Destinations International Hall of Fame

Pioneers. Champions. Influencers. Industry leaders. These are the men and women who have advanced and improved the destination industry through their leadership, innovation and creativity. 

Launched in 2014, the Hall of Fame Award was created to recognize individuals who have changed the future of the destination industry for the better. It is the highest honor that Destinations International can bestow.

Our goal is to shine a spotlight on these pioneers, champions and influencers, and allow our members around the globe an opportunity to get to know them and their work. The selection process is based on how each inductee shaped or influenced the destination marketing and management industry, created positive change, and how their contributions created long lasting impact on travel promotion today.

This prestigious award provides a historical narrative of the leaders who have helped grow and nurture the destination marketing industry through the years.

2021 Honorees

Larry Alexander headshot

Larry Alexander

Former President & CEO, Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau

Larry Alexander was president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) from 1998-2020. Through his leadership, Alexander played a pivotal role in the economic transformation of metro Detroit by spearheading initiatives that spotlight the resurgence of Detroit. He also guided work on the physical transformation of the state's largest convention center - TCF Center - in order to attract larger meetings and events to the region. His bold initiatives have raised Detroit’s appeal as an exciting and dynamic city for tourism and conventions.

Alexander established the Detroit Sports Commission, a wholly owned subsidiary of the DMCVB that landed the 2003, 2008, 2013 & 2017 AAU Junior Olympic Games; the 2008 Women’s International Bowling Congress; and contributed to the successful bid for the 2005 MLB All-Star Game and the hosting of the 2004 Ryder Cup.

Alexander also assumed a leadership role in stewarding the continued growth and development of Detroit’s TCF Center, (formerly Cobo Center), the state’s most valuable convention asset. Designated by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2009 as the state’s appointee to the fivemember Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, Alexander oversaw completion of a new, world-class facility in 2015, while serving as DRCFA Chairman.

Alexander navigated the Bureau during both good times and crisis periods for the tourism industry. His expertise and tenacity successfully guided the Bureau during 9/11 and the mortgage crisis of 2009, both which rocked the travel industry. In 2020, Alexander steered the Bureau through the impacts of the COVID 19 crisis, considered among the most devastating events to worldwide tourism. His focus in his final nine months at the DMCVB was on developing a solid marketing and sales plan to resurrect meetings, conventions and leisure tourism in southeast Michigan and put the DMCVB and local hospitality industry back on the road to recovery.

For his outstanding leadership in civic arenas, Alexander was awarded the 2012 Eleanor Josatis Unsung Hero Award, the 2013 ASAE’s Academy of Leaders Award, the Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award (State of Michigan) in 2015 and in 2016, Michigan Meetings + Events magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He also sat on the Chairman’s Circle of U.S. Travel Association where he helped drive travel and tourism policies and advocacy to advance the industry.

Deb Archer headshot

Deb Archer

Former President & CEO, Destination Madison

Deb Archer is a nationally recognized leader and advocate for the travel and tourism industry.  She believes in the value of the visitor economy and the role visitors play in local and national economic vitality. She is known for her strategic and big-picture thinking. During her 26 year tenure as CEO of Destination Madison (formerly the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB)) and the Madison Area Sports Commission (MASC), Madison, WI evolved into a prominent position as a destination for conventions, sports events and leisure travel.

During her tenure with Destination Madison, Archer was recognized as the Sales & Marketing Executive of the Year, In Business’ Women of Industry and Most Admired Leaders, Madison Magazine’s Most Influential People of the Decade, MSU School of Hospitality Alumni Honoree and the WI Governor’s Tourism Legacy Award.

Before coming to Madison, Archer was with the Kansas City CVB and Executive Director of the Park City Utah CVB/Chamber of Commerce. She is a native of Libertyville, Ill and graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.

Wayne Chappell headshot

Wayne Chappell

Former Executive Director, Baltimore Convention & Visitors Bureau

Wayne Chappell has been an influential tourism executive for his entire career, serving as the general manager of two hotel corporations prior to joining the destination organization industry at the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Bureau as a sales manager. Since then, Wayne's illustrious career has included leadership positions at Houston, Kansas City and Baltimore.

Wayne also worked tirelessly to serve industry associations, including the PCMA Foundation Board, Chair of the Board of Directors for the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (now Destinations International) as well as many other hospitality industry organizations.

Mario Szurek headshot

Marion Frances Szurek

Former Executive Director, San Angelo Convention & Visitors Bureau

Marion served as director of the San Angelo (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau from 1979-2004. Her big spirit, magnetic personality and passion for her community led to numerous accolades across the industry. She was elected to the board of directors for the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (known as IACVB, later to become Destinations International) in 1989, at the time representing the smallest bureau on the board.

Throughout her career, she also served on the boards of the Texas Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, West Texas Travel Council, Discover Texas Association and the Texas Travel Industry Association. She received the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Travel Industry Assoication and the 2008 Legacy Award from the Texas Association of CVBs. Marion passed away in 2017.

Past Honorees

2020 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Bonnie Carlson, President & CEO, Bloomington CVB (MN)
  • Solomon & Gloria Herbert, Publishers of Black Meetings and Tourism Magazine
  • Wendy Perks Fisher, Former President and CEO, Rockford Area CVB
  • Karolyn Kirchgesler, Former President and CEO, Team San Jose

2019 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Cole Carley, Former President & CEO, Fargo, Moorhead CVB
  • Kathleen (Kitty) Ratcliffe, President of Explore St. Louis
  • Shelley Johnson, CDME, LCTP, Former Executive Director/CEO of Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • W. Bill Williams, Former VP of Diversity Sales at Choose Chicago

2018 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Anja Loetscher, Former Director, Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation
  • Marian Holt McLain, Former President & CEO, San Jose CVB
  • William (Bill) Peeper, Former President & CEO, Orlando CVB
  • Deborah Sexton, Former President & CEO, PCMA

2017 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Charles Ahlers, Former President, Anaheim/Orange Co. Visitor & Convention Bureau
  • Rick Antonson, Former President & CEO, Tourism Vancouver
  • Robert Cumings, Former President, Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Charles Gillett, Former President & CEO, New York Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • John Marks, Former President & CEO, San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Tom Muldoon, Former President, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Dave Radcliffe, Former President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Spurgeon Richardson, Former President & CEO, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Charlotte St. Martin, Former Executive Vice President of Operations and Marketing, Loews Hotel
  • Chester “Chet” Wilkins, Former CEO, Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau

2016 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Ray Bloom, Chairman and Founder, IMEX Group
  • Brad Burlingame, Former President & CEO, Visit West Hollywood
  • Nicki Grossman, Former President, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Gary Sain, Former President & CEO, Visit Orlando

2015 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Don Anderson, Executive Partner/Founder, Destination Consultancy Group
  • George Fenich, Ph.D., Professor of Meetings/Events/Conventions, School of Hospitality Leadership, East Carolina University
  • Bobbie Patterson, Former Executive Director, Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • William F. Snyder, Former President, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau
  • Edward J. McNeill, Former President, New Orleans Metropolitan CVB

2014 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Milton J. Carmichael, Former President/CEO/Founder, Detroit Convention and Tourists' Bureau (Founded 1896)
  • Peggy Flower, Former Executive Director of Convention Sales, Greater Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Rossi Ralenkotter, Former President/CEO, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
  • Leonard E. Rolston, Former President, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • George D. Kirkland, CAE, Former President, Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Gary Grimmer, CEO, Gaining Edge