Advocacy Summit 2018: Planning, Execution and Reflection

By: Andreas Weissenborn, Destinations International 

When the advocacy team finally reached the end of November 9, I don’t think any of us were able to fully process the event we had been putting together for the past six months. In truth, we had been already playing this summit out in our heads from the moment we ended Advocacy 2017 in Baltimore, MD 365 days prior.

Now, a few weeks after being in Philadelphia, I thought it would be best to share some of the top moments that I enjoyed about this summit.

Content Planning

A summit first and foremost should always have the content be the marquee reason to attend. Thus, the planning and thought that goes into one should be as equally great. Below is the closest I can capture to what this planning process looks like. On the wall behind Jack Johnson, you will see many of the topics and threats we wanted to approach in 2018. Our own self-scrutiny had us rewriting and adding or subtracting topics and sometimes ... re-adding them again. All of our work was fundamentally driven by our desire for this to be the thought-leadership gathering for our industry. If you look closely at the wall, you can see much of what was shared during the Advocacy Summit inclusing overtourism, Weaponization of Travel, The New Tourism Lexicon and flash point politics.

Audience Reaction

It’s a very vulnerable feeling at the precipice of one of your sessions, internalizing if members will feel enlightened from the content you’re delivering and whether they find value in their attendance of your summit. It is then equally sobering when you get to see the audience intently watching the screen, taking photos of the slides, and asking questions and starting dialogue from what they just learned. One of my favorite audience moments was when Jack presented this slide from his lexicon presentation.

I’ve seen this presentation a few times, so I know this slide is only about 3/4 through the full deck, but you would have thought we had reached the conclusion from the applause we received from this mid-presentation slide. It solidified in me how engaged our audience was, and that they fundamentally got what we were trying to make this conference all about.

Appreciation and Opportunity

During the summit, each of us are collectively taking feedback and formulating our own qualitative review of the sessions, meeting layout, food and timing. In addition to the quantitative data we received from our post-summit survey (thank you for those who took it, we do read it!), we’re constantly looking to how we can improve for the next round.

We have had so many members approach us with take-aways from the summit, saying they will make this part of their rotation of events they attend every year. All I can say is thank you, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

About Andreas Weissenborn

Senior Director of Research & Advocacy
+1.202.835.4201 | [email protected]

Introduced to the world of destination organizations by a random internship application to Visit Baltimore (then known as Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association), Andreas Weissenborn began an unexpected career into hospitality that left him with a continued passion towards the tourism industry.

Weissenborn spent just short of 11 years with Visit Baltimore helping with its Research, Technology, and Information Systems across the organization. In 2017, he joined the association on behalf of a Destinations International Foundation initiative to be a dedicated research source for Destinations International.