2018 Events: A Year in Review

by: David Breisch, Destinations International

At Destinations International, there's no better way to take advantage of our core pillars of Community, Advocacy, Research and Education than at the many networking and educational events that we host throughout the year. Whether you work in marketing, visitor services, advocacy or any of the other disciplines within our industry, there is an event for you.

Take a look back at some of the successful events that we're proud to have produced this year!

Spirit of Hospitality

location_on Washington, DC, USA
date_range February 11, 2018
person 220 attendees

The year always starts with a bang at the annual Spirit of Hospitality celebration, one of the industry's premier fundraising events for the Destinations International Foundation. This year, we were proud to honor National Geographic Traveler with the Spirit of Hospitality award. Backed by a powerful heritage of more than a century of exploration, global experts, and signature photography, National Geographic Traveler magazine is the gold standard of destination inspiration and is the world's most widely read travel magazine. Through powerful storytelling and photography, each issue inspires curious readers with stories that show the transformative power of travel.

Spirit of Hospitality audience 1
Spirit of Hospitality award winner 2
Spirit of Hospitality attendees 3
Destinations International staff 4
(1) The Spirit of Hospitality Celebration is the industry's premier fundraiser for the Destinations International Foundation. (2) At the 2018 celebration, President & CEO Don Welsh poses with George Stone, Editor in Chief of National Geographic Traveler. (3) Attendees gather at the 2018 celebration reception. (4) Destinations International staff celebrate a successful event.

Destination Showcase

location_on Washington, DC, USA
date_range February 12, 2018
person Over 150 destinations and 1,000 meeting planners

Following Spirit of Hospitality, many of our members joined us for the annual Destination Showcase, one of the industry's leading opportunities for destinations to connect directly with global meeting planners in one central location. This year, we welcomed over 1,000 meeting planners to Washington, D.C. for an incredible one-day event that included PCMA education sessions for planners, a wonderful keynote address by renowned chef and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jose Andres, and many hours of fantastic networking on the trade show floor.

Trade Show Floor Overview 1
Keynote 2
Trade show photo 3
Lounge area 4
Trade show photo 5
Don Welsh intro 6
Trade show floor 7
Coloring wall 8
Trade show floor 9
VR station 10
(1) The show floor consists of unique brandable kiosks that destinations can purchase. (2) The keynote was headlined by renowned chef and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Jose Andres. (3) Meeting planners from Experiment, Inc. pose for a group photo. (4) The show floor featured comfortable lounge areas for attendees to network. (5) Team Visit Indy gathers for a photo at their kiosk. (6) President & CEO Don Welsh takes the stage to welcome the crowd. (7) The staff from Branson, MO is busy answering attendee questions. (8) Show floor activities included a coloring wall sponsored by VISIT DENVER. (9) Attendees network on the show floor. (10) The virtual reality station gave attendees the opportunity to experiment with new technology.

CMO Summit

location_on Pittsburgh, PA, USA
date_range March 4-6, 2018
person 131 attendees

This year's CMO Summit, hosted by VisitPITTSBURGH, was an opportunity for destination marketing leaders to gather and learn from Pittsburgh's inspiring story. Centered around central themes of branding, innovation, arts & culture and culinary experiences, the Summit featured unique content that was primarily presented off-site at venues around the city.

CMO Tom Loftus 1
CMO incubator 2
Culinary incubator 3
CMO Summit reception 4
(1) Tom Loftus, Chief Marketing Officer for VisitPITTSBURGH, talks about "The Pittsburgh Story." at the 2018 CMO Summit. (2) CMO Summit includes many off-site educational incubators. (3) Mitchell Davis, EVP of the James Beard Foundation, speaks to the crowd at the Federal Gallery. (4) Attendees gather at a 2018 CMO Summit reception.

CEO Summit

location_on Southampton, Bermuda
date_range April 23-26, 2018
person 170 attendees

The annual CEO Summit is a great opportunity for leaders of destination organizations to connect and learn about challenges unique to their level. This year in Bermuda, CEOs were inspired by high-level topics relating to issues such as overtourism, crisis response, office culture of the future and weaponization of travel.

CEO shirtsleeves 1
CEO beach party 2
CEO Summit session 3
CEO Summit entertainment 4
(1) Attendees at the 2018 CEO Summit discuss their issues at an interactive shirtsleeves roundtable. (2) Opening reception for CEO Summit was held on the beachfront property in Bermuda. (3) Women's leadership expert Claire Shipman tells CEO Summit attendees why "it's not business as usual." (4) Local performers entertain the crowd.

New Milestones in the CDME Program

The Certified Destination Management Executive program reached new heights this year with outstanding industry participation. The CDME courses offered in conjunction with this year's Annual Convention had over 100 students enroll across four available courses in Anaheim, California, which shattered the previous average of approximately 60 students in previous years. Thank you to all who made progress in attaining the industry's highest professional certification.

Also this year, through a new partnership with Travel Alberta, Destinations International was proud to offer CDME courses in the picturesque city of Banff, Alberta, Canada. Over 30 students had opportunities in both spring and fall to take specialized courses that were geared specifically towards Canadian travel professionals.

Annual Convention

location_on Anaheim, CA, USA
date_range July 10-13, 2018
person 1,625 attendees

The Destinations International Annual Convention is one of the industry's leading events for peer education and networking. This year we welcomed over 1,600 industry professionals to Anaheim for an exciting week of programming. The 2018 Annual Convention included:

  • CDME and PDM courses for continued learning for industry professionals
  • Fundraisers for the Destinations International Foundation
  • General sessions by leading speakers and panelists
  • Over 100 educational sessions led by peers and industry experts
  • An opening reception on the Anaheim Grand Plaza and Grand Celebration at the House of Blues

General Session 1
CDME class 2
Annual Convention trade show 3
World Cafe 4
Grand Celebration 5
International group photo 6
DMAP reception 7
2018 class of 30 Under 30s 8
VisitPITTSBURGH session 9
Longwoods International 10
(1) General sessions featured keynotes from globally-recognized speakers, insightful panels and industry updates. (2) Attendees participate in a marketing shirtsleeves roundtable discussion. (3) The trade show featured networking opportunities with 100 exhibitors from across the industry. (4) The World Cafe offered an opportunity for attendees to engage with content experts in an informal setting. (5) The Grand Celebration closing reception featured a live band at the Anaheim House of Blues. (6) A few international attendees gather for a group photo at the opening reception. (7) Destinations that have recently achieved or renewed their DMAP certification attend the DMAP reception. (8) The 2018 class of 30 Under 30 honorees are recognized on stage. (9) The team from VisitPITTSBURGH present expert content to their peer destinations. (10) Longwoods International celebrated their 40th anniversary by bringing a flash mob band to the trade show.

Visitor Services Summit

location_on Monterey, CA, USA
date_range September 23-25, 2018
person 110 attendees

The annual gathering of Visitor Services professionals in Monterey this year was a big success. After an inspiring keynote by Marla Benson of Volunteer Relations Consulting Group, attendees had the opportunity to attend the popular shirtsleeve roundtables and 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes sessions. This year's off-site Learning Lab was a walking tour of Monterey's Cannery Row. Congratulations are also in order for this year's winners of the WOW Awards: Destination Niagara USA, Boulder CVB and Door County Visitor Bureau.

Membership Summit

location_on Greater Palm Springs, CA, USA
date_range October 22-25, 2018
person 138 attendees

The most popular of our fall Summits is the Membership Summit, held annually every October. Membership Summit is truly a community of professionals, as demonstrated by the many attendees who return year after year. This year's highly-reviewed keynote was Judi Holler from HOLLA! Productions, followed by concurrent sessions and an off-site Learning Lab at the Living Desert. The final day rounded out the peer education with a 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes session as well as an Open Mic Session. Thank you to all who participated!

Membership Summit group photo

Attendees at the 2018 Membership Summit gather for a group photo in Greater Palm Springs, California.

Finance, Operations & Technology Summit

location_on Cleveland, OH, USA
date_range October 28-31, 2018
person 101 attendees

This year's gathering of senior operations staff in Cleveland featured a new format with dedicated concurrent educational tracks for finance, operations and technology professionals. Attendees learned about Office 365, ethical workplace culture, social engineering scams and many other hot topics in the administrative world. Thank you especially to This Is Cleveland for hosting an outstanding opening reception at Eventworks 4D, which included an amazing presentation of the latest in holographic projection technology.

Advocacy Summit

location_on Philadelphia, PA, USA
date_range November 7-9, 2018
person 131 attendees

A special congratulations to our Advocacy team, led by Jack Johnson, for producing a stellar second annual Advocacy Summit in the beautiful city of Philadelphia. This year's Summit was expanded to two full days and nearly tripled attendance from last year's total of 47. The content included experts from tourism research agencies, as well as a release of the latest advocacy research and case studies from destinations doing exceptional work in the field of destination development and management. Finally, a shout out to Visit Philly and Philadelphia CVB for putting together a gorgeous evening reception located at the world-renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art. We're looking forward to an even more successful event at next year's third iteration.

Alex Wirth 1
Advocacy Summit reception 2
Master Planning reception 3
Advocacy Summit group shot 4
(1) Alex Wirth, Co-founder and CEO of Quorum, presents a general session on the changing political landscape. (2) Visit Philly and Philadelphia CVB hosted a reception at the world-renonwed Philadelphia Museum of Art. (3) Jeff Miller, President & CEO of Travel Portland, talks about tourism master planning. (4) Destinations International members gather for a group shot at the 2018 Advocacy Summit.

Convention Sales & Services Summit

location_on New Orleans, LA, USA
date_range December 8-10, 2018
person 120 attendees

Finally, we closed out the year with a completely reimagined Convention Sales & Services Summit in New Orleans. With a focus on the unique sales proposition, attendees learned how to deliver value to planners and how planners view CVBs as part of their business strategies. The Summit included release of the latest meeting planner research conducted by our industry partners, Miles Partnership and Destination Analysts as well as keynotes, educational sessions, shirtsleeves and many networking opportunities.

CSS Charlotte Blank 1
CSS PCMA Session 2
CSS Bo Kruger 3
CSS Session 4
(1) Charlotte Blank, Chief Behavioral Officer for Maritz, speaks at the 2018 Convention Sales & Services Summit. (2) Sherrif Karamat, CEO of PCMA, opens the 2018 Summit. (3) Bo Kruger from Meetovation is a renowned speaker known for making his sessions interactive and entertaining. (4) Attendees listen to a general session.

It's been a truly great year for events here at Destinations International, and we're looking forward to even more successful events next year! We hope to see you out on the road networking with your peers and learning new content in 2019.

About the Author

David Breisch
Director of Marketing Technology
Destinations International
A ten-year veteran of the tourism industry, David is responsible for leading marketing technology strategies across all digital media platforms. Before joining Destinations International, David spent nine years as the Multimedia & Web Manager for the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau in Illinois and Iowa.

David spends his free time soaking up the D.C. scene. He loves a good bike ride, board and video games of all kinds, and traveling the country supporting this phenomenal industry.