Sunday, February 25
01:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Wyoming Lodging & Restaurant Association Board Meeting
01:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Wyoming Office of Tourism Board Meeting
03:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Social Media Workshop: Exploring Winter in Wyoming – Wyoming Office of Tourism

Join the Wyoming Office of Tourism for a free hands-on workshop where you’ll discover how to take creative and appealing photos for your social media channels, no matter the subject or time of year. Additional highlights include learning best practices for interacting with visitors, members of the media and influencers who are in your community and sharing content on social media.

Monday, February 26
08:00 AM -8:00PM – Conference Registration
08:30 AM – 9:15 AM – Pre-Conference: Industry Network Session

Join the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) for a Industry Network Session to discuss current opportunities offered by WOT as well as upcoming programs.  This is an excellent time to share ideas and gather industry feedback.
To join this pre-conference meeting, please RSVP to

08:30 AM – 10:00 AM – Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition Board Meeting
09:15 AM – 10:00 AM – Pre-Conference: PR Roundtable

Join the Wyoming Office of Tourism for a PR partner roundtable, with discussions to include upcoming PR initiatives and opportunities.
To join this pre-conference meeting, please RSVP to

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM – Opening Session: State of the American Traveler Wyoming Edition – Dave Bratton, Destination Analysts
Delivering Extraordinary Customer Experiences – Tom Fritz, Fritz Insight Group

Dave Bratton: 10:30 – 11:00 a.m.
Tom Fritz: 11:00 – 11:45 a.m.
One important goal for every Wyoming DMO is to build a thriving inbound adventure travel business that appeals to a wide variety of adventure seekers. Regardless of skill level or activity, every guest has the same five star desire to experience the best that Wyoming has to offer. Tom Fritz provides a common sense discussion of practical ideas that businesses can deploy to deliver extraordinary customer experiences throughout their customer’s adventure journey in order to keep them coming back for more.

11:45 AM -12:15 PM Tradeshow Opens

Come see the latest hospitality/tourism products and services. Our vendors are a great source of expertise and insight, so take the time and visit their booths.

12:15 PM – 1:30 PM – University of Wyoming Update & Legislative Briefing Lunch – Chris Brown, WLRA

University of Wyoming’s, Doug Wachob, Ph.D., Director of Academic Programs & Dan McCoy, Natural Resources Recreation & Tourism Degree Coordinator / Haub School of Environment & Natural Resources will provide an update on the proposed Outdoor Recreation & Tourism Management Degree. In addition, they will showcase the work of senior capstone marketing students, who completed a marketing and communication plan for the degree.
Chris Brown, Executive Director of WLRA, will review hot topics and major issues facing the industry today.

01:45 PM – 2:45 PM – General Session: For the Love of Cities & Love Where You Live – Peter Kageyama, Author

Join author Peter Kageyama for a different look at community and placemaking. Peter talks about emotional engagement with our places, and how that connection can be a community and economic development resource. Peter will discuss the unique role that travel and tourism plays in creating great places, and how our narratives and storytelling reflect and enhance our love of places.

03:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Breakout 1: Leveraging the Power of Visual Content – Jody Farrar, Chute

Today’s travelers are visual decision makers; a single photo or video can influence their decisions about where to go, what to see and where to stay. In this session, learn how you can leverage visual content across a variety of channels to help drive engagement with your brand.

03:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Breakout 2: Active Shooter Training – Kenny Longfritz, Dept. of Homeland Security

Introductory briefing on the basic characteristics of an active shooter incident and some suggested actions to prepare, respond and recover from an active shooter attack.

04:00 PM – 4:30 PM – Wyoming-Made Trade Show Break

Enjoy a cocktail courtesy of Ruf Strategic Solutions and catch Author Peter Kageyama, who will be signing copies of his books: For the Love of Cities & Love Where You Live.

04:30 PM -5:15 PM – Product Tour: Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

Board the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley for a tour of the Grand Conservatory Building that opened in August 2017. Trolleys will pick up participants at the East Grand Ballroom entrance of Little America at 4:30pm. If you prefer to meet at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens please arrive by 4:45pm. The address is: 710 S Lions Park Dr, Cheyenne, WY 82001.

06:00 PM – 8:00 PM – Legislative Reception

Join your industry peers as we host your Wyoming legislators for a night of food, music and networking. Trade show will be open during the reception.
Sponsored by: Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition, Wyoming Retail Association, Wyoming Automobile Dealers Association.
Entertainment: Tris Munsick and the Innocents.
Entertainment Sponsored by: Charter Communications
Wine Donated by: Weston Wineries

08:00 PM – 10:00 PM – After Party

The party continues in the Little America Lounge serving up Wyoming cocktails and live entertainment featuring a special “unplugged” continuation with Tris Munsick and the Innocents. If you aren’t ready to wrap up your evening just yet, this is sure to be a blast!

Tuesday, February 27
07:30 AM – 4:30 PM – Conference Registration

Sponsored by: Visit Cheyenne

07:30 AM – 8:30 AM – Breakfast Buffet & Strolling Wyoming-Made Trade Show Visit
08:45 AM – 9:00 AM – Opening Remarks: Chris Brown, WLRA
09:00 AM – 10:15 AM – Opening Keynote Wyoming: Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going – Diane Shober, Wyoming Office Of Tourism

As Wyoming’s “That’s WY” campaign moves into its third year, the Executive Director for the Wyoming Office of Tourism — Diane Shober — will share the results, wins and learnings from 2017 campaigns, as well as some of Wyoming’s successes. She’ll also share insights, strategies and plans as the Wyoming Office of Tourism works to advance its efforts to ensure Wyoming takes center stage through integrated marketing efforts, including partnership, paid advertising, social media and national and international media exposure.

10:15 AM – 10:45 AM – Wyoming-Made Trade Show Break
10:45 AM – Noon – Breakout Session #1: Feel the Power! Your Guide to Understanding & Leveraging Digital Marketing Tools – Nilusha Sanmuganathan, Cardinal Path

Digital Marketing expert Nilusha Sanmuganathan will guide you through a basic-level overview of digital marketing. She will help you understand how you can turn data into actionable insights. This session will include discussion of general trends, the power of data and the Google tools. Nilusha will discuss how to create positive reviews, positive internet perception/presence and how to drive strategy and insight with an overview of re-marketing, conversion funnels and Google Analytics.

10:45 AM – Noon – Breakout Session #2: Energy Efficiency 101 for the Hospitality Industry – Chris Jackson, ETC Group

Session will cover end-use breakdown for common facility types.  Discussion includes bench marking and utility bill analysis.  Topics cover best practices and measure identification for optimization of chilled water, heating, airside, and lighting systems.

12:15 PM – 1:45 PM – Industry Spotlight Lunch: Partner Success Sharing

Industry Partner Success Sharing
Kate Sollitt, Executive Director, Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board – Reaching the Experience Chaser by Offering a Unique, Authentic Experience with the “STAY WILD” Campaign
The Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board created the campaign, “STAY WILD,” to target the “Experience Chaser” by positioning Jackson Hole as one of the last real mountain towns that offers an authentic experience that they can’t find anywhere else. Through a variety of media, Jackson Hole is positioned as a really wild place by highlighting wildlife, wild lands, and real, authentic experiences.
Mary Silvernell, Executive Director of the Campbell County CVB – Collaboration and Influencers – a Social Media Event Partnership
Relating the experience of utilizing social media influencers for an in-depth experience of northeast Wyoming.
Brook Kaufman, CEO Visit Casper – The Power is in Your People: The Sneaky Truth About Successfully Marketing Your Destination
The Casper Area Certified Tourism Ambassador Program has improved the visitor experience by giving frontline workers and volunteers more confidence when serving guests.
Shawn Parker, Executive Director of Sheridan Travel & Tourism – The Spirit of Wyoming: Leveraging Partnerships with Sheridan Travel & Rolls-Royce Motor Cars
Partnering with globally-recognized legacy brands allows Sheridan Travel & Tourism to extend the reach and impact of available marketing dollars, and to distribute our messaging to potential visitors in ways that would otherwise be impossible or cost prohibitive.

02:00 PM – 3:30 PM – General Session: Funding Your Future – John Lambeth, Civitas & Julie Schmitz Jensen, Visit Rapid City

This session will be moderated by Jeff Golightly, Vice President of Gardner Capital Management, President of the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition and board member of Snow King Mountain Resort.
It’s a new day for DMO funding. Long term funding solutions are vital to the success of destination marketing organizations. Very few, however, have a funding strategy to guide the way for the next five, ten, or even twenty years.
In this presentation, attendees will learn to identify – and utilize – stable, long term funding solutions. Destination case studies showcasing the successes and failures of funding mechanisms or lack thereof will be featured. We will discuss using standardized analytics to measure results and demonstrate value. Key elements of this presentation include: best practices for developing strategic funding plans, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of available funding mechanisms and how to establish stable funding models.
In addition to learning from TID expert John Lambeth, Founder and President, Civitas, Julie Schmitz Jensen, President/CEO of Visit Rapid City, will share how South Dakota became one of the first states to enable Tourism Improvement Districts and how those dollars collected elevated marketing efforts in Rapid City and the Black Hills.

03:45 PM – 4:45 PM – Coming Attractions Leveraging Your Tourism Assets to Drive Economic Growth – Jennifer Tombaugh, President, Tauck Tours

Every place has a story to tell. A well-told story about a hidden gem or a new insight about a familiar place create a magnetic draw for travelers. Jennifer Tombaugh will share what the premier global travel company Tauck looks for in designing its programs that drive tourism to the far reaches of the 70 countries to where it guides travelers. Come join to gain insights into what appeals to both packaged and independent travelers and how to spread the word about your story.

05:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Salute to the Industry Reception
06:30 PM – 9:00 PM – Salute to the Industry Gala – Beneath These Western Skies

Mark your calendars and be sure to join us for this year’s event! February 27, 2018 marks the 8th Annual Salute to the Industry Gala event, which includes a reception, exquisite multi-course dinner, live music, and the presentation of the BlG WYO Award. For best seating, purchase tickets now!

This year’s event theme, ‘Beneath These Western Skies’, will highlight all of the amazing things that makes our state “like no place on earth”!

For table sponsorship information, click here. Individual Gala tickets may be purchased separately as well by contacting Jill Duval at

Donation items for both the live and silent auction packages are also being accepted. Please click here for a donation commitment form that can be filled out and returned to the WLRAEF office by January 15th, 2018. We hope that you will join us and help support the Education Foundation mission.