Governor’s Conference on Tourism


    The Missouri Governor’s Conference on Tourism is an annual conference that features a strong line-up of expert speakers, as well as exciting social events to enhance your networking opportunities with top leaders and innovators.

    Join us at the 2023 Conference, held at Drury Plaza Hotel Cape Girardeau Conference Center in Cape Girardeau, October 4-6.

    Room Block: Drury Plaza Hotel Cape Girardeau Conference Center

    Questions? Please contact

    Donate to our 2023 Governor’s Conference Giving Back Project: Safe House of Southeast Missouri



    Full Conference Pass (October 4-6) | $350 Early Bird – $400 Standard

    One-Day Pass (meals included) (October 5) | $300 Early Bird – $350 Standard

    Awards Banquet Pass | $100

    Governor’s Lunch Pass | $50

    Early bird registration – closes September 1

    Hotel Room Block – closes 5 pm on September 1

    Registration – closes September 22

    Cape Girardeau Sponsored Tour

    Sightseeing Tour:

    Take a step back in time at Fort D, the only surviving Civil War fortification built by Union troops in southeast Missouri. Enjoy storytelling, learn about everyday life during the Civil War and experience the firing of the rifle and canon. Catch a glimpse of Cape Girardeau’s fascinating history.

    Please RSVP:

    Opening Night Reception:

    Throw axes, play games, sip delicious drinks and sample tasty hors d’oeuvres at Dogwood Social House, where fun, food, family and friends come together. Watch the tourism industry’s most talented battle it out in a karaoke competition to win a big prize!

    Agenda – coming soon

    Tuesday, October 4

    10 am – 5 pm


    Sponsored by Madden Media

    10 am – 5 pm

    Exhibitor Trade Show Set Up


    11 am – 12:30 pm

    MACVB Board Meeting

    Invitation only

    12:30 pm – 4 pm

    Explore St. Louis Sponsored Tour

    See information above.

    *Pre-registration required

    6 pm – 8 pm

    Welcome Reception

    Sponsored by Explore St. Louis

    Check and mate. If you’re looking to make the right moves in tourism, don’t miss the opening night of this year’s Governor’s Conference. Held at the World Chess Hall of Fame, this is your chance to kick the conference off with a cocktail reception in the neighborhood that was the home of the very first cocktail party on record. Enjoy live music, hors d’oeuvres and beverages along with gallery tours of this unique museum. You can even pose for a selfie with the World’s Largest Chess Piece. It’s your move.

    Wednesday, October 5

    7 am – 7:30 am


    Sponsored by Explore St. Louis

    Join your tourism friends for a morning rooftop yoga session.

    Register at the Explore St. Louis booth. Mats will be provided.

    8 am – 5 pm

    Exhibitor Trade Show

    Visit with business professionals and service providers who help support the tourism industry.

    8 am – 6 pm


    Sponsored by Madden Media

    8 am – 9 am


    Sponsored by Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis

    9 am – 10:15 am


    Grit, Grace & Gratitude: How to Thrive During Tough Times

    Speaker: Dr. Tim Crowley, Motivational Speaker & Leadership Expert

    In this world of uncertainty, ambiguity, and unprecedented change, how do leaders improve their daily lives and the lives of those they serve? The answers can be found in the concepts of “Grit, Grace and Gratitude.” These principles come from strength-based psychology and encourage people to build mindsets to increase hope, optimism and flourish in tough times.

    10:15 am – 10:45 am

    Break and Exhibitor Trade Show

    Sponsored by AAA & Expedia Group Media Solutions

    Visit with business professionals and service providers who help support the tourism industry.

    10:45 am – 11:30 am

    Breakout Session:

    Leadership That Sticks

    Speaker: Dr. Tim Crowley, Motivational Speaker & Leadership Expert

    Leadership is essential not only because it impacts the lives of the teams we build, but also the lives of our customers, and ultimately, the state of the world we live in. Leadership that Sticks is not about position or authority but about how we can create an environment where every person in the organization feels empowered and fulfilled by the work they do.

    10:45 am – 11:30 am

    Breakout Session:

    Compelling Storytelling Through Photography

    Speaker: Aaron Fuhrman, Photographer, Missouri Division of Tourism

    We live in a world flooded with visual content. Learn how to make yours stand out and capture your audience’s attention. Aaron will open the room for a casual conversation about compelling storytelling through the use of photographs. Make your destination the main character.

    11:30 am – 11:35 am

    5 Minute Break

    11:35 am – 12:25 pm

    General Session:

    Proper Pitch: Crafting Pitches That Get the Media’s Attention

    Moderator: Cat Neville, VP of Communications, Explore St. Louis

    Panelists: Kelly Jackson, Reporter, KSDK and Big 550 KTRS; Amanda Woytus, Deputy Editor, St. Louis Magazine; Lucas Farrell, Founder, STL Bucket List.

    Join moderator Cat Neville and a panel of journalists to hear what makes – and what breaks – a pitch. Listen as they discuss best practices when crafting press releases, how to develop a positive relationship with the media and how to increase your chances that an editor will pick your story. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A, so come armed with your best questions

    12:25 pm – 1:35 pm


    Sponsored by Osborn Barr Paramore

    **The Honorable Michael L. Parson, Governor of Missouri, is no longer able to attend.

    1:35 pm – 2:15 pm

    General Session:

    Missouri Pop Culture Tourism Trivia

    Join us for a short session of fun and education.

    2:15 pm – 3 pm

    General Session: 

    Understanding Your Tourism Market: Using Data and Community Insights to Create a More Sustainable Economy

    Speakers: Catherine Hamacher & John Kasman, PGAV Destinations.

    As cities around the state continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, taking a step back to think strategically about your tourism economy can help you return even stronger. Using geo-location data, economic trends, community feedback and our annual visitor analysis research, communities can better understand their visitor market and create a more well-rounded tourism environment for both residents and visitors. Join John Kasman and Catherine Hamacher to learn about what tourism trends might impact your city and how resident and visitor insights might help you create a more sustainable tourism environment.

    3 pm – 3:30 pm

    Break and Exhibitor Trade Show

    Sponsored by Dotdash Meredith

    Visit with business professionals and service providers who help support the tourism industry.

    3:30 pm – 5 pm

    Missouri Tourism Commission Meeting

    Seating is limited.

    6 pm – 7 pm

    Awards Reception

    Sponsored by MACVB

    Wine compliments of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.

    7 pm – 9 pm

    Awards Banquet & Presentation

    Wine compliments of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.

    Thursday, October 6

    8 am – 11 am


    Sponsored by Madden Media

    8 am – 9 am


    9 am – 9:45 am

    Breakout Session:

    Experiential Marketing

    Speaker: Margaret Faintich & John Roth, OBP Agency

    Join OBP to learn how events can support your overall marketing plan. Leave with some practical tips to create memorable experiences for your destination.

    9 am – 9:45 am

    Breakout Session:

    Instagram Reels 101

    Speaker: Lauren Wieberg, Grow with Lo Marketing

    What is a Reel and why do you want one? Instagram Reels are short video clips that are only up to 90 seconds long. They are a powerful tool to gain exposure from an audience that is most likely to engage with your brand.

    Make sure to update your Instagram app on your phone, because in this breakout session you will learn all about why Reels are vital for your organization and how to create them!

    9 am – 9:45 am

    Breakout Session:

    Meet the Producers

    Moderator: Andrea Sporcic Klund, Missouri Film Office, Missouri Division of Tourism

    Panelists: Jennifer Croghan, Executive Producer, Bruton Stroube Studios; Michael Francis, Founder, Michael Francis Presents; Cole Payne, Founder, Traverse Media.

    Producers are the power behind any filmed project getting made. When a feature film, TV show or commercial come to a community, there is a producer making decisions, hiring crew, arranging lodging and meals, etc. Come hear local producers discuss how they make decisions on where to film and how you can persuade them to film in your community.

    9:45 am – 9:50 am

    5 Minute Break

    9:50 am – 10:35 am

    All Breakout Sessions Repeat

    This is your chance to see another breakout session.

    10:35 am – 11:05 am

    Break and Exhibitor Trade Show

    Sponsored by Rural Missouri

    Visit with business professionals and service providers who help support the tourism industry.

    11:05 am – 11:50 am

    Missouri Division of Tourism Update

    Speaker: Stephen Foutes, Director, Missouri Division of Tourism

    During this session, you’ll see examples of MDT’s work to showcase Missouri as a travel destination, hear programmatic updates and get a sneak peek at the Division’s marketing plans for spring 2023 and beyond.

    11:50 am – 12 pm

    Giveaways & Closing Remarks

    12 pm

    Conference Concludes

    Speakers – coming soon

    Keynote Speaker

    Dr. Tim Crowley

    Dr. Tim Crowley speaks for and trains companies and organizations across the nation – big and small, in just about every industry. His programs have transformed individuals and organizations alike, from CEOs, to managers, frontline employees, customer services reps, salespeople and business owners. He is consistently rated as a top speaker at conferences and major events impacting more than a million people nationwide.

    For more than 25 years, he has engaged, motivated, and inspired audiences to change their actions and attitudes in ways proven to help you to communicate better, become a stronger leader, build a highly effective team that works with passion and improve business.

    Aaron Fuhrman

    You’ll either find Aaron Fuhrman behind the camera capturing incredible photos of Missouri’s beautiful locations or behind the wheel of his Jeep as he makes his way to the aforementioned beautiful locations. Aaron has worked as the Missouri Division of Tourism’s photographer for five years. His photos are featured extensively throughout Missouri Tourism’s content.

    Cat Neville

    Catherine (Cat) Neville is an award-winning creator. She has launched a number of food media platforms during her 20-year career, including Sauce Magazine and Feast Magazine, and today is the Vice President of Communications for Explore St. Louis. In this role, she acts as liaison between the organization and the media, working to bring recognition and publicity to the region’s tourism sector.

    She is also producer and host of Emmy-nominated and M.F.K. Fischer Prize-winning “tasteMAKERS,” a food-focused television series that debuted on PBS stations nationwide in October 2018. The show explores the maker movement from coast to coast and is distributed through American Public Television.

    Catherine Hamacher

    Catherine is passionate about using urban planning to facilitate community progress. At PGAV, she brings her planning and engagement experience to the team, often helping municipal clients engage with a wide variety of stakeholders through public meetings, online engagement, pop-up events, and individual interviews. Her strategic planning and facilitation skills allow disparate groups to come to the table and reach consensus, creating implementable plans that are rooted in community vision.

    John Kasman

    John has over 25 years of PGAV Destinations expertise with specialties in guest experience and interpretive design for a multitude of project types such as museums, historic sites and brand destinations. As Vice President at PGAV and a licensed architect by trade, John provides effective management of large-scale projects and multifaceted project teams. He also has extensive on-site experience, including stakeholder engagement.

    Lauren Wieberg

    Lauren Wieberg, better known as “Lo,” is the owner of Grow with Lo Marketing. She lives in a rural town in Central Missouri and has had five years of experience in the digital marketing industry. She started her own marketing agency in April 2021 with the passion and mission to help businesses grow their social media presence while acquiring and retaining customers as well as driving sales and profits. She aims to achieve the perfect combination of each business’s authentic personality, mission and goals in their social media platforms.

    Andrea Sporcic Klund

    Andrea Sporcic Klund is Missouri’s film commissioner and runs the Missouri Film Office. Since 2005, she has marketed Missouri to the film and television industry. Andrea has helped coordinate production logistics for more than 30 feature films, including “Up in the Air,” “Winter’s Bone” and “Gone Girl” and hundreds of television segments and series, including “Sharp Objects” and “Ozark.” She holds BA degrees in Theatre and Corporate Communications from Lindenwood University. She has also acted, written, directed and produced for the stage and screen.

    John Roth

    John Roth is an Experiential Producer. He supports clients across OBP to create and execute events of all types, from event sponsorships to one-of-a-kind branded events. John has 15+ years of experiential industry expertise producing branded experiences including mobile tours, sampling events and pop-up shops.

    Margaret Faintich

    Margaret Faintich leads cross-agency teams and clients to drive results. She has 20+ years of experience creatively solving business problems and bringing together strong teams. She oversees work for OBP’s Tourism Portfolio, including Missouri Division of Tourism, Morey’s Piers and Southeast Tourism Society.

    Stephen Foutes

    As director of the Missouri Division of Tourism, Stephen leads a dedicated team of marketers, communicators, researchers, program managers, legislative and financial specialists, and welcome center ambassadors focused on promoting Missouri as one of the country’s top travel destinations. A lifelong Missourian, he holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Central Methodist College and has worked at the Division of Tourism in varying roles for more than 10 years.


    There are multiple opportunities to make your mark this year. Click below for sponsorship details.

    Current Sponsors – coming soon


    417 Magazine

    Brand USA / Miles Partnership

    CTM Media Group

    McDaniels Marketing

    Missouri Life Magazine

    Missouri Travel Alliance

    Missouri Wine & Grape Board


    St. Louis Union Station

    Touch Stay

    Award Nominations

    Nominate are closed.

    The Governor’s Conference on Tourism Awards are open to DMOs, tourism attractions, lodging, restaurants, festivals/events, publications and other entities contributing to the tourism industry in Missouri. Entries should demonstrate exemplary customer service, initiative and have positively influenced the tourism industry.

    Missouri Tourism Hall of Fame
    Presented to an individual who has worked in the tourism industry for a minimum of 10 years and whose contributions have significantly and measurably impacted tourism in Missouri.

    Sen. Emory Melton Legislative Award
    Honors an individual who recognizes the value of tourism to the state and works through the legislative process to support Missouri’s tourism industry.

    Marketing Campaign Award
    Recognizes an effective integrated marketing campaign that results in increased tourism and economic benefit to a region.

    Pathfinder Award
    Recognizes an event or organization that successfully develops a niche tourism market.

    Innovator Award
    Honors a small tourism organization or individual who achieves significant results on a modest budget.

    Navigator Media Award
    Presented to a media outlet that promotes tourism in Missouri and its importance to the state’s economy.

    Rising Star Award
    Honors an individual who has worked for a tourism-related organization less than five years or who has transitioned to a new role and made significant advancements to the organization’s efforts.

    Hospitality Award
    Recognizes an individual, business or organization that has demonstrated excellent customer service.

    Film Industry Champion Award
    Presented to an individual who advocates for the film industry and works to expand its presence in Missouri.