From Expo to Expertise: Highlights from IMEX America 2023

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<span>From Expo to Expertise: Highlights from IMEX America 2023</span>
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At IMEX America, the Destinations International team seized the opportunity to engage with industry leaders, sharing updates and discussing issues vital for the industry's future. We share the top three valuable takeaways that are poised to become strategies and, ultimately, actions.

In a world that is increasingly defined by screens, clicks, and virtual connections, live events remain a realm where knowledge exchange transcends the limitations of any digital landscape. IMEX America 2023 was no exception to that principle. The Destinations International team seized the opportunity to engage with industry leaders, sharing updates and discussing issues vital for the industry's future. Now, as we absorb what we've learned and the connections we've made, there is an opportunity to share the top three valuable takeaways that are poised to become strategies and, ultimately, actions.

1. Focus on the Workforce Continues 

Destinations International Chief Operation Officer, Gretchen Hall, conducted a press event introducing a range of important initiatives that align with the ongoing efforts to secure the industry's future by supporting the current workforce and preparing for the future one.  

Developing the Future Workforce 

DI announced a first-of-its-kind strategic collaboration with the New York University School of Professional Studies, Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality. This powerful alliance between the two global organizations will create direct pathways for the worldwide talent pool, directly into the destination organizations. Initiatives will range from internship and student ambassador programs to content development and consultation in curriculum development, joint case studies, applied research projects, and potential professional development offerings in the form of joint certificates and micro-credentialing. 

What does this mean for the destination organization?

Not only will this initiative develop future talent and build awareness around the destination organization through education and personal interactions, but it will also equip many of the students with the DI Professional in Destination Management (PDM) Certificate, making it easy for destination organizations to quickly see through resumes which candidates have a foundational familiarity with the organizational structure and process.  

Supporting the Current Workforce

As the travel and tourism landscape continues to evolve, the need to grow the pipeline, and develop the current talent through research and resources, remains a must. To support that workforce, DI announced the launch of a series of six new resources that will be made available over the course of the next five months.  

What does this mean for the destination organization?  

DI member organizations will have access to new resources that will support them in strategic decision-making and in telling the story of their value.  

  • Dl’s DNEXT Future Study: Roadmap that supports destination leaders in navigating the future trends to optimize their organizations’ relevance. (Available Now)
  • New Tourism Lexicons:  Lexicons that are crafted by analyzing the common words and phrases used by elected officials in different regions to support better communication with decision makers. (Available Now
  • Destination Promotion: A Catalyst for Community Vitality Report: Comprehensive study that documents the potential full impact of a destination organization's activities, beyond the impact on hospitality businesses and related taxes collected. 
  • Destination Organization Community Indicator: Real and usable models of a community indicator(s) that can be personalized by each community. 
  • National Resident Sentiment Studies: A deeper understanding of the current sentiment of residents in the North American markets that will equip destination professionals with actionable insights to inform decision-making, the crafting of targeted messages, and the building of bridges between diverse communities. 
  • Destination Effect Campaign: A new advocacy strategy will go beyond previous tourism only campaigns and tap into the core essence of the destination organization's role in community building and sustainable growth. 

2. Destination contracts can be win-win with equitable liability.    

One year prior and on the very same IMEX stage, the DI Large Market Roundtable announced the launch of the Destination Booking Agreement (DBA) Toolkit. Fast forward to the events of 2023 and we saw a panel of destination professionals providing an update on the undeniable adoption of the DBA within the North American destinations and the continued planner-facing education of the DBA tour that was inclusive of sessions at four major industry events this year. 

What does this mean for the destination organization?  

A sample of 18 of the largest North American destinations was surveyed, and over 83% either have a DBA in place or are in the process of doing so. Destinations that have not yet embraced this industry movement are leaving themselves open to cancellation without penalty, whereas those who have embraced it are finding success in shared risk and opening themselves up for deeper, more meaningful long-term relationships that will promote risk mitigation and repeat business. To learn more about the Destination Booking Agreement, visit: DBA Toolkit for Destination Organizations

3. Destination selection remains a delicate balance of business and emotional intelligence. 

Destinations International Chief Advocacy Officer, Jack Johnson, joined the Global Diversity Alliance for a session about the new launch of their comprehensive paper “Banning the Boycott,” which provides tactical steps for industry professionals who are seeking to build more inclusive and diverse events in destinations with have political climates in conflict with the mission of inclusivity.  

What does this mean for the destination organization?  

Destination professionals have found that the demands of their jobs have evolved beyond their initial career expectations. Managing the complexities of financial considerations, safety and security, political and social impacts, and the contrasting needs of visitors and locals are just a few of the essential skills required in this field, and selling through those challenges is more complicated than ever. Because the complexities of destination selection for business events have grown, it is more important than ever that we continue to add tools to our sales toolbox. To access this overview document as an internal resource or to share with planners who are concerned about local political or societal climates, please visit: Banning the Boycott

About The Author

Emily Scheiderer

Senior Director of Education, Sales, and Services

Emily Scheiderer is a hospitality enthusiast with a background that includes both DMO and hotel experience. Emily’s passion for inclusivity has driven her to make meaningful connections both in and out of the industry that have included a two-year commitment to the ISAE Government Affairs committee and serving as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society’s ResearcHERS campaign. As a self-described “data nerd”, she enjoys any opportunity to expand her mind and learn. 

Read some of Emily's recent publications: 

Business Events Industry Focus Is Shifting Back to the Future

Business Event Profs Are Better Together

Smart Meetings Award Winners 2022

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