2022 Advocacy Summit

Destination organizations are a community asset responsible for programs promoting their community as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through their knowledge of the destination, brand management, promotional programs, and the resulting impacts of visits by people, destination organizations strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality which provides opportunity for all the people in a destination. 

Recognizing residents as their ultimate customers, destination organizations have an expanded leadership role to play within their communities. This includes playing a supporting role in efforts led by others on issues that, for too long, organizations have avoided and claimed were not within their scope.


As the 2021 DestinationNEXT Futures Study states, “Destination organizations are expanding their roles in many directions. They are aligning with government and community organizations more intentionally to support initiatives designed to improve social issues and local quality of life; fuel priority sector development; attract outside investment and high-value talent; and elevate the overall destination brand beyond a tourism lens.” 

The Summit presents ideas, strategies, and tactics for destination organizations to successfully embrace their role as a community asset that aligns with their residents and advocates for their needs.

Schedule at a Glance

Wednesday, October 26

Advocacy Committee Meeting (Invitation Only)

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Presented by Simpleview


4:30 PM - 4:45 PM


  • Bonnie Carlson, CDME, President & CEO, Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • The Honorable Tim Busse, Mayor, City of Bloomington
Forward Thinking Leaders

4:45 PM - 5:30 PM

Join this powerful discussion with Fortune 500 and other community leaders from the Twin Cities on how to create culture of equity, diversity and inclusion in your business and your community. They will share their stories and best practices about what equity, diversity and inclusion means across different industries, and provide actionable take aways that will help you enhance your EDI efforts in your destination.


  • Faith Jackson, Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, City of Bloomington
  • Prince Corbett, Racial & Health Equity Administrator, Ramsey County
  • Kiarra Zackery, Equity & Inclusion Manager, City of Golden Valley
  • John Parker Der-Boghossian, Associate VP of Equity, Normandale Community College
Welcome Reception

5:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Join us for an evening at the iconic Mall of America, one of the United States’ largest entertainment and retail complexes. Enjoy local Minnesota flavors, guest appearances, and entertainment with your colleagues as we kick off Advocacy Summit in Bloomington, MN! Each attendee will be provided with ride tickets for the adjacent Nickelodeon Universe theme park and FlyOver America, a virtual flying ride that takes you through the sights and sounds of the United States’ most iconic destinations. Attendees are welcome to explore Mall of America’s shops, attractions, and restaurants before and after the party.

Note: Shuttle busses will run from the Hyatt Regency to Mall of America from 5:30 PM - 10:00 PM. The mall's retail hours are 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM; most restaurants stay open until 9:00 or 10:00 PM.

Presented by the Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sliders, Sips & Socializing sponsored by Simpleview

Following welcome reception until 9:30 PM

After gathering for the DI Advocacy Summit opening reception, you're invited to join Simpleview at The Fair on 4 for Minnesota fair food, drinks, and axe-throwing fun.

The Fair on 4 is located on the fourth floor of the Mall of America. Buses will run back to the Hyatt Regency until 10:00 PM.

presented by Simpleview

Thursday, October 27

M Health Fairview Mile Walk

6:15 AM - 8:00 AM

World-class health care organization Mayo Clinic has partnered with Mall of America to map out one mile, 5K and 10K walking paths inside the Mall! Mall of America’s vice president of communications, Dan Jasper, will lead the group in a one-mile mall walk while sharing fun facts about the inner workings and history of Mall of America. Post-walk, grab-and-go breakfast from the Lululemon Fuel Bar will be available.

Lulelemon Yoga

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Start your day with a moment of Zen with a yoga class at Lululemon’s flagship Mall of America store. A Lululemon ambassador will lead the group in a relaxing, 40-minute beginner class. After class, grab-and-go breakfast from the Lululemon Fuel Bar will be available.

Networking Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Welcome & Overview

9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Welcome to the Summit from Destinations International's President & CEO Don Welsh and Foundation President Vail Ross. Event overview by Anna Tanski.


  • Don Welsh, President & CEO, Destinations International
  • Al Hutchinson, President & CEO, Visit Baltimore
  • Vail Ross, SVP of Global Business Development & Marketing, STR
  • Anna Tanski, Summit Moderator
The Essential Elements of Community Shared Value

9:15 AM - 9:45 AM

To kick off the summit, Destinations International's Chief Advocacy Officer offers a view of the essential elements of the community shared value concept including the values they are based on and the implications they have. He will also outline how you can use these values to build out a successful advocacy strategy.


  • Jack Johnson, Chief Advocacy Officer, Destinations International
Community Awareness: New Resident Sentiment Data for Canada and the United States

9:45 AM - 10:30 AM

Picture Amir Eylon as the CEO of a destination organization. We have asked him to do just that and in that role, have asked him to lay out how he would use resident sentiment data to advocate. Amir will outline how he would develop resident advocates for funding and building new tourism product, being the trusted source of important word of mouth to friends and relatives, and being the beneficiary of the financial gains from this vital economic engine. As part of this session we will release a preview of the results of the 2022 National Resident Sentiment Study Towards Tourism for both Canada and the United States.


  • Amir Eylon, President & CEO, Longwoods International
Networking Break

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Creating Regular and On-Going Interaction With Your Residents, Stakeholders and Public Officials

10:45 AM - 11:15 AM

Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and nonpolitical processes. This session will walk you through how several organizations regularly engage with their community in order to make the difference.


  • Gathan Borden, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Destinations International
  • Courtney Cacatian, Executive Director, Charlottesville Ablemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Julie Saupe, CDME, President & CEO, Visit Anchorage
  • Chris Lewis, Director of Community & Visitor Engagement, Tourism Kelowna
Bringing Left and Right Brain Data Together in a Community Indicator

11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

It is critical to identify a clear and powerful community-facing measurement(s) to highlight how a destination organization is filling the community need for destination promotion. This session provides an overview of a six-month effort to explore what such a measurement would look like for our industry sector.


  • Andreas Weissenborn, Vice President of Research & Advocacy, Destinations International
Workshop: Bringing Left and Right Brain Data Together in a Community Indicator

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Building off of the two previous sessions, attendees will break into groups and work with a facilitator to identify how to use data to create their community indicator, as well as use key types of data to explain what a destination organization does, how well it is doing it and why it is important to residents and stakeholders.


  • Cara Frank, Chief of Staff, Simpleview
  • Bill Geist, Chief Instigator, DMOproz
Networking Lunch

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

If We Want To Be A Force for Good, There’s Things We Need to Be Talking About

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

With residents as their primary customers, destination organizations have new leadership roles to play within their communities. This also means that destination organizations must step up and play a role - both leading and supporting - on civic issues, issues and efforts that for too long we have avoided by claiming they were outside of our scope. This new role is natural, as destination organizations are uniquely positioned to share the story of their community, as well as leverage the partnership between residents and visitors to create a positive and lasting impact for both sides.


  • Al Hutchinson, President & CEO, Visit Baltimore
  • Rickey Thigpen, President & CEO, Visit Jackson
  • Sergio Piedra, Director of Community Engagement & Advocacy, Discover the Palm Beaches
  • Julie Gilbert, CDME, CMP, President & CEO, Destination Door County
The Role of a Destination Organization in Addressing Crime and Safety Issues

2:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Destination organizations are increasingly aligning with government and community organizations more intentionally to support initiatives designed to improve social issues and quality of life and elevate the overall destination brand beyond a tourism lens. Violent crime is one of these alignments. The causes of and solutions to violent crime fall outside of our wheelhouse, but it affects our communities, our brand, our home. We may not lead in this effort, but we have a supporting role to play. This session will discuss the results of a six-month process to identify our sector's role and best practices that can be followed in order to effectively support the community.


  • Alyssa Poulin, Senior Manager of Advocacy Research & Content, Destinations International
Workshop: Working With Residents and Stakeholders to Address Civic Issues

2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Building off of the two previous sessions, attendees will break into groups and work with a facilitator to identify ways destination organizations can work with residents and stakeholders to help address violent crime and other civic issues in order to shape the conversation and be part of the solution.


  • Cara Frank, Chief of Staff, Simpleview
  • Bill Geist, Chief Instigator, DMOproz
Networking Break

3:15 PM - 3:30 PM

How Do Other Industries Engage Stakeholders In Powerful Grassroots Advocacy

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Learn how to engage people to influence vital policy issues with grassroots advocacy campaigns. Grow your supporter base, educate them on your issues, influence policymakers and reach your goals.


  • Alex Wirth, Co-Founder & CEO, Quorum
The Annual Advocacy Summit Political Round Table

4:00 PM - 4:45 PM

Destinations International brings together a collection of people for a candid discussion of politics, policy agendas, strategies and predictions.


  • Jack Johnson, Chief Advocacy Officer, Destinations International
  • Marc Seguin, VP of Public Policy & Government Affairs, TIAC-AITC
  • Reed Linsk, Director of Government Affairs, CLIA
  • Andrew Hiebl, CAE, CEO, Association of Australian Convention Bureaux
  • Nicole Porter, VP of Political Affairs, US Travel Association
What Data Would You Use To Advocate for Your Organization?

4:45 PM - 5:15 PM

Picture Adam Sacks as the CEO of a destination organization. We have asked him to do just that and in that role, asked him to lay out the data he would use to advocate on behalf of his organization as well as how he would use data to underscore his position and authority in the community.


  • Adam Sacks, President & CEO, Tourism Economics
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Updates

5:15 PM - 5:25 PM


  • Sophia Hyder Hock, Chief Diversity Officer, Destinations International
Wrap Up Day 1

5:25 PM - 5:30 PM


  • Anna Tanski, Summit Facilitator
Foundation Dinner (Invitation Only)

7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Friday, October 28

Networking Breakfast

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

Marketplace of Ideas, Round 1

9:00 AM - 9:25 AM

Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

What is the Opportunity Cost of Not Collecting Bed Tax?
Location: Ballroom 3
Unlike most Florida counties, Martin County had no ordinance for vacation rental bed tax. This put the destination organization at odds with tax collectors, and missed opportunities to support local stakeholders. See how Martin County used Arrivalist's location data to build a data-driven case which aligned the community and resulted in funding approval to implement the missing bed tax.

  • Jason Fulvi, Chief Sales Officer, Arrivalist
  • Nerissa Okiye, Tourism Director, Martin County Tourism & Marketing Office

Why Your Destination Needs a Podcast
Location: Ballroom 4-5
This session will educate destination organizations on a new way to showcase their destination. By displaying this new form of passive consumption, destination organizations can learn how to slice and dice content in more ways than one—allowing them to get the most use out of one medium.

  • Adam Stoker, President & CEO, Relic Agency
  • Wes Rhea, CDME, President & CEO, Visit Stockton

The Simple KPI that Every DMO CEO Needs to Lead Their Team and Their Destination
Location: Stone Arch
Ben Vadasz of Destination Think will share breakthrough research on a KPI for visitor sentiment that correlates to the growth in visitor spend. Ben will share how destinations use Tourism Sentiment Index (TSI) to prove the economic impact of their destination organization, lead their industry to develop and improve the visitor experience and destination brand, and defend and grow budgets.

  • Ben Vadasz, Founding Partner, Destination Think
Marketplace of Ideas, Round 2

9:35 AM - 10:00 AM

Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Building Political Capital with Destination Intelligence
Location: Ballroom 1-2
Join Kalene Griffith and Matt Clement as they share a case study blueprint for building political capital and stimulating destination development using destination intelligence. They will share details of using the data resources at Visit Bentonville’s disposal in their work with local city government, chamber of commerce and the Walton family in a time of unprecedented growth, including what have been the most useful data sources and the strategies to employ when communicating those resources.

  • Matt Clement, CDME, Managing Partner, Madden Media
  • Kalene Griffith, CDME, President & CEO, Visit Bentonville

Capacity-Compression-Comfort: A Tool for Understanding Views on Visitor Volume
Location: Ballroom 3
The Aspen Chamber and Resort Association needed to build a visual indicator of the destination’s seasonality and ability to accommodate guests while sustaining the quality of life of residents. Working collaboratively with the Colorado Tourism Office, Clarity of Place created a data visualization tool to document Capacity, Compression, and Comfort (CAPCOM2) to strategically determine market needs and apply appropriate direction to either build visitor business or manage visitor volume.

  • David Holder, CDME, CEO, Clarity of Place
  • Eliza Voss, VP of Marketing, Aspen Chamber and Resort Association

Effective Advocacy Through a Website Built for Your Community
Location: Ballroom 4-5
Discover how Charlottesville, VA leverages their website as an advocacy platform through strategic content planning, partner marketing opportunities, and community engagement.

  • Sidney Abramson, Community Engagement Specialist, Tempest
  • Courtney Cacatian, Executive Director, Visit Charlottesville

Adding Local Color: How Bandwango Passports Enhance a Community’s Appeal
Location: Stone Arch
Bandwango products can be used in a multitude of ways but one of the most impactful is enhancing a community’s appeal. Examples of advocacy through passes include driving people to local businesses through a gamified trail or giving exclusive discounts to local heroes (i.e healthcare workers, teachers, etc). Take your destination to the next level through paid and free Bandwango passports.

  • Erin Griss, Senior Marketing Manager, Bandwango
  • Wes Rhea, CDME, President & CEO, Visit Stockton
  • Peggy Coleman, VP of Tourism & Community Relations, Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Networking Break

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

Marketplace of Ideas, Round 3

10:20 AM - 10:45 AM

Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Transform Your Community Into Allies
Location: Ballroom 1-2
Advocacy will always be a critical component of a destination organization's DNA, whether you’re fighting legislation, funding, championing new development, or defending your existence. To provide destinations with relevant and actionable insights, Destinations International and Tourism Economics are working together to deliver high-frequency analyses of relevant metrics for your community within the SYMPHONY market intelligence platform. This session will provide real-world use cases on how to arm yourself with data to drive your advocacy strategy and turn doubters into believers and community into allies to deliver on community shared values.

  • Erik Evjen, Director of Data Analytics and Insights, Tourism Economics
  • Hilina D. Ajakaiye, Executive Vice President, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Bennish Brown, President & CEO, Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau

DestinationNEXT - A Critical Advocacy Tool
Location: Ballroom 3
Paul will give an update on the DestinationNEXT program and recent findings and trends. He will discuss how the program can be used to support strategic planning and destination master planning initiatives.

  • Paul Ouimet, President & Partner, MMGY NextFactor

EDI Assessment Tool
Location: Ballroom 4-5

  • Sophia Hyder Hock, Chief Diversity Officer, Destinations International
Marketplace of Ideas, Round 4

10:55 AM - 11:20 AM

Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Using Insights and Data to Steward and Grow Community Shared Values and Advocacy
Location: Ballroom 1-2
Bar charts and pie graphs do not tell a story on their own. Destinations have the data and insights to weave a narrative that builds trust and advocacy within their communities. This session will detail how one destination organization worked closely with their regional partners to better understand the movement of visitors and residents. Visit Sacramento convened community stakeholders and earned a seat at the table through stories of their key learnings: visitors who drove vs. flew, how seasonality did or did not affect visitation and resident and visitor downtown compression on specific dates and times. Now a valued and trusted source of intelligence, Visit Sacramento created community advocacy and support to help steward future efforts to build a better experience for visitors and life for its fellow residents.

  • Sarah Lehman, CEO, Zartico
  • Sonya Bradley, Chief Diversity Officer, Visit Sacramento

Building Alliances: a Destination Toronto Case Study
Location: Ballroom 3
When Destination Toronto and Simpleview teamed up to build a dine-out microsite in 30 days, the redesign transformed into a twisting and turning tale of a binding relationship between the DMO and the community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Destination Toronto collaborated with the city to support the ever-changing needs of restaurants; learn how a strong partnership led to the development of a new perspective on the role of the DMO, resulting in a cohesive visual brand identity, logo, and website content.

  • David Peacock, Senior Advisor to the Future Tourism Group, Simpleview
  • Scott Beck, President & CEO, Destination Toronto

Getting Ahead in a Time of Crisis
Location: Ballroom 4-5
As destination marketing organizations continue to evolve their roles around destination management, a critical need is providing stakeholders and partners time sensitive information when natural disasters strike. Destination Analysts and Discover Puerto Rico will show how sentiment tracking research informs an organization’s response and recovery approach as well as positions them as proactive, rather than reactive, leaders in a time of crisis.

  • David Reichbach, Senior Director - Analytics & Data Security, Destination Analysts
  • Alisha Valentine, Director, Research and Analytics, Discover Puerto Rico
Marketplace of Ideas, Round 5

11:30 AM - 11:55 AM

Join us for breakout sessions featuring critical case studies, products and tools that you need to be successful.

Progress & Pipeline: Support Your Sales Strategy With This Data Deep-Dive
Location: Ballroom 1-2
Using exclusive meetings and sales data, Simpleview and the Pasadena CVB will share how industry benchmarks were used to advocate for the destination organization, and how your organization can use this new key resource to develop your future sales strategies. We’ll dive deep into the insights offered about the progress and pipeline health of U.S. and Canadian destination organizations, divided into geographical regions and size based on GSF of exhibit space. Support your sales strategy by focusing on key data relevant to you and understand how to use it to advocate for your organization.

  • Cara Frank, Chief of Staff, Simpleview
  • Kristin McGrath, CDME, Executive Director, Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau

Leveraging Self Awareness for Advocacy Success
Location: Ballroom 3
This session will provide case studies to demonstrate how the use of powerful personal assessment tools will allow destination organization professionals to become aware of their key individual strengths in order to develop strategies to improve their overall advocacy success.

  • Linda John, CDME, ACC, Vice President, Destination & Travel Practice, FiredUp! Culture
  • Anna Tanksi, Summit Facilitator
  • Dave Parulo, President & CEO, Washington County Visitors Association

Global Best Practices in Community Engagement – Time for DMOcracy Global Research Study
Location: Ballroom 4-5
Time for DMOcracy is a major global research study defining community engagement best practices for destination organizations. We will share key insights and practical examples of successful community engagement by destiantion organizations across North America and Europe. Join us for a first peek of the results and resources from this study, which is wrapping up in late 2022. This global study is being led by Miles Partnership and Group Nao (the European lead and program creator) in collaboration with Destinations International, the City Destination Alliance in Europe and 44 leading North American and European DMOs.

  • Chris Adams, Head of Research & Insights, Miles Partnership
  • Laura Libby, SVP, Miles Partnership
  • Whitney Knollenberg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management, North Carolina State University
  • Ashley Schroeder, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management University of South Carolina
Networking Lunch

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Words Matter: The 2022 Destinations International Advocacy Lexicon

1:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Words matter in politics, and they need to be chosen carefully to carry an emotional connection to people’s values and the values of our industry. This session marks the annual release of words we have found that are used by elected officials and can carry an emotional message.


  • Andreas Weissenborn, Vice President of Research & Advocacy, Destinations International
Workshop: Using the Lexicon in Your Messaging

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Looking through the lens of the New Tourism Lexicon, attendees will break up into groups and work with a facilitator to transform real life messaging into emotionally based messaging to better communicate with residents and stakeholders.


  • Cara Frank, Chief of Staff, Simpleview
  • Bill Geist, Chief Instigator, DMOproz
Networking Break

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Cannabis and Hemp As Part of the Ecosystem

2:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Hear from the Destinations International cannabis/hemp task force on research around the opportunities and issues at hand for destination organizations and the adoption of cannabis and hemp in our communities. We will walk through examples on how to align detractors and showcase examples of destinations adopting cannabis and hemp as part of their tourism ecosystem.


  • Andreas Weissenborn, Vice President of Research & Advocacy, Destinations International
  • Brian Applegarth, Founder, Cultivar Brands
  • Racene Friede, CDME, President & CEO, Glacier County Tourism
Choosing to Make a Difference: Effective Alternatives to Travel Boycotts

3:15 PM - 3:45 PM

Destinations International has spent considerable time researching travel boycotts. While they are based in good intentions, the research shows that almost all of them are ineffective and counterproductive in achieving change. This session explores the reasons why and proposals an alternative approach that could lead to real impact and actual public policy changes.


  • Jack Johnson, Chief Advocacy Officer, Destinations International
Workshop: Designing Your Own Grassroots and Engagement Campaign

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Looking through the lens of the values of Engagement, Collaboration and Innovation, attendees will break into groups and work with a facilitator to tackle real life situations and come up with an outline of a grassroots strategy and plan to develop political and stakeholder support for their mission.


  • Cara Frank, Chief of Staff, Simpleview
  • Bill Geist, Chief Instigator, DMOproz
Advocacy 2023

4:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Join Summit facilitator Anna Tanksi and two members of Destinations International's advocacy team members as they talk about what's in the pipeline for 2023.


  • Anna Tanski, Summit Moderator
  • Jack Johnson, Chief Advocacy Officer, Destinations International
  • Andreas Weissenborn, Vice President of Research & Advocacy, Destinations International
Closing Reception

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Hotel & Travel Information

Hyatt Regency Bloomington-Minneapolis
3200 East 81st Street
Bloomington, MN, USA
+1 952-922-1234

44.857596, -93.226239