Governor’s conference 2021: That’s My M-O

When: October 13–15, 2021
Where: Chateau on the Lake in Branson

Hi there. Some of you know me as Mo, your guide to all things Missouri. If tourism is your M-O, get ready for one of Missouri’s finest conferences. During this three-day event, you’ll meet other travel enthusiasts, connect with industry leaders and share ideas to continue making Missouri a great travel destination. Topics will include agritourism, marketing the unknown, tourism recovery and inspiration for what’s to come. I hope to see you there. — Mo

Questions? Please contact


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Wednesday, October 13
10:00 am to 5:00 pm Registration Location TBD. Sponsored by Madden Media
10:00 am to 5:00 pm Exhibit Set Up Location TBD.
10:30 am to 12:30 pm MACVB Board Meeting (invitation only) Location TBD.
12:30 pm to 5:00 pm Meet Branson Get your Branson Passport for a self-guided tour from 1 pm-6pm on Oct. 13 and enjoy all three of these attractions:

WonderWorks — have an upside-down adventure in a science-focused, indoor amusement park for the mind.

Beyond the Lens — Explore pop culture with interactive games, amazing photo ops and intriguing exhibits.

Titanic Museum Attraction — Open the door to the past in a one-of-a-kind way. “Passengers” experience walking the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic while surrounded by more than 400 artifacts.
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm Welcome Reception Sponsored by Branson CVB Transportation
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm O-FISHal Welcome Reception Join us at the Aquarium at the Boardwalk. Sponsored by Branson CVB. Transportation is available “from the Chateau on the Lake” to the Aquarium every 20-25 minutes.
Thursday, October 14
7:30 am to 5:00 pm Exhibitor Trade Show Opens Location TBD. Visit with business professionals and service providers who help support the tourism industry.
8:00 am to 6:00 pm Registration Location TBD. Sponsored by Madden Media
8:00 am to 9:00 am Breakfast & General Session Location TBD
8:15 am to 8:45 am It’s All About Collaboration in Marketing Your Destination! How does Main Street collaborate with local CVBs and Chambers of Commerce to be a marketing powerhouse for your community? Join Gayla Roten and Ben White for a case study in how to promote your community by working together.
9:00 am to 10:30 am General Session Location TBD. Roger Dow with U.S. Travel – Keynote
10:30 am to 11:00 am Break and Exhibitor Trade Show Location TBD. Visit with business professionals and service providers who help support the tourism industry.
11:00 am to 11:45 am General Session Location TBD. Leah Chandler — Marketing the Unknown
The CMO of Discover Puerto Rico shares the strategies and tactics propelling Puerto Rico’s greatest comeback yet. Using data and a robust crisis playbook, Discover Puerto Rico weathered the current pandemic and catapulted it as the most sought-after destination post-pandemic.
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm Luncheon Location TBD. *Featured speaker: The Honorable Michael L. Parson, Governor, State of Missouri, introduced by Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe.
1:15 pm to 2:00 pm General Session Location TBD.
Fun and Games
Join MDT’s very own Andrea and Andrea for a session full of fun and education.
2:00 pm to 2:45 pm General Session Location TBD. Futurist/Disruptors
2:45 pm to 3:15 pm Break and Exhibitor Trade Show Location TBD. Visit with business professionals and service providers who support the tourism industry.
3:15 pm to 4:30 pm Commission Meeting Location TBD
6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Awards Reception Location TBD. Wine compliments of the Missouri Wine & Grape Board
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Awards Banquet Location TBD. Wine compliments of the Missouri Wine & Grape Board
Friday, October 15
8:00 am to 11:00 am Registration Location TBD. Sponsored by Madden Media
8:00 am to 9:00 am Breakfast & General Session Location TBD
8:15 am to 8:45 am Christi Miller — Missouri Agritourism — How Can You Connect? Join the manager of Missouri Grown for a conversation with local agritourism partners. They’ll discuss how to make partnerships with your local agritourism providers and how to help.
9:00 am to 9:45 am General Session Location TBD. Denise Miller — Research Today — What’s Working?
The session will include new research available to DMOs and how research is changing with technology. Join the Executive Vice President of Strategic Marketing & Research Denise Miller to learn when and how to use various new options as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
9:45 am to 10:15 am Break and Exhibitor Trade Show Location TBD. Visit with business professionals and service providers who support the tourism industry.
10:15 am to 11:00 am General Session Location TBD. Missouri Division of Tourism Director Stephen Foutes provides an update on MDT’s efforts to market Missouri domestically and internationally, the latest news on the Cooperative Marketing Program and MDT’s plans for keeping Missouri a top-of-mind travel destination.
11 am to Noon General Session Location TBD. Prepare to be taken on a journey. Find peace, purpose, and happiness and the motivation to rise above challenges. Wesley Hamilton shares his personal journey from how he went from hopeless and depressed to a life full of purpose, understanding, joy and forgiveness.
12:00 pm Conference Concludes
*Scheduled appearance subject to change



President and CEO of U.S. Travel Association. Their mission is to increase travel to and within the U.S. His legislative victories include pandemic-related relief for the travel industry and establishing and renewing Brand USA. U.S. Travel provides research and holds annual events, like IPW, the leading international inbound travel trade show, and ESTO, the knowledge-sharing forum for destination marketing professionals. For his efforts to unify the travel industry, Dow has multiple honors and awards. He also held seats on several boards, including ASAE, GWSAE, MPI Foundation, PCMA, Tourism Diversity Matters, RE/MAX International, the Travel Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, among others.


His journey after surviving multiple gunshots in his abdomen will inspire every human. His stories of courage, strength and perseverance resonate with listeners long after they’ve ended. Wes instills the essential tools of positivity, self-awareness, empowerment, resilience and acceptance in the face of any challenge. He believes “the highest human act is to inspire” — and that is exactly why he is profoundly affecting hearts of all ages, races, lifestyles and backgrounds. Wes shares one of the most powerful stories on Netflix’s hit show, Queer Eye, Season 4, Episode 2 and has been featured countless times in the media, including CNN, ABC News, BBC, CNN, CTV and TMZ.

Leah Chandler, CDME

Previously the CMO of Explore Branson, she is now the CMO of Discover Puerto Rico. Leah provides marketing leadership for the organization and oversees the DMO’s paid media, creative, public relations, brand development and management and digital strategy.

Stephen Foutes

Serving as Director for the Missouri Department of Tourism, he is a lifelong Missourian. After graduating from Central Methodist College, he worked in the newspaper industry for more than 10 years before joining the Missouri Division of Tourism in 2009, where he held various roles.

Christi Miller

Serves as Manager of Missouri Grown, a program of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Missouri Grown connects producers to consumers and consumers to agriculture. Away from work, Miller and her husband raise registered cattle.

Denise Miller

As the EVP of Strategic Marketing & Research Insights at SMARInsights, Miller serves as the project lead for tourism projects for destinations across the country. She works with state and local organizations that promote tourism development in the areas of target marketing, advertising effectiveness and economic impact.

Michael L. Parson, 57th Governor of Missouri

Governor Parson served six years in the U.S. Army and more than 22 years in law enforcement as the sheriff of Polk County. He also served in the Missouri House of Representatives from ‘05-’11, in the Missouri Senate from ‘11-’17, and as Lt. Governor in ‘17 and ’18.

Gayla Roten

State Director for Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. (MMSC) since 2007 with more than 28 years of experience. She is one of the seven founding board members of the state-wide program and served as the local program director in Branson for 12 years.

Ben White

Program Outreach Specialist at Missouri Main Street Connection. His Bachelor of Science in historic preservation from Southeast Missouri State and master’s degree in public administration with a Community Planning Certificate from the University of Illinois-Springfield helps lead the industry


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


Do you know someone who has triumphed over the significant tourism challenges of 2020? Nominate them today for a chance to be recognized at this year’s awards banquet! Awards include: Missouri Tourism Hall of Fame This award recognizes individuals whose long-term (minimum of 10 years) contributions have significantly and measurably impacted the tourism industry in Missouri. Sen. Emory Melton Legislative Award This award honors those legislators and tourism industry members who work closely with the legislative process in support of the tourism industry. These individuals recognize the value of tourism to the state and work to ensure the industry continues to flourish. Marketing Campaign Award This award acknowledges achievement in effective, integrated marketing campaigns. Campaigns that led to increased visitation, expenditures and sales tax revenue through one or more channels such as electronic, broadcast, social media, print, direct mail and public relations are eligible for nomination. Pathfinder Award This award recognizes marketers aiming for niche markets and hitting the target. These trailblazers are showing the rest of the industry where to find new markets and how best to reach them. Innovator Award This award pays tribute to those smaller tourism entities that achieved great results with small budgets. These can-do destinations and attractions increased visitation, traveler spending or tax revenues. Navigator Media Award These media outlets turn the spotlight on Missouri tourism and the importance it plays in our state’s economy. The Navigator Media Award recognizes broadcast, print and electronic media that have supported and promoted tourism with stories and images that both inform and entice. Rising Star Award The Rising Star Award is presented to an individual who has made great advancements to an organization’s tourism efforts despite the length of their tenure (less than 5 years or having recently transitioned to a new role). Hospitality Award Presented to an individual, business or organization that has demonstrated remarkable customer service, the Hospitality Award honors those who have positively impacted every visitor encountered. It is this effort, completed naturally with the visitor experience in mind, that enhances the overall experience in Missouri.


Wrap a child in warmth this winter with a donation to our 2021 Governor’s Conference giving back project.

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This Governor’s Conference will follow all recommended city of Branson and Chateau on the Lake guidelines and protocols regarding safety for participants, vendors and staff. We’ll keep you updated if there are any significant changes. Explore Branson - Current Safety Measures Chateau on the Lake - Advisory