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Travel Exchange Speakers

Jay Baer, Convince and Convert

Jay is a renowned business strategist, a New York Times best-selling author of five books, and the world’s most retweeted person among digital marketers. His programs help organizations everywhere rethink their approach to marketing and customer service, helping them gain more customers and keep those they’ve already earned. Jay has advised more than 700 companies and organizations, including 32 of the Fortune 500. He has created five multimillion-dollar companies, and he is an active venture capitalist. He is the Founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that owns the world’s no. 1 content-marketing blog and the world’s top marketing podcast. Jay is a “Word-of-Mouth Marketing Hall of Fame” inductee, was voted one of the “Top 50 Trustworthy Digital Marketing Experts” and is a go-to source for numerous news outlets.

Lynn Burkholder
, RLB Marketing

After more than 20 years in corporate marketing, Lynn founded RLB Marketing. Her company develops strategic business and marketing plans, with a niche in hospitality, travel and tourism. Lynn has spent most of her career in the hospitality and tourism industries working in Ohio and Pennsylvania. She was on the opening team of the first gaming and entertainment facility in central Pennsylvania, serving as vice president of marketing for Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino in Harrisburg. Before that, Lynn worked in marketing for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company and the Westin Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Alfred Chang, Ctrip

Lori Erickson
, author

Lori is one of the country’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. Her recently published book, “Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God,” blends her personal narrative with descriptions of 12 different pilgrimages she visited, ranging from Jerusalem and Machu Picchu to sacred places in the United States. Through her travels around the world, she has experienced a variety of religions, and those journeys have changed and molded her own spiritual views.

Catherine Heeg
, Customized Management Solutions

Catherine is a tourism, travel and hospitality industry expert with more than three decades of experience. Based in Calgary, Alberta, Catherine works with professionals to enhance their marketing knowledge, and she is the social media columnist for Courier magazine. She delivers tools that help companies differentiate their products from the competition, reach target audiences and achieve visibility for winning results.

Mark Hoffmann
, Sports Leisure Vacations

Cathleen Johnson
, Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants

Cathleen is president of Cathleen Johnson Tourism Consultants, one of the foremost authorities on travel and tourism marketing and communications. Prior to starting her firm, she created the travel and hospitality practice at the public relations firm Edelman, where she developed marketing campaigns for several countries, airlines, hotels, tour and transportation companies and associations. Cathleen received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Howard Kramer
, The Complete Pilgrim, LLC

Howard is the creator and author of The Complete Pilgrim. He first took an interest in religious sites in his early twenties when traveling through Italy after college. In the two decades since he has traveled to more than two dozen countries and almost every state, visiting and photographing hundreds of the world’s greatest churches, synagogues and other places of religious interest. Howard has been writing about religious sites for the better part of the last decade, and The Complete Pilgrim is the culmination of years of his work and passion.

Peter Maidhof
, AON Affinity Berkely Travel

Peter joined The Berkely Group in 1993, which was acquired by Aon in the mid-nineties. In 1994, he transitioned into the professional liability division and has been there since. As assistant vice president, Peter oversees the underwriting staff of the Travel Agents and Tour Operators Professional Liability Program.

Jeff Ment
, Silver, Golub, & Teitell LLP

Jeff is an attorney with Silver, Golub & Teitell LLP. He represents many businesses in the travel industry, including travel agents, tour operators, hospitality groups, cruise lines and motorcoach tours. He handles the defense of personal injury actions, international and national compliance laws, general representation for travel agencies and risk avoidance management services. His cases come from around the globe, including Africa, South America, Europe and the Caribbean.

Kevin Murphy
, Sports Leisure Vacations

Kevin is the General Manager of Sports Leisure Vacations in Sacramento. Sports Leisure provides upscale, escorted daytrips and multi-day tours for senior adults. Kevin has worked in various positions within the tourism industry in lodging, attractions, and for the Chico Chamber of Commerce and Fresno City & County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He currently serves as President of Travel Alliance Partners, a private corporation of 30 small to medium-sized tour operators within North America.

Travis Owens
, Cherokee Nation Businesses

Travis serves as the director of cultural tourism and community relations for Cherokee Nation Businesses, where he manages the restoration of historic sites, interpretive planning, infrastructure development, site planning, cultural art, events and marketing. Travis also oversees corporate sponsorship and employee volunteerism for Cherokee Nation Businesses’ 6,000-plus employees. Travis has also worked for the Cherokee Nation Commerce Department, where he focused on rural community development through agritourism, entrepreneurial development and scenic byway development.

Julie Payne
, CTP, RLB Marketing and Hershey’s Chocolate World

Tourism is not only Julie’s profession, it’s her passion. After beginning her career as a group tour manager for a Pennsylvania-based tour company, Julie eventually took the skills developed during her 10 years there to her current role at RLB Marketing. Her relationships with tour operators and industry leaders remain strong today. Her focus at RLB Marketing has been on strategy and utilizing data and research to create successful sales and marketing plans. She specializes in groups, student, international, FIT and sports tourism.

Billy Riggs
, Billy Riggs Enterprises

Billy has been called “The Dr. Phil of Magic” and “a psychologist masquerading as a comedian and magician,” and he was voted one of America’s Top Five Most Entertaining Speakers in a 2014 nationwide poll of conference attendees. As a highly skilled orator, Billy moves audiences to action with his message of hope and inspiration. Add in his talent as a master magician, illusionist, and spellbinding entertainer, and he delivers a presentation that you will remember long after Travel Exchange. Billy’s presentations change lives, improve attitudes, turbocharge sales, and inspire exceptional service.

Thom Singer
, The Conference Catalyst

Thom has more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience. He is an expert in branding, positioning and networking and has trained thousands of professionals in the art of building contacts that lead to increased business. He is an author and entrepreneur who has written eight books and numerous articles for business and marketing publications.

Paul Vitale
, Vital Communications Inc.

Paul speaks worldwide about the significance of optimism, a strong work ethic, and concepts vital to personal and professional growth. Prior to founding Vital Communications Inc., he was director of the convention and visitors bureau in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and started his professional career with the largest marketing firm in Arkansas, Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods. His team was responsible for all of the Natural State’s tourism promotion.

Beth Zieseneis
, Your Nerdy Best Friend

Beth is an author, speaker, technology consultant, self-proclaimed nerd and the founder of Your Nerdy Best Friend. She keeps up with all the new online applications and downloads that help you look like you’re working with a team of marketing, computer and productivity experts, even if you suffer from a shrinking staff and a disappearing budget.



  • Travel Exchange is worth every penny. The networking is great, and there is always business to be made to show ROI for your decision makers. The investment is worth the reward. Cory Mace, Badger Bus
  • What NTA does is provide the right buyers. They provide the right people who make decisions. This is what makes this organization one I can’t afford to take off my list. John Stachnik CTP, Mayflower Tours, NTA member since 1979
  • I came to NTA to build a business, and that’s exactly what it did for us, as sales came in. For me, it’s the only outlet for new ideas. Matthew Squire, Select Travel Service (UK), NTA member since 2002
  • The No. 1 member benefit of NTA has to be all the great professional and personal connections we’ve made over the past decade. Taunya Wolfe Finn, CTP, Wolfe Adventures & Tours, NTA member since 2005
  • We have not found a more reliable, more profitable or more consistent tourism venue in which to acquire new business than NTA. Diane Hohnstein, Hospitality Management Services, NTA member since 1999
  • You guys at NTA have the best bunch of members I have ever come across. I had one of my best shows ever. Everybody was so nice and welcoming, and the organization of the event was spectacular. I am so happy to be a member and be assured of my continued support in the future. Bernard O'Reilly, Joe O'Reilly Ireland DMC
  • NTA events provide us with beneficial networking with many top tour operators. It’s national and international in scope providing a global perspective. Tim and Elaine Moulder, Brilliant Edventures, NTA member since 2015