Below find the preliminary schedule for the 2023 NATJA Conference & Marketplace. The schedule is subject to change.

Sunday, May 14

Pre-Conference Press Trips

Media will be departing for the following press trips:
    • Arctic Circle Fly Drive Adventure
      • Approximately 8:45 am
    • The Lodge at Black Rapids Tour
      • Approximately 11 am

Meet at The Westmark’s lobby to depart for your tour.

Monday, May 15

Pre-Conference Press Trips

Media will be departing for the following trips:
    • Arctic Circle Midnight Sun Drive Adventure
      • Approximately 8:45 am
    • Chena Hot Springs
      • Approximately 11:30 am

Meet at The Westmark’s lobby to depart for your tour.

Media will be returning from the following trips:
    • The Lodge at Black Rapids Tour
      • Approximately 5 pm
    • Arctic Circle Fly Drive Adventure
      • Approximately 6 pm
    • Chena Hot Springs
      • Approximately 9:15 pm
    • Arctic Circle Midnight Sun Drive Adventure
      • Approximately 1 am

Tuesday, May 16

9:30am - Registration Opens

Location: In front of Gold Ballroom

Come check-in with the NATJA team to pick up your conference badge and other items.

11:00am to 12:00pm - Member Meet & Greet Coffee Mixer

Location: West Gold Ballroom

Join our NATJA team and Advisory Board members for a mid-morning cup of joe. All members are welcome!

12:00pm to 1:00pm - Lunch Buffet

Location: Gold Ballroom

The NATJA Conference officially kicks off with our Opening Luncheon.

1:00pm to 2:30pm - Opening General Session

Location: Gold Ballroom

NATJA and Explore Fairbanks welcomes attendees to the 20th Annual Conference & Marketplace.

2:30pm to 2:45pm - Break

2:45pm to 4:00pm - Heritage of the Dena Athabascan People

Location: Gold Ballroom

Presenter: Rev. Dr. Anna Frank

Anna leads an interactive presentation in which she discusses her upbringing to include traditional way of life, access to western school (boarding schools) and the influence that type of education had on those who did and did not receive it, marriage, health and spirituality. Anna takes questions and interacts with the audience to help build a deeper understanding.

4:00pm to 4:15pm - Break

4:15pm to 5:30pm - FAM Trips 101

Location: Gold Ballroom

Moderator: Francesca Donlan (Communications Director, Discover Newport)

Panelists: Tonya Fitzpatrick (Co-Founder of World Footprints), Vanessa Orr (Freelance Writer), Gustavo Rivas-Solis (Vice President, ENroute Communications), Colby Sharples-Terry (Public Relations & Communications Manager, Kansas Tourism), and Charles Winters (Executive Vice President – Marketing, Media & Advertising)

FAM trips keep evolving and the rules keep changing. Learn the best practices from a panel of pros – both media and DMO’s –  on securing a FAM trip, participating in one and making sure everyone is on the same page. What are the expectations? Who pays for what? What has changed in the FAM landscape? Bring your questions and we will answer them!

5:30pm - Downtime

Sessions are over for the day! Take a quick break and we will see you in the Hotel Lobby for our departure to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center.

5:50pm - Departures begin for Welcome Reception

Meeting Location: Hotel Lobby

Shuttles will do loops to pick up attendees between 5:50pm and 6:20pm. Make sure you’re on a shuttle or you will be on your own getting to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center.

6:00pm - Welcome Reception at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center

The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center is a place for gathering, discovery, education and celebration made possible by a cross-organizational, multi-cultural partnership built on the values lived by the late Morris Thompson. The partner organizations are housed together in the center, collaborating to offer visitor services, public lands information, cultural programs, and world-class exhibits that show the history and seasonal flow of local lifestyles.

7:00pm - Returns Begin

Shuttles will begin taking attendees back to the hotel at 7pm and will run through 8pm. If you miss the last bus, you’ll be on your own for transportation back to the hotel.

Looking to explore Fairbanks at night? You will find a map of the downtown area in your program book case you would like to venture out on your own.

Wednesday, May 17

8:00am to 9:30am - Breakfast Buffet & General Session

Location: Gold Ballroom

Join us for the breakfast buffet and general session, which will include various announcements for the day, as well as our keynote speakers.

A Fairbanks for All

Keynote Speaker: Jerry Evans (Public Relations Manager, Explore Fairbanks)

Jerry will provide an overview of what Fairbanks has to offer during its three seasons – Midnight Sun Season, Aurora Season and Winter Season. Join us to learn more about what you’ll be able to see and experience this week during the conference and what you would be able to see if you come back to visit us during a different time of year.

Stitching Together a Desert Miracle

Keynote Speaker: David Lamfrom (Vice President, Regional Programs, National Parks Conservation Association)

Desert communities galvanized political and community support and built truly non-traditional alliances to build one of our nation’s greatest conservation landscapes. Learn what that means and what that teaches us.

9:30am to 10:45am - The Editors Panel

Location: Gold Ballroom

Moderator: Bennett W. Root, Jr. (Executive Vice President & General Counsel, NATJA)

Panelists: Jamie Hergenrader (Commerce Director, Travel Group, Dotdash Meredith), Rona Marech (Editor in Chief, National Parks), and Silas Valentino (Travel Editor, SFGATE)

Would you like your next story pitch picked up by an editor? Learn tips and tricks from editors from various publications on how you can make your next story pitch stand out from the rest and land you the assignment!

10:45am to 11:00am - Break

11am to 12:15pm - Climate Change in Alaska

Location: Gold Ballroom

Moderator: Jim Adams (Alaska Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association)

Panelists: Malinda Chase (Tribal Resilience Liaison, Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center), John Morton (Wildlife Ecologist), and Rich Thoman (Alaska Climate Specialist, Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy)

Alaska is ground zero for many of the impacts of climate change, from thawing permafrost and melting sea ice to changing ecosystems, the collapse of infrastructure and the disruption of communities. Three panelists discuss the impacts of climate change on Alaska and its infrastructure, wildlife and people.

12:15pm to 12:30pm - Break

12:30pm - Depart for Riverboat Discovery & Lunch at Miner's Hall

Meeting Location: Hotel Lobby

Suggested attire: Comfortable waterproof walking shoes and clothing. Light jacket.

As the Riverboat Discovery cruises along the Chena and Tanana Rivers, you will get to experience Fairbanks’ history, nature, and beauty firsthand. Hop off the Riverboat Discovery for a guided walking tour of the Chena Village Living Museum, an Athabascan village with cabins made of spruce logs, a cache used for storing supplies, a spruce bark hut and fur pelts. Guides will share with you what it takes to adapt and survive in the Alaskan wilderness.

From watching bush pilots skillfully land on the river to learning from a riverside fish camp about traditional salmon preparation, this cruise will give you a glimpse into what makes interior Alaska such a unique destination.

5:00pm to 6:00pm - Reception

Location: Riverboat Discovery Dock

After disembarking, attendees will get to enjoy happy hour right on the dock!

6:00pm - Dine-Around

Departure Location: Riverboat Discovery Dock

This is your chance to immerse yourself in some of Fairbanks’ most delicious eateries!

  • Lavelle’s Bistro
  • Lemongrass Thai Cuisine
  • Pump House
  • Big Daddy’s BBQ

Click here for more information on each restaurant.

Make sure to check the back of your badge for your dine-around restaurant’s name to get on the correct bus!

8:00pm - Returns to Hotel Begin

Thursday, May 18

7:30am to 9:30am - Breakfast Buffet

Location: East Gold Ballroom

A breakfast buffet will be available for the early birds!

8:00am to 9:00am - Marketplace Setup for Exhibitors

Location: Middle/West Gold Ballroom

Look for the table with your organization’s name or find a NATJA team member to assist you to your table.

9:00am to 12:00pm - Marketplace

Location: Middle/West Gold Ballroom

Media and destination marketing organizations meet for one-on-one chats. Make sure to bring your business cards!

11:30am - Boxed Lunch Pick-Up

Location: Registration Table outside of the Gold Ballroom

Be sure to pick up your boxed lunch at the Registration Table. Eat at your leisure prior to departing on the afternoon tours or take it with you on the bus.

12:00pm to 12:45pm - Downtime/Marketplace Breakdown

You will have the opportunity to return to your room and prepare for your Afternoon Tour.

12:45pm - Depart for Afternoon Tours

Location: Hotel Lobby

Suggested Attire for all Tours: Comfortable waterproof walking shoes and clothing.

Click here for the afternoon tour options.

5:00pm to 5:45pm - Arrive back at Hotel/Downtime

5:45pm - Depart for Closing Reception at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Meeting Location: Hotel Lobby

6:00pm - Closing Reception at the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

The Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum is one of the premier vintage and classic car museums in the United States. Their collection includes 102 beautifully restored and preserved vehicles and thousands of vintage fashions from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. You’ll also find scores of exhibits, artifacts, photographs and archival videos that tell the story of America’s early love affair with the automobile and Alaska’s early motoring history.

6:45pm - Depart for Dinner at the Taiga Center

From the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, we take a short (~3-minute) walk to the Taiga Center. Follow the path from the museum to the Taiga Center.

7:00pm - Closing Night Dinner at the Taiga Center

The time has come to say farewell and thank you to our hosts at Explore Fairbanks. 

9:00pm - Attendees Return to Hotel

Friday, May 19 - Denali Day

7:00am to 8:15am - Breakfast Before You Go!

Location: East Gold Ballroom

Pick up your boxed breakfast to eat before you go or take it with you on the bus.

Daytrip to Denali National Park & Preserve

8:15 am – Depart for Denali National Park & Preserve

Meeting Location: Hotel Lobby

Make sure to bring a daypack or backpack and pack an extra jacket. Wear waterproof shoes as conditions may be muddy. The weather in Denali may be different than Fairbanks.

11 am – Arrive at the Denali Visitor Center Campus 

The park’s superintendent and other staff will provide an overview of the park and answer your questions.

12 pm – Lunch

Pick up snack box and and venture out on one of the following optional activities:

  • Explore the Visitors Center Campus
  • Take a walk along the scenic short trails around the Visitors Center area
  • Ride the Savage River Shuttle to Mountain Vista Trail for an easy 1/2-mile loop walk, return via shuttle to Kennels/HQ area
  • Ride the Savage River Shuttle full loop returning to the Kennels/HQ area

2 pm – Meet at the Kennels for Sled Dog Demonstration

The shuttle departs from the Visitors Center to the Kennels at 1:20 pm. If you miss it, it’s a 2-mile uphill walk via the Roadside Hiking Trail.

3 pm – Depart Denali

Meet at the train station area for our return to Fairbanks via the Alaska Railroad GoldStar Service.

4 pm – Depart on the Alaska Railroad

Enjoy the views! Dinner will be provided onboard the train.

Estimated Arrival in Fairbanks: 8:30pm

Transfer to the Airport

Meet in the hotel lobby 2 hours before your flight’s departure time for your transfer to the airport.

Saturday, May 20


Vouchers will be provided for breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant.

Press Trip Departures

Meet in the Hotel Lobby to depart for your post-conference press trip.

    • Arctic Circle Midnight Sun Drive Adventure: 8:45am
    • Arctic Circle Fly Drive Adventure: 8:45am
    • The Lodge at Black Rapids Tour: 11:00am

Transfer to the Airport or Train Depot

Meet in the hotel lobby 2 hours before your train or flight’s departure time for your transfer to the train depot or the airport.

Sunday, May 21

Post-Conference Press Trips

Media will be returning from the following trips:
    • The Lodge at Black Rapids Tour
      • Approximately 5 pm
    • Arctic Circle Fly Drive Adventure
      • Approximately 6 pm
    • Arctic Circle Midnight Sun Drive Adventure
      • Approximately 1 am

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