By: Jennifer Beatty, Tourism Calgary
I had the pleasure of attending Destinations International’s (DI) Annual Conference as part of Destinations Toronto's generous donation to the DI Foundation for scholarships to attend the Annual Conference this year. After a challenging two and a half years for DMOs during and following the pandemic, all while being able to stay employed, the opportunity to attend DI was one I am very grateful to receive.
The excitement of DI being in Toronto and having the opportunity to network and attend sessions and learn how the industry has changed on a global level but to have the perfect amount of networking time to listen and discuss and ask questions to other destinations was invaluable for everyone who attended. Having the opportunity to do this face-to-face with industry peers, well, there simply isn't a better way of learning.
The opening session by speaker Chip Conley, "Riding the Waves and Planting Seeds in Uncertain Times," really set the stage for a lot of the discussion at the conference considering what the industry has faced. During his session, he provided a positive outlook and insight on what we can do to surf the wave towards the best years yet, which was incredibly inspiring. Chip also shared a quote that resonated with the audience, and I have since shared it with other senior industry colleagues, "a modern elder is as curious as they are wise."
Following the opening keynote, the theme continued with sessions that were really top of mind with so many destination professionals such as our evolving role as a DMO and the new roles that are finding a home within the DMO world (that is fluid across the board as I learned from several destinations during the networking opportunities). This session emphasized and elevated several topics of conversation that affect all areas of tourism from sustainability, diversity and inclusion leaders, and the overburden to the industry of "The Great Resignation."
The closing keynote by John Herdman, Head Coach of the Canadian Men's National Soccer team, was beyond exciting and left me with goosebumps. As someone who has played soccer their entire life, I know a fantastic coach can make all the difference in the world! As he took the stage, he not only inspired us but also reminded us, whether it be in leadership by motivating our team or in our personal goals of achievement, that we should always aim to reach outside of our comfort zones and go for gold. This was the absolute perfect ending to an incredible week of education and networking.
I cannot express my gratitude enough to Destination Toronto and all the other donors who donate to the Foundation and understand the importance of raising funds to continue the growth of our industry and support innovation and education to provide knowledge and resources for their members.
Thank you for the amazing experience!
Director of Business Development