Tourism and Gaming Speakers
Tuesday, September 12th 10:30 am -11:45 am
Place Based Marketing Strategies
Kylie Rowe is the Vice President of Relocation and Corporate Services at Dickson Realty. She is a Trustee on the Board of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) and a Team Member of TEDxUniversityofNevada. Kylie was the founding Assistant Director of the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship in The College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno and the President of Nevada’s Graduate Student Association. She studied Economics as an undergraduate, later earned a Masters in Social Work and completed a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2017. Kylie is a contributor to This is Reno, Getaway Reno/Tahoe, and she enjoys practicing improv and broadcast journalism. Follow Kylie online @KyRoBiz!
The Abbi Agency
Abbi Whitaker is the president and co-founder of The Abbi Agency, an integrated marketing communications firm with offices in Reno, Las Vegas, San Francisco and New York. Abbi is a board member of the Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce, co-founder of the Biggest Little City Movement, and a board of advisors member for Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
A graduate of Churchill County High School who remains close to her small-town roots, Abbi Whitaker earned a degree in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno.
After working several years with regional marketing agencies, Abbi joined with her husband, Ty, to launch The Abbi Agency in 2008. Initially, she worked from her kitchen table as she kept an eye on two young children.
In 2016 Abbi received the University of Nevada Young Alumni Award and the American Planning Associates Citizen Planner Award. The Abbi Agency was honored with the SBA’s Nevada’s Family Owned Business of the Year award in April of 2016 as well. She was also honored with the President’s Award from Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology in 2014 for her work on behalf of the community, was named “Influencer of the Year” by the American Marketing Association Reno/Tahoe in 2013
Abbi is passionate about Reno’s future and regional entrepreneurship. She volunteers with many local and regional organizations that are shaping Northern Nevada’s future. Abbi is currently on the board for the Nevada Women’s Fund, the Co-Chair of the Economic Vitality Committee for the Regional Alliance for Downtown and a board Member of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and currently sits on the Deans Advisory Council for the School of Journalism at the University of Nevada Reno.
Guillermo Mazier is CEO of Atlas Advertising, a firm dedicated to high impact place marketing. Through niche digital, strategy, and creative solutions, Atlas provides award-winning global solutions to connect people to places and ideas to action.
A sought after industry speaker and contributor on Forbes magazine, Guillermo has served as a consultant and professor with the U.S. Travel Association, the University of Waterloo, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Economic Development Council, teaching over 12,700 economic development and tourism professionals, civic leaders, and community boards. Co-author of the first and only research papers on economic development performance and how DMOs and EDOs can champion the race to a stronger economy, Guillermo and his colleagues’ data and observations have been shared with thousands of economic development and destination marketers around the globe. His successes include: Cleveland, Ohio; Taos, New Mexico; the State of Colorado; Charleston, South Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana; Nogales, Mexico; and numerous international, city, state, and federal agencies to name a few. When Guillermo is not working, he’s traveling or exploring new places with his adventurous 6-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son and wife that keep him very busy.
Wynn Las Vegas
Coming from humbling beginnings as a promotions host to becoming one of Las Vegas nightlife’s most respected and influential marketing minds, Ronn Nicolli joined the Wynn Las Vegas nightlife team in 2005. As the marketing executive for Tryst and XS, he has been creating and developing marketing collateral and assets for the venues, DJs, branded parties and concepts while assisting in creative direction. He will spearhead all Intrigue marketing initiatives including liaison programs with restaurants on property and off-site installations. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Nicolli began his nightlife career in a low-level position at La Bête Nightclub after running a personal fitness business. His nightlife marketing prowess was immediately evident and he has continued to make professional strides ever since. In 2015, Vegas Inc. honored Nicolli at its “40 Under 40” award show.
MODERATOR: Anthony Ruiz
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance
Anthony James Ruiz serves as the Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance. In this role, he manages public affairs initiatives for the LVGEA and builds strategic partnerships that further the organization’s mission. Additionally, he is responsible for developing marketing and communication strategies in order to elevate the overall brand of the LVGEA, implementing and maintaining marketing campaigns as well as performing external communication functions with the goal of furthering business attraction and expansion efforts in Southern Nevada. Anthony completed his undergraduate degree at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and earned a dual degree in Political Science and Rhetoric & Media Studies. After graduation, he went to work for Oregon aviation entrepreneur, Jack Erickson and the Erickson Group as a Business Analyst and Marketing Specialist. In this role, he led several of Erickson’s subsidiaries through corporate rebrands, created new brands from scratch, and developed new digital marketing strategies for both business to business and business to consumer entities.
Tuesday, September 12th 2:30 pm -3:45 pm
Tourism as Economic Development
Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
Kevin Bagger is executive director of the Research Center for the Las Vegas Convention
and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). The LVCVA is the destination marketing organization
for Las Vegas and Southern Nevada, and its mission centers on attracting visitors by
promoting the destination as the world’s most desirable destination for leisure and business
travel. The LVCVA also owns and operates the Las Vegas Convention Center and
A lifelong Las Vegan, Mr. Bagger grew up immersed in tourism and has administered
marketing programs for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) since
the mid-1990s. Dating back to his teen years working as a lifeguard at the Las Vegas
Hilton, Mr. Bagger has been fascinated by the diversity of the travelers visiting his
hometown and has devoted his career to tourism at both the resort and destination level.
Doing his part to help keep the Las Vegas tourism engine running, he monitors market
trends of the tourism and convention industries, assessing visitor behaviors and
characteristics to steer strategy and messaging across the disciplines of sales, marketing,
advertising and public relations. During his tenure at the LVCVA, Mr. Bagger has
participated on two Ogilvy award-winning research endeavors in support of Las Vegas
advertising efforts, including the iconic “What Happens Here, Stays Here™” campaign.
Before joining the LVCVA, Mr. Bagger consulted on gaming company clients with
Nevada’s largest ad agency, R&R Partners, and performed financial and operational
analysis for Mirage Resorts prior to their merger with MGM Resorts International. A
graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree in finance, he
has served on the board of directors of the Travel and Tourism Research Association
(TTRA) and Destinations Council board of directors of the U.S. Travel Association.
MGM Resorts International
Rick Arpin is Senior Vice President of Entertainment for MGM Resorts International. Rick oversees the Company’s entertainment operations, which consist of multiple entertainment and sports venues, including the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Rick oversees teams responsible for operations, programming, marketing, ticketing and finance. He has been with MGM Resorts since 2002.
Rick was previously Corporate Controller of MGM Resorts, leading its finance shared services and treasury functions, and facilitating a variety of corporate finance transactions. Previously, he spent seven years in public accounting.
Rick is a member of the Board of Directors of the UNLV Alumni Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from the Lee Business School at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is a licensed CPA in Nevada. In 2012, he was named UNLV’s Accounting Alumnus of the Year. In 2010, he was named to Treasury and Risk Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list.
Las Vegas Heals
Doug Geinzer is a skilled and successful entrepreneur who was built and sold several businesses throughout his career. Most of his success has been found in the healthcare, technology and employment industries. Today, Doug considers himself more of a social entrepreneur spending a significant amount of his time improving Southern Nevada’s healthcare infrastructure and positioning Las Vegas to become the most globally recognized health & wellness destination.
As CEO of the Las Vegas HEALS (Healthcare | Education | Advocacy | Leadership | for Southern Nevada), Doug delivers on their mission “To foster strategic alliances in the healthcare community, collaborating on workforce issues and being a proactive force for legislative initiatives to improve access and the delivery of quality healthcare in Southern Nevada.”
Doug has bee the recipient of many awards including Entrepreneur of the Year, Healthcare Hero, Innovative Business Leader, Top 40 under 40, “most influential” in employment and a ‘who’s who’ in healthcare. He is a past president of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Business Council and sits on the boards of numerous organizations.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Doug relocated to Las Vegas in 1993 to build a media company he later sold to Cox and Landmark Communications. Recruiting Nevada, another media company Doug developed was sold to the Greenspun Media Company in 2008, allowing Doug to focus on Las Vegas HEALS. He is married and is raising a multi-lingual young daughter. As an avid water sports fanatic, you will often find Doug stand-up paddling or boating on Lake Sahara.
MODERATOR: Jared Smith
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance
Jared Smith currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA). In this position, Smith has a leadership role in the organization’s economic development, planning, operations, partnership building and strategy. Prior to joining the LVGEA, Smith served as director of business development for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC). He worked closely with the Mayor, Metropolitan Council, and other stakeholders to recruit and retain companies to East Baton Rouge Parish. Notable wins for the Baton Rouge area during his tenure include IBM’s 800-job technology center, Katoen Natie’s two-million-square-foot logistics facility, and many other small business expansions. A native of Rayville, Louisiana, Smith earned a BA from Louisiana State University and his MBA from Southeastern Louisiana University. His experience includes working with C-level executives on business and strategic development, banking, and management. Smith also served as Chairman of the Baton Rouge Airport Commission and President of the East Baton Rouge Industrial Development Board.
Wednesday, September 13th 10:15 am – 11:30 am
Growing Through Gaming
Sam is a diverse and hypercurious entrepreneur. He’s had a career filled helping to foster and promote emerging and next-generation technologies that will improve experiences and economies over many disciplines. Currently, he’s focused on building strong relationships between those who are among the visionary thinkers and companies who are creating the next generation of guest and play experiences in Nevada. He believes that by strengthening relationships between people by enabling them to better use games, gaming and related and supporting technologies; a medium for better connections will be created. Everyone benefits from the resulting experiences. Through invisible technology all will connect, play, share & grow. During the 2015 Legislative Session, Sam was an advisor and expert who was called on to assist the lobbyists and groups who were instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 9, which requires the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt regulations relating to the development of technology in gaming. Sam is in discussions with several Las Vegas Strip-based operators and properties as well as the UNLV International Gaming Institute, Hospitality and eSports Labs to assist each to innovate and elevate our economy by building the future of eSports, Skill Based Games, Sports Betting and more. Sam is at the unique point in his career where his wide range of diverse expertise is coming together: eSports, video games, casinos, biometrics, software, hardware, and entertainment. Sam and his team at FiveGen are working to develop not just new software tools, but the future of casino gaming, as we know it. Visit www.fivegen.com to learn more or contact Sam and his team.
Assoc. of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers
Marcus Prater, with more than 37 years of professional communications experience, serves as Executive Director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM), a non-profit trade organization comprised of the world top gaming industry suppliers whose mission is to further the interests of its members throughout the world.
Indoor Farms of America
Dave spent over 25 years in management of civil construction development projects, having overseen numerous projects across the U.S. on behalf of private development companies. About 5 years ago, Dave met his partner in the business, Ron Evans, and one of his life-long passions, growing healthy food, was re-ignited.
Ron had been engaged by a major relief agency to be involved in the development of an indoor farm, using aquaponics, for Haiti disaster relief, and upon sharing this story with Dave, the two embarked on a mission to bring super fresh, locally grown produce to any place in the world that needs it, with a mandate that it be an economically sound model. Indoor Farms of America now holds multiple U.S. patents for the vertical aeroponic equipment designed and developed by Dave and Ron, and it is making a difference in countries around the world rapidly, with farms now operating in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. Farms coming for 2017 include Dubai in the UAE and Botswana, a country near South Africa, areas of great need.
The inspiration for bringing this game changing equipment to commercialization comes from Dave’s long family history of farming in the Midwest U.S., where the struggles of the family farmer are most severe and where this can make sustainable change in the supply chain that has dramatic positive impacts on everyone touched by it.
Marco is an advocate and serial entrepreneur in the blockchain space. His first startup, Alt-Options (alt-options.com), is a software development firm that offers digital currency trading solutions to individuals and institutions. His latest and greatest venture, FirstBlood (fb.io), is using blockchain technology to usher in the era of esports 2.0. Their project is developing the first decentralized esports competition platform that automatically issues rewards and strengthens esports integrity.
MODERATOR: Peter Guzman
Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce
Peter Guzman is an accomplished Small Business Owner, Real Estate Investor and Developer. Mr. Guzman came to Nevada 45 years ago at the age of 2. Mr. Guzman has worked very hard in helping people achieve the dream of home ownership. His work has been recognized nationally by all of the major Real Estate Organizations and he has been recognized as the Top Producer for the entire company in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, with over $600 million in sales. Mr. Guzman has been recognized by numerous Senators and Congressman for his ideas on affordable housing and creative ways to increase minority home ownership.
Mr. Guzman believes strongly in youth mentoring and inspiring young people to follow their passion through scholarships he has funded. Mr. Guzman is married for over 28 years to Mercy Guzman and they share 2 children, Jovani and Tatiana Guzman.
Currently, he is the President of the Latin Chamber of Commerce. The LCC, is the most powerful Hispanic Chamber in Nevada with over 40 years of community work and business representation. The LCC has provided services for the community for over 40 years and continues to grow.
Wednesday, September 13th 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Las Vegas Is Smart: Understanding Social Intelligence and Market Research
Jan Jones Blackhurst
Jan Jones Blackhurst is a long-time political and business leader who has left an indelible imprint on the lives of millions of people. In 1991, Jan broke the glass ceiling as Las Vegas’ first female mayor. Under Jan’s leadership the city experienced tremendous growth, making her one of the Las Vegas’ most popular mayors to date. She then joined Caesars Entertainment, where she grew the industry’s first Responsible Gaming practices to include an ambassador model for the gaming industry and the first industry code of commitment. Jan is also known and respected for her efforts to create a diverse and inclusive workplace, advancing environmental stewardship, advocating for important social issues and giving millions of dollars to individuals, families, and communities in need.
Through Jan’s guidance, Caesars Entertainment has earned a 100 percent perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index for ten consecutive years. Jan has channeled her passion for charitable causes through her role as Chair of the Caesars Foundation, which strengthens communities through philanthropic activities and corporate gifts totaling $66 million since 2013. Jan participates extensively in university speaking engagements and lecture series throughout the country and has also helped establish the International Gaming Institution Center of Excellence at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas.
Before joining Caesars in 1999, Jan served two terms as Mayor of Las Vegas. She was the city’s first female chief executive and one of its most popular mayors, having been re-elected in 1995 by a 72 percent margin. While in office, Jan presided over an unprecedented period of economic, social and cultural expansion. She spearheaded a massive and redevelopment effort in the city’s once-neglected downtown neighborhood and was among the first mayors in the country to advocate for LGBT rights and issues as early as 1991.
t2 Marketing International
Partner, t2 Marketing International
Corey is a marketing and data specialist with a focus on statistical analyses of human behavior. This specialization has led Corey to speak at conferences around the world, write for a variety of reputable online and print publications, and recently, to publish ‘Marketing to Millennials For Dummies’ as part of the world-renowned ‘For Dummies’ series. He focuses on sharing real world examples and findings from his research, and discussing how people are evolving as consumers, communicators, and a global society as a whole.
Las Vegas Field and Focus
Lisabeth is a 1996 graduate of UNLV where she earned her B.S.B.A in Marketing. She has been very active
with the University by serving on the Executive Advisory Board of the Marketing department, as a guest speaker for market research lectures, conducting focus group facility tours for Graduate classes and acting as a mentor with both graduate and undergraduate students.Ms. Couturier has also served on the Board with the Southwest Chapter of the Market Research Association and as a Case Judge for the AMA Collegiate Case
Assessment Competition. Before joining the Las Vegas Field and Focus team in 2006, Ms. Couturier spent
nearly 10-years working with what was the largest research firm in Nevada where she managed over 4,000
qualitative and quantitative research studies for an extensive array of topics/product categories.
Lisabeth has also completed her formal Market Research Moderator training at the Research In Values and
Attitudes (RIVA) Training Institute in Washington, DC and has earned here Moderators Certificate to reinforceher skills from years of Moderation and follow-up Interviewing and participated in the Master Moderator programwith RIVA.
MODERATOR: Robert Rippee
International Gaming Institute-UNLV
Robert Rippee is the Director of the newly formed Hospitality Lab at the International Gaming Institute. As the gaming innovation class has brought innovation to the casino industry, the Hospitality Lab seeks to do the same with the global hospitality industry. The lab is a project oriented innovation lab addressing the top needs and opportunities within an entire industry.
Rippee is a technology and hospitality consultant with Elysian LLC. He is the former senior vice president of marketing for Las Vegas Sands Corporation. He brings more than 25 years of innovation experience in hospitality along with a powerful network of advisors and mentors across venture capital, big tech, big hospitality, and gaming. He serves as a board advisor and consultant to several early stage technology startup companies. Rippee has provided CXO consulting and mentoring to both startups and growth stage enterprises as well as consulting services on innovative thinking and product development to mature brands.
Rippee holds an MBA in Operations Management from the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business and an undergraduate degree in Finance from The University of Wyoming. Throughout his business career, he has received several prestigious industry awards and he’s been tapped as a thought leader and asked to lecture at organizations as diverse at the Luxury Marketing Council in Manhattan to The Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University.
He is a Veteran, serving as a Pilot in the United States Navy.
Ready to join us?
775.883.7333 x2000 SGonzales@WNDD.Org