Virtual Supplier Seminar | May 12, 2021

A free virtual seminar was hosted on May 12, 2021 to share updates on the international travel recovery process. The seminar focused on further education about the international tourism industry, bringing in key industry experts to speak and present on everyone’s part in the recovery process through collaborative effort. This supplier opportunity was hosted virtually and was completely free to any supplier.


9-9:20 a.m.: Introduction

9:20-9:30 a.m.: State Message

9:30-9:55 a.m.: Market Update

9:55-10 a.m.: Break

10-10:50 a.m.: Tour Operator Panel

10:50-10:55 a.m.: Brand USA Update

10:55-11 a.m.: Break

11-11:35 a.m.: Receptive Workshop

11:35-11:45 a.m.: Supplier Testimonials

11:45-11:55 a.m.: IRU 2022 Update

11:55-noon: Follow-up & Closing


International Tour Operator | Dirk Büttner

Dirk Büttner, CEO, ARGUS REISEN GmbH, Germany

ARGUS REISEN was founded in 1995 and specializes in tailor-made vacations in North America. They are known for their knowledge of ranch vacations, a large selection of winter product and variety of unique accommodations. The company focuses on outdoor vacations, city packages, camper and sightseeing tours.

International Tour Operator | Virginie Ginès

Virginie Ginès, Product manager, Sensations du Monde, France

When B2C tour operator Sensations du Monde launched an FIT department and U.S. product, they hired former Compagnies du Monde’s assistant product manager Virginie Ginès to be their U.S. product manager. She has been in the industry for many years and has strong U.S. expertise.

International Tour Operator | José Kraan

José Kraan, Product manager/head
of sales,, Benelux is a specialist for America and Canada. Team members regularly visit these locations and therefore have the firsthand knowledge to help plan your trip. José has worked for for 14 years, and is responsible for new product and product information. She also leads the sales department.

International Tour Operator | Arianna Pradella

Arianna Pradella, Director of sales and USA project manager, the Group Caldana Europe Travel/
Utat Viaggi, Italy

Arianna Pradella is head of the Commercial and Marketing Department of the Group Caldana Europe Travel/Utat Viaggi. In addition, she is the product manager for the USA and Canada under historic brand Utat Viaggi, which was founded in 1934. Some of her creations have been appointed with special recognitions by the media.

International Tour Operator | Carolyn Stead

Carolyn Stead
Continental destination manager – North America, Trailfinders, UK

Established in 1970, Trailfinders was the pioneer of tailor-made travel in the UK and Ireland. With 39 travel centers across the country, they continue to be the leading tailormade tour operator, offering unbeatable value, unrivaled knowledge and exceptional service. Carolyn oversees the product development and contracting team for North America.

U.S. Receptive | Chris Pilley

Chris Pilley, CEO, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours, LLC, USA

Chris began his career in the tourism industry as a part-time and seasonal employee with Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours. After seven years of learning the ins and outs of all aspects of the business, Chris purchased the company from its founder, Gary Schluter. Chris lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife and their two dogs and three cats.

U.S. Receptive | Lena Ross

Lena Ross, Director of product development,
America 4 You, USA

Lena Ross began working for America 4 You in 2006 and previously held positions in multiple facets of the tourism industry. Lena holds a master’s degree in Sustainable Destination Management from George Washington University (2010) and a Tour Directing Certificate from ITMI (2011).

Brand USA | Chris Thompson

Christopher Thompson, CEO Brand USA

Christopher L. Thompson is president and CEO of Brand USA, the nation’s public-private partnership dedicated to increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts. Brand USA is an organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a premier travel destination. Brand USA works in partnership with the travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel. These benefits include fostering an understanding between people and cultures and creating jobs essential to the economy.

Regional Supplier | Melissa Cleland

Melissa Cleland, Representative, Southwest Idaho Travel Association, Idaho

Melissa has been in the tourism and hospitality industry since 2003, first starting at the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau and now with the Southwest Idaho Travel Association. She is responsible for all marketing activities, including domestic and international promotion.

Regional Supplier | Debbie Picard

Debbie Picard, Tourism sales manager, Western Montana’s Glacier Country Tourism, Montana

Debbie Picard caught the travel bug while participating in a summer exchange program to Europe. With more than 25 years of experience in the tourism industry, Debbie seamlessly blends her sales experience with her passion for outdoor experiences and her love of western Montana.

Regional Supplier | Darian Morsette

Darian Morsette, Tourism Director, Mandan Hidatsa Arikara (MHA Nation Tourism), North Dakota

Darian is part of all three MHA Nation tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara), and his Native American name is Black Buffalo Shoulder, passed on from his great-grandfather. Darian enjoys the great outdoors and being active in his community.

Regional Supplier | Charley Johnson

Charley Johnson
President and CEO,
Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, North Dakota

Charley Johnson has been president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau since June 2012. His four-decade career in broadcast journalism has included being on the radio and TV as an anchor, news director, general manager and producer.

Regional Supplier | Tim Johnson

CEO and Owner, Rushmore Destinations, South Dakota

Tim is an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry who focuses on the guest experience and allows that to put everything else into place. Being customer experience-driven has presented him with tremendous opportunities and has allowed rapid professional growth in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Regional Supplier | Quintin (Q) Blair

Quintin (Q) Blair, Sales and marketing director, GM and porter, Blair Hotels, USA

From Yellowstone National Park to charming small towns, each of Blair Hotels’ resort-style lodging destinations is run by welcoming locals dedicated to providing all of the comforts of your home while showing you the best of theirs. Quintin, or Q, leads the sales team and manages seasonal operations.

This event was hosted in partnership by the Great American West and Rocky Mountain International. For any questions, please contact your state representative.

Nancy Richardson, Idaho Tourism

Kim Birrell, Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development

Fred Walker, North Dakota Office of Tourism

Cole Irwin, South Dakota Office of Tourism

James Scoon, Wyoming Office of Tourism