40th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism Features Famous Speakers, Big Events

Famed Hollywood actor, producer and travel writer Andrew McCarthy and Arkansas Razorback Head Football Coach Bret Bielema headline an impressive roster of speakers at the 40th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, to be held March 9-11 at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers. The discounted early bird registration rate for the event has been extended to Friday, February 28.

The annual gathering of members of Arkansas’s tourism industry offers sessions in a variety of topics ranging from better practices in bringing travelers to Arkansas, refining a social media image and creating a storytelling experience for communities and attractions.

The opening keynote for the event is Andrew McCarthy. The actor who broke out with movies such as Pretty in Pink and Weekend at Bernie’s has made several careers for himself, producing hit television shows that include Gossip Girl and Orange Is The New Black and earning awards for his travel writing with such publications as National Geographic Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, Slate and Travel+Leisure. McCarthy will speak on how travel changes travelers, and share advice on good storytelling.

Wild Alchemy CEO Lynette Xanders is on board for Tuesday morning’s breakfast session, sharing information on how consumers plan trips and what they do when they come to Arkansas. She’ll also cover what recent market momentum means for the tourism and hospitality industries.

Former Hard Rock International Senior Director Jim Knight speaks at Tuesday’s lunch on how to create and maintain an organizational culture. His method is meant to unify staffs and propel products through invigorating teamwork.

Wayfinding expert Jan Carpman will cover ways good signage can improve visitation by helping travelers navigate. Arkansas Film Commissioner Christopher Crane will share what communities can do to prepare for potential film crews – and how to bring those productions to their hometowns. Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Director Scott Bennett will delve into how the new iPlan Arkansas will affect construction and traffic flows throughout The Natural State.

The closing keynote speaker, Coach Bret Bielema, will share his experiences on relocating to Arkansas and the differences in life in Wisconsin and here in the south. He will also answer questions after the session.

The theme of this year’s event, “Creating Partnerships, Building Business” emphasizes the need for cooperation and coordination within Arkansas’s tourism industry to bring more guests into the state. The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Spring/Summer 2014 marketing plan will be revealed during Monday afternoon’s open session – at which the winner of the Department’s “Song of Arkansas” competition will also perform (that individual’s name will be announced on March 3rd).

The Arkansas Tourism Development Foundation’s annual auction will take place Monday night at the John Q. Hammons Center. The money raised from the silent and live auctions goes to fund scholarships for individuals seeking careers in the hospitality and tourism industries. Additionally, all tips collected at beverage stations during the auction will go to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute/Breast Cancer Research Project.

Registration is open and available online at Arkansas.com/governors-conference. For questions, contact Erik Holbrooks at 501-682-1088 or email [email protected]

For more information about the 40th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, contact Marla Crider, Deputy Tourism Director at 501-682-1120 or [email protected]