The Iowa Tourism Office is proud to host the annual Iowa Tourism Awards. This year’s awards will recognize the amazing work and innovation by Iowa’s outstanding tourism organizations that have positively contributed to the experience of our visitors. These awards represent the highest honor given for tourism in Iowa. Award winners will be announced on Wednesday, April 20, during the 2022 Iowa Tourism Conference.
NOMINATION GUIDELINES AND REQUIREMENTSNomination form links below
Excellence in Supporting Iowa Tourism Marketing
Excellence in Supporting & Growing Tourism in Iowa
Nominations received in an incorrect category may be moved to a more appropriate category.
All nominations must be submitted online.
The entry period is Wednesday, January 12, through 5 p.m. on Friday, March 4.
Incomplete submissions will not be judged.
Self-nominations are accepted.
Note: If you and the person/organization nominated for an award are registered to attend the Iowa Tourism Conference, you will not be notified if your nominee is selected to receive an award. If you and/or your nominee are not registered to attend the conference, we will contact you to discuss attending.
ELIGIBILITYThe Iowa Tourism Awards are open to all individuals, private businesses, for-profits and nonprofit organizations offering a tourism product or service in Iowa. All entries must promote tourism to or within Iowa. Events or initiatives nominated for consideration need to have occurred between January 1, 2021, and January 31, 2022. Please note: 2021’s Conference winners are not eligible to enter in the same or similar category in 2022.
Two of each of the following awards will be awarded (with the exception of the People’s Choice Award), one to a rural winner (city with a population of 10,000 or less or a county that is among the 33 least populated in Iowa based on the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau) and one to a metro winner (city with a population of more than 10,000 or a county that is among the 66 most populated in Iowa based on the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau).
The following categories demonstrate excellence in supporting Iowa tourism marketing.
Outstanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. Honors excellence in diversity, equity and inclusion advancements.
2021 Winner: NewBo City Market, Cedar Rapids
Outstanding Marketing Collaboration. Honors a collaborative partnership between tourism organizations.
2021 Winners: Byways of Iowa Foundation, Postville; Stephens Auditorium and ACTORS, Ames
Outstanding Niche Market Initiative. Honors excellence in a tourism initiative targeted to any niche audience such as green/sustainable efforts, natural resources, sporting events, the arts, etc.
2021 Winners: Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce; Visit Quad Cities
Outstanding Promotional Material. Honors a tourism attraction or community for excellence in promotional materials (print, TV, radio, outdoor, etc.). Any tourism-related promotional material is an eligible entry, including general or niche consumer publications, annual reports, etc. Five copies of the promotional material being nominated may be submitted by mail to the Iowa Tourism Office. In addition, a PDF copy or excerpt of the material may be submitted with the nomination form.
2021 Winners: Jefferson Matters: A Main Street & Chamber Community; Greater Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau
Outstanding Social Media Execution. Honors a business for excellence in social media strategy.
2021 Winners: Fayette County Conservation Board; Greater Burlington Convention & Visitors Bureau
Outstanding Website. Honors a tourism business for excellence in website and digital promotions.
2021 Winner: Pocahontas County Economic Development Commission; Visit Quad Cities
The following categories demonstrate excellence in supporting and growing tourism in Iowa.
Outstanding Attraction. Honors for-profit or nonprofit attractions.
2021 Winners: Mahanay Memorial Carillon Bell Tower, Jefferson; Three Pines Farm, Cedar Falls
Outstanding Community. Honors a community.
2021 Winners: Clear Lake, Cedar Rapids
Outstanding Dining Business. Honors a for-profit dining business.
2021 Winners: Grace on Main, Elk Horn; Butcher's Brewhuis & In't Veld Meat Market, Pella
Outstanding Event. Honors an event/festival either held in-person or virtually.
2021 Winners: Pizza on the Prairie, Orient; Hickory Hills Holiday Lights, Waterloo
Outstanding Individual Leader. Honors an industry professional, volunteer, politician, partner or media providing long-term excellence in leadership and support for the tourism industry.
2021 Winner: David Rettig, Amana Colonies & Sara Olson, Sioux City
Outstanding Lodging Property. Honors a for-profit lodging property.
2021 Winner: Larch Pine Inn, Clear Lake; The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, Cedar Rapids
Outstanding Retail Experience. Honors a for-profit retail business or retail district that has demonstrated excellence in supporting tourism in Iowa.
2021 Winner: Almost Famous Popcorn, Des Moines
SCORINGEach of the awards will be scored numerically on the following statements (1 being poor, 10 being outstanding) for a top score of 50. Each nomination will be scored by three different judges and scores will be combined. The nomination with the highest score, out of 150 total points possible, will be named the winner.
Scoring for Outstanding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative; Outstanding Marketing Collaboration; Outstanding Niche Market Initiative; Outstanding Promotional Material; Outstanding Social Media Execution; and Outstanding Website. Note: Nomination may include links, PDFs and/or photos to support the nomination.
Objectives of the project are clearly stated, and results were achieved in terms of stated objectives. Nomination outlines the purpose and goals of the project and describes how goals were met.
Project design, development and implementation showed originality and creativity. The nomination explains the challenges the nominee was presented and how they overcame them using creativity.
Project showed innovation in developing new tourism markets, unconventional approaches to old markets or new technology use. The nomination provides details on why and how the new markets, approaches and/or technology were used.
Project showed growth over previous projects or new project resulted in measurable growth of community’s tourism industry with a positive impact on the community and state. The nomination includes measurable numbers of return on investment, visitor numbers, revenue, etc. and how it supports the Iowa tourism industry as a whole.
Overall quality of submission and any supporting electronic or written material.
Scoring for Outstanding Attraction, Outstanding Community, Outstanding Dining Business, Outstanding Event, Outstanding Individual Leader, Outstanding Lodging Property and Outstanding Retail Experience. Note: Nomination may include links, PDFs and/or photos to support the nomination.
The nominee’s work to support and grow tourism in Iowa is clearly stated. Provide commentary on why they are deserving of recognition.
The nominee showed originality and creativity in overcoming their challenges.
The nominee showed innovation in developing new tourism markets, unconventional approaches to old markets or new technology uses.
The nomination includes any measurable numbers such as a return on investment, visitor numbers, revenue, etc, to quantify how the nominee supported the Iowa tourism industry as a whole.
Overall quality of submission and any supporting electronic or written material.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDThis award category will be voted for online. Second place winners from the above categories (excluding Outstanding Individual Leader) are eligible to win. Attendees will have the opportunity to read the award nominations that received the second-highest points in each category and vote. Scoring criteria is eliminated and the winner will be chosen by the highest number of votes. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will receive a traveling trophy to keep for one year and return it for presentation to the next year’s People’s Choice Award recipient. There will not be a population distinction in this category – all second-place nominees in both population categories will compete against each other. 2021 Winner: Experience Waterloo.
WINNERS’ RECOGNITION AND BENEFITSAward winners will be announced and receive awards in a special ceremony on Wednesday, April 20, during the 2022 Iowa Tourism Conference.
The winner of the People’s Choice Award will receive a traveling trophy with their organization name engraved on it. They will keep the award for one year and return the award for presentation to the next year’s People’s Choice Award recipient. Each People’s Choice Award recipient will also receive a certificate to keep.
Winners will receive an official logo stating Winner of 2022 Iowa Tourism Award for use on advertising collateral, brochures and websites.
Winning entries will be recognized in the Iowa Tourism Office’s e-newsletter, on traveliowa.com and in a statewide press release.