International Tour Management Institute (ITMI)

The Premier Training Institute for Tour & Travel Professionals Since 1976

symposium ITMI 2017


ALAN SMITH, Little Rock

Little Rock

Alan Sims

Vice President Sales & Services, Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau

Alan relocated to Little Rock from Dallas, TX five years ago to manage and develop an underperforming sales team with the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.  Today, his team has increased performance more than 40% bringing to Little Rock more than $52 million in restaurant and hotel visitor revenue annually.

A veteran of the hospitality industry, Alan’s career encompasses more than 32 years of sales & marketing experience including airline, hotel and destination management.  In his current role Alan directs a team of 15 sales & services professionals responsible for the advertising, promotion and sales activities bringing more visitors to Little Rock and generating revenues for hotels, restaurants and attractions throughout the Little Rock area.

Prior to Little Rock, Alan served in executive leadership roles with the Dallas and Oklahoma City Convention & Visitor Bureaus and National Sales level positions with Hilton, Omni and Fairmont hotel companies and American Airlines.

Alan has deep Arkansas roots… both of his parents were born and raised here.  Alan entered the hospitality industry directly from Wichita State University.  He currently holds the Certified Tourism Marketing Professional, Certified Destination Management Executive and Certified Tourism Ambassador designations and serves on numerous boards.

Alan is very proud to call Little Rock home!


JOE DAVID RICE, Arkansas Tourism

Arkansas Tourism

Joe David Rice 

Director, Arkansas Tourism

Joe David Rice serves as Arkansas’s Tourism Director, a position he’s held since May of 1987. He and his team of 65 employees have two major responsibilities: enhancing the image of Arkansas and enticing more visitors to the state.

Prior to his transfer to the Tourism Division, Rice was employed by the Arkansas State Parks system where he worked on the Arkansas Wilderness Act of 1983, the Cossatot River State Park and Natural Area, and the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Trust Fund. He wrote the Department’s award-winning community park handbook, edited its festival manual, and produced the “Arkansas Floater’s Kit.” In addition, Rice was a partner in a canoe outfitting service on the Buffalo National River.

Rice, who was born in Paragould and raised in Jonesboro, graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1974. He also obtained a Master’s degree – with an emphasis in environmental planning – from the University of Illinois. He’s received commendations from both the National Recreation & Parks Association and the National Park Service for his work, and was recognized by then Governor Bill Clinton as an “outstanding state employee.” He headed up Arkansas’s delegation to the 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism. In 2003 he was selected by his peers as the country’s State Tourism Director of the Year. He’s past Chair of the National Council of State Tourism Directors. In 2008, Rice was inducted into the Arkansas Hospitality Association Hall of Fame.  Rice was inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame at the Henry Awards Banquet during the 2015 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.



Brittany Marmanillo


Brittany specializes in helping professionals improve their executive presence, presentation and relationship building skills. She has worked with clients across many industries throughout the United States and across the globe. Before joining Exec-Comm Brittany served as a sales representative for World Travel Holdings in Virginia Beach, VA. Brittany donates time to Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a charity that helps care for the homeless by providing food, clothing and community support.

Communication Skills that Overcome the Generation Gap
This highly-interactive workshop gives Tour Directors and Guides the tools to successfully identify and navigate common communication challenges.  Learning how to recognize and overcome the differences between the generations will help tourism professionals create a positive experience for all guests. This workshop offers insights about how to avoid or effectively resolve conflict issues. Through skill building, group exercises, and role-play demonstrations, workshop participants will learn how to effectively bridge any communication gap.

KELSEY TONNER, Be a Better Guide

Be a Better Guide

Kelsey Tonner

Founder & Director of Be a Better Guide

Kelsey Tonner is an experienced global tour guide and founder of the Be a Better Guide Project that brings together tour guides and tour operators from around the world to learn from one another. His mission is to help anyone, anywhere, create extraordinary experiences for travelers. He has led trips in over fifteen different countries. He has been a wilderness trip leader, a dog-sledding guide, a volunteer coordinator in an Inuit community and he spent four years leading hiking, biking and multi-sport trips with Backroads Canada. 

Extraordinary Storytelling & the Art of Story Shaving
Learn five repeatable steps to consistently create powerful stories. Non-traditional techniques to engage and captivate your guests. Story-Shaving: Knowing what to cut, and what to keep. Shortcuts to finding the juicy stories behind your facts and figures

Mind Reading in Action - Seven Secrets for Managing Difficult Tour Guests
“Winning words” and “forbidden phrases” when dealing with an upset guest. The L.A.U.G.H. method for managing problem customers. Real life examples of responsiveness - mind reading in action. Learn the secrets to making your guests feel special.

MIKE SCHIELDS,  Destination America

Destination America

Mike Schields

CEO, Destination America

With more than 20 years experience with companies like Royal Caribbean International, Prism Holidays, Globus Family of Brands and most recently the President of Brightspark Student Travel and now the CEO of Destination America, Mike has a unique perspective of the tour and travel industry. A top-performing and results-driven business development executive in sales, department development and restructuring, business risk compliance and control, process implementation, project management, P&L governance, channel and product development, strategic sales planning, portfolio management, and revenue, margin, and client forecasting. He is killed at controlling operating cost, seizing opportunities to increase operational efficiency, reduce expenses, and increase profitability. Mike is a pragmatic and decisive leader and business partner, with proven success in strategic thinking and problem-solving. Highly effective at developing and implementing sustainable and effective market and operational strategies that meet the strategic goals and objectives of an enterprise. 

PRESENTATION : The Changing Nature of the Tour Business & Customer

BRENT WATKINS,  Rustic Pathways

Rustic Pathways

Brent Watkins

Vice President of Program Operations, Rustic Pathways

Brent holds a Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins University, where he is also an adjunct faculty member. Prior to joining Rustic Pathways, Brent worked for Teach for America where he managed a team that trained and prepared new classroom teachers. Brent brings his experience in learning development and teacher training to Rustic Pathways where he is responsible for program operations and new program design around the world.

Rustic Pathways Student Learning Impact Report
Quantifying the impact that travel abroad experiences have on students is critical to understanding the mechanisms of learning inherent in international programing. The data gathered in the student learning impact report examines student impact results across a variety of program design decisions and isolated the design elements that drive change in the critical mindsets we've targeted to impact student learning objectives. This process of critically examining the link between design decision and student impact will foster the development of industry-wide best practices in learning-centric design and create meaningful experiences.

DAVID BERTELIN, Arkansas Dept of Emergency Management

Arkansas Dept of Emergency Management

David Bertelin

Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch Manager/State Law Enforcement Coordinator
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management

Since 2009 David Bertelin has served the citizens of Arkansas as the Critical Infrastructure Protection Branch Manager and State Law Enforcement Coordinator with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.  David’s duties include traveling the state teaching law enforcement agencies tactical response methods for active shooter events and delivering presentations to civilian groups on active shooter awareness and best practices for survival. Prior to his position with the State of Arkansas, David served as a law enforcement officer for 22 years with the cities of Bryant, AR and North Little Rock, AR.

Disaster Response
The background science of how people react during a crisis.  The presentation covers how our bodies react physiologically and psychologically when we find ourselves in high stress situations.  The presentation includes some of the common reactions and ways to combat these reactions, so that we may continue to be able to make coherent decisions even when under great duress. Active shooter event specific survival strategies used by law enforcement, will be presented to participants.

JEFF MENT, Silver, Golub & Teitell

Silver, Golub & Teitell

Jeff Ment

Partner at Silver Golub & Teitell

Jeff Ment offers a unique ability to represent the many facets of the travel industry including tour guides and tour operators. He handles the defense of personal injury claims, international and national compliance issues, general representation of tour operators, risk management services, contract drafting, creating effective terms and conditions, and tour guide training. Jeff has been a lawyer for more than 25 years and prior to his legal career, he worked as a travel agent, tour guide and area sales manager for two airlines.

Tour Operator Session: How to effectively select vendors, best practices for terms and conditions as well as managing guest relations, general liability and information about crisis management

Tour Guide Session: Best practices for avoiding liability, general discussion of employer/employee relationship, and what we’ve learned from actual cases.



Kenneth Whitman, Esq.

Senior Program Manager at Aon Affinity

Kenneth F. Whitman serves as Senior Program Manager and Counsel to the Travel Agents and Tour Operators Professional Liability Program at Aon Affinity Travel Practice (formerly Berkely Travel). In his role at Aon, he oversees the day-to-day operations of both the claims and underwriting departments. He maintains Property and Casualty licenses nationwide, and is also a licensed New York State attorney. Ken contributed significantly to the drafting of the current insurance policy offered to Travel Agents and Tour Operators.  A significant part of his role at Aon/Berkely involves educating travel entities about risk assessment and risk management tools and procedures.  

Insurance, Risk Management and the Tour Director

•  Brief overview of insurance carried by Tour Operators –
   Professional Liability Insurance
•  What is risk management and why is it so important to travel and tour companies?
•  What can go wrong, and what are travel and tour companies and Tour Directors
    typically sued for, when the incident appears to have had nothing to do with them? 
•  Real claims….How Strange!
•  Q & A

Insurance, Risk Management and the Tour Operator

•  Insurance – Learning from our mistakes or proving that no mistake was made
•  Risk Management – A practical approach
•  Real claims….What have we learned?
•  Q & A



Ellen Malasky

Vice President, National Federation of Tour Guide Associations

Ellen is a Certified Master Guide with the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington DC. Through stories and anecdotes, her tours integrate American history, DC history and US government operations. Ellen serves on the board of the Guild and is a recipient of one of the 2015 Service Awards. She is currently vice president and board member of the National Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and chaired their 2016 biennial conference. Born in Stamford, CT, Ellen is a long-time resident of Washington DC. For over 35 years she worked for Ernst & Young retiring in 2008 as associate director. At EY she developed and implemented learning programs and managed major conferences and workshops.  

Strength Through Association
In 19 locations across the United States, guides periodically get together to increase their skills and knowledge, share experiences, network and influence tourism-related initiatives. This presentation will focus on what associations do, how you can get the most from your association and, if there is not one in your area, how to begin one.

SANDI ROSE MILLER, True You Makerovers

True You Makerovers

Sandi Rose Miller

True You Makeovers

Sandi Rose, a former Miss Oregon and a Miss America finalist and “Breck Girl” national spokeswoman combines decades of extensive training as a professional image consultant, pageant coach, television actress and on-stage performer with her expertise in transformational life coaching and her gift for seeing a client’s full potential. Sandi’s passion is assisting women (and men too) in reinventing their lives beautifully, powerfully and gracefully. An ITMI graduate, she has traveled through much of Europe, Canada and the United States. 

A highly interactive leadership training program designed to increase participants’ creativity and spontaneity.  When creativity, curiosity and spontaneity are functioning at high levels, natural leadership abilities expand and we instinctively interact more authentically and successfully with tour guests, tour operators, vendors and everyone else we encounter. Participants actualize learning by doing. 

True You Makeovers
With True You Makeovers, Sandi combines decades of experience as a professional image consultant, beauty pageant coach, television actress and on-stage performance artist, with her expertise in transformational life coaching and her gift for seeing a client’s full potential. This combination results in radiant and beautiful head-to-toe personalized makeovers. Participants will discover the colors, shapes and textures that energetically allow others to feel more receptive to them.  And when others respond more positively, our confidence, courage and commitment to excellence increases exponentially!  

CARRIE SWING, Carried Away

Carried Away

Carrie Swing

Marketing, Social Media & Branding Expert

Carrie Swing is a Berkeley, CA native consulting in social media marketing strategy. With degrees in Anthropology from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Golden Gate University, she sees business as an art as well as a series of problems to be solved creatively.  Since 2001 she has worked with designers, artists, authors and other creatives to embrace new media as part of their marketing mix, including social media, pop ups and podcasting. She enjoys speaking to groups on branding and marketing. She thinks outside the box and her motto is “make business fun.”

Technology & Branding
Social media strategist and small business expert Carrie Swing hosts an intensive, hands-on workshop on all things about technology and branding. This interactive workshop covers social platforms, apps and digital technology. Round table sessions provide one-on-one learning and problem solving. Not to be missed for all levels from smart phone novice to small business master in need of a fresh perspective. 



Darcel Harris Lee

Speaking on behalf of Barbara Perkins, President,
International Black Women's Public Policy Institute

Darcel Harris Lee is Founder and CEO of International Black Health Alliance, (IBHA) a policy and advocacy non-profit focused on health concerns of Black people. Prior to IBHA, Darcel served as the CEO of California Black Health Network, the state’s voice on a variety of issues impacting African American health. CBHN was recognized by President Barack Obama for the role the organization played in implementing the Affordable Care Act and the California Health Benefits Exchange. She currently chairs the Development Committee for the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI), an organization focused on the empowerment of African and African American women. Creating awareness about Human Trafficking of girls and women is a cornerstone of its work. In 2016 Darcel realized a lifelong dream when she became an ITMI certified tour director.

The Tragedy of Trafficking: A Call to Action! 
Human Trafficking is a horrible and demeaning travesty and a global issue that changes the lives of women, girls and boys forever. Whether we know it or not, it does impact us all. We must recognize it, understand it, and become informed so that we can “be the change” and stop trafficking forever!  

Little Rock Tours

Cary and Gina Martin co-founded Little Rock Tours, Inc. and Eventure America in February 2003. Inspired by other city sightseeing tours, Cary and Gina knew they could incorporate their news background with tours that would intrigue and entertain passengers.  Within the first two years of operation, the local tour service in Little Rock, Arkansas, was already featured in Southern Living magazine, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street journal, the St Louis Dispatch, the Dallas Morning News, and countless other newspapers, travel magazines, and national publications.  In September of 2012, Eventure America / Little Rock Tours was named “Outstanding Operator of the Year” by the South Central Motorcoach Association. In January of 2011, Little Rock Tours was named the recipient of the United Motorcoach Association Vision Award, as most outstanding tour operator in the country. In February of 2010, Little Rock Tours won the Silver Cup Award for outstanding contributions to Arkansas tourism. The company also won the Top Tourister Award in 2004, and was a finalist for the Arkansas Henry Award for outstanding contributions to Tourism in 2006. Since starting out as a local sightseeing tour service, the company has expanded to include shuttle and charter services, outbound tours, receptive operator services, entertainment, conference planning services, and marketing consulting. Eventure America, Inc. is a member of the National Tour Association, the American Bus Association, the United Motorcoach Association, the Southeast Motorcoach Association, Travel South, and many other travel and hospitality organizations.  

Little Rock with a Twist Guides : Rico Belotti & Bill Lamb
Rico Belotti has been guiding historical tours of his native city for Little Rock Tours since August 2007. His first career covered thirty-two years as a music educator in Arkansas High Schools and he is a Past President of the Arkansas Bandmasters Association and an active adjudicator for the Arkansas School Band and Orchestra Association. He is the Director of the North Little Rock Community Band, an Associate Musical Director and tuba player for the Natural State Brass Band and a studio teacher. He is active as a vocalist and in many lay positions at Little Rock's historic downtown Christ Episcopal Church. He is married to Ginny, who can also be found working alongside Rico at the Little Rock Tours booth at Arkansas music conventions. They have one married daughter and two young grandsons in Fort Worth, Texas. Rico has always been a "people" person with what some like to call the "gift of gab" and he looks at his tour groups as active learners in a rolling classroom. Had he not followed his musical desires into the band directing his next choice would have been to teach history, which coupled with the roll of storyteller is how he approaches his tour groups. "I love to talk and meet folks from new places and Little Rock Tours and Travel is the perfect place for that".



Bill Lamb is in his 11th season as a Tour Guide in Little Rock. Married and father of two and grandfather he enjoys his family time.  Retired from a career in the Federal Government Bill is now in his home state and enjoying the friends and family he missed while working throughout the United States. Bill has had an interesting life, living in eight different states and he enjoys finding the history and beauty of America. He considers being a Tour Guide the best work he has ever enjoyed. Meeting all the wonderful people coming through Little Rock make this much more than a job it is a blessed experience.



Arkansas Wine Country Guide : Lee Green
Lee Green is a 2006 graduate of Arkansas Tech University with a bachelors in Parks and Recreation and an emphasis in tourism. He began working the summer of 2006 at Post winery and became involved in all aspects of the winery including production, sales and events. During Lee’s 11 years in the wine business he has dedicated himself to wine education both as a student, achieving a level 3 certification WSET ( equivalent to level 3 Sommelier), and as a teacher returning to his alma matter to teach in the hospitality department. Lee has a passion for cultivating the experience of wine and a love for his home state of Arkansas. In his free time Lee loves to spend time with his family enjoying some of the natural wonders the state offer- like fly fishing, rock climbing and kayaking. 

Hot Springs, History & Horse Racing : Gina Martin & Cary Martin
Cary grew up in Centerville, Tennessee, graduating from University of Tennessee at Martin and was selected as one of the top 15 broadcasting students in the country - winning an internship at the networks in New York City with the International Radio and Television Society. Cary also worked for WBBJ in Jackson, Tennessee, WAFF in Huntsville, Alabama, KVOA in Tucson, Arizona, WCMH in Columbus, Ohio and WKRC in Cincinnati, Ohio - earning numerous awards and Emmy nominations in each market.

Gina grew up in Grove City, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, and graduated Summa Cum Laude at Ohio University with Journalism degree. Before Arkansas, she worked in numerous Ohio television markets, including Columbus, Ohio - her hometown. Gina has been a television co-host for multiple telethons, including the Jerry Lewis Telethon and StarFest. She was also the morning drive-time co-host for KARN news radio, the dominant talk radio, news, and sports radio station in Arkansas. They are also proud parents to daughters, Presley and Brooke.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Guide : Darrell Brown
Darrell W. Brown is an Arkansas native.  He has served as a U.S. Senate aide, a minister, and an Arkansas History teacher.  Brown worked for three years at the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock as an interpreter and living historian.  He recently served as the Visitor Center Manager at the most visited state park in Arkansas, Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Roland.  Darrell has been with the Group Travel Section of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism since October 2016.  He is a proud Arkansan, and enjoys sharing his love of Arkansas history and culture with people from all across the state, nation, and world. Darrell currently lives in Sherwood with his wife, Amy, and their beloved Boston Terriers, Stonewall Jackson and Dixie.