CDME Courses

The CDME program prepares senior executives, who want to advance their careers to blend theory with experience and application of knowledge to help industry leaders thrive in a constantly changing environment. The program focus is on vision, leadership, productivity and implementing business strategies.

Core Courses

Strategic Issues In Destination Management

  • Understand what it means to be a destination marketer, manager and leader.
  • Understand global and national constraints, opportunities and trends affecting destination marketing and management.
  • Learn the key factors and new initiatives that make destination marketing professionals and organizations successful.
  • Discern the destination visioning and strategic planning process and how the community and
  • industry become stakeholders in branding and tourism development.
  • Know the latest thinking and solutions to current destination issues and challenges such as branding, funding, performance accountability, community relations/advocacy, industry partnerships and visitor relationship management.

Destination Marketing and Sales

  • Become exposed to the “vanguard” thinking in convention and leisure travel marketing through relationship/database, social media and partnership/regional promotion.
  • Learn about alternate approaches to destination marketing strategies and promotional/sales planning.
  • Learn a systematic, step-by-step approach to preparing marketing strategies.
  • Understand research and evaluation sources and techniques needed for effective destination
  • marketing programs.
  • Acquire knowledge of new trends and learn the success stories in domestic, regional and international convention and leisure marketing.

Destination Leadership

  • Discuss the essence of leadership and the qualities needed to excel, both for your organization and within the community.
  • Review the factors that contribute to organizational success, including organizational values, and company culture.
  • Adopt key leadership concepts and discuss the importance of emotional intelligence
  • Demonstrate the implications of not following best practices in financial leadership, and review the benefits of doing a comprehensive organizational assessment.
  • Highlight essential communications tools including the business plan, annual report, stakeholder meetings, and others.
  • Discuss key human resources practices such as salary studies, handbook development, job descriptions and performance evaluations.
  • Understand how to find the right board member, the benefits of solid board governance, and effective ways to communicate with your board.
  • Consider the importance of crisis communications and how you can ensure your DMO is prepared.

Destination Advocacy and Community Relations

  • Achieve a new appreciation of visitor industry and government relations as it affects destination marketing leadership.
  • Understand the need and process in preparing an advocacy and local communications strategy.
  • Know the key principles and practices in strengthening the partnership among government, visitor industry, community and destination organization leadership.
  • Ascertain success factors in the governance of a visitor destination.
  • Understand key stakeholder needs and destination organization best practices.
  • Obtain the latest thinking and solutions to current destination organization challenges in the visitor industry, media, resident and government relations.

Core Course Papers

For each* of the four core courses, the CDME participant is required to prepare a minimum 3-page (double-spaced, equivalent to 750 words) take-home descriptive report on some idea, concept, procedure or practice taken from the particular course and applied to the participant’s destination organization.  The paper should contain an introductory description of the item in question, the proposed or actual process in implementation, and the perceived or actual benefits derived.  Exhibits may be attached as addenda, but do not count toward the 3-page/750 word requirement.

The paper must be completed within 21 days of the completion of the core course, and should be sent via email as a PDF file to [email protected]. You must submit your paper prior to registering for your next CDME course. 

*For the Destination Advocacy and Community Relations core, the requirement is for a detailed advocacy plan outline for the destination organization, identifying key contents with some description of the goals, tactics and means of determining success.

Elective Courses

CDME candidates may choose two of six elective courses. The CDME elective courses have been newly enhanced and revised to focus on the most critical and strategic topics with which industry leaders must be familiar and equipped to face.

Destination Positioning and Branding

This course will provide an integrated overview of the key challenges and future direction of place branding from a proven and practical perspective.  The course will also address the necessary research and various methodologies employed in successful destination/tourism and community branding.  You will gain important insights into the approach and key steps in destination/tourism brand development, design, and delivery.

  • Understand the process of creating a destination brand
  • Know the difference between positioning and branding
  • Know how to develop a brand promise
  • Understand how to execute and enhance a destination brand rollout
  • Know how to set-up and measure destination brand success 

Destination Organization Financial Management

This course is designed for those who manage a destination organization’s finances, as well as those whose work is outside of the finance role.   Discussion will include explanation of the key financial issues and challenges facing destination organizations today, and solutions to effectively manage these challenges, assist with accountability and transparency, and positively affect the bottom line.

  • Have a better understanding of the financial realities of the not-for-profit and government destination organization environments
  • Understand key accounting/financial policies and procedures as well as program budgeting
  • Understand how to interpret financial statements
  • Understand how to measure financial accountability for a destination organization
  • Understand the value of destination marketing/business plans and how they tie into an organization budget 

Development of the Destination Experience

Seldom do destination organizations have the opportunity to lead the community in developing the destination experience, with the exception of the development of a convention center as a component of urban renewal, or a visitor information center as a component of destination experience development.  Whether it is a “bricks and mortar” project, a servicing solution, or a resource development, this course will provide destination leaders with the tools they need to successfully engage their communities and build destination products.

  • Understand useful tools such as DestinationNEXT
  • Understand the destination product planning process
  • Engage the community and industry as stakeholders in these efforts
  • Understand the challenges that can occur and the solutions that can assist
  • Lead their destination and the community into further building its visitor economy 

Economic Development and the Role of Destination Organizations

This course will arm destination leaders with the tools they need to successfully integrate and cooperatively work with Economic Development leaders in their communities.  You will learn about the fundamentals of Economic Development and the core activities such as site selection in this environment.  You will gain an understanding of the many aspects of putting an Economic Development “deal” together, and how the insight and input of the visitor economy can enhance the effort.

  • Better speak the language of Economic Development
  • Have the tools necessary to engage with local Economic Development officials
  • Learn how to leverage visitor assets to further build the destination from an Economic Development perspective
  • Learn how to leverage Economic Development initiatives

Human Resources and Talent Development

This course will provide an overview of the role of Human Resources in destination organizations. This course is not just for HR professionals, as it addresses the relevance and practical applications of HR in every leadership position throughout the destination organization.  The course will outline a complete picture of talent management, how to drive your ideal culture and utilizing best practices to foster team engagement.  You will also gain important insights into risk management and leadership development. 

  • Understand the connection between Human Resources and positive team cultures
  • Know how to build foundational language that inspires team engagement
  • Know how to create a culture of engagement, performance and accountability
  • Understand how to develop, communicate and enforce policies that inspire a “lean in” effort
  • Identify ways to create and foster a safe, healthy, positive and harmonious work environment 

Destination Information and Research

This course provides an overview of research options considered most critical for success in destination marketing including how to obtain, interpret, utilize, and communicate relevant findings.

  • Understand the different roles research plays within destination organizations
  • Identify destination research benefits and trends
  • Develop multi-year destination research plans
  • Create an effective request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process
  • Build organizational value and credibility as a trusted resource


For assistance or more information, please contact:

Rori Ferensic headshot
Rori Ferensic
Senior Director of Education
[email protected]