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Greenbrier Valley Tourism Summit

March 19, 2024

BUILDING A STRONGER DESTINATION

Join the Greenbrier County Convention & Visitors Bureau on Tuesday, March 19th for a  day-long summit exploring tourism’s significance in Greenbrier County and across the state. Gain insights into what’s driving growth and the tangible benefits of the visitor economy. Learn how partnerships and community engagement build a stronger destination, key to creating an authentic and holistic traveler experience. Don't miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in the dynamics of one the most robust industries in West Virginia.

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TIME & PLACE

March 19, 2024 | 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Conference Center at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine Student Center
400 Lee St. N, Lewisburg, WV

$40 per person, buffet lunch included (RSVP by 03.13.24)

AGENDA:

08:30 a.m.   Registration Opens

09:00 a.m.   Kara D. Dense, President and CEO, Greenbrier County CVB - Taking the Greenbrier Valley to New Heights

10:00 a.m.   Al Hutchinson, President and CEO, Visit Baltimore - Elevating Tourism Through Strategic Partnerships

11:00 a.m.   Richie Heath, West Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association - A Recap of the 2024 Legislative Session

11:30 a.m.   Buffet Lunch - Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Country Green Beans, Collard Greens, Salad, Biscuits & Cornbread, Peach Cobbler

12:30 p.m.   Dr. Bonny Ball Copenhaver, President, New River Community and Technical College - What's on the Horizon

01:00 p.m. Secretary Chelsea Ruby, West Virginia Department of Tourism - The State of Tourism, West Virginia on the Rise

02:00 p.m.   Sean Cowan, Executive VP, Digital Experience Director, Fahlgren Mortine - Navigating AI in Tourism: A Blueprint for the Future

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SPEAKERS:

  • Keynote: AL HUTCHINSON, President & CEO, Visit Baltimore

    Al Hutchinson joined Visit Baltimore as president and CEO in November 2016. He has more than 30 years of experience in the destination marketing industry in cities from Richmond to Pittsburgh to Mobile. He serves on numerous key industry boards including the United States Travel Association, Destinations International and Tourism Diversity Matters, and is currently serving as the chair of the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA). Hutchinson is a Richmond native and a University of Alabama alumnus. He and his wife, Unae, are proud parents to Asia and Jalen Hutchinson.

  • SECRETARY CHELSEA RUBY, West Virginia Department of Tourism
    Chelsea Ruby was appointed Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Tourism in March 2021. This designation marked the elevation of the Tourism Office to a cabinet-level department, with Chelsea Ruby having previously served as Tourism Commissioner for four years. In her capacity as Secretary, Ruby actively spearheads initiatives to unite and promote the state's Almost Heaven brand, drive tourism development, and showcase West Virginia as a year-round travel destination. West Virginia has achieved remarkable success in tourism, with a 17% increase in annual visitor spending and $7 billion in total economic impact.

  • SEAN COWAN, Executive Vice President, Digital Experience Director, Fahlgren Mortine

    Sean is responsible for overseeing Fahlgren Mortine’s digital experience team. With more than 20 years of digital marketing communications experience, he is focused on the future of where marketing is headed with trends in consumer behaviors and technology adoption. Everything he does with digital must pass his underlying philosophy of “building tools, not toys.” He has worked for multiple agencies throughout his career and earned numerous awards and certifications including HubSpot, Google Mobile, SEM Rush and Google Analytics.

  • KARA D. DENSE, President and CEO, Greenbrier County Convention & Visitors Bureau

    With 29 years of experience in the travel industry, Kara, a 1995 honor graduate of Concord University, began her tenure at the GCCVB in February 2007. Prior to returning to West Virginia, she served as Director of Sales for the City of Gatlinburg’s Department of Tourism and Convention Center. Kara holds leadership roles in the tourism industry, including membership on the West Virginia Tourism Advisory Council since her appointment in 2016, and as Vice President of the West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Recognized for her contributions, she was awarded the WV Department of Tourism’s Travel Professional of the Year in October 2017.

  • DR. BONNY BALL COPENHAVER, President, New River Community and Technical College

    Dr. Bonny Copenhaver has dedicated her entire career in higher education to working in community colleges. She sees these institutions as the keys to accessing advanced training that, for many, can seem unattainable. She started her career at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tennessee and has held various academic leadership roles since then. In 2019, Bonny was selected for Harvard University’s New Presidents Academy; she was one of 50 participants chosen for this prestigious professional development experience. Today, she serves as President of New River Community and Technical College, where she continues to champion academic excellence and student success.

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Greenbrier Valley Forest

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Greenbrier Valley lake at night

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