Complete Story


Ohio Conference on Travel Drives Change and Fosters Education

Accelerating Ohio’s Travel Industry

This year at the Ohio Conference on Travel, travel industry members met in the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn Hotel and Suites in Akron, Ohio to discuss travel trends and opportunities, as well as to hear from national experts. The conference was held Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

Keynotes at the conference included Jim Brody, Sense of Place, who discussed travel trends in digital marketing; Bill Geist, DMOProz, who led the topic of traversing disruption; Jane Howard, Culture Effect, who taught attendees how to manage energy not time. The conference agenda also included a travel policy forum, sessions on online content, diversity in the workplace, wage and hour laws, developing messages, strengthening marketing partnerships, customer data and more.

This year, OTA received 194 RUBY Awards entries. These awards honor marketing efforts led by those who were the most innovative in their creative content. The Paul Sherlock Legend in Ohio Travel Award was given to Sen. Randy Gardner for his years of service and work to support the travel industry. Amanda Smith-Rasnick with Lake Erie Shores & Islands was the recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, and 24 industry professionals graduated from the Ohio Tourism Leadership Academy!

The Silent Auction represented 76 items with huge support from the travel industry. If you donated or bid on these items, thank you for helping to support OTA programming.

Also, a huge shout out to the Live Auction media winners who saved close to $48,000 on media packages and other items.

Stephanie Sferra – Trumbull County Tourism Bureau

Diana Thompson – Miami County Visitors Bureau

Gregg Mervis – Akron/Summit CVB

Jim Mahon – Akron/Summit CVB

Donna Grube – Auglaize & Mercer Counties CVB

Cathy Durant – TravelHost

Laurie Jadwin – Visit Gahanna

Amanda Smith-Rasnick – Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Amy Rutlidge – Carol County CVB

Additionally, OTA members voted for new officers and board members for the 2018 year. Election results were as follows:


Richard Nachazel, Destination Toledo

Immediate Past President:

Jodi Burroughs, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

Vice President:

Tami Brown, Greater Cleveland Aquarium


Jim Mahon, Akron/Summit CVB


Paige Alost, Athens County CVB

Elected Board Members:

Randie Adam, Cincinnati USA CVB

Sharrona Burns, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Bryan Edwards, Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Jason Fallon, Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Pete Fingerhut, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Brya Long, Long’s Retreat Family Resort

Please thank our 2017 Sponsors. These businesses are supporting the Ohio travel industry, so please consider meeting with them as potential business partners.

All photos for the Ohio Conference on Travel are now posted on the OTA Facebook page here. If you need a high resolution copy of an image, please contact

We would like to thank you for attending this year’s conference, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the 2018 Ohio Conference on Travel Sept. 25 to 27 at Cedar Point – Hotel Breakers!

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