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Monday, February 19, 2018

8:30 am - 5:30 pm | Registration Open

1:30 - 2:45 pm | Welcome and Opening Session

Airbnb and the Future of Travel

Mindy Taylor, Homes, ProHost Team


Airbnb has been proud to serve as a catalyst for change in travel, connecting hosts and guests around the world. The state of the global accommodations market is developing rapidly and Airbnb is capturing tomorrow's traveller through innovation and collaboration.  Let's discover what lies ahead for the market, for the industry, and for the consumer.

2:45 - 3:15 pm | Afternoon Break

Please use this time to visit our sponsors and check out the State Parks Retail Store!

3:15 - 4:30 pm | General Session

Recipes for Success: The Changing Role of Culinary in Tourism


Chef William Cribb, Owner, Cribbs Kitchen, Fr8Yard, The Kennedy, Willy Taco

Chef Ramone Dickerson, Owner, 2 Fat 2 Fly

Bill Hall, Sr., Owner, Hall Management Group

Christopher Johnson, General Manager, The Pump House

Chef Heidi Vukov, Owner, Croissants Bistro & Baker and Hook & Barrel


Perry Baker, Interactive Manager for at SCPRT

As consumer demand for authentic travel experiences has increased in the 21st century, local restaurants and culinary events have become an essential part of the overall visitor experience, often serving as catalysts for growth and shaping the destination’s tourism identity. In this session, a panel of chefs from destinations across South Carolina will share their experiences working within their tourism business communities and their insights into the role of culinary experiences for destination development.

6:00 - 9:00 pm | Opening Night Reception

Showcase of the Lowcountry


Welcome to Americas #1 Island! Experience the many attributes that the island and surrounding areas are known for, from music, culinary delights and history to the celebration of 50 years of the most fun and fan-friendly PGA Tour event, The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. The Hilton Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and Sea Pines Resort, a marquee location within the destination, will host you for a wonderful night of celebration to kick off the 2018 South Carolina Governor’s Conference.


*Buses will begin heading to Sea Pines at 5:15 pm – the last bus will leave at 5:45 pm. The sun sets at 6:13 pm, so be sure to catch an early bus so you don't miss it! All attendees should plan to catch the bus to Sea Pines, as it is a gated community with no public access. Attire is Lowcountry Chic, and the event will be both indoor and outdoor, so please dress accordingly.*

Opening Night Reception Sponsored by:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

7:30 am - 5:00 pm | Registration Open

8:00 - 8:45 am | Networking Breakfast

Begin your day with a light breakfast and networking with colleagues.  This is also a good time to stop by the sponsors’ booths to see how their services can help you meet your marketing needs.

9:00 - 10:15 am | General Session

Turn Your Customers Into Volunteer Marketers

Jay Baer, Renowned Business Strategist, New York Times Best-Selling Author 

Customer experience is how you make your customers feel.


Great customer experience occurs when you exceed customer expectations. And when you do so, customers are COMPELLED to talk about you.


In this fast-paced, timely, dynamic presentation Jay teaches his customer experience excellence framework, showcasing how any business can turn customers into advocates.


With hilarious and poignant storytelling, Jay teaches attendees the three primary ways to use customer experience to trigger word-of-mouth, illustrates mistakes to avoid, and inspires audiences to put new strategies into practice immediately.

Session Sponsored by

10:15 - 10:45 am | Morning Break

Please use this time to visit our sponsors and check out the State Parks Retail Store!

Break Sponsored by

10:45 - 11:45 am | DISCOVER Breakout Sessions

It’s Different Over There!


Larry Cohen, President

Northeast Media, Inc.

An informative and entertaining session which will discuss how cultures, business practices, media consumption and travel booking mechanisms interrelate, vary around the world….and, how in large part they are different from what we are used to in the USA.

Continuing the Conversation with Jay Baer


Jay Baer, Renowned Business Strategist, New York Times Best-Selling Author


So often, a compelling presentation from a dynamic speaker elicits thought-provoking questions, stimulates new ideas and leaves the audience yearning for more. This Q&A-style breakout session will provide an exclusive opportunity to continue the conversation with Jay Baer as he fields questions from the audience and shares his insights into how you can encourage your customers to talk more about your destination or business.

How May I Help You?

The Evolution of Tourism Customer Service


Gwen Hendley, Manager, I-95 North Welcome Center at Hardeeville

Angela Hasty, Manager, I-95 South Welcome Center at Dillon

Shelby Boulineau, Manager, Hwy 17 South Welcome Center at Little River


Peach Morrison, Executive Director, Lowcountry and Resort Islands Commission and Visitor Center

Advancements in information and mobile technology have significantly changed the landscape of customer service in tourism. In this session, a panel of seasoned guest service experts will discuss the evolution of travel information and assistance needs and how technology changes have impacted visitor centers and guest interactions.

12:00 – 1:00 pm | Lunch

Learning – even in the form of an educational tour – takes energy! So before setting off on an afternoon of exploration, product-knowledge enhancement, and relationship-building, enjoy a casual, hearty lunch with your industry peers. Lunch kicks off with a friendly welcome from our host destination and features background music by one of Hilton Head Island’s very talented local musicians.


And, no need to rush: the educational tours don’t begin departing until 1:15 p.m. 

Networking Lunch Sponsored by:

Tuesday Afternoon Explore and Discover

This year's Governor's Conference has several opportunities on Tuesday afternoon to explore the tourism appeal of the Hilton Head Island area and discover best practices in the field of Marketing. The first set of activities features tours around the Hilton Head Island area. The second activity is golf.

Experience #1 | Satisfy Your Thirst | Mixology & Distillery Tour

Limit 40 attendees


Come experience Hilton Head Island's only Rum & Vodka distillery. Hilton Head Distillery was founded by two world class, small batch distilleries that came together to create something truly unique. This guided tour allows guests the opportunity to explore the rich history of rum, learn the extensive process of crafting fine spirits first-hand, and conclude with a tasting flight of all products.  The program includes a mixoiogy portion that will share the art of some modern crafted spirits.

Experience #2 | Page Island Eco Excursion

Limit 30 attendees


There is no better way to explore the South Carolina Lowcountry than by water.  Board our tour boats at Shelter Cove Marina for an interpretive cruise down the Broad Creek. See some fantastic real estate along the way and enjoy learning about the rich history, nature, and culture while seeing dolphin and wildlife in along the waterways.


Once you cross Calibogue Sound, you settle into the salt marsh system, where you feel completely removed from the commercial world.  Your senses open up to life on the calm waters in the rivers and creeks.


Then you arrive at our very own private chain of Islands where you have the opportunity to kayak, fish from the dock, explore the islands or relax in a hammock.  You could even take a quick boat ride to Daufuskie Island and have a guided tour aboard golf carts.  Here you will learn about the Gullah culture, visit historic locations and visit artisans along the way.


The activity portion will begin with an Island orientation. The group will then have the opportunity to experience some of Page Island’s best offerings; guests can choose from the following:

  • Kayak Tour (weather permitting)
  • Daufuskie Island History Tour
  • Backwater Dolphin Cruise
  • Nature walks


Experience #3 | The Bluffton Experience

Limit 48 attendees


This program is a fantastic way to both enjoy the South Carolina Lowcountry and truly connect to the area. Spend a few leisurely hours on this tour that combines a relaxing cruise along the scenic May River with a visit to the quaint and historic town of Bluffton, South Carolina.


From the dock at the base of Calhoun Street, stroll the lazy streets dotted with 19th century homes and visit the antebellum Church of the Cross. Visit quaint shops and Lowcountry art galleries along the way.


A highlight of the trip will be a visit to The Bluffton Oyster Company, the last working oyster factory in SC. Truly a piece of history - The Bluffton Oyster Company actually sits on reclaimed land, built up by more than a hundred years of discarded shells from previous shucking operations. The oyster business thrived in early Bluffton and throughout the 1920’s, with five different oyster operations in the area.


Experience a tasting of the day’s catch!

Experience #4 | Gullah Heritage Tour

Limit 35 attendees


Learn about the fascinating Gullah Culture native to the South Carolina Lowcountry. The Gullahs are descendants of West African slaves who worked the rice and cotton fields before they were freed.


Gullahs lived in isolation for generations, allowing them to maintain their African culture longer than any slave descendants in America.


Tour includes a 2 hour narrated trip down the hidden paths of Hilton Head Island to visit ten family-based villages that have sustained themselves for more than a century.


Hear 4th generation Gullah family members relate first hand stories of traditional food ways, family life, and the unique Gullah language. Highlights include The Old One-Room School House, Plantation Tabby Ruins, and the Historic Marker of the First Freedom Village. Halfway through the tour you will take a break and have a chance to walk out on a boardwalk for a refreshing view of the Atlantic Ocean.


Experience #5 | Bike & Sealife Beach Tour

Minimum 4 attendees


Hilton Head Island is a bicyclist paradise with over 60 miles of public pathways and hard packed, wide beaches that allow you to explore the island from all vantage points.  This interpretive tour will take a loop route that will mix paved bike paths, back roads, and beach cruising all at an easy pace on flat elevation. 


Your guide will lead you to significant historic sites, fantastic nature based vistas, woodlands, wetlands and the beach.  Learn about our coastal sea-life on this interactive tour.


*This experience is weather permitting. If cancelled due to extreme weather or lack of participation, attendees have the opportunity to participate in another tour, as space permits.

Golf Outing at Harbour Town Golf Links

Reserve a round on the world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. This award-winning course is both the crowning achievement of famed designer Pete Dye and design consultant Jack Nicklaus, and a perennial favorite among PGA TOUR players, as it places a premium on finesse, imagination and shot making, rather than strength.

Featuring a collection of par threes ranked amongst the world’s finest and a par-4 18th hole considered one of the most feared in all of golf, Harbour Town Golf Links has undergone many recent enhancements, including new Celebration Bermuda grass for the greens and a new irrigation system. 

COST | $155.88 ($145 + tax) + suggested $30 forecaddie gratuity on-site
CLUB RENTALS | If requested, $75 + tax per player. Please notify Jenny Waller if you will need to rent clubs.
RSVP | Non-refundable payment and registration must be received by early bird deadline of January 30, 2018.
TEE TIMES | Begin at 12:18 pm. Golf Outing concludes at 6:00 pm.

Golf Outing Sponsored by

6:00 - 8:00 pm | Reception

Be sure to drop in to the SCPRT reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, where you’ll have an opportunity to network and meet members of SCPRT’s new PR support team from Touchpoint Communications and MBPR. Have a story idea worth pitching? Be sure to share it, and enjoy cocktails, beer and wine and light refreshments before heading out for the dine around. 

7:00 - 10:00 pm | Dine Around

From traditional island seafood to British pub fare and contemporary Italian cuisine, Hilton Head Island offers a world of culinary experiences and an extensive selection of dining atmospheres. Whether you are looking to catch up with old colleagues and friends over a fine four-course feast or network with clients and prospects over burgers and brews, the Tuesday night Dine Around is an excellent opportunity to explore the gastronomic delights of Hilton Head Island while networking with fellow conference attendees.  Looping transportation will be provided from the Westin to Shelter Cove and Wexford Village from 7 – 10 pm. Bon Appetit!

Shelter Cove Marina

  • Ela’s Blu Water Grille
  • Bistro 17
  • Bucci’s Italian Cuisine
  • Mediterranean Harbour Bar & Grill
  • San Miguel’s Mexican Café
  • Scott’s Fish Market

Towne Centre of Shelter Cove

  • Jane’s Bistro
  • Poseidon
  • World of Beer
  • New York City Pizza

Wexford Village

  • Ombra Cucina Rustica
  • Porter & Pig
  • Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse
  • British Open Pub

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

7:30 am - 1:00 pm | Registration Open

8:00 - 8:45 am | Networking Breakfast

Begin your day with a light breakfast and networking with colleagues.  This is also a good time to stop by the sponsors’ booths to see how their services can help you meet your marketing needs.

9:00 - 10:15 am | General Session

PRT Update

Duane Parrish, Director

South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism

SCPRT Director Duane Parrish will hone in on key program advancements and activities across the agency, from state parks to welcome centers to marketing and grants.  The session will provide insight into how SCPRT helps advance and enhance South Carolina’s travel and tourism industry.

Session Sponsored by

10:15 - 10:45 am | Morning Break

Please use this time to visit our sponsors and check out the State Parks Retail Store!

Break Sponsored by:

10:45 - 11:45 am | DISCOVER Breakout Sessions

Pitch Perfect: The Travel & Tourism Edition

Panel Members:

Jason Frye, North Carolina-based Freelance Writer

Shontel Horne, Editor, Travel Noire

Andrew Nelson, Director, Editorial Projects Travel, National Geographic

Colleen Troy, Owner and President, Touchpoint Communications

Want to hear real-time feedback surrounding best practices on pitching members of the media and those who regularly work with media? In this session, pre-selected participants will read pitches, focused on tourism offerings from their region, to a panel of regional and national editors and members from magazines, newspapers and online outlets. Will the panelists like what they hear? Come find out what works, what does not work and what would make their pitch stronger and more appealing in the future. *All attendees will receive a pitching guide, post session.

Tourism Growing Pains

John Freeman, Content Analyst

Destination Think!

While local economies generally prosper from tourism growth, increasing visitation can sometimes lead to frustrations and resentment from local residents. In this session, John Freeman, Content Analyst for Destination Think! will discuss recent examples of anti-tourism backlash and share strategies and best practices that destination marketing organizations can utilize to diminish the negative side effects of positive tourism growth.

Noon - 1:15 pm | Industry Awards Luncheon

We close out the conference with the annual Industry Awards Luncheon, an event that will celebrate top performance in South Carolina’s tourism industry for the year 2017. Recognition will be given to the best tourism attraction or campaign, the best rural tourism effort and the most outstanding hospitality employee of the year.

Industry Awards Luncheon Sponsored by