Program Copy Full Width

2020 Travel and Tourism Conference Program

Top 5 Reasons to Attend PRSA’s Travel and Tourism Conference 

  • Top-Tier Travel Writers
  • Relevant Professional Development Topics
  • Network With Fellow Tourism PR Professionals
  • Experience the Incredible “Upper Left Coast”
  • It's More Than Just a Conference!

Save $100 when you register by May 6, 2020!

Register Now!
Sunday, June 7:
Pre-Cons & Welcome

Join us opening night for pre-conference activities as well as opening reception fun.

Pre-Conference Workshops*
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Writing Workshop
The Pitch

Mastering AP style is only the beginning of a successful career in public relations. Communication pros need some of the same skills that our editorial counterparts excel in: a strong lead, a catchy headline and a clearly defined narrative. Hone your creative writing skills with a full-day workshop taught by an industry-leading travel writer. This hands-on session will include real-time feedback and a creative toolkit to up your game.

Crisis Workshop
Tools for Crisis Communication

The travel and tourism industry is vulnerable to disasters — both man-made and natural. Swift and effective response and recovery strategies are critical and having a crisis management plan in place is crucial to minimizing the potential damages inflicted and gaining resilience. During this expert-led pre-conference session, you’ll learn the foundational principles to decision-making criteria, review case studies for varying large and small scale crisis situations, and then dive into developing skills through hands-on exercises that will build and fine-tune a crisis strategy, including statement drafting, social media response and planning.

Photo Workshop
Behind the Lens: Photo & Video Tips & Tricks

We all know that visuals are essential storytelling tools, but how do we bring it all together? Learn best practices, tips and tricks from some of the best visual communicators in the industry for capturing imagery on your phone and camera to amplify — and fine-tune — your message. During this full-day workshop, participants will spend time learning the ins and outs of photography, including how the camera works, lighting, videography, post-production with Photoshop/Lightroom and video editing software. Then, attendees will get a chance to put their new skills into action by exploring Spokane through a photo and video perspective.

Evening Events
5 a.m. - 8 p.m

5 -6 p.m.

Is this your first time at the PRSA Travel and Tourism Conference? Feeling lost and don't know anyone yet? You’re not alone.

Join PRSA leadership and the Travel and Tourism Executive Committee for an exclusive orientation designed with first-time conference attendees in mind. Get the lowdown on what to expect from the conference and meet fellow newcomers, industry peers, and your soon-to-be new friends.

6 - 8 p.m.

* Pre-Conference Workshops require an additional registration fee; they are not included in conference registration. Workshops are concurrent and include breakfast, lunch and, if needed, transportation.

Monday, June 8:
Professional Development

Morning Fitness
7 a.m. - 7:45 a.m

Breakfast Keynote
8:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m

Cheryl Strayed
Live a Great Life 

Cheryl's use of travel has led to a life of self discovery. She discusses how being kind to yourself, accepting not everything works out and letting things just "be" is sometimes the wildest approach to living a great life.

Session #1
10:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m

Idea Steal
Making Something Out of Nothing 

We’ve all been there — when there’s no big news or events happening, but we’re still held accountable to generating press.
Join us for this fun, fast-paced session sure to entertain and INSPIRE! This popular interactive session will feature a series of energetic five-minute presentations that spotlight some of the most creative PR and marketing ideas that have made news out of nothing in 2019. You pick which ideas you want to “steal.” After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In this session, you will: 

  • Gain inspiration that leads to new opportunities for your organization.
  • Learn of proven ideas that lead to media coverage. 
  • Identify programs you can scale to your organization and budget.

Inbound Rundown
Leveraging Airports to Tell Your Destination's Story 

The airport, for a lot of destinations, is one of the first impressions and touch points a traveler has with a city. What does the "welcome message" in your city's airport say about your destination? Likewise, how can you create and strengthen a relationship with your airports’ communications team to ensure synergy between the two entities messaging. In this session, you will: 

  • Hear from CVBs and airports working together to co-brand and co-promote their destination.
  • Learn how to build relationships with the airport and airline partners in your destination.
  • Hear how to leverage research from airports to further promote your destination.

Staying Legal in an Influencer World
Learn the Ins and Outs of How to Legally Navigate Influencer Relationships

As today’s media landscape continues to evolve in the face of shrinking newsrooms, influencer collaborations and paid partnerships are increasingly part of the travel communicator's playbook. And, while many organizations are engaging with influencers, most are not aware of the legal (and ethical) implications. This puts the tourism industry next on the radar for FTC enforcement. Get real-life case studies of DMOs doing it right (and wrong) in this master track session that will help you navigate the legal waters, while leveraging the valuable audiences of travel insiders. In this session, you will:

  • Get a simplified look at what DMOs and influencers are legally obligated to do (and disclose) when collaborating, even when no fees are exchanged.
  • Take home insights and contracting best practices from an attorney who specializes in intellectual property ownership.
  • Understand the influencer side of the equation, including advice for approaching and collaborating with influencers and leveraging their valuable audiences.

General Session Keynote & Lunch 

Marc Maron
WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Session #2
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Idea Steal
Sustainable Practices for Lasting Ideas

One of PRSA's most popular sessions is back and this time focused on sustainability. You'll hear from some of the industry's top PR pros on how they implemented a PR campaign that took their sustainability initiatives to the next level. You pick which ideas you want to “steal.” After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In this session, you will:

  • Gain inspiration that leads to new opportunities for your organization.
  • Learn how to implement campaigns utilizing small to large budgets.
  • Hear from tourism PR pros what sustainability campaigns worked for them and how they leveraged those ideas for media opportunities.

The New Age of Pay-to-Play
Navigating Paid Partnerships and Branded Content

With media outlets and brands in a constant state of evolution, opportunities for branded content and paid partnerships are quickly evolving into a highly creative and integrated space for marketers and PR pros alike. Smart travel brands are bringing PR advisers to the table to infuse partnerships and native advertising efforts with positioning and product knowledge that is authentic and on-message. Hear from a panel of content-minded PR pros about how they leveraged branded partnerships to get their messages to new and highly targeted audiences. In this session, you will:

  • Learn how "advertorial" has evolved and what it can look like in its most creative and evolved forms.
  • Get project management and integration tips from PR specialists and brands who successfully aligned PR, advertising and content resources.
  • Talk shop about campaign mechanics from budget to rollout to evaluation.
Managing the Messaging
How to Create a Crisis Plan and Get Ahead of the Messaging

Has your organization experienced a crisis? What would you do different? This session is led by PR experts in the industry who lived through a crisis, sharing their case study on what worked and what didn’t, while also providing their takeaways on tactical elements communication pros need. In this session, you will: 

  • Gain valuable insights and best practices to prepare for a crisis.
  • Hear from industry experts the actions to take for varying levels of crisis.
  • Receive direction and advice to minimize short and long-term damage.

SEO for the PR Pro
Best Practices for Leveraging Links

SEO no longer sits in a paid, digital vacuum; the impact that good PR can have on a brand’s SEO performance is more significant than ever before. This session will focus on honing smart strategies to ensure your PR program is integrated with larger SEO needs, including:

  • Understanding how SEO works with today’s search engine algorithms
  • How to build a strategy for incorporating SEO into PR materials
  • Best practices for leveraging links without sounding like a robot

Session #3
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Leading Like a Boss
Effective Leadership Practices at Any Level

PR pros in travel and tourism are often tapped to take on a range of topics that may seem "outside of your pay grade," but strong leadership and insights can come at any level or title. In this session, you will: 

  • Learn how to lead with confidence (and what not to do), regardless of title or level. 
  • Uncover key philosophies that best serve effective leaders.
  • Gain understanding on when to seize the moment and when to say no to projects that come your way.
Be Accessible
Going Beyond ADA: Being Mindful of and Open to All Guests and Visitors

Is your destination or client accessible to ALL guests? Hear from industry experts on how to make the most of what you have, changes you can put in place now, and best practices on how to improve for the future. In this session, you will:

  • Gain understanding of how to be mindful and communicate more effectively with guests of all abilities.
  • Discover practical ways to implement accessibility and inclusivity practices.
  • Learn how to plan for future improvements to best serve all guests and visitors.

Diversity & Inclusion
Speaking to Your Audience With Diverse and Inclusive Messaging

We all know and understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in practice, and most likely have integrated these values into your workplace, but are you successfully integrating diversity and inclusion messaging into the communication that is being shared with your audiences? In this session, you will:

  • Hear from diversity and inclusion experts on ways to successfully communicate to a multitude of audiences.
  • Gain insights on the importance of incorporating diversity and inclusion into your messaging.
  • Best practices on how to incorporate diversity and inclusion into your messaging. 

Industry Roundtables
3:45 p.m.–5:15 p.m.

Meet & Share with Your Fellow Industry Professionals

  • CVB (small budget)(less than $5 million)
  • CVB (medium budget)($5 million - $10 million)
  • CVB (large budget)(greater than $10 million)
  • State Tourism
  • Hotels/Resorts
  • Agency/Individual Practitioner
  • Attractions
  • Transportation
  • Wild Card 

Evening Events

7 p.m.–9 p..m.

Select from one of Spokane’s top restaurants to enjoy a great meal with your fellow PRSA T&T attendees.
(Participants are responsible for the cost of their own food and beverages.)


Sip Around 
9 p.m.–10 p.m.

Wine Tasting  |  Beer Tasting  |  Cocktail Tasting
Join one of Spokane’s libation experts and stroll to the city’s best wineries, breweries, and cocktail bars. Space is limited; please sign up in advance. Registration details forthcoming

Tuesday, June 9:
Media Panels

Morning Fitness 
6:30 a.m.–7:45 a.m.

Breakfast Keynote 
8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

Session #1 
9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

Travel Stories With Non-Travel Publications
The Pubs You Never Thought to Pitch

We are all guilty of it ... only pitching the publications that directly speak to our main focus: travel. But how often do you stop and think about the publications that could also be telling your destination’s story in new, fresh and unique ways? Hear from writers and editors contributing to publications that are more than likely not on your radar, but should be. In this session, you will: 

  • Learn how and when to pitch travel focused stories to non-travel publications.
  • Hear what could be considered as travel-related content that you may not have considered.
  • Gain understanding into these outlets’ audiences and how to best reach them.
The Pitch
Test Drive Your Pitches

Bring your news, your best story ideas and your pitching chops. This interactive workshop session offers attendees a constructive place to test drive their pitches with a panel of the top writers and editors in travel. The brave will be rewarded with thoughtful insight and real-time feedback. (And, maybe, a story if you play your cards right.)

Going Green
The Rise of Cannatourism in North America

Recreational marijuana is now legal in 11 states across the US, as well as federally legal throughout all of Canada. Whether you want to admit it or not, this continues to greatly affect travelers’ decision-making. Being ahead of the trend and understanding how this will continue to evolve the media landscape is vital in our ever-changing tourism PR industry. In this session, you will: 

  • Learn from top writers in the cannatourism industry how travel has evolved with each legalized state.
  • Hear top trends in hospitality cannatourism and what motivates media for stories.
  • Learn how to be ahead of the curve and maximize if you are in a legal state, or mitigate if you are not.

Meetings of the Minds
How to Land a Story in Top Meeting & Convention Publications

Hear from a diverse group of writers and editors representing MICE media outlets on top strategies and tactics for getting inclusions and features. This is a chance to learn best practices around pitches and outreach initiatives. In this session, you will:

  • Hear how to best increase the profile of your destination in meetings and conventions publications.
  • Learn top trends in the meetings and conventions space.
  • Gain insight into what MICE media are looking for in 2020 pitches.

General Session Keynote & Lunch
Noon–1:30 p.m.

Session #3
2:00 p.m. –3:00 p.m.

Your PR Wish List
Landing a Feature

Round-ups are great and so are those itinerary-type articles, but what's really on your ‘PR Wish List’? Landing that feature! Hear from journalists who are experts in finding unique cultural angles and giving them the deep dive they deserve. In this session, you will:

  • Learn how to identify the right journalists and publications to pitch a feature idea.
  • Hear from top writers and editors the best practices for pitching a longer lead, long-form story.
  • Gain insights into what media look for when crafting a full feature article.

Behind the Lens
Photojournalism and Videography Storytelling Tips for the Busy Communicator

As PR professionals, we often get caught up in the written word and overlook the great opportunities that come with creating and sharing eye catching visual content. Hear from some of the best photo and video communicators in the business on what they look for when telling stories through the visual form. In this session, you will: 

  • Hear top tips for capturing visuals to amplify your story.
  • Discover ways to work more strategically with photojournalists and videographers to enhance your travel content. 
  • Learn the latest trends these professionals are seeking for their audiences.

Vying for the Attention of Our Northern Neighbors, eh? 
Learn the Nuances of the Canadian Traveler

Canada is a vital market for inbound US travel. Do you know the nuances between American and Canadian travelers? This session will dig into how to effectively pitch media to reach our northern neighbors. In this session, you will: 

  • Get a deep dive into the demographics of the Canadian traveler and their travel triggers.
  • Hear from Canadian writers and editors important tips on how to target your pitch to hit the right note for their publications. 
  • Learn top travel trends in Canada and story angles that these writers are currently seeking.

Change the Epicurean Mindset
Think Like a Food and Drink Writer to Better Pitch Culinary Media

Do you fear you are using cliché terminology such as “farm-to-table” and “authentic” when pitching food and drink writers? Do you know what the top culinary trends are and just need some insight of how best to articulate them? Learn the types of stories top culinary writers and editors are looking for and how to write your pitches in a way that catches the media’s eye. In this session, you will:

  • Increase your culinary and drink vocabulary.
  • Learn what culinary writers are really looking for from PR pros and how you can think more like an epicurean journalist in your pitches.
  • Hear what the latest industry trends are in the culinary and drink scene.

General Session Event
3:15 p.m.-4:15 p.m.

This interactive session will have you divided into trivia teams where you’ll be thrown through a gauntlet of travel trend questions. Don’t worry, you have your whole table to help carry you through this as our fast-paced witty weatherman from Spokane brings the fun from the stage. Just like your favorite pub trivia night! Sip on a local brew and prepare to learn and laugh. And yes, there are prizes.


Evening Events 

After-Session Reception  
4:30–5:30 p.m.

Media Mixer 
7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.

Media Mixer After-Party
9 p.m.

Wednesday, June 10:

Breakfast & Roundtables
8:30 a.m.–10 a.m. 

General Session: Editors’ Roundtable
10:15–11:30 a.m.

Back by Popular Demand 
Please join us for an important discussion about travel trends, state of the industry, politics, and what keeps our esteemed panel of top travel editors up at night! The last panel of the conference will surely leave you with industry insights and plenty to think about.