2022 Arizona Governor’s Conference On Tourism

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the 2022 event!

July 13 – 15, 2022

The Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism (GCOT) is the premier educational and information-sharing event in the state for travel professionals and destination marketers. GCOT provides its attendees the opportunity to exchange ideas with peers, learn from expert panelists, draw inspiration from nationally renowned speakers, and discover cutting-edge products and services.

Questions? Please contact us at (602) 542-0065 or info@azgcot.com

Selfies In The Arizona Desert
Traditional Native American Dance Urban
Arizona Golf Courses


Registration for the 2023 event will be available later in the year.

We look forward to another productive year full of educational sessions, great networking opportunities and the chance to collaborate with partners across Arizona.  Please save the date for July 10-12, 2023 at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, AZ.

Events & Activities

Pre-Conference SAFE Action Project Training

On Wednesday, July 13, 2022 at 1:30PM. The SAFE (Safeguarding All From Exploitation) Action Project is a tourism training program designed to elevate awareness and action within the industry to combat human trafficking. As we continue to recover from the pandemic and welcome visitors to our state it’s vital that the travel, hospitality and tourism industry has the knowledge and skills to recognize and properly report potential human trafficking situations. Join the SAFE Action Project for training to recognize, report, and ultimately end human trafficking in Arizona. Each training attendee will receive a certificate of SAFE Action Certification.

Governor’s Tourism Awards Gala

On Thursday, July 14, 2022 the Arizona Office of Tourism will host the 2022 Governor’s Tourism Awards Gala where we will recognize the outstanding marketers, innovators and ambassadors of the Arizona tourism industry. This sit-down dinner affair is a wonderful celebration of our industry and a great opportunity to network with fellow attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.

Nominations are now open so make sure to help us recognize excellence in Arizona’s travel and tourism industry by nominating a program or individuals.

GCOT 2022 Submission Categories

GCOT 2022 Submission Rules


Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa

The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is a AAA Four-Diamond hotel in the middle of the Sonoran Desert that was voted a Top Resort by Condé Nast Traveler readers. With staggering views of the Santa Catalina Mountains, it will be a beautiful and productive environment for our 2023 Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism.  More details on the 2023 accommodations will be available later in the year.

2022 Conference Schedule

Subject to change.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

1:30PM NEW – SAFE Action Project Training

The SAFE (Safeguarding All From Exploitation) Action Project is a tourism training program designed to elevate awareness and action within the industry to combat human trafficking. As we continue to recover from the pandemic and welcome visitors to our state it’s vital that the travel, hospitality and tourism industry has the knowledge and skills to recognize and properly report potential human trafficking situations. Join the SAFE Action Project for training to recognize, report, and ultimately end human trafficking in Arizona. Each training attendee will receive a certificate of SAFE Action Certification.

2:30PM General Session: AOT State of the State Tourism Industry Update, Debbie Johnson

AOT’s annual presentation will offer a brief look at the research data, recovery programs, marketing plans, and advertising strategies that contributed to a successful year. AOT will also share our strategic vision and path forward for the industry.

3:30PM General Session: Adaptation Advantage: Leading an Empowered Workforce, Heather McGowan

When Heather McGowan and Chris Shipley wrote The Adaptation Advantage (April 2020, Wiley) they did not realize how prescient their advice and predictions would become when the coronavirus global pandemic required an immediate and dramatic shift in work, learning, and leading.  Predictions they made for the next three to five years, occurred over the following three to five weeks. Overnight companies remapped supply chains, pivoted product lines, and transformed to distributed work-from-home organization. Entire university and school systems adopted virtual delivery exclusively, something many said they would never do. This new normal, or normal of now, requires a focus on culture, purpose, trust, and psychological safety as we embark on the largest social experiment in human history. The virus has accelerated our future of work, expedited our human transformation to digital creating, and placed an even greater burden on leaders to inspire and motivate human potential. Even when the virus subsides, many of our new ways of working will remain and we will be the better for this forced transformation.

4:30PM Conference Reception

Join AOT and your industry colleagues to enjoy a conference kick-off reception in the Exhibit Hall from 4:30-6:30pm. Dinner this evening is open to plan with colleagues and friends.

6:30PM Open Evening or Optional Sponsor Dinners

Thursday, July 14, 2022

8:00AM Continental Breakfast 

8:45AM General Session: Workforce Crisis Data Insights and Leading the Way Forward, Angie Briggs, US Travel

The American workforce is undergoing significant upheaval with a record high of more than 9 million job openings. The travel and hospitality sector has been the hardest hit in our nation’s workforce crisis. From frontline employees to building a leadership pipeline, nearly every business in our industry has been impacted. Join Angie Briggs, U.S. Travel’s Vice President of Industry Relations, as she discusses the many layers impacting the American workforce along with the latest data and insights.

9:15AM General Session: Embrace The Constraints: Why Adding Constraints Sparks Creativity, Inspires Action and Builds Better Marketing, Andrew Davis

Sure. Covid-19 created some constraints. We are constrained to our desks, our homes, our families, and Zoom calls. We’re constrained to virtual events, virtual sales calls, virtual networking, virtual happy hours. For some, all these constraints severely affected our businesses. For others, the constraints became their fuel for growth. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that constraints breed creativity. In this exhilarating and inspiring 60-minute session, Andrew Davis will break down the five limitations you can add to any initiative to drive better outcomes.

You’ll learn how one non-profit turned its shutdown into millions of dollars in donations. Andrew will reveal how a small bet with massive restraints resulted in a best-selling book. He’ll even show you how one business beat the pandemic by snooping through old SEC filings.

More importantly, you’ll walk away ready to apply smart constraints to your business: limitations that result in more significant success.

Are you ready to embrace the constraints?

10:30AM Morning Break 

11:00AM Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Now that you’ve learned all about The Cube of Creativity in this morning’s keynote session, it’s time to put it into practice! In this interactive, fun, and productive breakout session, keynote speaker Andrew Davis will help you craft the perfect creative challenge. We’ll tackle the most significant obstacles facing you and your team with nothing but a dry-erase board and a few marketers. Whether you’re marketing a destination, hosting an event, or own a hotel in town – let’s get creative.

Bring your constraints!

Speaker: Andrew Davis, Author & Keynote Speaker

As Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation grows in popularity, the tourism community needs to do its part to understand what resources are available to promote responsible OHV activities. Learn from stakeholders like Arizona State Parks & Trails, Arizona Game & Fish and the Bureau of Land Management to know what resources are available to visitors to help manage the OHV community and promote a more responsible attitude towards the use of motorized vehicles on public lands.


  • Matthew Eberhart, State Off-Highway Vehicle Coordinator, Arizona State Parks & Trails
  • Kim Jackson, Boating & OHV Education Program Manager, Arizona Game & Fish
  • Tammy Pike, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona
  • Brian Poturalski, Recreation Program Manager, US Forest Service, Coconino Forest Division

Moderator: Danielle Fowles-McNiven, Assistant Director, Tread Lightly

Join our marketing and research teams to learn more about how AOT determined high-value marketing personas through an extensive research project, how we are integrating this intelligence to create more effective campaigns, and how you can use this data to inform marketing.


  • Colleen Floyd, Director of Research, Arizona Office of Tourism
  • Lizzy Lowy, Client Services, Off Madison Ave
  • David Reichbach, Senior Director of Analytics adn Data Security, Destination Analysts

For the first time since 2018, AOT’s international representatives will be in attendance at GCOT.  Moderated by Florian Herrmann, CEO of Herrmann Global, this session will provide the audience with AOT representatives’ insight into the international travel market, trends, unique market conditions, and traveler sentiment in each of their countries.  Audience Q&A will be available to close out the session.


  • Barbara Boltoukhine, B World Communication, France
  • Mauricio Gonzalez, CWW, Mexico
  • Axel Kaus, Kaus Media Services, Germany
  • Sarah Sheehan, Hills Balfour, United Kingdom
  • Charmaine Singh, ReachGlobal, Canada

Moderator: Florian Herrmann, CEO, Herrmann Global

  • 12:00PM Conference Networking Lunch

2:00PM Concurrent Breakout Sessions

An inside view of what today’s journalists and editors are looking for in a pitch that grabs their attention, and ultimately, earns their coverage. Be sure to bring any ideas you already have, as we’ll lead you through crafting a pitch, with examples and guidance on featuring your particular destination or tourism asset. From ideas to execution, this session will have you pitching in no time!


  • Shanti Lerner, Reporter, The Arizona Republic/AZCentral
  • Janet Mick, President & Founder, IT Public Relations
  • Delainey Noe, Producer, NBC 12 News – Arizona Midday

Moderator: Josh Coddington, Director of Communications and Public Information Officer, Arizona Office of Tourism

No matter where you are in your planning process, this engaging workshop provides you with an actionable tool to effectively implement Appreciate AZ education within your destination, business, organization or enterprise. Join Andrew Leary, Director of Sustainable Tourism at Leave No Trace, for this one of a kind workshop. Attendees will walk away with a physical copy of the planning tool as well as the know-how for reducing recreation and visitation impacts in their corner of Arizona.

Speaker: Andrew Leary, Director of Sustainable Tourism & Partnerships, Leave No Trace

Your followers are hungry for what’s new, what’s next, and they want to see it now. But how they engage on TikTok versus Instagram versus Facebook and even YouTube differs. And the pressure to deliver great, consistent content can feel overwhelming. 

That’s exactly why we’re here. Our panelists will share content strategies to help keep your feed fresh and engaging. We’ll break down ideas both big and small and explain content types that work well by platform, so you can leave with new ideas to test and try for yourself.


  • Katelyn Garcia, Education & Outreach Director, Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary
  • Lee McLaughlin, VP Marketing, Visit Tucson
  • Jesus Vicent, Editor-In-Chief, Welcome To Arizona

Moderator: Jordyn Walworth, Social Media Marketing Manager, Arizona Office of Tourism

Responsible tourism is about reducing social and economic inequalities and building awareness. Centered on internal and external commitments that are not always perceived as being measurable, join this session to understand concepts and insights on how organizations internally should implement strategies to operationalize DEI within their company culture; and externally on how destinations should look to execute strategies in their local hospitality community.

Speaker: Melissa Cherry, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Miles Partnership and Tourism Diversity Matters Board Member

  • 3:00PM Afternoon Break

3:30PM Concurrent Breakout Sessions

As international markets reopen, now is the perfect time for partners to evaluate their approach to the Mexico market.  This session, featuring state, city and partner perspectives, will shed light on what to consider to tap in the most important market to the state – what to do, where to do it, how to stretch your dollars and how to approach the drive market vs the fly market.

Join us in this session to learn more about this important market.

Speaker: Mauricio Gonzalez, CEO, CWW Mexico

In preparation for the FY23 Rural Cooperative Marketing Program, the AOT marketing team and media partners will discuss additions to the program, new media offerings and open the floor for questions. A companion networking session will be available promptly following the session for participants to talk in-depth with media planners and participating media partners about strategy and plan offerings.


  • Colleen Floyd, Director of Research, Arizona Office of Tourism
  • Simon Caballero, Date Sales Specialist, Near
  • Jenna Rowell, Director of Rural Development, Local First Arizona
  • Kaci Blatchford, Account Supervisor, Casual Astronaut
  • Adam Bridgeford, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Herrmann Global
  • Chelsea Edwards, Sales Representative, Bandwango
  • Whitney Coleman, Account Strategist, Madden Media
  • Meredith Tekin, President, IBCCES
  • Becky Blaine, Deputy Director, Arizona Office of Tourism

What’s the state of ROI and attribution in 2022? As privacy policies become more strict and direct causation becomes more untenable, DMOs are struggling to build data analysis and measurement programs that accurately capture their ROI. Add in the additional pressures introduced over the past two years and it’s easy to see why traditional ideas about ROI and attribution may be in need of reinvention.

Join this discussion about whether the time has come to rethink ROI and what it means to the modern, post-pandemic DMO. Matt Clement of Madden Media, an industry thought leader on the topic, will cover issues affecting the ROI topic including new technologies, sustainability, DE&I initiatives, new funding models and more.

Speaker: Matt Clement, Managing Partner, Madden Media

There are no points for going it alone. By collaborating with motivated partners, aligning collective resources, and galvanizing community support even the biggest challenges can become achievable opportunities. This session will explore best practices and case studies to illustrate how local and regional collaboration can transform how you tackle projects in your destination.

Speaker: Sara Meaney, Principal, Coraggio Group

5:00PM Conference Reception

  • 6:00PM Governor’s Tourism Awards Gala

Friday, July 15, 2022

8:00AM Continental Breakfast

9:00AM General Session: AZ Economic Outlook & Gubernatorial Candidate Conversations

When public and private sector leaders want actionable insights into where the Arizona economy is headed, they often turn to renowned Arizona economist Jim Rounds. With both strong tourism metrics and potential headwinds facing the economy, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to invite Jim to share his latest economic outlook with our tourism audience. 

And after Jim’s presentation, he’ll stay with us to moderate a discussion with Arizona gubernatorial candidates Karrin Taylor Robson and Marco Lopez, who will share their priorities and how each plan on supporting our tourism industry as governor. 


  • Jim Rounds, President, Rounds Consulting Group – Moderator
  • Karrin Taylor Robson, Republican Candidate for Governor
  • Marco Lopez, Democratic Candidate for Governor

9:45AM Morning Break

10:15AM General Session: Visit Arizona Initiative Update & Round Two Q&A

The Arizona Office of Tourism’s Visit Arizona Initiative Program is the largest investment in the state’s travel and tourism industry history. Tune in as AOT walks through this year’s programs and unveils the applications.

11:00AM Conference Closing  

2022 Keynote Speakers

Heather E. McGowan

Future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Third Industrial Revolution was marked by computerization and automation of physical labor, laying the foundation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will be notable for the rapid advancement of technology tools into the domain of human knowledge work. In this world, humans must continuously learn and adapt, and with this transition comes information overload. Heather gives lucidity to this topic through her illuminating graphic frameworks and powerful metaphors, all backed by deep research. In 2017, LinkedIn ranked her as its number one global voice for education. Pulitzer Prize–winning NYT columnist Thomas Friedman frequently quotes Heather in his books and columns and describes her as “the oasis” when it comes to insights into the future of work. Heather’s sessions help employees and leaders alike prepare for and adapt to jobs that do not yet exist.

McGowan’s clients range from start-ups to publicly traded Fortune 500 companies, including AMP Financial, Autodesk, Biogen, Citi, Accor Hotels, AARP, The World Bank, and BD Medical.

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis is a bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker. Before building and selling a thriving digital marketing agency, Andrew produced for NBC’s Today Show, worked for The Muppets in New York and wrote for Charles Kuralt. He’s appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and on NBC and the BBC. Davis has crafted documentary films and award-winning content for tiny start-ups and Fortune 500 brands. Recognized as one of the industry’s “Jaw-Dropping Marketing Speakers,” Andrew is a mainstay on global marketing influencer lists. Wherever he goes, Andrew Davis puts his infectious enthusiasm and magnetic speaking style to good use teaching business leaders how to grow their businesses, transform their cities, and leave their legacy.

Sponsorship Information

Become a GCOT sponsor and take advantage of a full spectrum of cost-effective opportunities.

2022 Sponsorship Packages

As always we strive to create packages that allow organizations to choose the exposure opportunities that best matches their budget and promotional needs. All sponsorship levels are cash-only participation and may be a cooperative partnership between no more than two organizations, each contributing an equal amount. Packages range from $1,500 to $20,000 with all levels of visibility at the event. Please download the 2022 Sponsorship Packages to review all packages.

2022 Sponsors

Gold Level

Bronze Level

Copper Level

Exhibitor Level

12News – Premion


APS Solutions for Business Program

Arizona Highways

Arizona State Parks & Trails


Casual Astronaut

Certified Folder Display Service, Inc.

Discover Gila County, Inc.

Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure at Dotdash Meredith

Grand Canyon Conservancy

Herrmann Global

MiCamp Solutions

National Park Trips – Grand Canyon Journal

Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise / Twin Arrows Navajo Casino

Northern Arizona University

ON Media | WHERE Traveler

Phoenix International Publishing

Phoneix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority


Standard Textile

State Farm Stadium

The Secretary of Tourism of Sonora

Town of Chino Valley


Contact Us

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AOT Partners

Want to stay up to date on information from the Arizona Office of Tourism and their Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism?

Sign Up for AOT’s Partner Portal!

AOT has launched a new partner portal for tourism businesses across Arizona. Our Partner Portal is free of charge and allows us to maintain accurate records of businesses and partners across the state and provide enhanced services and opportunities.

Through the Partner Portal, partners are able to:

  • Add and manage multiple contacts at a single business or organization.
  • Create and edit business listings for consideration on VisitArizona.com.
  • Add the URL to your COVID-19 safety page for consumers.
  • List deals and promotions.
  • Upload photos and access AOT’s image library.
  • Create consumer events listings to publish on VisitArizona.com.

You can create an account and access the partner portal using this link: arizona.idss.com/extranet.

We have printable step-by-step instructions available here.