Little Rock, AR skyline at sunset

2023 Business Operations Summit

October 9-11, 2023 | Little Rock, AR, USA

[RE]align: Post-pandemic recovery from an organizational perspective

The Business Operations Summit is a cross-functional gathering of destination organization professionals in finance, human resources, operations and technology.  This year’s summit will provide insight on post-pandemic recovery from an organizational perspective, focusing on new ways to think about how destination organizations are organized, staffed and operated.

2023 Pricing

Member Rate   

Non-Member Rate   

Approved for up to 17 CDME CE credits

The 2023 Business Operations Summit is approved for up to 17 CDME continuing education (CE) credits. Learn about CDME recertification.

Schedule at a Glance

Monday, October 9

Opening Remarks

1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Gretchen Hall headshot

Gretchen Hall, CDME

Chief Operating Officer

Destinations International


Vimal Vyas, CDME


Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau




Data-Driven Operations: Empowering People, Transforming Culture

1:15 PM - 2:00 PM

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, data has emerged as a transformative force, revolutionizing how organizations operate, make decisions and foster cultural change. This session will delve into the intersection of data, human empowerment, and cultural transformation by exploring the profound impact that data-driven operations can have on empowering individuals across all levels of an organization. We’ll provide research results, real-world case studies and best practices that showcase how data-driven strategies enhance employee capabilities, enabling them to make informed decisions, and fostering a sense of ownership and accountability. Lastly we will share insights on how data-driven cultures can break down traditional silos, encourage cross-functional collaboration, and instill a growth mindset that embraces change.

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Linda John, CDME

Vice President, Destination & Travel Practice

Fired Up! Culture

Meg Winchester headshot

Meg Winchester, CDME, CMP

Senior Advisor

Fired Up! Culture




Table Discussions: Data Driven Operations

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

  1. Share examples of instances where data-driven insights have led to significant improvements in employee performance or decision-making. What were the key factors contributing to these successes?
  2. Can you provide examples of how organizations have effectively used data to foster innovation and creativity among their employees? What were the outcomes?
  3. How can data be leveraged to encourage a growth mindset among employees and inspire them to embrace continuous learning and improvement?
  4. As technology and data analytics continue to evolve, how do you see the role of data-driven operations changing in the coming years?
Networking Break

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Steering Through Uncertainty

3:00 PM - 3:45 PM

Destination organizations are facing several opportunities, including changes in human resources, finance, security, digital transformation and artificial intelligence. Join CLA’s experienced industry professionals to learn more about trends in these disciplines, implement changes, and how to more effectively plan for the uncertainties in our industry to ensure that your destination organization stays ahead of the curve.

Keven Truhler headshot

Keven Truhler, CPA


CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Alyson Minter headshot

Alyson Miniter, CPA, MBA


CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Javier Young headshot

Javier Young, CISSP


CliftonLarsonAllen LLP



Ask the Experts

3:45 PM - 4:30 PM

Join us for an engaging and informative "Ask the Experts" session, where you'll have the unique opportunity to interact with the panel of experienced indsutry professionals. This session is designed to provide you with a platform to ask burning questions, seek advice, and gain valuable insights from professionals who work specifically with nonprofit and membership organizations. 

Day One Wrap Up

4:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Tuesday, October 10

Networking Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

AI Transformation For Your Business

9:00 AM - 9:50 AM

As new AI technology grabs headlines and captures imaginations for businesses and consumers alike, organizations have a unique opportunity to harness the power of AI to drive value faster in their own businesses. In this session, we will look at all the latest technology from Microsoft including ChatGPT inside your office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams, and how it can transform the way work gets done in the future with AI and a human-centric approach.

Ajay Ayer headshot

Ajay Iyer, MIS

Principal Technical Architect

St, Louis Microsoft Technology Center





Flashes of Brilliance: Focus on Technology

9:50 AM - 10:35 AM

This lively session will feature some of our partners presenting new and important information around technology.

Patrick Eichen headshot

Patrick Eichen



Chelsea Ciprani headshot

Chelsea Cipriani

Vice President, iDSS


Mina Robertson headshot

Mina Robertson

Account Director

Miles Partnership



Networking Break

10:35 AM - 10:50 AM

The Organizational Impact of the Hybrid Work Enviroment

10:50 AM - 11:35 AM

In the wake of unprecedented global changes, organizations worldwide are reevaluating traditional work models and embracing hybrid environments that blend remote and in-office work. This shift presents unique challenges and opportunities that can significantly impact an organization's culture, productivity, collaboration, and overall success. Join us for an insightful session where we delve into the multifaceted dimensions of hybrid work environments and their profound effects on organizations. Our expert speakers will explore the following key areas: cultural transformation, leadership and communication, hiring practices, and employee well-being.

Cara Frank

Chief of Staff


Susan Harris

Chief Operating Officer

Chattanooga Tourism Co.

Sarah Miller

President & CEO

Destination Ann Arbor

Nicole Picton

Manager, People & Culture

Ottawa Tourism


Workplace Flexibility, Communication and Talent Retention

11:35 AM - 12:15 PM

Young professionals in the destination organization industry are motivated and passionate individuals that are not afraid of doing the hard work to support their communities. What drives them, however, is highly individualized. Retaining these talented individuals requires leaders to have honest, open and empathetic conversations; build trust with their teams; and from that build a positive and flexible team culture that is open and inclusive of all viewpoints, backgrounds, voices and preferences. Join this candid conversation with young leaders to learn how to adapt your office culture to recruit and retain the best talent possible.

Presented by the Destinations International Foundation and the 30 Under 30 Program

David Breisch, CDME

Senior Director of Marketing

Destinations International

30 Under 30 Class of 2013

Taylor Stanley, TMP, CHIA

Vice President of Sales

Visit Lake Charles

30 Under 30 Class of 2020

Bree Nidds

Chief Operating Officer

Discover Lehigh Valley

30 Under 30 Class of 2021

Celeste Rodriguez

Digital Communications Specialist

Visit Reno Tahoe

30 Under 30 Class of 2022


Networking Lunch

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

Navigating the Night: Unveiling Challenges in IT, HR, and Finance

1:15 PM - 2:00 PM

In the ever-evolving business landscape, professionals in IT, HR, and Finance  find themselves facing an array of complex challenges that can often keep them awake at night. Join us for an engaging session where we delve into the depths of these intricate concerns and explore strategies to conquer them.

Gina Gemberling, CDME

President & CEO

Little Rock CVB

Jennifer Chance, CDME


Visit Jackson

Karen Fisher, CDME


Visit Pittsburgh

Jennifer Johnson, CDME

VP, Operations

Monterey County CVB


Looking Into The Future: The 2023 DNEXT Futures Study

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM

The relationship between destination organizations and their local communities evolved dramatically in many cities and towns globally during the Covid pandemic. Enough time has since passed where destination leaders are beginning to understand what was transitory and what looks to be long-term transformations. The DestinationNEXT 2023 Futures Study attempts to codify those systemic shifts. It is a strategic roadmap and global survey that helps destination leaders navigate today’s highly fluid visitor economy to optimize their organizations’ relevance and value. As you will find from this session, the DestinationNEXT Futures Study plays a crucial role in preparing us for what's to come and allows us to shape our futures more effectively.


Cassandra McAuley, CDME

SVP, Destination Stewardship

MMGY NEXTFactor Enterprises, Inc.





Networking Break

2:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Nurturing Brilliance: A Holistic Approach to Talent Retention and Wellbeing

3:00 PM - 3:40 PM

In an era where the success of any organization hinges upon the engagement and wellbeing of its employees, adopting a comprehensive approach to talent retention and holistic wellness has become paramount. Join us for an enlightening session as we delve into the intricacies of building effective talent retention strategies intertwined with mental health, health and wellness packages, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), and optimizing vacation time and Paid Time Off (PTO).


Jennifer Johnson, CDME, SHRM-CP

Vice President of Operations

Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Michelle Lovatt headshot

Michelle Lovatt

Vice President of Administration

Richmond Region Tourism





3:40 PM - 4:00 PM

Essential by Design: The Indispensable Role of Destination Organizations and Their Employees

4:00 PM - 4:15 PM

In the evolving landscape of community development, destination organizations stand as more than optional entities; they are the essential heartbeat of a community's growth and vibrancy. This thought-provoking session delves into the compelling argument that destination organizations, along with their dedicated employees, are absolutely necessary and profoundly important. Hear why destination organizations are indispensable in shaping a community's image, boosting economic growth, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering sustainable tourism, and understand how the people behind these organizations drive innovation, collaboration, and engagement, serving as the backbone of effective destination promotion.

Jack Johnson headshot

Jack Johnson

Chief Advocacy Officer

Destinations International





Beyond Economics: Destination Promotion as a Catalyst for Your Community's Vitality

4:15 PM - 5:00 PM

Destination promotion transcends the realm of traditional economic development. It is a catalyst that sparks community vitality, weaving together the social, environmental, and economic fabrics of a region. Be among the first to explore the initial findings of a landmark study, shedding light on how destination promotion serves as a multidimensional force for community building. This session kicks off with a presentation on some of the preliminary results of the study, which is aimed at elected officials, policy makers and key industry stakeholders, and is followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion of destination leaders featured in the report. Together they will review the study's findings, providing insights into the broader implications of destination promotion.

Welcoming Reception

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Join us for the Destinations International's Fall Learning Week Welcome Reception at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library on October 10, 2023, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Hosted by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, this reception will take place at the special events venue Great Hall. With soaring 40-foot ceilings and stunning glass walls, the Great Hall offers guests an unparalleled and unforgettable panoramic view of downtown Little Rock. Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and delicious cuisine catered by the Clinton Center’s on-site restaurant, 42 Bar and Table. Shuttle service available from the Marriott Hotel. Don’t miss it! 

Little Rock After Party

7:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Join us for the Little Rock After Party at the First Security Amphitheater located at the River Market. Presented by the Little Rock CVB, we are thrilled to announce that the DI House Band, one of the hottest bands in the music scene, will be gracing our stage with their sensational tunes. Complimentary drinks will be provided. Don’t miss out on this evening of live music and good vibes. 

Wednesday, October 11

Networking Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Innovative Strategies in Sports and Entertainment: Learning from Big Brands

9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

Join us for an insightful session where we explore innovative use cases in the realms of DMOs and major brands in the and entertainment industry.  We will delve into the strategies used by renowned brands to engage their audiences and drive success, providing valuable takeaways for your marketing efforts to attract visitors, promote your destination and boost local economy.

Donny White headshot

Donny White


Satisfi Labs





Tips, Tricks and Structured Resources on Achieving DMO Strategies

9:45 AM - 10:25 AM

Destination organizations balance competing needs and management of risk all while operating efficiently and effectively with available resources.  In this session you will learn about approaches and best practices that enable organizations to successfully achieve objectives such as components of DMAP accreditation, developing IT and HR, exploring artificial intelligence, harnessing the power of data, maturing vendor management and leveraging trends while balancing risk/security.

Sharon Foltz

Managing Partner

Info-Tech Research Group





Networking Break

10:25 AM - 10:40 AM

Flashes of Brilliance: Focus on Analytics

10:40 AM - 11:10 AM

This session will feature some of our partners presenting information around data and analytics as it pertains to operations and technology in your organizations.

Ashley Schroeder headshot

Ashley Schroeder

Director of Destination Analytics

Future Partners

Zeek Coleman headshot

Zeek Coleman

Vice President, Americas

Tourism Economics




Synergy in the Digital Age:  Metaworld and AI in Finance, HR, IT, Operations and Marketing for Future-Ready Success

11:10 AM - 11:55 AM

In the digital dominated future and today's rapidly evolving technological world, artificial intelligence (AI) stands at the forefront, transforming industries and augmenting human abilities. Dive deep into the Metaworld and the dynamic nature of how AI can elevate human proficiency in Finance, HR, IT, Operations and Marketing.

VImal Vyas headshot

Vimal Vyas, CDME


Greater Raleigh Convention & VIsitors Bureau

Braam du Plooy headshot

Braam du Plooy


Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Felix Laboy headshot

Felix Laboy

Executive Advisor

Shift Digital



Networking Lunch

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Table Discussions / Shirtsleeve Sessions

1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Engage with your peers in facilitated, in-depth group discussions on the most pressing issues, innovative solutions, and best practices across key business functions – Operations, Finance, IT, and HR. In this interactive forum, participants will have the unique opportunity to exchange insights, share experiences, and gain valuable knowledge from industry experts and peers.

Download the 2023 Agenda

Download a PDF copy of the 2023 agenda, including session titles, days and times. PDF agenda does not include session descriptions or speaker names.

Download 2023 Agenda

Destination & Travel

Little Rock Marriott
3 Statehouse Plaza
Little Rock, AR 72201

The hotel block is now closed. Please contact the hotel directly to make your reservations.

34.748422931009, -92.270818673449