We love Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), possibly more than the normal person (or design firm) should. We also really like attending conferences where we get to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. So what happens when you take our affinity for CVBs and conferences combine them in our fabulous home state? A little thing the state of Georgia likes to call the Governor’s Tourism Conference – in other words, three epic days of southern hospitality.
A Visit to Augusta
This year – as in last week – the conference was held in Augusta. Yes, the same Augusta where men compete for the almighty green jacket. But Augusta is so much more than a golf course hidden by bamboo walls (seriously, it’s like Fort Knox). It’s a welcoming city where the river breeze offers a warm embrace, lush greenery abounds and Southern charm mixes with modern culture. To say that the Augusta CVB simply held the conference would be an understatement. The team hosted an experience to, dare I say, write home about.
Opening Ceremonies and Lock Parties
Arriving at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center on Wednesday, we were greeted by an incredibly helpful hotel staff and a palatial exhibitor space. The opening speaker, Kelly McDonald kicked things off with a colorful talk on How to Market to People Not Like You: The New Market Segmentation. Following the general session, we had the chance to shake hands, share hugs and introduce attendees to the wonderful world of Rhyme & Reason Design – or at least the world that we were able to create at our 10’ x 10’ booth. Once the sessions wrapped and the vendor time closed, it was time for the evening adventure. And an adventure it was.
Augusta rolled out the red carpet with a new twist on the old-fashioned Augusta Canal Lock Party. A divine dinner (buffet tables as far as the eye could see), live music and a picture-perfect view of the Savannah River were just a few of the highlights for the evening.
A Day for Client Presentations and Friendly Libations
Thursday started bright and early with a balmy run along the river and a chance to hear our rock-star client, Rebecca McWilliam of Visit Dublin, GA, speak on social media. Between snack breaks, Courtney’s Photoshop wizardry (she whipped up quite a few tourism dudes, like the guy for Athens below) and client work, the day flew by, though not so fast that we missed a night out on the town. Augusta’s evening event was a dine around (town?) that allowed some citywide exploration, delicious sweet potato hummus and a nightcap with our friends from Savannah, Tifton and Dublin.
Camera-Ready, is a big Deal
Like all good things, the conference had to come to an end, but not before we heard from Governor Deal. In his breakfast speech on Friday, we learned that every county in the state of Georgia is camera ready – hello Y’allywood! Plus, we helped him applaud some of the great teams and individuals in the state who help tourism flourish.
Reflecting on the conference, it certainly reinforced our love for the tourism community, introduced us to some great people and gave Augusta a great name. In other words, Savannah you have big shoes to fill in 2015!