MADISON, Wis. – Travel Wisconsin and Wisconsin Cheese earned a gold award from Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Adrian Awards, the world’s largest and most prestigious travel marketing competition, for their joint media partnership. Travel Wisconsin and Wisconsin Cheese along with partners TURNER and Lippe Taylor are Gold Winners for the Destination: Cheesecation virtual event in the Public Relations — Special Event category. HSMAI’s Gold Winners have exemplified outstanding advertising, digital marketing, public relations, and integrated marketing in hospitality.

“When the pandemic hit, we knew people were still dreaming of travel and that we had an opportunity to stay top-of-mind with traveler writers (and travelers) by highlighting Wisconsin’s unique stories as they dreamt of future travel,” said Anne Sayers, Travel Wisconsin Acting Secretary. “With the past year bringing so many challenges, our Gold Adrian Award win is even more meaningful, showing that we can excel at promoting Wisconsin even in uncertain times.”

The Destination: Cheesecation virtual event coincided with National Cheese Day in June 2020. More than 30 media, representing 90+ outlets, received a curated Cheesecation delivery, before virtually arriving at Destination: Cheesecation from their at-home setting for an elevated cheese tasting tour. Tour guides from Wisconsin Cheese and Travel Wisconsin virtually transported attendees to coveted cheese caves, beautiful dairy farms, meetings with expert cheesemakers – and even had the group name a brand-new baby calf at guest cheesemaker Marieke Penterman’s farm for an integrated online travel experience.

“We’ve been making cheese here since before we were even a state, making it such a core part of Wisconsin’s heritage and a part of everyone’s travel story,” says Suzanne Fanning, Chief Marketing Officer for Wisconsin Cheese and Senior Vice President for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. “When travelers come to Wisconsin, eating cheese is key to the experience and people love reliving their trip by buying a piece of Wisconsin cheese in their local grocery store.”

Interactive surprises kept travelers engaged throughout the “trip,” including polls and custom video footage. A souvenir gift shop experience transformed the virtual event into something truly memorable, showcasing award winning Wisconsin cheese and key tourist attractions across the state. Attendees shared their Cheesecation experiences on social media both before, during and after the event, generating 1.3 million impressions, 68 Instagram story frames and eight in-feed Instagram posts.

The Adrian Awards have been recognizing excellence in the hospitality and travel industry for more than six decades.

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