The 2019 Growing Rural Tourism Conference Presents: "Be the Change"

"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." — Albert Einstein

More speakers. More ideas. More tourism.

Growing Rural Tourism 2019 will feature a great selection of speakers and experts from across the country. Each of our speakers have been specifically chosen because they are exciting, dynamic and invested in using their sessions to educate our attendees.

Keynotes Speakers

Darian Kovacs

Founding Partner Jelly Marketing & Co-Founder Canadian Internet Marketing Conference

Darian brings over 15 years of experience in marketing, communications and public relations. Throughout his career, he has also been a founder and board member of various foundations and charitable organizations.

Through his award-winning company, Jelly Marketing, Darian has worked with various local, national and global brands building and executing on their digital & PR strategy. He co-founded the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference and he's been featured in BC Business magazine, Business in Vancouver and on the Canada Post training circuit. He is a contributor with Small Business BC, Entrepreneur, and both Rogers and Shaw's Business Resource Centre on topics of Social Media and PR.

As both an educator and practitioner, Darian's mix of stories, practical examples and takeaways leaves audiences feeling inspired and equipped to implement social media and PR strategies into their organizations.

Alan Gertner

Managing Director of Retail for Canopy Growth & Managing Director of Hiku

A lover of technology, design and everything in-between, before Canopy Alan led a $+100M organization at Google in Asia. Alan is a proven leader in strategy and operations, including as a founding member of Google's first Global Business Strategy team while based in Mountain View, California. Alan was formerly a Management Consultant at Oliver Wyman in New York and graduated Dean’s list from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Canada’s leading business school, in 2006. As a youngster, Alan spent every moment he could interning at wild and weird startups - from building flashy flash websites to developing and selling the garbage bin billboard.

An angel investor and advisor outside of Canopy, Alan supports programs that empower the greater startup community, the cannabis movement and future generations of people pursuing their passions, including his own Time On Project (, dedicated to self disruption, mindfulness and winning at life.

Adam Legge

Director at the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership at the University of Calgary

Adam believes in the potential of leaders to make their organizations remarkable and do work that can change their communities and the world.

Adam works with executives, leaders and boards to help them achieve remarkability through organizational renewal and transformation. Amidst the challenges of disruption, change and complexity, he uses a proven structure that will enable any organization to move from stale or struggling to remarkable. He brings over twenty years of experience in leadership, governance, strategy, culture and change to help his clients create greater impact, relevance and value as an organization. He is the author of Making Remarkable: How to Deliver Purpose, Inspire People, and Build a Platform for Exceptional Results.

Adam is a recipient of the Calgary Top 40 Under 40, and in November of 2017 was awarded a Canada Senate 150 Medal by the Senate of Canada to only 1,500 Canadians for their work and dedication in improving the quality of life in their communities.

Mike Armstrong

Brand Strategy Lead at Google

Brand obsessed, forever curious, and itching for transformative ideas, Mike draws on his experience building corporate-wide marketing for Kraft Foods, leading iconic brands such as Stella Artois and Budweiser, overseeing a content marketing group at the CBC, and finally consulting on behalf of Google for fortune 500 companies.

As a Brand Strategy Lead at Google, he studies bleeding-edge brand building tactics executed across the globe and engages with Canadian marketing executives to assist in propelling their businesses forward. As a trained facilitator within Google, Mike’s been taught the science, psychology, and conditions required to inject fresh ideas into everyday thinking and the workshops he leads. He’s also developed unparalleled expertise when advertising within one of the world’s most influential brands – YouTube.

Mike’s seen his campaigns scale to countries worldwide, won numerous industry awards, judged at local and international creative competitions, and recently had his work published on Think with Google.


Introduction and Advice on Creating Stories for Facebook & Instagram

Sam Schofield

Owner of Mountain Drift

To meet the challenges of today’s business climate, Sam and his partner provide a unique, more personal approach to marketing and branding your business. Running a one-stop marketing and media company in rural Southern Alberta, their goal is simple: to help businesses succeed in small towns across the province.

Together they have witnessed change in the web, mobile and social media industries. Embracing technology to tell a story is at the forefront of their strategy when working with business owners. Today, they deliver brand loyalty programs through careful planning, design and education.

From Housewife to Award Winner - The Accidental Entrepreneur

Sheila Willis

Creator of History Check Mobile App

What started out as an idea to share historical sites and stories on a mobile app, turned into a project that is an all inclusive travel companion app through partnerships, cooperation and collaboration.

A self described housewife from the bush, in 2018 Sheila Willis received an Outstanding Achievement Award from Alberta Historical Resources Foundation in part for the development of the History Check Mobile App. Future goals include making History Check a province wide initiative, as well as taking it to an international market as a white label product for geographical regions and sector marketing and education.

In this interactive session, Sheila will demo History Check, show you how to participate as well as talk about the importance of creating alliances and partnerships, using social media, and stepping out of your comfort zone to “Be the Change”.

Making Memorable Experiences: An Introduction to Experience Development

Lisa Lima

Travel Alberta Manager, Experience Development West Central & Edmonton

Lisa J. Lima is a Cultural Explorer and Experience Development Manager for Edmonton and Central Alberta. She enjoys travelling throughout the province assisting industry stakeholders with tourism marketing and partnership development.Lisa gets a thrill when presenting workshops in her region and engaging in tourism conversations – it’s not just about the topic she is presenting, but also the sharing of stories and the learning between everyone in the room. Culinary Tourism is one of Lisa’s focuses; she works with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance and is a member of Skal International.

You’ll learn about how developing great experiences can be your best marketing tool. And, you’ll be introduced to tourism experiences from Alberta and Canada that will spark new ideas on how you can develop or be a partner for a tourism experience that provides your visitors with a true sense of place.

Alexis Nelson

Alberta Culture & Tourism Development Officer

Alexis Nelson is a free spirit. Growing up on a dairy farm with her parents, siblings, cousins, and grandparents have provided her the passion for working in a team setting and the courage to address life and business with a collaborative approach. Having the opportunity to enjoy both urban and rural lifestyles has also provided her with the platform to connect and share ideas for exceptional experiences. Working as a Tourism Development Officer with Alberta Culture and Tourism, she plays an integral role in the development of projects, programs, and services that inform and support work with destination marketing organizations, municipalities, and non-profits who contribute to the economic growth and diversification in the province.

When she’s not trying to conquer the world, you will find Alexis outdoors with her family embracing hiking and quadding.

The Internet is Killing Your Business, & Other Lies You Tell Yourself

Glenda Beagle

Marketing & Mindset Coaching

Born and raised in rural Alberta, Glenda comes straight out of the entrepreneurial trenches. Small business runs through her veins. Following the last eight years as a successful business owner, Glenda has shifted her attention to coaching business owners, so they can have a bigger impact in their community. With a passion for helping others to maximize their profits, Glenda works with entrepreneurs to examine the way they view and execute their business.

In this session, the discussion will revolve around the obstacles business owners place in front of their consumers, that cause them to shop elsewhere. As business owners it is our responsibility to give consumers a reason to do business with us. An address does not dictate where your consumers need to make their purchases. We always need to ask ourselves, are you creating an experience or a transaction?

More Speakers Will be Announced Soon!

Pre-Conference Workshops

Pre-Conference Workshops will be taking place on
Monday February 11th, 2019 from
10:00 am — 11:45 am

How to Create Your First Successful Facebook Ad Campaign

Sam Schofield

Owner of Mountain Drift

To meet the challenges of today’s business climate, Sam and his partner provide a unique, more personal approach to marketing and branding your business. Running a one-stop marketing and media company in rural Southern Alberta, their goal is simple: to help businesses succeed in small towns across the province.

Together they have witnessed change in the web, mobile and social media industries. Embracing technology to tell a story is at the forefront of their strategy when working with business owners. Today, they deliver brand loyalty programs through careful planning, design and education.

Building Strategies for Partnerships & Packaging

Lisa Lima

Travel Alberta Manager, Experience Development West Central & Edmonton

Like most tourism businesses, you’re looking for creative and cost-effective ways to reach new customers and increase your sales. This workshop helps you explore the many ways you can work with other businesses to meet your objectives.

You’ll be introduced to information and real-life examples that will show you how partnerships with other businesses can be mutually beneficial. We’ll look at how partnerships can create packaged experiences – bringing together multiple opportunities that travellers can purchase with one easy step. Plus, we’ll talk about how to create a package by combining activities offered by your business alone.

Partnering and packaging are part of the marketing mix; join us to find out more about how they can create new opportunities for your business.

More Pre-Conference Workshops Will be Announced Soon!

WHY Should I Attend the
Growing Rural Tourism Conference?

Conference Scholarship


The Growing Rural Tourism Conference supports continuous learning and innovative educational opportunities for rural Alberta business. This year we will partially sponsor individual business owners or managers to attend the Growing Rural Tourism Conference.


Individual business owners, managers and full-time students who:

  • Presently own and operate a full-time tourism business in rural Alberta or businesses looking to incorporate tourism products or experiences into their existing business
  • Students enrolled in a full-time tourism program
    Students must include which post-secondary institution and tourism program (s) they are enrolled in
  • Are committed to lifelong learning
  • Willing to write a summary report and share their ideas and experiences with their community partners, consortia, chamber, colleges, etc.
  • Must be a first time applicant


The scholarship will pay 50% of a regular conference registration. All travel and accommodation expenses are the responsibility of the participant.


Applications are available here. All requests for funding support must be received by January 31st, 2019. Funds will be paid on your behalf directly to the Camrose Regional Exhibition.


Space is limited to 25 participants, and will be offered on a first come, first served basis to eligible applicants. The conference committee will review the applications and notify the successful candidates.

Alberta Shows Off


The purpose of Alberta Shows Off is to showcase Alberta made products and to assist conference participants in connecting with key services and resources and to provide participants with vital contact information.


The Alberta Shows Off evening has not been determined yet for the 2019 Growing Rural Tourism Conference. Please check back regularily to see when it will take place. Thank you!


There are a lot of great places to stay near the conference in Camrose. Below you can see the Growing Rural Tourism Conference Hotel Block:

Camrose Resort & Casino

(780) 679-2379

** Please mention that you are a Growing Rural Tourism Delegate when booking at the hotel of your choice to recieve one of the blocked off rooms.

Our Partners

The Growing Rural Tourism Conference would not be possible if it was not for the generous support of our partners. We are extremely grateful for their help in making the Conference possible!

If you are interested in becoming a Partner/Sponsor of the Growing Rural Tourism Conference, please see the Partnership form by clicking here.

Please join us in thanking the following organizations:

Take a look back at the 2017 conference.

The 2018 conference was a huge success with the theme "Experience the Change". We are extremely excited about this year's conference where we will "Be the Change".

11th Annual Awards Gala

The following awards were given out on Wednesday February 21st during the 11th Annual Growing Rural Tourism Awards Gala:

  • Wynn McLean Rural Champion Award
  • People's Choice Award
  • Rural Tourism Operator of the Year Award
  • Rural Tourism Community of the Year
  • Online Marketing Campaign Award


You can download the application for the 2018 Rural Champion Award by clicking here. Please note that the application deadline is January 21st, 2019.