Connect THRIVE Summit empowers you to cultivate new business, develop connections, learn best practices and produce lasting partnerships in LGBTQ+ travel that drive revenue.

This one-of-a-kind, business-to-business marketing summit showcases informative case studies and provocative panels so you learn the latest about the LGBTQ+ travel market from those who know it best. Destinations, hotels and attractions will learn how to elevate and focus their LGBTQ+ marketing efforts by meeting with LGBTQ+ media, publishers, marketers, influencers and travel trade.


2023 Information Coming Soon

Watch 2022 Event Highlights



  • How to authentically and effectively grow your brand awareness within the LGBTQ+ community
  • Examples and advice on establishing appropriate and effective LGBTQ+ marketing budgets
  • Compelling case studies of successful LGBTQ+ marketing initiatives from industry peers
  • How to successfully expand your LGBTQ+ marketing efforts from leading organizations and marketing minds


  • Awareness
  • Business
  • Connections
  • Knowledge
  • Resources


  • People who place LGBTQ+ media campaigns
  • LGBTQ+ influencers and industry leaders
  • Peers who have figured out LGBTQ+ marketing
  • Peers who are figuring out LGBTQ+ marketing
  • Peers who need help figuring out LGBTQ marketing

*Join the Gay Travel Business Network and save $295 off your THRIVE registration fee.



“For me, it was critical to find out how I could connect to the LGBTQ+ community and work on building relationships from there.”

Julie Stow, Director of Meetings & Conventions, Cedar Rapids Tourism

“The B-to-B networking is eye-opening and results happen at Connect THRIVE Summit because the conference sessions and appointments provide the catalyst for like-minded, open-minded people to meet in person and to make something happen.”

DJ Doran, President/CEO, Aequalitas Media

2022 Sponsors

Premier Partner

Saturday, June 4

8:00 – 9:00 am

Registration + Coffee: Orange County Convention Center

9:00 – 9:15 am

Welcome to Connect THRIVE Summit

David Downing, President of Brand, United Landmark Associates + Connect THRIVE Summit emcee
Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, Chair of the Orlando Alliance Board and Executive Director at the Hope Community Center

9:20 – 9:50 am

Research Findings: Leveraging the Diversity Within LGBTQ for Improved Marketing Results

How You Can Leverage LGBTQ Research for LGBTQ Travel Marketing Success: Thomas has three decades’ worth of insights. After unpacking some myths, he’ll jump into recent CMI studies to explore opportunities to welcome LGBTQ travelers to your destination. Get three practical strategies to successfully reach and earn market share from the diverse LGBTQ community.

Thomas Roth, President, Community Marketing & Insights

9:55 – 10:10 am

Why GTBN? Hint: It Doesn’t Stand for “Go to Bed Now”

Everything begins with the “why.” There’s a goal that’s driven by passion, purpose, a mission, and a vision. GTBN (Gay Travel Business Network) supports THRIVE and why it’s essential that events like THRIVE continue to happen.

DJ Doran, President & CEO, Aequalitas Media and Chicago Mayoral Candidate

10:15 – 10:35 am

Hi, My Name Is…

Each attendee will have 30 seconds to introduce themselves to the group.

10:35 – 11:35 am

B2B Networking Break sponsored by GTBN

Open networking break for one-on-one meetings—NOT prescheduled—attendees move from table to table during this hour-long segment. You know what to do!

12:10 – 12:35 pm

“Do Say Gay.”

We have a constitutional problem, folks. And it doesn’t stop in Florida. Nadine has been fighting this battle for three decades.

Nadine Smith, Executive Director, Equality Florida

12:35 – 1:30 pm

Lunch Networking Break

1:35 – 2:15 pm

Putting Out the Welcome Mat for LGBT+ Meetings & Conventions

Let’s do this. A marketing and sales panel to represent the needs of LGBT+ meeting planners and groups.

Avery Bender, Event Manager, University of Florida, Conference Department
Jim Clapes, Director of Events, M3Meet
Alan Kleinfeld, Director, Arrive Conference Solutions
Michelle Moore, Sr. Director of Meeting Sales & Services, Experience Kissimmee

Sponsored by

2:20 – 3:00 pm

It’s Tricky, But We Can Help. A Panel of DEI DMO Diversity Officers

Three experts share their perspectives on what this new role means and how you balance diversity when you can’t ask that question.

Melissa Cherry, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer and Senior Vice President, Miles
Sonya Bradley, Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Visit Sacramento
Sophia Hyder Hock, Chief Diversity Officer, Destinations International

sponsored by Miles Partnership

3:05 – 3:25 pm

LGBTQ Update: A European Overview

What does recovery look like in LGBTQ tourism? Is the USA seen as a “safe” destination and what can we expect now from key inbound European markets?

Thomas Bömkes, Managing Director, Diversity Tourism

3:30 – 4:30  pm

Keynote: The Real Brian Boitano is Something of a Renaissance Man

Renaissance Man After skating to fame on the international stage, Boitano proved himself to be a winner in the kitchen, on television, and beyond. He is a cookbook author, keynote speaker, philanthropist, a forerunner in the celebrity cooking show trend, and star of “What Would Brian Boitano Make?” on the Food Network. His list of accomplishments includes a prime-time Emmy Award and the production of more than 30 television specials, plus ownership of the popular Boitano’s Lounge at the Kindler Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Gold medalist Boitano is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, The World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Brian Boitano

4:30 – 5:30 pm

Cocktails & Conversations sponsored by Kentucky Department of Tourism & Louisville Tourism

Sure, Kentucky has thoroughbreds. But they didn’t fit into the room, so they brought Bourbon instead. Let’s get into destination branding with an Old-Fashioned in hand.

Chenelle McGee, Director of International and Group Sales, Kentucky Department of Tourism
Jessica Morgan, Director of Tourism Development, Louisville Tourism

Sunday, June 5

8:00 – 9:00 am

Registration + Coffee: Orange County Convention Center

9:00 – 9:40 am

A Journey of Becoming: The onePULSE Story

Barbara Poma, founder of onePULSE Foundation, shares the story of Pulse and how each of us is shaped by experiences of belonging – being and feeling part of a meaningful family, a community, a group. Update on creating the National Pulse Memorial, a place of sanctuary and commemoration; the Pulse Museum, a site of potential and transformation; and the Orlando Health Survivors Walk, a pilgrimage of empathy and compassion.

Barbara Poma, Founder, onePULSE Foundation

9:45 – 10:00 am

California’s Capital City of Sacramento Wants to Tell its Authentic LGBTQ Stories

How Visit Sacramento is creating a multi-year marketing strategy to attract the growing LGBTQ audience. Sacramento’s DEI effort means marketing to a wider, more inclusive audience and providing equitable opportunities for more community members to benefit from the tourism economy.

Sonya Bradley, Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Visit Sacramento
Dustin Woehrmann, President & Creative Director, Communify

10:05 – 10:35 am

Stirring the Alphabet Soup: TSA & LGBTQIA+ Travelers

TSA may not conjure up warm and fuzzy for travelers, but they actually do care. TSA shares the latest information and resources to assist LGBTQIA+ travelers navigating the screening process.

Marie Trottier, Policy Advisor/Tribal Affairs Liaison, TSA

Sponsored by

10:35 – 11:35 am

B2B Networking Break sponsored by GTBN

An enhanced networking break where you can meet with speakers and attendees.

11:35 am – 12:15 pm

Do This: Defining the DMO Role in Promoting LGBTQ Travel

There’s once chance to make a great first impression. Three expert DMOs share their top do’s and dont’s on approaching the LGBTQ market for a win-win.

Santiago Corrada, President & CEO, Visit Tampa Bay
Todd O’Leary, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Sonoma County Tourism
José E. Arana Rodríguez, Marketing Manager, Discover Puerto Rico

12:20 – 12:35 pm

“I’m Running.” — A Conversation With DJ Doran, Chicago Mayoral Candidate

“…When a friend suggested that instead of complaining I do something about it, I agreed. So, after weeks of thoughtful consideration and analysis, I have decided to run for the Mayorship of Chicago. I do not make this decision lightly nor do I have any illusions of easy success, but I am going to try and I will give it my all.” — DJ Doran, CEO of Aequalitas Media, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ media companies, on the decision to shift from the sidelines to the center of the action.

DJ Doran, Mayoral Candidate of Chicago

12:40 – 1:00 pm

Measuring Pride: The Impact of LGBTQ Events and Businesses on the Visitor Economy

Pride is a year-round look, so let’s improve how we measure its positive effect on a community. As we embrace the importance of LGBTQ events in our industry, let’s ask: Which ones drive the most visitation? What events create a more vibrant visitor economy? How do destinations attract and retain the best parades, festivals and events for their community?

Ted Sullivan, CMO, Zartico

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Lunch Networking Break


2:00 – 2:30 pm

Pride as a Tactic, Not Just a Strategy: Targeting LGBTQ+ Audiences Year-Round

We’ll walk through the how-to basics: Targeted LGBTQ+ advertising; monitoring destination conversations; engaging with relevant user-generated content, bringing your destination organization into LGBTQ+ conversations. We’ll also highlight some of the various niche groups within the LGBTQ+ travel community that can be reached, including the circuit party crowd, parents, sports fans and more.

Matt Skallerud, President, Pink Media

2:35 – 3:15 pm

Boarding Pass: The Business of Pride

There’s plenty of room for everyone, so let’s all get on board. Supporting the business of travel and tourism is what we do every day.

Marc Graser, VP, Global Brand Storytelling, NMG Network
Jeremy Cooker,
Vice President of  Marketing and Special Projects, New Orleans & Company
Laura Fernandez, VP Head of Industry Travel + Tourism, Sirius XM
Rachel Covello, CEO & Publisher, OUTCOAST

3:20 – 3:50 pm

Opportunity Crossroads: At the Intersection of LGBTQ+ and Multicultural Travelers

Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X consumers have preferences, shifting demographics, emerging values, and motivators that we can exploit and deploy. Let’s observe how consumer behaviors can lead to culturally relevant and inclusive brand marketing strategies for destinations and travel brands.

Danny Guerrero, Founder & Principal, The Culturist Group

3:55 – 4:15 pm

Fireside Chat With CEO Stacy Ritter, Visit Lauderdale: “We Are Committed” to Diversity & Inclusion

Fort Lauderdale’s “Everyone Under the Sun” campaign means what it says. Let’s talk about the evolution from LGBTQ marketing to the very strong community position represented by this latest destination initiative.

Stacy Ritter, CEO, Visit Lauderdale
Will Seccombe, President/CEO, Connect Travel

4:15 pm

Cheers! Wrap-Up and Champagne Toast

7:00 – 8:00 pm

Evening Event Shuttles to IPW Opening Reception

Event Shuttles from Host Hotels to Walt Disney World® Resort EPCOT®

7:30 – 10:30 pm

IPW Opening Reception: Walt Disney World Resort

A Celebration of Culture and Possibilities

Join us for opening night of IPW 2022 at EPCOT® for A Celebration of Culture and Possibilities! Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of World Showcase as diverse Disney stories come to life. Enjoy a variety of international culinary delights, specialty beverages, global entertainment, unique photo opportunities and a few surprises as you stroll around the world at this exclusive party. This special event will be held June 5, and we invite you to be part of the magic as we welcome the world back to Orlando.

9:00 – 11:00 pm

Evening Event Shuttles

Event Shuttles from Walt Disney World® Resort EPCOT® to Host Hotels


Check back often, as more speakers will be added to this prominent lineup.  

Keynote Speaker


Brian Boitano

Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skater
Emmy Award Winner, Producer, TV Host & More

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Sarah Quinlan

Avery Bender

Event Manager
University of Florida, Conference Department
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Sarah Quinlan

Thomas Bömkes

Managing Director
Diversity Tourism
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Sarah Quinlan

Sonya Bradley

Chief of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Visit Sacramento
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Sarah Quinlan

Melissa Cherry

Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
Miles Partnership
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Sarah Quinlan

Jim Clapes

Director of Events
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Sarah Quinlan

Jeremy Cooker

VP, Marketing and Special Projects
New Orleans & Company
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Sarah Quinlan

Rachel Covello

CEO & Publisher
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Sarah Quinlan

Santiago Corrada

President & CEO
Visit Tampa Bay
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Sarah Quinlan

DJ Doran

Aeqaulitas Media and Chicago Mayoral Candidate
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Sarah Quinlan

David Downing

THRIVE Host and Moderator
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Sarah Quinlan

Laura Fernandez

VP Head of Industry, Travel + Tourism
SirusXM Media
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Sarah Quinlan

Marc Graser

Vice President, Global Brand Storytelling
NMG Network
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Sarah Quinlan

Danny Guerrero

Founder & Principal
The Culturist Group
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Sarah Quinlan

Sophia Hyder Hock

Chief Diversity Officer
Destinations International
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Sarah Quinlan

Alan Kleinfeld

Arrive Conference Solutions
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Sarah Quinlan

Chenelle McGee

Director of International and Group Sales
Kentucky Department of Tourism
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Sarah Quinlan

Michelle Moore

Sr. Director of Meeting Sales & Services
Experience Kissimmee
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Sarah Quinlan

Jessica Morgan

Director of Tourism Development
Louisville Tourism
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Sarah Quinlan

Todd Murray

Gaybors Agency
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Sarah Quinlan

Todd O’Leary

Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Sonoma County Tourism
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Sarah Quinlan

Kirstie Pike

Stay Director
Gaybors Agency
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Sarah Quinlan

Barbara Poma

onePULSE Foundation
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Sarah Quinlan

Stacy Ritter

President / CEO
Visit Lauderdale
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Sarah Quinlan

José E. Arana Rodríguez

Marketing Manager
Discover Puerto Rico

Sarah Quinlan

Thomas Roth

Community Marketing & Insights
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Sarah Quinlan

Will Seccombe

President & Managing Director
Connect Travel
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Sarah Quinlan

Matt Skallerud

Pink Media
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Sarah Quinlan

Nadine Smith

Executive Director
Equality Florida
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Sarah Quinlan

Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet

Chair of the One Orlando Alliance Board
and Executive Director at the Hope Community Center
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Sarah Quinlan

Ted Sullivan

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Sarah Quinlan

Marie Trottier

Policy Advisor/Tribal Affairs Liaison/Outreach Program Manager
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
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Sarah Quinlan

Dustin Woehrmann

President & Creative Director
View Profile

Connect Travel Cancellation Policy:
Connect Travel requires registration to be paid in full to access any live event. Any special billing or payment arrangement must be made in writing and agreed upon between Connect Travel management and the client seeking event access. Please see below for cancellation policy.

Cancellations requested inside of 30 days to event date – Client forfeits 100% of registration fee. Cancellations requested 31-90 days prior to event date – Client forfeits 50% of registration fee and the remaining 50% can be used towards a new product purchase in the same calendar year. Cancellations requested over 90 days to the event date – Client may apply 100% of the registration fee to a new product purchase or service in the same calendar year.

Photo Release:
Connect and its legal representatives and assigns, retain the right and permission to publish, without charge, photographs taken during this event. These photographs may be used in publications, including electronic publications, or in audio-visual presentations, promotional literature, advertising, or in other similar ways.

Medical Release:
With registration, the attendee agrees and acknowledges they are participating in the conference on their own free will. While Connect does its best to provide the safest possible environment for the events, the attendee acknowledges freely and knowingly that as a result of their registration and participation, they hereby assume responsibility for their own well-being and safety, releasing Connect of any harm.