Celebrating Excellence: Winners of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas 2023 Marketing Awards

In 2023, TIAK continued its tradition of recognizing outstanding marketing campaigns that have not only showcased the beauty of Kansas but also drawn visitors from far and wide. We are thrilled to present three remarkable winners of the TIAK 2023 Marketing Awards, who have demonstrated the power of storytelling, creativity, and visitor engagement in promoting their destinations and the beautiful Sunflower State.

For a complete list of all winning entries, please click here.

For a press release, please click here.

Small Budget – Online Media


Chase County has been recognized as a marketing award winner in the category of “Small Budget, Online Media” for its exceptional work in creating a new website, www.heartoftheflinthills.com. Their innovative and visually engaging website effectively captures the essence of the Flint Hills region, offering visitors an immersive and informative experience. They have successfully showcased the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and unique attractions and events of Chase County, Kansas, making them a deserving recipient of this award.

Medium Budget – Community Awareness


Visit Abilene secured a well-deserved marketing award in the “Medium Budget, Community Awareness” category for their remarkable achievement in creating the world’s largest belt buckle, a notable attraction showcased at https://abilenekansas.org/worlds-largest-belt-buckle. This innovative project not only stands as a testament to the community’s creativity and heritage but also serves as an extraordinary draw for visitors from all around.

Large Budget – Visitor Guide


Visit Topeka has garnered the marketing award in the “Large Budget, Visitor Guide” category for their exceptional work in creating a captivating visitor guide, available in both English and Spanish versions. This comprehensive guide, accessible at https://www.visittopeka.com/plan/visitors-guide/, has significantly enriched the visitor experience by providing valuable information about the Topeka community, its events, attractions, amenities, and more! The team at Visit Topeka has demonstrated a commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, making it easier for a broader audience to explore and enjoy all that this vibrant destination has to offer. Their dedication and excellence in this endeavor have rightfully earned them this award.

These three winners have not only excelled in their respective categories but have also set an inspirational standard for marketing within the travel industry. As marketing award judge Katie Olson, Assistant Professor of Advertising & Public Relations at the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication at Kansas State University highlighted, “It truly is a pleasure to get together with diverse industry professionals to review and reflect upon what everyone in the state of Kansas is doing to promote travel and tourism. It’s fun to see how the different areas are using exciting creative strategies to promote Kansas, and I love that I can stay in touch with this area of the industry and speak to the trends in my classes!

Additionally, Karen Crane, 2023 Marketing Committee Chair commented “The TIAK marketing awards are always a highlight of the tourism conference and provide attendees with great ideas for consideration in their future marketing campaigns, events, and promotions. We are fortunate to have a well-established program with capable and dedicated judges, amazing and inspiring entries, and a committee that works hard to make sure the awards program runs smoothly. It is my privilege to have served as the chair of this great committee alongside Allison Calvin and Christina Hayes.”

In 2024, Christina Hayes with the Great Bend CVB will take the reigns of the marketing committee!

>> Click here to view all of this year’s award winners!

>> Here are some changes coming to the awards program in 2024

  • Events — You can’t submit a conference for consideration unless you’re the official organizer or creator of that conference. In other words, you can only submit conferences/events that you’ve actually been responsible for creating. (Example: you may not enter the Society for American Travel Journalists conference/convention because that conference belongs to SATJ and your community only bids to receive it and assists with hosting).
  • Analytics – We’re going to create a dedicated section for marketing analytics in each entry. The judges find it valuable to have access to data related to the entry, such as the number of attendees, economic impact, reach, and distribution numbers. This additional space is being added because we have a word limit for the entry description, and we want to ensure this important information can be included.
  • Entries must have already happened or already been released. For example, if you create a campaign that got delayed or hasn’t taken place yet, you cannot submit it until you have actually run the campaign. Similarly, if you’re organizing an event, like a Halloween gathering which is currently being marketed for the present year, make sure to include the details of the previous year’s event. This is necessary because the event must have occurred before it can be evaluated for any awards. We can’t recognize or reward an event or campaign that hasn’t actually happened yet.

KTC Keynote Gathan Borden

2023 KTC Keynote Speakers:


“Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity” is the favorite quote of our 2023 Keynote Speaker Gathan D. Borden. Mr. Borden is a 16-year veteran of the tourism industry and is currently the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Destinations International. His responsibility is to build strategy and implementation of all marketing and communication initiatives for partners and positions across the globe.

You won’t want to miss his sought-after speech on various tourism marketing topics and trends as he was selected as the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization” a “Top 40 under 40” recipient of Business First of Louisville, CONNECT and Rejuvenate magazines. He was also awarded the “Hot Ten Award” by the American Advertising Federation of Louisville and is considered a strong emerging community leader.

Presenting the topic “Welcoming Visitors to Your Community” at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 18, you can also follow his blog at gathandborden.com or LinkedIn at Gathan D. Borden. Follow along as he shares his valuable experiences, and stories, and honors the history to build representation in today’s destination and tourism world!

KTC Keynote Donnie Campbell

2023 KTC Keynote Speakers

Donnie Campbell

On Tuesday, October 17th the Kansas Tourism Conference (KTC) is excited to welcome speaker, Donnie Campbell! Donnie is not just an inspirational coach but also the lead character of the Emmy Award-winning show, Ted Lasso! Donnie’s valuable leadership lessons can be seen on the court but more importantly in the workplace!

Donnie will help tourism professionals figure out, “What’s your MVP?” but in a way to personalize your own most valuable player through a mission/vision/plan that will form a strong foundation for everything else. In addition, you’ll learn how to believe, motivate and mentor, build leadership and confidence, strengthen your “why” and define success.

Donnie was a math teacher and basketball coach from Kansas who was oddly picked by American Actor Jason Sudeikis when Jason played basketball at Shawnee Mission West. Donnie was an inspiration to Jason and it ended up making a huge impression on millions around the world. Donnie graduated from Lions High School in 1980, and attended Kansas State University playing football and basketball. Today, he is busy making appearances on Good Morning American and The Today Show.

This one-of-a-kind keynote combines heartfelt storytelling with lessons in leadership that bring tactical takeaways to today’s challenging environment. It’s a speaker at KTC you won’t want to miss!

KTC Keynote Paul Long

2023 KTC Keynote Speakers


The 2023 Kansas Tourism Conference is excited to announce a keynote speaker to help fulfill company culture through employee engagement! A new concept of “FUNDAMISM” helps leaders learn, transform, and maximize fulfillment, change, and manifest all that is GOOD for their teams!

By bringing FUN to fundamism, Paul Long spent over a decade successfully leading large teams and helping customer relations nationwide! Paul’s secret sauce to creating joyful workplaces will help any team lead to extreme growth!

Paul just released his new book, Fundamism: Connecting to Life Through F.U.N which has truly helped business audiences nationwide come up with wonderful solutions to build teams and develop individuals. The simple solution according to Paul is “change perspective and create fulfillment in both business and life!”

Be sure you and your team are registered for the KTC Conference as Paul Long opens the general session on Monday, October 16th at 3:30 pm!

2023 KTC registration is open!

Get ready to celebrate the travel and tourism industry at the Kansas Tourism Conference in Dodge City, October 16-18, 2023. Be a part of the Kansas tourism industry’s “don’t miss” conference of the year. Registration is now open! Enjoy inspiring speakers, valuable educational information and fun networking opportunities. Kansas has so much travel and tourism talent and we can’t wait for you to meet each other!

For more information, and to register, visit the Kansas Tourism Conference event page. Be sure to look around and see what this year’s conference has to offer: a dynamic lineup of speakers, a silent auction, marketing awards, and so much more. When you’re ready to sign up, simply click “Register Now” in the Conference Dates section and get ready to celebrate. Registration is easy and you may select to complete your payment by using either credit card or check. But don’t forget to make your hotel reservation – the link is on the KTC event page.

Think you can dazzle your tourism peers even more? Share your talent in the TIAK Marketing Awards! Join TIAK in highlighting your skills in conjunction with the Kansas Tourism Conference. Entries must be submitted by August 4th and each submission may only be entered once. One winner from each overall budget category will be presented at the Awards Banquet. For submission requirements and registration, please visit the Marketing Awards page.

We look forward to celebrating travel and tourism at the 2023 Kansas Tourism Conference! Register today.

Save the Date! #KTC23

Registration opens soon for the 2023 Kansas Tourism Conference.

Get ready to celebrate the travel and tourism industry in Dodge City, October 16-18, 2023. Be a part of the Kansas tourism industry’s “don’t miss” conference of the year. Enjoy inspiring speakers, valuable educational information and fun networking opportunities. Kansas has so much travel and tourism talent and we can’t wait for you to meet each other!

For more information, visit the Kansas Tourism Conference event page. We will also showcase your marketing talents again this year with the TIAK Marketing Awards! Join TIAK in highlighting your skills in conjunction with the Kansas Tourism Conference.

We look forward to celebrating travel and tourism at the 2023 Kansas Tourism Conference! Registration opens June 1st.