Connect THRIVE Summit is focused on creating business opportunities, developing community and producing partnerships through LGBTQ travel, sports, and entertainment. This one-of-a-kind, business-to-business marketing summit features dynamic general sessions with today’s most successful LGBTQ and ally business leaders and networking events alongside a series of pre-scheduled, one-on-one connections between destinations, resorts, hotels, attractions, domestic and international tour operators and travel agents, sports rights holders, media, marketers and brands.

When you attend Connect THRIVE Summit:

  • Your business will THRIVE.
  • Your community will THRIVE.
  • Your partnerships will THRIVE.


Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL

Watch 2021 Event Highlights


Register and Pay

Registration is $1,495*

Create Business

Build key relationships and unlock unforeseen opportunities with destinations, resorts, hotels, attractions, domestic and international tour operators and travel agents, sports rights holders, media, marketers and brands during one-on-one appointments and networking events.

Develop Community

Hear from your peers on what worked well (and didn’t) during case study presentations, panel discussions and keynote conversations.

Product Partnerships

Grow relationships while the networking continues at THRIVE’s entertaining and interactive receptions.

*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

2021 Sponsors

Premier Partner


Saturday, September 18

9:00 – 10:30 am

Registration + Coffee

10:30 – 10:40 am


David Downing, United Landmark Associates

10:45 – 11:45 am

#ILOVEGAY Today + 3 Pillars of Online Destination Marketing as We Enter 2022

Matt Skallerud, Pink Media

11:50 am – 12:20 pm

Gaycation Magazine: An Investigative and Fun Resource for LGBTQ Travelers

Tim Rawles, Gaycation Magazine

12:25 – 12:45 pm

Advancing Equality Through NASDAQ & NYSE Financial Products

Bobby Blair, LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, Inc.

12:45 – 2:00 pm

Lunch + B2B Networking

2:00 – 2:30 pm

Open to All: Appealing to Today’s Diverse LGBTQ Traveler

Ed Salvato, Gay Business Travel Network
Merryn Johns, OutVoices

2:35 – 3:30 pm

The Do’s & Don’ts of Marketing Your Destination to LGBTQ Travelers

Moderator: David Downing, United Landmark Associates
Joey Amato, Pride Journeys
Laura Fernandez, SiriusXM

3:35 – 4:00 pm

The Evolution of Miami’s LGBTQ Messaging

Dan Rios, GMCVB

4:00 – 4:30 pm

B2B Networking Break

4:30 – 5:30 pm

A Conversation with Carson Kressley

Sponsored by Cedar Rapids Tourism

5:30 – 6:30 pm

Photos with Carson Kressley

Sunday, September 19

8:00 – 9:00 am


9:00 – 10:00 am

Oliver Twist Syndrome: How to Recognize It and Over Come It

DJ Doran, Aequalitas Media
Julie Stow, Cedar Rapids Tourism

10:05 – 10:25 am

Inclusive Tourism Marketing

Romey Louangvilay, ELMNTL

10:30 – 10:50 am

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Authentic Travel Experience Meeting Expectations

Greg DeShields, Tourism Diversity Matters

10:55 – 11:15 am

Challenges and Opportunities in the Fluid Student and Youth Group Travel Segment

Carylann Assante, SYTA and the SYTA Youth Foundation

11:15 – 11:45 am

B2B Networking Break

11:45 am – 12:05 pm

How New Orleans Tapped its Culture Bearers and Queer Community to Drive Visitation

Dustin Woehrmann, Communify
Mark Romig, New Orleans & Company

12:10 – 12:40 pm

THRIVE Content

12:45 – 1:00 pm

Welcome to IPW

Roger Dow, US Travel Association

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Networking Lunch

2:00 – 3:00 pm

Podcasts are Exploding and Travel Brands are Listening

David Downing, United Landmark Associates
DJ Doran, DJ Doran Show
Laura Fernandez, SiriusXM
Matt Skallerud, Pink Media

3:05 – 3:55 pm

A Conversation with Fred Dixon

Fred Dixon, NYC & Company
David Downing, United Landmark Associates

4:00 – 5:00 pm

That’s A Wrap

David Downing, United Landmark Associates

5:00 – 5:30 pm

Farewell Toast

Sponsored by Experience Kissimmee

6:30 – 9:30 pm

IPW Opening Reception


Keynote Speaker

Carson Kressley

Emmy Award winning TV personality, style expert, fashion designer, interior designer and New York Times best-selling author are some of the credits of the multi-talented and unforgettable Carson Kressley

Carson started his career as an independent stylist and became invaluable to major designers such as Ralph Lauren. He took a leap into television & became a breakout star on Bravo’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which won a primetime Emmy and gained a worldwide following for Carson. In collaborations with Oprah Winfrey, Carson revolutionized America’s personal fashion sense of style. He’s hosted multiple TV shows including Lifetime’s How to Look Good Naked, & ABC’s True Beauty, appeared as a fashion critic & commentator on shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show & Good Morning America. Carson has competed on several reality shows including NBC’s hit show Celebrity Apprentice, Food Network’s Celebrity Cupcake Wars, ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud, and the 13th season of Dancing with the Stars where he was a fan favorite raising awareness & donations for several charities. Carson is a key judge on TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race, which continues to win multiple Emmy’s. New fan favorites included his interior design show, Get A Room with Carson & ThomFreeform’s Wrap Battle, and his home entertainment talk show, Couched, where he interviewed A-list celebrities & elite interior designers.

Amongst being a strong supporter of many philanthropic causes, when Kressley is not starring on stage or screen, he can be found astride one of his American Saddle-bred show horses, with which he has achieved World Champion status.

Sarah Quinlan

Joey Amato

Pride Journeys
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Sarah Quinlan

Carylann Assante

Chief Executive Officer
SYTA and the SYTA Youth Foundation
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Sarah Quinlan

Bobby Blair

Chief Executive Officer
LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, Inc.
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Sarah Quinlan

Thomas Bomkes

ITB Berlin / ITB Asia Singapore
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Sarah Quinlan

Greg DeShields

Executive Director
Tourism Diversity Matters
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Sarah Quinlan

Fred Dixon

President and CEO
NYC & Company
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Sarah Quinlan

DJ Doran

Aequalitas Media
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Sarah Quinlan

Roger Dow

President & CEO
U.S. Travel Association
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Sarah Quinlan

David Downing

President of Brand
United Landmark Associates
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Sarah Quinlan

Laura Fernandez

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

Merryn Johns

Director of Content
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Sarah Quinlan

Romey Louangvilay

Head of Communications & Creative Strategy
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Sarah Quinlan

Tim Rawles

Editor in Chief
Gaycation Magazine
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Sarah Quinlan

Mark C. Romig, APR

SVP/Chief Marketing Officer
New Orleans & Company
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Sarah Quinlan

Ed Salvato

Tourism Marketing Expert
Speaker, Author, Educator, LGBTQ Tourism Expert
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Sarah Quinlan

Matt Skallerud

Pink Media
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Julie Stow, IOM

Director of Meetings and Conventions
Cedar Rapids Tourism Office
View Profile

Sarah Quinlan

Dustin Woehrmann

CEO and Creative Director
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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.