Breakout Sessions: Set III, 2:30–3:30 p.m.
"Staying Relevant: Maintaining Your Brand's Relevance in the Face of Challenging Times"
Villa Room, Second Floor
In travel and hospitality communications, several tactics that have become almost second nature are starting to become outdated as innovations and cost-cutting programs become increasingly more accessible. With an eye on increasing return on investment, industry experts will offer insight into what does and doesn't work anymore, as well as when to drive business through emerging media and when to rely on more traditional tactics. You will learn:
- What remains effective and what has become a matter of habit for many practitioners.
- Where consumers are looking for engagement and information.
- How to integrate traditional and digital tactics for a cohesive approach to public relations.
Karen Gee-McAuley, executive vice president, Blaze PR, oversees client service and business development primarily in the travel practice and assists the managing director in overall leadership of the agency. Gee-McAuley has more than 20 years of public relations experience applied to the travel and tourism industries, as well as the healthy lifestyle and food and wine industries. Gee-McAuley is a specialist in brand repositioning, strategic media relations, grand openings/special events, brand leveraging through promotions, community relations and crisis management. A few of her career highlights at BLAZE include spearheaded the opening of The Resort at Summerlin (now JW Marriott Las Vegas), the grand re-opening campaign for The Beverly Hills Hotel and the opening of L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, as well as the groundbreaking and grand opening of Star Trek: The Experience™ at the Las Vegas Hilton. Prior to joining BLAZE in 1990, Gee-McAuley was vice president and director of the travel and hospitality division at Ruder Finn, an international public relations agency. There, she got “hooked” on the travel industry and decided to make it her focus as she represented such properties as the Norfolk Capital Hotels throughout the United Kingdom, St. James’s Clubs in Los Angeles, Paris, London and Antigua and the Jamaica Tourist Board.
Shana Pereira, regional director, the Americas, Tourism Queensland
Erika Garcia-Lavyne, direcor public relations, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
Elizabeth Harryman is travel editor of Westways, the magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California, with a circulation of 3.9 million, a readership of 8 million, and 48 percent penetration of the Southern California market. Westways is the second largest magazine in America covering travel, according to Advertising Age, and is the recipient of two major Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism awards. Harryman also coordinates the travel coverage for the other five AAA magazines the Auto Club publishes and serves as editor in chief of Northern New England Journey. The six magazines cover markets from New England to Hawaii and have a combined readership of about 10 million. Harryman also works with her husband, Paul Lasley, on broadcast projects and podcasts, and she blogs at AAATravelViews.com.
Paul Lasley is the "TravelSmart” columnist of Westways, the magazine of the Automobile Club of Southern California, and for the five other AAA magazines the Auto Club publishes. Lasley is also executive producer and co-host of “Traveling,” a 25-minute talk show about travel that airs daily in 180 countries on American Forces Radio, and he and his wife, Elizabeth Harryman, won the 2008 Gold Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Travel Broadcast – Audio. Their website, OnTravel.com is a 24/7 source of podcasting about the world of travel, and Lasley blogs at AAATravelViews.com. Lasley is also a former travel contributors for NBC’s "Today" show and for 15 years, they hosted travel talk radio shows in Los Angeles — on KABC and KPCC Radio.
Susan Lomax is associate vice president of Visit Orlando where she oversees global publicity and social media for the #1 family destination and one of the top North American meetings destinations. Her more than 15-year career in public relations and marketing includes working with many of the most recognizable hospitality companies in the world such as Universal Orlando Resort, Atlantis, Paradise Island; the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA Tour); and Paramount Parks, A Viacom Company. Her work has included everything from launching new attractions, hotels and restaurants; to promoting destination resorts and sporting events; to creating and executing compelling promotions and special events. Lomax has garnered numerous national industry awards including HSMAI Platinum and Gold Adrian Awards, Bulldog Gold Awards, and the coveted Silver Anvil Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
"Pressure Pattern Productivity: Smaller Teams, Tighter Budgets, Bigger Demands"
Carranza Room, Second Floor
Everyone has aspirations of what they’d do with sky-high budgets and long lead times, but these days it’s all about doing more with less. Hear how lackluster went blockbuster when a team’s streamlined strategies and shoestring budgets pushed them to be more creative. In this session, you will learn where to:
"Deeper Conversations: Connecting Social Media to Your Business"
Zapata Room, Second Floor
The new PR 2.0 buzzword is apps, and for good reason. Creative and strategic use of applications by PR pros can score big with destinations. Today, consumers of all ages are actively seeking out relationships with brands and experiences with potential destinations before they even commit to a trip. Cities, as well as other hospitality-focused venues, aren’t missing a beat as they create enhanced consumer engagement prior to and during vacation time with apps. During this session, you will learn how to:
- Cut spending and become more nimble.
- Innovate with the support of internal and external stakeholders.
- Be creative, even entertaining, with messaging and where to stick with a more traditional method.
Diane Brandon, vice president marketing/public relations, Arlington TX, Convention & Visitors Bureau
Malcolm Griffiths, account director tourism division, Development Counsellors International, the leader in marketing places. Before joining 'The Leader in Marketing Places' in December 2003, Griffiths held positions of increasing responsibility with Tourism Australia. He traveled to 28 U.S. cities for seven months promoting the Sydney 2000 Olympics with Bank of America, and was a key member of the organization's News Bureau in Los Angeles for three and a half years working both the U.S. and Canadian markets. Having also risen through the ranks at DCI, he has spearheaded North American communication and broader marketing campaigns on behalf of California Travel & Tourism Commission, Upstate New York's Finger Lakes Wine Country, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Park City Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Bureau as well as Tourism Tasmania (Australia). Often confronted with limited marketing budgets by his clients, he has a knack to do more with less, maximizing results and ROI.
Char Thian, director of public relations, The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of New Orleans, will celebrate her 11th anniversary in her current position. She is responsible for a multi-property complex that comprises a city block on the edge of the French Quarter. In the wake of Katrina, she personally handled efforts for both The Ritz-Carlton Hotels of New Orleans (three properties) as well as The Marriott Hotels of New Orleans (14 properties), reporting up to the respective corporate offices to ensure proactive crisis communications and story placement. She continues to assist The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. and its parent company Marriott International on an as-needed basis (hurricanes, anniversaries, oil spill, flooding, etc.). However, her favorite responsibility is that of “guest twitterer” for @RitzCarlton. Over the years, she has been recognized by management and her peers for her community involvement and achievements. Thian won the coveted Chairman’s Circle award twice; an award that honors the top 5% of The Ritz-Carlton. Prior to joining the hotel, Thian worked on the agency side. In fact, that’s how she got her current job; she solicited the hotel as a client and they hired her, not the agency. Thian is a native of New Orleans and a graduate of Louisiana State University’s Journalism curriculum.
- Develop and maintain ROI-building apps.
- Use apps to expand awareness of current tactics in the social mediasphere.
- Integrate apps into conversations and resources consumers are seeking to prepare for trips.
Moderator Jim Eustace is principal at VM Foundry, a digital marketing consultancy based in Austin, Tx. Using a framework that encompasses the full lifecycle of digital media, Eustace helps clients bring structure to the ever-evolving world of social. Eustace’s approach helps clients identify where their customers are and how to engage them in creative ways that affect measureable results. Eustace is also a founder of Get Smart Content, a technology based conversion optimization solution that allows clients to cost-effectively communicate key messages to individual audience segments through an existing website platform.
Brooke Hovey, senior vice president and managing director, Cohn & Wolfe Digital, Texas Office, leads the development and implementation of social media programs for a variety of technology, consumer and healthcare brands. She counsels clients on a range of activities, including social media strategy, online monitoring and response, digital influencer relations, internal and external blogging, crowdsourcing, social networking and more. Hovey joined Cohn & Wolfe’s Los Angeles office in 2002 and transferred to the Austin office in 2007. During this time, she played a key role on many of Dell’s award-winning social media initiatives, and she has also worked with such clients as ExxonMobil, Nike, Nokia, M.D. Anderson, Farm Credit Bank and Starbucks. She brings a unique blend of experience that includes not only her digital media expertise, but also deep experience in mainstream media relations, community relations and cause marketing. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Hovey holds a Bachelor of Science degree in corporate communications with minors in business foundations and Spanish.
Dave Evans is the author of "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day" and "Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement." His passion is tapping the power of the Social Web and applying it to business. Evans currently works with social technology startups, including Friend2Friend (Palo Alto), a developer of Facebook applications, Looppa (Buenos Aires), developing a social platform specifically for media companies and with Social Dynamx (Austin, TX), creating a social media metrics platform. Prior to launching his consulting firm, Evans was a product manager with Progressive Insurance.
Lionel Menchaca is a 16-year Dell veteran and chief blogger at Direct2Dell, Dell’s main corporate blog. Since launching the blog in July 2006, Menchaca helped expand it into Chinese, Spanish Norwegian and Japanese and continues to work to further extend Dell’s global presence. Before launching Dell’s blog, Menchaca was one of the main architects behind Dell’s blog monitoring process begun in April 2006. He works with a team within the company to coordinate activities and content across all of Dell’s internal and external social media initiatives including the Dell Community Forum and IdeaStorm. These initiatives have one thing in common: to open direct lines of communication between Dell employees and their customers to improve the products and services Dell offers. Menchaca also serves as a technologist to help Dell define new software to monitor and engage in conversations in the blogosphere, and to facilitate collaboration among the Dell teams that respond to customer feedback. He’s also been a catalyst in Dell’s efforts to build its presence in social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Delicious. An avid fan of computer hardware, gadgets and Web technology, his early career included a stint at quality assurance and tech support for game developer Origin Systems and hardware and advanced operating systems technical support at Dell. Menchaca earned a degree in archaeological studies from University of Texas. He lives in Round Rock, Texas, with his wife, Aileen, and two children, Louis and Mia.