Tourism conferencetargets growth

Dec 11, 2007 6:12 AM

Several hundred leaders in the travel and tourism industry will gather Wednesday through Friday at Caesars Palace for the 2007 Nevada Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

"Growth: Challenges and Opportunities" is the theme of this year’s conference, which will feature keynote speakers and a special presentation honoring Grammy award-winning international superstar Celine Dion as Nevada Entertainer of the New Millennium.

"Bringing together industry leaders at the Governor’s Conference each year to focus on current issues, trends and technologies that impact tourism benefits our state and our partners across the nation and around the world," said Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki. He chairs the Nevada Commission on Tourism, which produces the conference.

Gov. Jim Gibbons and Krolicki will open the General Assembly on Thursday, and Frank Fahrenkopf, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, will speak about the current political climate facing the gaming industry.

A high-powered panel of CEOs from the world’s largest casino-resorts will share insight and expertise about Las Vegas’ exploding growth. Terry Lanni, chairman and CEO of MGM MIRAGE; Keith Smith, president and chief operating officer of Boyd Gaming Corp.; and William Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., will describe challenges and opportunities confronting Nevada tourism.

"How Growth Impacts Infrastructure" will be explored by an expert panel including Susan Martinovich, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation; Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority; Jacob Snow, president of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada; and Michael Yackira, president and CEO of Sierra Pacific Resources.

"Tourism is an ever-changing industry, and the conference provides an opportunity to stay on top of trends, such as mobile marketing," said state tourism Director Tim Maland. "There already are four mobile phones to every PC in the world, and people increasingly are booking travel on their cell phones. Our conference will address the dos and don’ts of mobile marketing and how best to utilize it."

Delegates will arrive Wednesday and tour the Las Vegas Springs Preserve to discover ways to maintain a sustainable lifestyle in the desert. That evening, Las Vegas Meetings by Harrah’s Entertainment will sponsor a welcome reception at Caesars Palace’s PURE Nightclub.

Keynote addresses and speakers on Thursday and Friday will highlight Nevada’s growth and development, international tourism, "social" media, mobile marketing and "green" tourism.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Ellen Oppenheim will address delegates Thursday about managing growth through marketing.

Conference workshops will explore an abundance of topics such as "Group Sales Make Good Business," maximizing profits; "Turn Green into Green," discovering green tourism; "Domestic Travel Trends/Niche Markets," the latest trends such as "girlfriend getaways"; "The Why and How of Mobile," the newest development in Internet marketing; and "Get Smart with Your BlackBerry," how to communicate more efficiently using mobile technology.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority will sponsor an evening reception on Thursday for conference attendees at which Gibbons will present Dion a special award, Nevada Entertainer of the New Millennium. The award comes two days before the curtain rises on the final performance of Dion’s popular show, "A New Day," on Saturday, ending a nearly five-year run at Caesars Palace.

Friday’s speakers will include Rep. Jon Porter, co-chair of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus; Roger Dow, president and CEO of the Travel Industry Association; Philip Wolf, CEO of PhoCusWright; and a travel industry leadership roundtable on "Key Trends and Strategies for Online Travel Today and Tomorrow."