ICE 2017 Keynote Speakers, Moderators, and Panelists

Introductory Keynote

Abraham Pizam, Dean, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Abraham Pizam

Dr. Abraham Pizam is Dean and Linda Chapin Eminent Scholar Chair in Tourism Management in the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.Professor Pizam is widely known in the field of Hospitality and Tourism Management and has conducted research projects, lectured, and served as a consultant in more than 30 countries. He has held various academic positions, in the U.S.A, U.K., France, Austria, Australia, New-Zealand, Singapore, Israel and Switzerland, has authored more than 160 scientific publications and ten books, is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Hospitality Management and serves on the editorial boards of 20 academic journals. Professor Pizam has conducted consulting and research projects for a variety of international, national and regional tourism organizations.

Research and Grants

Steven Wood Schmader, CFEE, President and CEO, International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA World)
Steven Schmader

Steven Wood Schmader, CFEE, is the President & CEO of the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA World), which celebrates 62 years as the "Premiere Association Supporting and Enabling Festival & Event Professionals Worldwide" in 2017. The IFEA operates with a vision of a globally united industry that touches lives in a positive way through celebration and is the presenting body of the IFEA World Festival & Event City Award, which recognizes those global markets that provide and leverage the most positive partnerships between events and the cities that host them. Schmader also serves as the publisher and editor of "ie: the business of international events" and the Founding Director of the IFEA’s Event Management School at the Oglebay National Training Center in West Virginia. Schmader’s 40-year professional career includes the creation, management and production of large citywide festivals, sporting events, government events, parades, airshows and Millennium celebrations. In his role with the IFEA he works in partnership with global event professionals and organizations, government entities, sponsors, tourism agencies, media and academic institutions, to raise the bar and brand of our common industry, today and into the future. Schmader is an author and highly-rated speaker on industry issues and trends.

Sevil Sönmez, Chair, Department of Tourism, Events & Attractions; Professor, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Sevil Sönmez

Dr. Sönmez is Professor in the Department of Tourism, Events, and Attractions in the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at UCF. She holds a doctorate from Penn State University, a Master’s degree from Clemson University, and a B.B.A. from Bernard Baruch College/City University of New York. Her research is interdisciplinary and applied and delves broadly into tourism management and the nexus of leisure, work, and health. Her work has evolved through several phases, beginning with a focus primarily on the management and mitigation of impacts of various natural or human-caused tourism crises. Her research later broadened to include health risks of vacation travel as well as other forms of population mobility—namely occupational. Dr. Sönmez’s current work focuses on the health-promotive role of vacations, including links between US labor policy, mandated vacations, and public health; occupational health of tourism and accommodation sector workers; travel and tourism health risk management and mitigation; and links between health, risk, and destination sustainability. She has recently begun incorporating complexity theory into her work by using a systems science approach to deconstruct the complex and dynamic nature of her research questions. Dr. Sönmez’s work has appeared at a wide spectrum of conferences (e.g., TTRA, I-CHRIE, NRPA, Active Living Research, European Conference on Travel Medicine, APHA, World Congress on Public Health), as well as in journals both within and outside her field (e.g., Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Travel Research, Tourism Management, Thunderbird International Business Review, Occupational Medicine, International Journal of STDs & AIDS, AIDS Education and Prevention, Ethnography), in addition to three edited books (Women as Producers and Consumers of Tourism in Developing Regions, Mediterranean Islands and Tourism Development, and Population Mobility and Infectious Disease) and various book chapters. She has worked in academic and professional settings in four countries, and with students of diverse backgrounds from Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and European nations. Prior to joining the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Dr. Sönmez served in various administrative capacities at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (2009-2015) and on the faculties of Zayed University, U.A.E. (2008-2009), European University of Cyprus (2006-2008), Emory University’s School of Medicine (2002-2006), Arizona State University (1995-2002), and Penn State University (1994-1995). Before beginning her academic career, she worked at the Hilton International Istanbul and the T.B.W.A. and Leo Burnett advertising agencies.

Robertico Croes, Associate Dean, Administration & Finance, Professor, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Robertico Croes

Dr. Croes is a Professor and the Associate Dean, Administration & Finance. He currently serves as the Interim Chair of the Tourism, Events & Attractions department as well as the Associate Director of the Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies at the Rosen College.
Dr. Croes recently published his third book titled, "Poverty Alleviation through Tourism Development". His other two book are on the challenges facing small island destinations (titled The Small Island Paradox), and on the application of demand models to a small economy and is titled Anatomy of Demand in International Tourism. Additionally, he is a contributor to several books. His fields of interest include: econometrics applications in hospitality, tourism demand analysis/forecasting, tourism economic impact, competitive and sustainable tourism in tourism development analysis, tourism development applied to poverty alleviation and tourism development in small islands and developing countries. Dr. Croes has lectured and made presentations on these topics throughout the world, including Armenia, the Netherlands, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Aruba, Curacao, the Bahamas, Ecuador, Barbados, Puerto Rico and Mexico. His research has also been presented in predominant industry and research conferences around the world including: South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Cyprus, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Turkey, Taiwan, and Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Croes received his doctorate from the University of Twente, the Netherlands. His dissertation focused on quantitative modeling of tourism demand, tourism development and government intervention. He has published various articles in such journals as the Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Travel Research, Tourism Economics, International Journal of Tourism Research, Tourism Management and International Journal of Hospitality Management. He has served on the editorial board of three journals. Professor Croes is the recipient of the 2015 Thea Sinclair Award as well as several other awards.

Leonardo A.N. Dioko, Ph.D., Professor, Director of IFT’s Tourism Research Center
Leonardo A.N. Dioko, Ph.D.

Leonardo A.N. Dioko, Ph.D., or Don to many, is Professor at the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) Macau and Director of IFT’s Tourism Research Center ( Don lectures principally in the areas of marketing and management especially in the subjects of consumer behavior, research methods, tourism and hospitality marketing, service quality and strategic management. From 2001 to 2007 Don served as the Academic Coordinator for all degree programs offered by IFT. Prior to his work at IFT, he was Lecturer in the Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration at the University of Macau. Don obtained his Phd in Organization and Management at ISCTE (Portugal), his MSc in Strategic Management from the University of Macau, and his BSc in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines (Diliman). Don is a Philippine national. Since 2003, and formally as Director of ITRC from 2007, Don has conducted a considerable number of policy research studies commissioned by the Macau S.A.R. Government or its agencies. These studies cover a wide-range of areas but are fundamentally related to Macau’s tourism policy development and social issues of significant public relevance. In addition to public policy research, Don’s scholarly investigations cover destination branding and tourism marketing, assessing and managing the impacts of rapid tourism growth, sustainable issues for cultural and heritage resources, and examining unique aspects of travel behavior and psychology. In brief, Don’s body of work has thus far encompassed: (a) Higher educational administration and leadership in a tourism and hospitality context, (b) scholarly research and research administration, principally of an applied and public policy-influencing nature, mostly addressing the context of rapid tourism growth and sustainability, but also tackling emergent theoretical research streams in consumer travel and tourism marketing, (c) curriculum, program and institutional innovation, development, advocacy and service, and (d) teaching and developing courses in the fields of marketing and management adapted in the tourism and hospitality domains. (On a personal note, neither any of the above nor the vitae that follows compares to Don’s multifaceted and enriching experience of raising three rowdy boys alongside a lovely and caring spouse, which he considers to be his most challenging and full-time occupation.)

Karin Weber, Associate Professor, Convention and Events Management Department, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Karin Weber


Donald Getz, Professor Emeritus of Tourism, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary
Donald Getz

Don Getz is a professor in the Tourism and Hospitality Management program at the Haskayne School of Business. He holds a BES from the University of Waterloo, an MA from Carlton University, and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. Before joining the University of Calgary, Dr. Getz began his teaching career as an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. Don is an ongoing visiting professor of Events Management at Griffith University in Australia, and an ongoing visiting professor at Sheffield- Hallam University in England. Dr. Getz teaches international tourism, planning and policymaking, resort management and event management. His ongoing research involves special-interest tourism (i.e. wine) and event–related issues such as management, event tourism, and events and culture. The research that Dr. Getz conducts often has a particular focus on the effects or impacts of tourism and recreation on people, the environment, and the economy.

Kathleen Canning, Executive Director, Orange County Convention Center (OCCC)
Kathie Canning

Kathleen "Kathie" Canning joined the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in 1985. Kathie provides invaluable assistance in the sales, service planning and development for the Center’s three expansion projects. In December 2002, Kathie was promoted to the position of Deputy General Manager. In this role, she assists in the operation and management of the Convention Center. In 2012, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs appointed Kathie to the executive director position. Canning will continue to direct and supervise all aspects of finance, marketing and operations of the facility. Kathie is an active member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM) and Meeting Planners International (MPI). During her career, Kathie has devoted her time to many not-for-profit organizations including The United Way Leadership Club, Orlando Chamber of Commerce and the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kathie graduated from York College in New York City with a bachelor’s degree in Education, and received her master’s degree from Adelphi University. In addition to her work at the OCCC, Kathie is an adjunct instructor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen School of Hospitality Management in Orlando, Florida.

Kirk Wingerson, Creative Marketing & Communications Strategist, City of Orlando Venues
Kirk Wingerson


Donald Getz, Professor Emeritus of Tourism, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary
Donald Getz

Youcheng Wang, Associate Dean, Academic Affairs & Research; Professor
Youcheng Wang

Dr. Youcheng Wang is a Professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs & Research at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at University of Central Florida. His teaching area includes destination marketing and management, information system management, technology and e-commerce strategy, and research methods in hospitality and tourism. Dr. Wang’s research interest focuses on hospitality marketing, destination marketing and management, customer relationship management, information search behavior, collaborative strategies, and technology management. He is the author of 3 books and more than 100 scientific publications. He is the co-editor of Journal of Destination Marketing and Management, and is on the Editorial Board of 9 international academic journals in the domain of hospitality and tourism marketing and management. Dr. Wang has consulting experience in the areas of destination marketing and development, technology and e-commerce strategies for hospitality and tourism organizations, collaborative strategies for regional destination marketing and management, and experiential marketing. Dr. Wang has received several awards for his contribution in research. These include: The Haworth Press Best Paper Award (2003), Researcher of the Year Award at Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida (2005), Keeling Dissertation Award at the Travel and Tourism Research Association’s (TTRA) Annual Conference (2005), Best Paper Award at the International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators (ISTTE) Research Conference (2006), Distinguished Researcher Award at the University of Central Florida (2006), Research Incentive Award at the University of Central Florida (2009), and the Haworth Press Best Paper Award Nomination (2009). He is also a frequent speaker at international conferences and industry forums. Dr. Wang earned his Master’s from Purdue University and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He is a member of several professional associations including Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA), International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE), International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators (ISTTE), and Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). He is also serving on the Research Committee of Visit Orlando and Expert Committee of Shanghai Tourism Development Research Center.

Ubaldino Couto, Lecturer, Institute for Tourism Studies
Ubaldino Couto

Ubaldino joined IFT in 2006 and is Lecturer in Events Management. He delivers theory courses in festivals and events management, as well as practical courses where students are required to plan, implement, organise, manage and evaluate live, public events for charitable causes. He is also actively engaged in Institute-wide projects, and is an active member in the community where he provides advice to a number of local and international NFP organisations. He also actively engages in consultancy projects and is invited as visiting professor to deliver short courses and lectures abroad. He was recently invited to Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, to give advice to the local government and trade to develop Amakusa's local produce and rich Luso-Christian heritage into tourism products. He is currently reading for his Doctor of Philosophy degree in the United Kingdom. Ubaldino’s mixed ancestry is the force that motivates his quest in understanding the role of ethnic cultures in societies. He also advocates in equality and inclusion through research, specifically, in race, gender, sexuality and access issues. He's an aviation enthusiast and adores Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals.

Arend Hardorff, Dean, Academy for Leisure, NHTV Breda University of Applied
Arend Hardorff

Arend Hardorff (1976) is Dean of the Academy for Leisure of NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands. This academy hosts 4 degree programmes; a professional Leisure & Events Management programme with specializations in Attractions & Theme Parks and in Events, a professional master in Imagineering and a scientific bachelor and master programme in Leisure Studies. On behalf of NHTV, he is member of the steering committee of the Dutch National Centre of Expertise in Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality. Next to his position at NHTV Arend is Chair of the Board of Mezz Pop Venue Breda and member of the Supervisory Board of Incubate Festival Tilburg. In the past he was a politician for the Dutch Labour Party in Breda and was lecturing and researching topics like creative industries, creative clusters and cultural and creative policies.

Caroline Jackson, Senior Principal Academic, Bournemouth University
Caroline Jackson

I currently Chair the Association for Events Management Education (AEME) whose aim is to advance events education and research through its member organisations of UK Universities, Colleges and trainers. I am also Vice Chair of the Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the umbrella organisation that represents the leading trade and professional organisations, government agencies and other significant influencers in the business visits and events sector. My main roles for BVEP are to further enhance events education, to review the professionalisation of the industry and to identify its creative value. After working at senior level in a number of local authority leisure services, I joined Bournemouth University in 1992 and created an experiential events management unit on the BA (Hons) Leisure Marketing programme. This was followed by the creation of the MSc Events Management and BA (Hons) Events Management courses. The continued growth of events education and research culminated in the development of the Department of Events & Leisure in the Faculty of Management. Over 30 academics and postgraduate research students and 800 Bachelor and Master’s students studying events, leisure and project management form this internationally respected Department. My research and teaching interests relate to a greater understanding of the meanings associated with events and leisure experiences. My PhD, entitled 'the lived experience of the popular music festival-goer' took a descriptive phenomenological approach to investigating others’ music festival experiences. I am currently working with the University of Westminster, with support from the Events Industry Forum, to identify the creative intensity of the UK events industry. I am researching the development and nature of events education, particularly comparing China and the UK with a visiting scholar from Donghua University, Dr Liu Chunzhang. I am currently teaching Arts Marketing and Creative Media & Events.

Kelly Semrad, Assistant Professor, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Kelly Semrad

Dr. Kelly J. Semrad, currently serves as a faculty member in the University of Central Florida (UCF) Rosen College of Hospitality Management. She is the former associate director for the University of Florida’s Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute. Dr. Semrad possesses 15 years of professional experience in community event planning which includes having served on mega events’ host committees such as the World Series and Super Bowl Games. Dr. Semrad has presented over 65 research presentations at international conferences, has published in renowned academic journals, and has served on research teams that have provided evaluations and technical reports to tourism and hospitality organizations worldwide. She is an active team member for numerous grants representing socio-economic needs in developing countries. Dr. Semrad is the recipient of numerous research and teaching awards and has also served as an invited visiting professor at multiple universities abroad. Her teaching portfolio is extensive having taught more than 30 different hospitality, sport management, and event management courses (2001 – 2014). She is an active advocate for the continued development of degree programs that represent society’s growing educational needs. Thus, she has served as a degree underwriter for both the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida.

Deborah Breiter Terry, Professor, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Deborah Breiter Terry

Dr. Breiter is a Professor in the Tourism, Events and Attractions Department with the Rosen College and holds the endowed position in Convention and Conference Management. Her teaching focus is conventions and trade shows. She spearheaded the introduction of the first Bachelor of Science in Event Management in the United States. There are now more than 1,200 students enrolled in this degree program. Dr. Breiter was awarded the Professional Achievement Award for Education by the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) in 2007, the Professional Achievement Award by the Greater Orlando chapter of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) in 2009 and the Stevenson Fletcher Award by the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education in 2005 for her development of convention and conference education. She has conducted research for the Orange County Convention Center, Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau, PCMA and MPI. Dr. Breiter has been published in many well-respected journals in the field, including Tourism Management, Event Management, The Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, The Cornell Quarterly and the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.


Fevzi Okumus, Professor, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Fevzi Okmus

Dr. Okumus is a Professor in the Hospitality Services Department at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. He received his Ph.D. in Strategic Hotel Management from Oxford Brookes University, UK. He has a Master of Science degree in International Hotel Management from Oxford Brookes University, UK and a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality and tourism from Cukurova University, Turkey. He worked in the hotel industry before becoming an educator. He joined the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in 2005 and was the founding Chair of the Hospitality Services Department from 2007-2013. Dr. Okumus’ teaching and consultancy areas include strategic management, leadership development, strategic human resources management, hotel management, international hospitality management and introduction to hospitality and tourism. His research areas include sustainability and green practices, strategy implementation, competitive advantage, knowledge management, hotel management, lodging operations, crisis management, cross-cultural management, destination marketing, information technology and developing countries. Dr. Okumus has widely published in leading journals, including Annals of Tourism Research, Tourism Management, Service Industries Journal, Management Decision, International Journal of Hospitality Management, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management and Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research. He has over 180 academic publications (about 80 refereed journal articles, three books, 11 book chapters and 65 conference presentations, reports etc.). His publications have received over 2500 citations and he has an h-index of 26. Dr. Okumus has secured and completed research and consultancy projects over US$ 500,000 in different countries and received numerous awards and recognitions. He has recently received the Michael D. Olsen Research Achievement Award. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (IJCHM), one of the top-tier journals in the hospitality field with an impact factor of 1.407. He also serves on the editorial boards of 18 international journals and is a frequently invited speaker at national and international conferences.

Mathilda Van Niekerk, Assistant Professor, Tourism, Events, and Attractions Department, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Marthilda VanNiekerk

Dr. Van Niekerk currently works in the Tourism, Events and Attraction (TEA) Department at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, USA. She has a PhD in Tourism Management (2004) and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)(2013). Her research areas include festivals and event management, tourism destination marketing and management and strategic management. She has over 100 academic publications (refereed journal articles, books, book chapters, case studies, encyclopedia entries, training manuals, industry reports and conference papers). She has taught 28 postgraduate and undergraduate courses in tourism management, destination marketing, event marketing and event management. She received the 2015 University Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award from Rosen College. Dr. Van Niekerk serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals and is the Managing Editor for the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (IJCHM). Before joining Rosen College, Dr. Van Niekerk held senior management positions at different institutions in both higher education and local government in South Africa. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, she served as the cluster leader in Nelspruit, one of the host cities responsible for marketing, communications, events and tourism. Recognizing her leadership and contribution to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Nelspruit, South Africa, she received the Premier Protea Hotel Nelspruit/Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism - Tourism Personality of the year award. Her commitment and competence as an event organizer, visionary and leader are also evident in her success as an owner and director of a business enterprise in the private sector, for which she was named a national finalist for South Africa’s ABSA Business Woman of the Year award.

Alan Fyall, Orange County Endowed Professor of Tourism Marketing, Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida
Alan Fyall

Dr. Alan Fyall is Orange County Endowed Professor of Tourism Marketing at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida. He has published widely in the areas of tourism and destination marketing and management including 20 books and over 150 journal articles. Dr. Fyall is a former Member of the Bournemouth Tourism Management Board (DMO) and Board of Solent Synergy Limited in Southern England, and has conducted numerous consulting and applied research projects for clients in the UK, European Union, Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. Alan currently teaches International Tourism Management and Destination Marketing & Management and to date has examined 27 PhDs in the UK, India, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia. He has organized a number of international conferences and workshops for academic, professional and governmental audiences and is frequently invited to deliver key note addresses. He is Editor of Elsevier’s Journal of Destination Marketing & Management and sits on the editorial boards of Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Heritage Tourism, International Journal of Tourism Research, Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Regional Statistics, Anatolia, Journal of Business Research, PASOS Heritage Tourism, International Journal of Health Management and Tourism and Place Branding and Public Diplomacy.

Judith Mair, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, The University of Queensland
Judith Mair

Judith Mair is a Senior Lecturer in Event Management in the UQ Business School, University of Queensland, Australia. Her research interests include pro-environmental behaviour and resilience both in tourism and events; the impacts of events on community and society; consumer behaviour in events and tourism; the relationship between events and climate change; and business and major events. Her PhD investigated decision-making in the events context and was completed at the University of Strathclyde. Judith is working on a number of projects including investigating the potential for events to act as a catalyst for encouraging pro-environmental behaviour change; researching the links between events and social capital; and assessing the potential impacts of climate change on the tourism and events sector.

Rhodri Thomas, Professor, Tourism and Events Policy, Dean, School of Events, Tourism, and Hospitality Management, Leeds Beckett University, UK
Rhodri Thomas

Rhodri Thomas is Professor of Tourism and Events Policy and Dean of the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management at Leeds Beckett University, UK. Originally trained as an economist, he now engages in inter-disciplinary policy-related research in the context of the tourism, hospitality and events sectors. Rhodri has acted as a 'specialist expert' on policy issues for the OECD, the European Commission and for government departments and other agencies in the UK and elsewhere. He has completed several Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) grant and non-grant funded projects and is a member of their Peer Review College. His Chair was supported by the Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) for five years. Rhodri is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, a Co-ordinating Editor for the International Journal of Hospitality Management and an Academic Editor for Sustainability. He sits on the Editorial Boards of several leading journals including Tourism Management and the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.