The Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Division of Tourism recognized several individuals, organizations, and businesses that work in the tourism industry, including the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, at the 2013 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Springfield Oct. 1-3.

The Marketing Campaign Award presented to Springfield recognizes special achievements in effective, integrated marketing campaigns employing more than one medium, leading to increased visitation and revenues. The award was presented for the CVB's "Sammie Springfield" campaign featuring a sock monkey toy that is the official spokesmonkey for the community, sharing all the great things Springfield offers meeting planners.

Earlier this year, nearly 400 meeting planners received a high-quality oversized coffee table book featuring Sammie Springfield enjoying the sites, hotels and meeting facilities in the city. The book directed planners to visit a website to learn more about Sammie. A couple weeks later, the same planners received their very own Sammie Springfield, a sock monkey with a Springfield logo on its chest. A select group of meeting planners were then invited to visit Springfield on a familiarization tour hosted by Sammie.

The goal of the campaign is to generate interest in Springfield as a convention and event destination and was a partnership between the CVB, Ramada Plaza Hotel & Oasis Convention Center, University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center and MMGY Global. Several meeting planners who received the book and monkey have responded with positive calls, emails and posts on social media sites.  Since launching the campaign, 20 groups representing approximately 46,000 meeting attendees and more than 18,700 room nights have booked meetings in Springfield.

Because of the success of this plan, the CVB and its partners plan to continue the Sammie Springfield promotion in early 2014 to reach additional meeting and convention planners.

Each year at the conference awards banquet, service awards are presented for exceptional efforts aimed at moving tourism forward throughout the Show-Me State. Other awards presented at the conference that took place in Springfield Oct. 1-3 were the following:

  • The Navigator Media Award recognizes a broadcast, print or electronic media business or organization that supports and promotes tourism through the use of traditional media and/or emerging and escalating technology.

This award is vast in its scope because ever-changing technology comes into play. This year The Hermann Advertiser-Courier was the nominee that best met the requirements for this award. Getting the word out is one of the biggest challenges in the tourism industry. The Courier actively supports Hermann tourism through its newspaper and an upgraded website. Additionally, for the past 20 years they have produced a quarterly magazine, the Hermann Area Visitor, designed to promote and advance tourism to the Hermann area.

  • The Spotlight Award highlights significant contributions in promoting and “spotlighting” tourism in Missouri. It is presented to an individual, business or organization that is not normally considered to be part of the tourism industry.

Promoting tourism takes on many forms. In addition to events and attractions, Missouri is a popular culinary destination. The Spotlight Award was presented to Chef Michael Smith who is changing the concept of food, one taste bud at a time. Chef Smith and his wife operate Extra Virgin and Michael Smith, two of Kansas City’s most popular and unique restaurants; they highlight the idea that Kansas City cuisine is about much more than barbecue.

  • The Pathfinder Award is for true trailblazers who find ways to reach new visitors by aiming at specific niche markets.

Tourists visit an area for many reasons. Adding to those reasons by reaching new, niche markets is becoming a specialized field. The dictionary defines “niche market” as: a distinct segment of a market; a demand for a very specialized product or commodity.

The Doniphan Neighborhood Assistance Program was presented the Pathfinder Award for its works to promote Doniphan area tourism. When they began developing the Heritage Homestead, the art of metalwork was brought front and center. Using funds collected by a lodging tax, the group purchased a permanent brick forge for the existing blacksmith shop, where, every Saturday, visitors to Doniphan have the chance to witness blacksmiths creating works of art the same way it was done in the 1890s.

  • The Ambassador Award goes to an individual, business or organization that conscientiously supports and promotes Missouri tourism in any and all ways available to them. This may include involvement in MDT’s projects, providing publicity to Missouri’s attractions and events, and making an extra effort to assure travelers enjoy their Missouri experience – in other words, true ambassadors for Missouri.

Chuck Martin, Executive Director of the Cape Girardeau CVB, took home the Ambassador Award for personifying the word ambassador. It was novelist Albert Camus (Kkah-mu) who said: “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” For more than 10 years, that sums up Chuck Martin in a nutshell. The time, effort and hard work Chuck has given the Cape Girardeau tourism scene and Missouri tourism efforts will be felt for years to come.

  • The Innovator Award pays tribute to a small tourism entity that produced great results and increased visitation on an annual budget of less than $20,000.

The Washington Area Chamber of Commerce was presented with the Innovator Award for its tourism success. Noting a four-year rise in funds collected by the city’s lodging tax, chamber officials refocused those funds on targeting more visitors, using the money as intended to extend the area’s marketing reach. Over the years, Washington, Missouri has become a popular spot for visitors from the eastern side of the state; new efforts are aimed at attracting visitors from the west – and it is working.

  • The Senator Emory Melton Legislative Award is a very special honor presented to a legislator who has given continued support to Missouri tourism to ensure the industry prospers.

The Senator Emory Melton Legislative Award was presented to Representative Don Phillips for spearheading an important bill this year in the legislature. With overwhelming support in both chambers, Representative Phillips sponsored and helped pass House Bill 316, extending the expiration date of the Division of Tourism Supplemental Revenue Fund from the year 2015 to 2020.

  • The Tourism Hall of Fame. Induction into Missouri Tourism’s Hall of Fame is the highest tribute we bestow. It is reserved for a person who, for a minimum of ten years, has continuously left a positive mark upon the tourism industry as a whole. Inductees must demonstrate commitment to the industry, beyond personal gain, and significantly contribute to the betterment of the tourism industry in Missouri. Their work must leave lasting, positive impressions upon the economy and the welfare of Missouri.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the Tourism Hall of Fame inductee, Robert “Bob” O’Loughlin. Bob has 30-plus years in the tourism industry. From creating a new vision in downtown St. Louis, with the Three-Sixty Bar, situated atop the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, to helping restore Union Station to its former glory, Bob has been creating new experiences for the traveler. O’Loughlin’s unrivaled commitment to the industry has been recognized many times: Hotelier of the Year, by the Missouri Hotel/Motel Association; president of both the St. Louis Area and Missouri Hotel/Motel associations; past Chairman of the Missouri Tourism Commission; director of the American Hotel and Lodging Association; and former Chairman of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. Being named to the Tourism Hall of Fame is just one more in a long list of his distinguished achievements for Bob O’Loughlin, with many more to come.