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Texas Travel Summit 2016 - Speaker List
Texas Travel Summit 2016 Speakers & Facilitators
(updated 9/21/16)



Steve Atkins
President, Partner, Brand Strategist
The Atkins Group

Steve combined forces with his father, Chip Atkins, in 1974 and together they built one of the state’s preeminent advertising agencies. Today, Steve leads this full-service creative agency that boasts an equally well-known reputation for successful national, regional and local branding campaigns promoting diverse industries such as tourism, beverage, grocery, sports marketing, business-to-business and healthcare. In addition to putting San Antonio on the creative advertising map, other notable accomplishments include: creating innovative solutions for the development of a tourist call center for Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism; orchestrating one of the very first customer relationship healthcare marketing platforms; as well as overseeing the development of branding campaigns that competed against and beat top global agencies in national award competitions.

Mike Bennett
VP of Display Advertising for the Americas

Mike Bennett is TripAdvisor’s VP of Display Advertising for the Americas, where he leads a tenured team of online media sellers who create brand and direct marketing programs on – and across the TripAdvisor media network – for the world’s top travel brands. Over the course of 25 years, Mike has been a buyer, seller and creator of media and marketing programs. In the days before digital media, Mike was on the agency side of advertising, working with creative teams to develop award winning TV & print campaigns for clients across several categories of business. 

Charlotte CarterCharlotte Carter
VP, Media & Communication Planning

Charlotte possesses the rare combination of quantitative expertise and the ability to inspire her team. In fact, in high school she was named “AP Physics Student of the Year” the same day she was awarded “Varsity Cheerleading MVP” – which proves how her analytical mind and contagious enthusiasm thrive together. Prior to joining Slingshot in 2008, Charlotte worked in brand media at The Richards Group, and her work has won an international OMMA, earned national recognition by MEDIA Magazine and scored many gold and silver trophies in the local arena too, across such accounts as the Florida Department of Citrus, GameStop, Susan G. Komen, Fuel Rewards/Shell Oil, VeeV Spirits, Corner Bakery Café, and SMU Cox. Charlotte is a country music aficionado, an interior design hobbyist and a Texas Longhorn. She and her husband, both Dallas natives, dote on their two young daughters and their yellow Labrador.

Carlos Casas - De La Garza
Sr. Account Executive

Carlos Casas De La Garza, husband, parent, traveler, soccer enthusiast, and digital marketer advocate. I’ve had the honor and pleasure to be part of the fast paced, ever changing digital ecosystem with publishers, agencies and technology platforms for over 8 years. In that time, I’ve learned to embrace constant change, adapt quickly to drive actionable results, and cherish longstanding relationships with savvy, driven, and passionate partners.

Esther Chung
Director of Digital Strategy
The Atkins Group 


Esther heads the Digital Strategy team at The Atkins Group. She joined TAG after working at MullenLowe Mediahub in Boston, MA. During her time at MLM, she led the digital media team on their tune-in accounts PBS, PBS KIDS and VH1. While at MullenLowe, she led efforts for her clients to achieve their ratings goal by launching custom campaigns with partners who provided new and innovative technologies; Google's live-stream rich media video ads, SambaTV on their proprietary TV targeting capability and TapAd's cross-device targeting technology, to name a few. Esther gets “it” when delivering a complete digital strategy for clients. As a holistic thinker who stays current on emerging digital platforms, she’s always finding new opportunities that enhance campaigns and challenge norms. She blends her passion for creativity and analytics, making her a true hybrid of a left and right-brained thinker.  At The Atkins Group, Esther is responsible for integrated Digital Strategy which includes responsibility for paid digital media, organic content and digital earned media.


Dan Decker
Chief Operating Officer
Texas Travel Industry Association

Daniel J. Decker has been a part of the US travel industry for the past 32 years.  In August, 2016 he became Chief Operating Officer for the Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) focusing on growth strategy management. In February, 2016 Dan retired as President of SeaWorld® and Aquatica™ in San Antonio a role he held for 12 years. During his 26 year SeaWorld / Anheuser-Busch career he also served as the Corporate Director of Operations and Executive Assistant to the president and chairman of the board, he was General Manager of Grant’s Farm, the Busch Family ancestral home located in St. Louis, Missouri and he held leadership positions in human resources, park operations and culinary operations at SeaWorld San Diego. Prior to his SeaWorld / Anheuser-Busch career, Dan was a leader in front office and guest service operations for resort hotel’s in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and San Diego, California.  Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hartford University.


Kelly de Schaun
Executive Director
Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees

A native Texan, Kelly de Schaun holds a B.Sc. from the University of Houston in Hotel/ Restaurant Management and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas. Kelly worked for 20 years as a tourism executive in the Caribbean region, returning to Texas in 2011 where she accepted the position of Executive Director of the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees.  The Park Board of Trustees is responsible for the promotion of tourism and the care of the Island beaches and beach parks.  This year she was recognized by the Galveston Chamber of Commerce as “Galvestonian of the Year” for her work on rebuilding Galveston beaches.  She is a former Peace Corp Volunteer, mother, wife and dedicated environmentalist.


Tim FennellTim Fennell
Tourism Deputy Director
Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism Division
Tim directs the “Texas. It’s Like A Whole Other Country.” advertising program and has been with Texas Tourism since 1995. Under his direction the advertising campaign has recorded the highest awareness, ROI and inquiry numbers in its history. The most recent campaigns have received numerous awards, including two 2013 Telly Awards, the U.S. Travel Association Odyssey Award, a Gold Effie, numerous ADDY’s, and Best Broadcast Advertising, Best Special Promotion and Best Overall Program from the National Council of State Travel Directors.

Scott Garner
President, Data & Analytics

Charged with helping to build solid partnerships and alliances, Scott brings significant business development and marketing savvy to the ADARA team. He has a track record of success at both a Fortune 500 company and a venture-backed startup. As an executive for United Airlines, Scott led the development plan that created, a venture funded by five major airlines, including United. Additionally, Scott was one of the founding board members of Orbitz, and he guided the company to a successful IPO. Scott was also president of the subsidiary of UAL Corporation responsible for monetizing select United assets, including its frequent flyer membership base and media channels. Scott has an M.B.A from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Economics from Utah State University. 

Nate Gieryn
Travel Research Manager
Office of the Governor, Economic Development & Tourism Division 

Nate Gieryn has been with the Texas Governor’s Office since 2005 and is currently serving as the Travel Research Manager within the Economic Development & Tourism division. Ongoing research in the division includes domestic and international visitor estimates for travelers to Texas, the economic impact of travel spending, hotel performance reports, and advertising effectiveness and accountability studies for the Texas. It’s Like a Whole Other Country® campaign.  Nate is active within the Travel and Tourism Research Association serving on the international board of directors and previously as president of the Texas Chapter. He holds a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of the Arts in Geography with Honors from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  

Michael Jokovich
Area Vice President and General Manager
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa

Michael Jokovich oversees six (6) Hyatt branded properties (including Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa) throughout the central United States, stretching across Texas and as far north as Minneapolis. He brings more than three decades of industry experience to this position ranging from island resorts to downtown hotels.Michael began his career in hospitality at the front desk. He followed that with stints in housekeeping and learning the rooms operation. Most recently, Michael served as area vice president of Northern California and general manager of Grand Hyatt San Francisco as well as general manager of Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.

Frank MorogielloFrank Morogiello

Vice President
Pearson Partners International

Frank Morogiello is Vice President in the Dallas office of Pearson Partners International. Frank brings deep aviation industry experience to Pearson Partners, having served nearly three decades at American Airlines in multiple roles, most recently as Vice President of Global Sales where he led the world’s largest airline team and was responsible for building partnerships with and growing revenue from global corporations, travel agencies, government agencies and other key corporate customers. Frank has been a featured speaker and panelist at top aviation, travel and corporate conferences around the world. He sits and actively advises on several Boards including: Texas Travel Industry Association, GetGoing, Seatboost, TripChamp, eCommissions Solutions and Brand New Matter.

Melissa RadovichMelissa Radovich
Vice President of Marketing
Landry’s, Inc.


Melissa Radovich oversees all marketing brand management, public relations, social media and corporate sponsorships for 500 Landry’s, Inc. locations. Radovich boasts a wide array of marketing expertise, leading promotions for 40 brands ranging from restaurants, hospitality, gaming and entertainment concepts. Radovich is a seasoned marketing and management professional with more than 20 years of experience. She has held various leadership positions in the gaming industry, making her mark at Caesars Entertainment, IP Casino Resort and Island View Casino. During this period of her career, she profitability by double digit percentages and received numerous honors for her efforts. She also implemented several successful loyalty programs.

Brad Smyth
Director of Tourism
Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism Division

Brad Smyth is the director of the Texas Tourism program in the Economic Development & Tourism Division of the Office of the Governor.  As director, he manages the state’s primary program for advertising and marketing the Texas travel experience domestically and internationally. Enjoying more than twenty years of tourism industry experience in the public and private sectors, Brad is honored to work with one of Texas’largest industries and lead a team that generates non-Texan travel to the state, creating revenue and jobs for Texas.  Prior to being promoted to director, Brad served as Texas Tourism’s deputy director, helping to create and oversee marketing and public relations campaigns for domestic and international markets. Brad is active in the U.S. Travel Association, the Texas Travel Industry Association, and National Council of State Tourism Directors.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin.


Ben Van Horn
Digital Sales Manager
Spectrum Reach (Formerly Time Warner Cable Media)

As Digital Sales Manager for Spectrum Reach, Ben is a Digital evangelist, strategist, and leader. He oversees all online advertising sales for 10 markets in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. Ben is also the Digital Sales Lead for Spectrum Reach’s Advanced TV initiatives in Texas. Ben has worked in media and advertising sales for the past 17 years in Digital, Broadcast, Print and Outdoor. He has worked with a wide range of Travel related clients from local market CVB’s to State Tourism, and various Resorts, Vacation properties, and Hotel partners. Ben is passionate about connecting client’s brands and marketing messages to the right consumers, at the right time. He is driven by analytics, creative ideas and innovative solutions to meet the needs of customers in a fast changing technology environment.



Mike Waterman
President & Executive Vice President
Visit Houston

Mike Waterman became president of the GHCVB in May 2015. The hospitality veteran, with more than 26 years in the industry, also serves as executive vice president of Houston First Corp.Waterman joined the GHCVB/HFC from Marriott International, where he served as vice president of sales for the Southwest region overseeing 100 properties, including a grouping of Marriott hotels in Los Angeles' convention district known as L.A. Live. Waterman has held a series of executive positions with Marriott International over the last 14 years and has been promoted five times during that period. Prior to that, he held director positions with Marriott affiliated properties from Chicago to Baltimore since 1993.

Beth WestBeth West
Meredith Corporation 

Beth West is a respected advertising professional who has sold advertising for Southern Living, Texas Monthly, Time Inc.'s PEOPLE, Hearst Magazines' Cosmopolitan, House Beautiful, Harper's Bazaar and Town and Country. She also spent several years on the agency side at Neiman Marcus' in-house advertising agency. Now at the Meredith Corporation, she sells print and digital advertising for the travel category in a variety of publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Martha Stewart Living, Rachael Ray Everyday, Family Fun and Midwest Living.






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