock the future of travel, exploring the rise of cultural prescriptions, dark tourism, intrepid dining, inclusive sanctuaries and more.
Sarah Tilley headshot Sarah Tilley
Futurist & Senior Trends Consultant
Wunderman Thompson Intelligence
Five Key Learnings for Marketers Based on American Travel Sentiment!
10:00 AM - 10:20 AM
Details +
Join Amir Eylon from Longwoods International as he shares the most recent key learnings from the country’s longest-running American Travel Sentiment tracking study and discusses five trends we can expect from travelers in the next 12 to 18 months!
Presented by Longwoods International
Amir Eylon headshot Amir Eylon
President & CEO
Longwoods International
Networking Break
10:20 AM - 10:35 AM
Concurrent Session: A “Linear Digression” on Marketing Attribution
10:35 AM - 11:20 AM
Details +
Tourism marketers have long been plagued by the challenges of showing the ROI for their marketing efforts. We’ve come a long way in solving this problem, but the threat of losing this superpower grows a little more each day. As large tech companies and governments clamp down on the free exchange of user data, you’ll need other options in order to be more strategic with your marketing investments. Media Mix Modeling (MMM), which was first popularized in the 90s, is making a comeback. How do these models work to direct the allocation of media budgets to the most lucrative channels? Join this session to understand what MMM is, what it isn't, and how to get started with free tools.
Zeek Coleman headshot Zeek Coleman
VP, Americas
Tourism Economics
Gray Lawry headshot Gray Lawry
VP, Strategy Insights
Miles Partnership
Concurrent Session: The Political Power of Tourism PR
10:35 AM - 11:20 AM
Details +
Like many destination organizations, VISIT Milwaukee isn’t the same organization it was in early 2019. While the pandemic forced many pivots and staffing changes, nothing has elevated the company’s – and tourism’s – reputation more with Wisconsin stakeholders than two successful back-to-back bids for presidential nomination conventions for both parties. From trying to make lemonade out of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, to bidding on the 2024 Republican National Convention in a deep blue city, you’ll hear about the messaging and advocacy work that went into these efforts and how they ultimately resulted in tourism having a much more prominent seat at the table. While political conventions aren’t necessarily for every destination, everyone will leave this presentation with fresh ideas on how to use the power of your communications team to advocate for tourism in your own community.
Claire Koenig headshot Claire Koenig
Communications Director
Visit Milwaukee
Concurrent Workshop: Data Driven Marketing
11:20 AM - 12:15 PM
Details +
Building off the previous session, attendees will discuss data providers as well as ideas and best practices around data and data-driven marketing practices. This workshop includes a lightning round of Q & A amongst attendees to answer your most burning questions.
Concurrent Session: Communicating Your Destination’s Authentic Story Through Business Events
11:20 AM - 12:15 PM
Details +
Sure, accolades for your destination are cool, but at the end of the day, talking about group business can only go so far. As the business events strategist role evolves, the content they want to consume is changing – and so is the content meeting and convention editors want to hear. Perceptions of both the meeting attendee and meeting planner have changed since the pandemic, and it is more important than ever to communicate your authentic story to compel people to visit your destination beyond the meeting. Join this panel of business events public relations experts and content providers to understand how these destinations set themselves apart to attract new business to their communities.
Caitlyn Blizzard headshot Caitlyn Blizzard, CDME
Vice President of Communications
Destinations International
Ally Dorrough headshot Ally Dorrough, APR
Communications & Marketing Specialist
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism
Lisa Grimaldi headshot Lisa Grimaldi
Northstar Meetings Group
Lori Cioffi headshot Lori Cioffi
Content Strategist
Skift Meetings
Networking Lunch
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM
Concurrent Session: Leveraging Digital Marketing Co-Ops for Success
1:15 PM - 1:55 PM
Details +
This session will walk you through digital marketing co-ops and how they benefit destinations and participants alike, especially in a world where data and personalization are key to finding ideal travelers. Learn how destination marketers are leveraging and activating the use of data to reach the right travelers at the right time, with the right message, and partnering more efficiently with stakeholders across the destination to get the most exposure. We’ll share best practices on how destinations are taking advantage of co-op marketing opportunities to stretch budgets, share messaging, and utilize economic impact reporting.
Brenda Armstrong headshot Brenda Armstrong
Senior Sales Director, Co-op Development
Stephanie Dunford headshot Stephanie Dunford
Senior Sales Director, Team Lead East
Concurrent Session: Perceptions vs Reality: Communicating Around Crime and Safety in Destinations
1:15 PM - 2:30 PM
Details +
There are many different lenses in which to view crime and safety because of the different identities that exist. The unfortunate reality is that crime and safety exist in all destinations around the world, but it impacts diverse populations and identities in different ways. As communications professionals, you must work within your community to reflect the true identity of the neighborhoods, despite the fact that residents and visitors may hold bias against them. During this session, you will hear from industry leaders who have united with community stakeholders to address the negative perceptions and help portray the true nature and authenticity of their communities.
Danny Guerrero headshot Danny Guerrero
Founder and Principal
The Culturist Group
Jordoun Eatman headshot Jordoun Eatman
Vice President of Engagement and Inclusion
Experience Grand Rapids
Alexea Veneracion headshot Alexea Veneracion
Director of Communications
Visit Colorado Springs
Concurrent Session: Behind the Curtain: How the Travel Industry Spends their Digital Ad Dollars - And What to Do About It!
1:55 PM - 2:30 PM
Details +
With more digital media paths available to us than ever before, have you ever wondered how the largest travel, consumer and sports brands are spending their ad dollars? How has digital media spend changed since the start of the pandemic? When and where do destination organizations in your region spend their ad dollars? Ever wondered what the most viewed ad creatives in travel look like? Join Madden Media’s Matt Clement for a deep dive answer to these questions and other fascinating insights from the digital media landscape. You’ll learn how digital media trends have changed in the destination organization industry, along with practical media planning strategies and tactics for taking advantage of those trends in 2023 and beyond.
Matt Clement headshot Matt Clement, CDME
Managing Partner
Madden Media
Adore Mi a Smore Network Break
2:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Details +
Norfolk’s local dessert shop, Smore’s Amore, will be toasting you your very own red velvet s’more in front of Norfolk’s “City With Bite” food truck. Let’s spread LOVE on this Valentine’s Day by supporting local.
Concurrent Session: Consent Management
3:00 PM - 3:20 PM
Details +
Consumers demand transparency in data and privacy. It’s not just an option anymore. Virginia became the second state in the US to pass a comprehensive data privacy law and the first to require users to opt-in to tracking when the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) was passed and became law on January 1, 2023. It’s coming whether you are ready or not, most marketing tags have begun to integrate “consent mode” in their tags, including Google. Brands like Sephora already know that noncompliance can come with legal troubles and fines. This session will address what consent management is, why it matters amd what platforms/solutions exist to set you up for success.
Presented by Miles Partnership
Gray Lawry headshot Gray Lawry
VP, Strategy Insights
Miles Partnership
Concurrent Session: Crime and Safety in Destinations
3:00 PM - 3:20 PM
Details +
The causes and solutions of violent crime are not always easy to deduce and many times both the causes and traditional solutions fall outside of a destination organization’s wheelhouse. Though not something we believe should be expected of destination organizations, we believe destination professionals should play a supporting role in a community’s response to and development of solutions for this topic. During this session, Jack Johnson, Destinations International’s chief advocacy officer, will provide a quick overview of crime and safety in destinations and how, as destination communicators, we can all help lead the innovative and collaborative strategies within the communities we love.
Jack Johnson headshot Jack Johnson
Chief Advocacy Officer
Destinations International
Concurrent Session: Content Creation
3:20 PM - 4:00 PM
Details +
This panel of industry experts will impart their wisdom and best practices around producing innovative and interesting content to market their destinations. Discussion will include a blueprint on how to do more with less when it comes to bandwidth and creativity.
Gathan Borden headshot Gathan Borden
SVP, Marketing & Communications
Destinations International
Lauren Cleland headshot Lauren Cleland
Director, Marketing & Data Intelligence
Visit Savannah
Paul Wolf headshot Paul Wolf
Content Marketing Manager
Visit Jackson
Sarah Howard headshot Sarah Howard
Executive Director
Visit Pleasant Prairie
Concurrent Session: Strategic Opportunities for Elevating Your PR Role
3:30 PM - 4:15 PM
Details +
As destination communicators, our role has never been more important in (and for) our communities. Though it is an important function of the public relations department, our role has moved beyond focusing only on media relations. As destination organizations continue to evolve to have more community alignment, we must adapt our role to meet those goals, and strategically influence the key areas our destination organization focuses on including equity, diversity and inclusion, and advocacy and community stakeholder communications.
Karyl Leigh Barnes headshot Karyl Leigh Barnes, CDME
President, Tourism Practice
Development Counsellors International
Julie Freeman headshot Julie Freeman
EVP, Managing Director
Concurrent Workshop: DIY Content Marketing for Destinations
4:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Details +
Building off the previous session, attendees will discuss best practices and ideas around content creation for all marketing activities. This workshop includes a lightning round of Q & A amongst attendees to answer your most burning questions.
Concurrent Session: What's in an Acronym: How to Integrate EDI into your Communications Strategy
4:15 PM - 4:45 PM
Details +
As communications professionals continue to evolve their strategies around Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), it is important to understand the many dimensions of EDI and how it connects to your organization and community. Join Destinations International’s chief diversity officer, Sophia Hyder Hock to gain insight on developing and integrating EDI into your communications strategy, including how to start the conversation internally to set strategic initiatives.
Sophia Hyder Hock headshot Sophia Hyder Hock
Chief Diversity Officer
Desttinations International
Day 1 Wrap Up
4:45 PM

Wednesday, February 15

Schedule subject to change.

Morning Yoga
6:30 AM - 7:30 AM
Details +
Ease into the last day of the Summit with a morning yoga session with Fox from The Gym Downtown which is sponsored by VisitNorfolk. Sign up early with only 25 spots available in the Momentum Room on the third floor of the hotel.

Complimentary registration required. You may add the session during the registration process for the summit, or add the session to your existing summit registration.
Networking Breakfast
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM
Marketplace of Ideas: Round 1
9:05 AM - 9:30 AM
Details +
Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Shifting Gears with Carvertise - Driving Visitation and Popularity to your Destination!
Location: Main Salons DE
Join this session for a case study on how Lake Charles combined wrapped Uber/Lyft cars with technology to drive visitation and earned media for their destination.
  • Greg Star, Co-Founder, Carvertise
Making Marketing Insights from Geolocation and Spending Data into Actionable Outcomes For Your Destination
Location: Main Salons F
Lake Charles will chare their award winning marketing campaign and provide an overview of how they used new data tools to successfullly open new markets and convert new travelers to the area.
  • Josh Collins, Chief Product Officer, Zartico
  • Timothy Bush, CMO, Visit Lake Charles
Understanding Your Marketing Outcomes: With and Without Cookies
Location: Main Salon H
Destinations are increasingly tapping into one of their most valuable resources: data. Doing so allows them to better understand visitors searching for and traveling into their market, have real time revenue insights, and better segment and target their messaging. Destinations are using their first, second and third-party data in creative ways to achieve these outcomes. Join your peers from Visit Savannah and Discover Long Island as they walk you through the ways they measured their Connected TV campaign (without cookies) and helped increase bookings and Average Daily Rate for a new feeder market in conjunction with launching a new direct flight.
  • Leroy Bridges, VP Sales, Tourism, Adara
  • Lauren Cleland, Director of Marketing & Data Intelligence, Visit Savannah
  • Allison Brown, Director of Marketing, Discover Long Island
Marketplace of Ideas: Round 2
9:40 AM - 10:05 AM
Details +
Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

The Power of Measuring Brand Health by Studying Official DMO Websites
Location: Main Salon G
Studying your DMO's official marketing assets is essential to building the foundation for long-term marketing strategies. This marketplace of ideas will illustrate how DMOs can maximize the utility of custom primary website research - from website usability and user experience research studies, to heat mapping analysis and user surveys. Come prepared ready to hear how you can optimize your official DMO website to best serve key user audiences and support your marketing programs with data-driven, actionable insights.
  • David Reichbach, Senior Director of Analytics & Data Security, Destination Analysts
  • Todd O'Leary, CDME, VP Marketing & Communications for Sonoma County Tourism
Roll Out the Digital Welcome Mat to Upscale your Brand and Increase Stakeholder Engagement
Location: Main Salon H
Visitors researching destinations need clear, accurate, and up-to-date information about all the attractions and restaurants they might visit — how can they plan a fantastic trip otherwise? Yet destination organizations aren't online traffic cops, so how can they help achieve digital excellence for their entire destination? Join this session to learn how Destination Queenstown helped local businesses upscale their digital presence across the most important social channels, ensuring that visitors say YES to all their destination offers.
  • Theresa Fischer, Product Marketing Manager, Simpleview
Marketplace of Ideas: Round 3
10:15 AM - 10:40 AM
Details +
Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Understanding the Gap Between Evolving Traveler Expectations and Industry Perceptions
Location: Main Salons DE
As destination marketers look beyond recovery and develop strategies to capture sustained demand from eager travelers, Expedia Group Media Solutions will deep-dive into the Traveler Value Index 2023, which examines what people value in their travel experience compared to priorities and considerations shaping decisions by industry professionals. This session will explore case studies from Destinations International members who have turned these insights into action, providing attendees with an opportunity to better understand traveler expectations and inform their marketing strategy.
  • Derek Price, Director of Business Development, Expedia Group Media Solutions
Monitoring Your Vitals: Breathing Life into Your Marketing Intelligence & Performance (through Tripadvisor)
Location: Main Salon F
This session will showcase Tripadvisor’s powerful Destination Insights Platform (TIPs), a resource to which many destinations already have access, that can help inform their destination’s priorities, strategies, tactics, and measurement. Join us to hear how one destination is leveraging three key elements of TIPs: opportunity markets including growing and contracting markets; competitive insights including source market comparison, traveler review ratings, and average costs, booking windows, and length of stay; difference in behaviors, clicks, bookings, content engagement, and media impact between visitors who viewed the destination’s advertising vs. those who didn’t.
  • Tommy Martinez, Principal Client Partner, Tripadvisor
Networking Break
10:40 AM - 11:00 AM
Marketplace of Ideas: Round 4
11:00 AM - 11:25 AM
Details +
Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Growing Group Travel: Branson’s Targeted Multi-Platform Meetings and Sports Programs
Location: Main Salons DE
Join this session for an overview of how Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB created a holistic approach incorporating social, email, video, programmatic ads and in-person events to their meetings and sports marketing, driving quantifiable return. Samantha Gutting of the Branson CVB and Shalise DeMott of Northstar Meetings Group will unpack how Branson’s sales and marketing-connected tactics across multiple platforms drove measurable results for their destination and their partners for both immediate and future group business.
  • Samantha Gutting, Senior Vice President, Branson CVB
  • Shalise DeMott, Vice President, Northstar Meetings Group
How Vulnerable is Your Destination Brand?
Location: Main Salon F
A healthy brand reputation is more important than ever before and can be destroyed at the speed of a tweet. Are you prepared to protect and defend your brand in a crisis? What are you doing to create positive brand perceptions now and get ahead of a variety of damaging situations? Learn how to mitigate risk and keep your brand reputation healthy. MMGY NJF can perform an audit of your organizations' past crisis responses, current crisis communications plans and analyze internal and external risk factors such as geopolitical, environmental, labor, strategic partnerships, customer satisfaction, social media presence, etc. Following the assessment, we create a critical issues map that identifies and categorizes crisis risks by level of severity and the likelihood to occur and then create crisis playbooks to address the various scenarios.
  • Julie Freeman, Managing Director, MMGY NJF
  • Joyce Kiehl, Communications Director, Visit Greater Palm Springs
Fuel Destination Discovery Through UGC and Short-Form Video Content
Location: Main Salon G
Authentic visual storytelling has never been more important for destinations as travelers’ appetite for glossy, hyper-stylized, over-curated, picture-perfect content seems to be waning. Join this session to discover how user-generated content, and in particular, short-form video content, is redefining destination marketing for modern destinations organizations.
  • Alice Goode, Product Marketing Manager, CrowdRiff
Visit Mesa's Approach to Bucket List Fun with Influencer Support
Location: Main Salon H
The Visit Mesa Adventure Explorer Passport is a digital Bandwango passport that features a list of curated adventures selected by Wildjoy founder Lacy Cain. The list ranges from easy to moderate experiences and passholders are encouraged to tag photos along their journey. This recently launched passport showcases influencer partnership in a brand new way!
  • Emilie Harris, VP of Sales and Marketing, Bandwango
  • Michelle Streeter, Chief Communications & Content Officer, Visit Mesa
Marketplace of Ideas: Round 5
11:35 AM - 12:00 PM
Details +
Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Driving Value-Based Outcomes: Destinations Leading The Pack
Location: Main Salons DE
Every destination has their unique set of goals and challenges. Destination organizations that struggle to attract the right visitors are causing many disruptions for their community, such as overcrowded communities, strain on local resources, and understanding how to maintain share of vacation by enticing past visitors to return more often. Destination marketers are tasked with not only driving visitation, but more importantly, driving the best values to fuel positive and sustainable growth in local economy and culture. During this panel, we will share how two destinations created impactful value-based destination marketing strategies, attracted visitors that helped them support their destination goals, and showed stakeholders how their marketing program created community impact and economic growth.
  • David Chastain, Vice President, Travel & Tourism, Epsilon
  • Lindsey Norment, Brand Director, Virginia Tourism Corporation
  • Lauren Ward, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Visit Franklin
Networking Lunch
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Advancing the Tourism Workforce
1:00 PM - 1:45 PM
Details +
Join this informative session on Visit Baltimore's engaging campaign to highlight industry career paths and recruit talent. This case study will be followed by a panel discussion on how destinations can set themselves apart to ensure the hospitality and tourism industry bounces back, ensuring outstanding experiences for business and leisure visitors as well as continued economic recovery.
Presented by the Destinations International Foundation and the 30 Under 30 Program
Trish McClean headshot Trish McClean
Chief Marketing Officer
Visit Baltimore
Ophélie Le Livec headshot Ophélie Le Livec
Creative Design Specialist
Cambria Jones headshot Cambria Jones
Director of Marketing
SearchWide Global
Workshop: Three's Company: Marketing, Communications and Workforce Development
1:45 PM - 2:40 PM
Details +
Building off the previous session, attendees will discuss best practices and ideas around how marketing and communications contributes to workforce development.
Networking Break
2:40 PM - 2:55 PM
Micro Session: The Future of Work
2:55 PM - 3:15 PM
Details +
Join Simpleview for this informative session on how organizations can stay competitive in a global marketplace, recruit diverse employees and create a motivated and satisfied workforce.
Cara Frank headshot Cara Frank
Chief of Staff
3:15 PM - 4:00 PM
Details +
TikTok has faced criticism and political attacks since it was released onto the US market in 2016. Since then, the debate about brand safety and data security has continued, but in the background a seismic shift in how consumers consume content and interact with social media has occurred because of TikTok. Whether brands want to be on TikTok or not, the game has changed for content creation, creators and how brands interact with consumers, especially for the destination marketing industry. This session will illustrate how the entertainment factor has shifted our interactions with social, and how the destination marketing industry can prepare, adapt and leverage TIkTok and TikTok-like content to drive visitation.
Charles Cunningham headshot Charles Cunningham
Director of Growth
Sparkloft Media
Happy Hour
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Details +
Presented by Hilton Norfolk The Main
Safety Information

Take a look at our safety guidelines for in-person events in 2023.

Attendees by Budget Size

Attendees come from destinations of all shapes and sizes. The summit offers unparalleled opportunity to network with peers facing the same marketing challenges that you are.

Attendees by Job Level

The summit is an opportunity for all members of the industry to gather and network, regardless of where you are in your career path. Take a look at the breakdown of attendees by job level.

Location Details

Hilton Norfolk The Main
100 East Main Street
Norfolk, VA, USA
+1 757-763-6200
The hotel block at The Hilton Norfolk The Main is now SOLD OUT! We're happy to provide a few nearby options; however, we are NOT providing a group rate:

Norfolk Marriott Waterside | 0.1 miles
235 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Autograph Collection | 0.1 miles
201 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510

Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel | 0.4 miles
777 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510

We are pleased to partner with Southwest Airlines to provide 5% off all published fares to Norfolk International Airport (ORF) for Marketing & Communications Summit. Make your reservations through https://www.swabiz.com and use Company ID 99099980.

Join the Online Community

The Online Community connects professionals from across the industry. Find users from your region or join a discussion group to discuss marketing and communications issues.
Access to the Online Community is an exclusive benefit to all staff from member organizations of Destinations International. Use your member login to access the discussions, or contact us if you need assistance.