Leroy BridgesDirector of Media & InteractiveVisit St. Petersburg/Clearwater
I've become a social & digital media first tourism marketing professional with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. My passion for writing and technology led me to this organization tasked with marketing the destination around the world.
I'm also a proud member of Destination Marketing Association International's 2014 "30 Under 30" class.
Before landing with VSPC, I spent 7 years as a sports journalist, building my writing, editing and designing skills with a handful of newspapers, including The Northwest Indiana Times (85,000 circulation in Munster, Ind.), Herald & Review (35,000 circulation in Decatur, Ill.) and The Purdue Exponent (20,000 circulation in West Lafayette, Ind.).
Of course, one of my more memorable professional experiences was spending seven weeks in Beijing, China, working with the Beijing Olympic News Service for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Jim ByersTravel WriterFreelance
I grew up in California but have lived in Toronto for more than three decades. I covered sports, politics and other issues for the Toronto Star for 32 years. The last five years of my career at the Star were served as Travel Editor. I left the paper to begin a freelance career in the summer of 2013. My work is now being featured in 44 Postmedia and Sun Media newspapers and websites across Canada, with daily circulation of almost 2 million. I'm also a regular contributor to Expedia.ca and Zoomer Magazine in Canada and have had stories published with Porter Airlines magazine, WestJet Magazine and EnRoute, the AIr Canada magazine. I also contribute to the Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and the Australian, as well as Canadian Traveller and other publications. I try to bring the world to my readers with a bit of a Canadian perspective and a generous dose of humour.
I love travelling almost anywhere, but specialize in Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe. Follow me on Twitter @jimbyerstravel and on Instagram @jimbyerstravel1. You also can find me on Facebook and Pinterest under Jim Byers Travel. Feel free to drop me a line by email, too: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica ChristophersonDirector of Marketing & Film CommissionerFort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Jessica Dowdy Christopherson is the Director of Marketing at Visit Fort Worth and the Film Commissioner at Film Fort Worth. Prior to joining the travel industry Jessica worked in television marketing and public relations for FOX Broadcasting Company in Los Angeles.
Lisa ColeDirector of Communications, SEHilton
Lisa Cole is a seasoned travel and tourism public relations professional having worked in the business for over 30+ years. As corporate communications director in the SE for the global hospitality company, Lisa handles the public relations activities including crisis management, media relations and strategic planning for over 70 managed and owned properties in the Southeast Region.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company, with a portfolio of 14 world-class brands comprising nearly 5,000 properties with more than 812,000 rooms in 103 countries and territories. Hilton is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world's most hospitable company by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time. The company's portfolio includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by HiltonTM, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by HiltonTM, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose exactly how many Points to combine with money, an exclusive member discount that can't be found anywhere else and free standard Wi-Fi. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
Jesse DavisDirector, PR & CommunicationsVisit Denver
As director of public relations and communications, Davis oversees the global public relations strategy for VISIT DENVER, with the goal of increasing awareness for Denver as a convention, meeting and vacation destination. In addition, he provides strategic direction for the Bureau's content and social media efforts, among other duties. Davis previously served on the board of PRSA Travel & Tourism and is a member of the U.S. Travel Association's Communications Committee. Davis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations-Journalism from San Diego State University and performed graduate studies in communications management at Syracuse University.
Paul GaugerExecutive Vice President, The AmericasVisit Britain
Chris HeywoodSVP Global CommunicationsNYC & Company
Communications/PR professional with 18+ years of global experience, specializing in travel and tourism PR. Experience working with the nation's two largest city tourism offices. Strong relationships with the travel industry and travel media across the globe.
Marcus HibdonTravel Portland PR ManagerTravel Portland
I represent the city of Portland, Ore. and the surrounding area to leisure and business travel media and trade publications. As a former journalist myself, I'm committed to helping media find the newest and most interesting stories for their readers.
Travel Portland is the city's Convention and Visitor Bureau.
Spud Hilton is Travel Editor of The San Francisco Chronicle and SFChronicle.com. He is a 29-year journalist and a late-blooming traveler who, in 17 years with the Travel Section has written about, reported on and been hopelessly lost on six continents. His section and his storytelling about great places — from Havana's back alleys to Kyoto's shrines to the floor of a hippie bus in Modesto — have earned 11 SATW Lowell Thomas Awards, and his stories have appeared in more than 60 publications in North America, several of which are still in business.
Hilton and his stories have been featured on "Good Morning America," "The Today Show," OnTravel! with Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman for Armed Forces Radio, Peter Greenberg's Worldwide show for WCBS, and Rudy Maxa's World, and has been a guest multiple times on Richard Quest's "Quest Means Business" on CNN International.
As a speaker, Hilton has taught classes on tourism, travel writing and travel photography for PR firms, destination marketing organizations, travel blogger conferences and students at the prestigious Book Passage Travel Food and Photography Conference; and he was the keynote speaker for the Hawaii Tourism Conference in 2015, and a keynote for TBEX Europe 2016 in Stockholm.
He lives with his wife, Ann, in San Francisco and plays cornet in an early New Orleans-style jazz band.
John E. DiScala (a.k.a. Johnny Jet) travels around 150,000 miles and visits over 20 countries each year. He and his website JohnnyJet.com have been featured over 3,000 times in major publications, including USA Today, Time, Fortune and The New York Times, and he has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC, PBS and recently hosted "Hot Spots 2012" on the Travel Channel. JohnnyJet.com has been named "one of the top best money-saving web sites for travel" by Budget Travel Magazine, while the L.A. Times calls it "one of the top 10 essential travel resources on the internet." Sign up today for Johnny Jet's free weekly travel newsletter at JohnnyJet.com and follow him live on Twitter.
Ilona KauremszkyContent ProducerMycompass.ca
Ilona Kauremszky is a talented award-winning journalist who covers travel for leisure and trade publications as a regular columnist and as a co-producer of mycompasstv (3 million+ views), and mycompass.ca. Ms. Kauremszky is happy to report she has joined the editorial team for two web platforms covering cruising and hotels in addition to her other major outlets. She has appeared as a travel expert on TV and radio for NPR, CBC News Now and Egyptian National Television to name a few. A former syndicated travel columnist for the country's largest newspaper publisher she also counts companies like Forbes, Michelin Green Guides, Fodor's, AFAR + USA Today as past clients. Ms. Kauremszky has received the Discover America Travel Writer Award presented by the U.S. Travel Association. A self-confessed travel scribe, Ilona Kauremszky admits she's forever on the prowl for the next cool story. Follow her discoveries on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv.
Arnelle KendallVice President of Public RelationsThe Travel Corporation (TTC)
I am the Vice President of Public Relations for The Travel Corporation (TTC), a highly successful international travel group with more than 30 celebrated brands operating in 70 countries. Our philosophy is simple. To create enriching experiences for our travelers by combining an unbeatable mix of exceptional service and quality at great value. No matter what your taste, whether you are a family or a couple, a group or traveling solo – TTC offers something for everyone. Our multi-award-winning portfolio ranges from luxury hotels and boutique river cruises, to independent holiday package companies and a variety of guided travel experiences.
Scott PeacockDirector of Public RelationsGreater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau
Scott is a public relations professional with more than 12 years of experience in destination marketing and agency work. He is currently the Director of Public Relations for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he leads the CVB's efforts to create awareness of Raleigh, N.C. as a premier leisure travel, group, meeting and sporting event destination in the southeast US through targeted public relations strategies.
Scott oversees the development and implementation of communications strategies and programs targeted at both domestic and international leisure visitors, meeting planners and sporting event rights holders as well as monitoring and evaluating the outcomes.
He and his team are also responsible for generating positive exposure for the work and value of the CVB to stakeholders and industry partners across Greater Raleigh and works with leadership to coordinate crisis, issues and reputation management for the organization.
Prior to joining the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2016, Scott was the Public Relations Manager for Visit North Carolina, where he is in charge of leading the unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina's efforts to create awareness of North Carolina as a travel destination through targeted public relations strategies. He also directed the activities of both domestic and international PR agencies for the state, including offices in New York, Canada, Germany and the UK.
Before coming to Visit North Carolina in 2015, Scott worked for several CVBs in Ohio serving as the director of public relations/communications at Destination Cleveland and prior to that as the public relations manager for Experience Columbus. His background also includes more than four years of communications/marketing work for several Central Ohio advertising and public relations firms.
He also currently serves on the executive committee for the Public Relations Society of America's Travel & Tourism Section.
Cathy ReynoldsManager, Media Relations and Lead Manager, IPW Press OperationsU.S. Travel Association
Cathy Keefe Reynolds works in U.S. Travel's renowned public affairs department, where she is responsible for conveying the association's public affairs, research and advocacy initiatives to political, business and trade media, both domestic and international. She also oversees all aspects of press operations for IPW (formerly International Pow Wow), including management of the popular all-day Media Marketplace. Nearly 500 international and domestic business and consumer media from 70+ countries attend IPW.
She has been with U.S. Travel for more than two decades, holding positions in their market research, communications and tourism awareness departments.
Keefe-Reynolds has extensive media experience and has appeared live on CBS This Morning and ABC's World News Tonight, as well as many local network and national cable news programs. Born and raised in the Washington, DC area, she holds a bachelor's degree in speech communications from George Mason University and is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America. She and her husband reside in Fairfax, VA.
Nancy TrejosTravel Writer
Nancy Trejos has been a travel writer for USA TODAY since 2011. She is the paper's lead reporter in its coverage of the hotel industry. Previously, she was a travel writer at The Washington Post, where she earned a Lowell Thomas travel writing award in the investigative reporting category. Nancy also did a two-month stint in the Post's Baghdad bureau in 2006 and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East. South America is another area of expertise, as she has dual citizenship with the United States and Colombia. Her travels have taken her all over the United States and as far away as China. Nancy is the author of the personal finance book “Hot Broke Messes: How to Have Your Latte and Drink it Too,” written while she was the Post's personal finance writer. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Georgetown University.
Deborah WakefieldVice President of Communications & Public RelationsCityPASS
Deborah Wakefield Bio: Deborah Wakefield, vice president of communications and public relations for CityPASS, handles media relations for the company. Prior to joining City Pass in 2010, Wakefield worked for nearly 17 years as the vice president of communications and public relations for Travel Portland, the official convention and visitors bureau for Portland, Oregon. Wakefield is also a 20-year member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
CityPASS Overview: Since 1997, CityPASS ticket booklets and admission cards have been premier products for travelers who want to visit a city's top attractions while enjoying significant savings. The CityPASS program, which has sold more than 17 million booklets and boasts a 98 percent customer recommendation rating, is available in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Media comps are available. For more information, visit CityPASS.com.
Susan WilsonMarketing Communications ConsultantSusan Wilson Marketing LLC
Susan Wilson has provided public relations for a variety of destinations in over the past 30 years. Her expertise in marketing communications has guided iconic destinations and brands and created new ones. She was the founding public relations director and publicity face of CityPASS for 12 years. She has directed award-winning advertising and public relations messaging for Grand Canyon National Park Lodges, Death Valley National Monument and Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite National Park, and has managed regional responsibilities for Hyatt Hotels in California and Sheraton Hotels Hawaii/Japan. She was on the development team of LasVegas.com and manages several casino resort development projects.
Today, her clients include Tuolumne County in Northern California (pronounced "To-All-O-Me"), the front door to Yosemite National Park as the most direct route from San Francisco, Starline Tours, the number one celebrity tour company in Los Angeles, and Visit West Hollywood, the sexy 1.9 square miles of urban pleasures in the greater Los Angeles area. She regularly assists Kathy Anderson Retail Marketing with U.S. shopping news and is a consultant. She proudly serves on the Communications Committee for the U.S. Travel Association.
Susan represents TravMedia/TravTrade as a Brand Ambassador at U.S. events.
I'm currently working as Communications Director for National Geographic Traveler magazine representing both the consumer and trade sides of the business. I also handle trade communictaions strategy for National Geographic magazine as well.