Bi-weekly Update: April 21, 2017

Travel Bans and the Weaponization of Travel - Hall of Fame and Board Nominations - Updating DNEXT - ECM Summer School Scholarships - New Staff Announcements

Greetings and happy Friday,

First, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate our friends in Baltimore, Detroit, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and St. Louis! These six cities were named by Conde Nast Traveler as the “6 U.S. Cities to Watch in 2017,” and rightly so.


The weaponization of travel continues. The incredible impact that tourism has on destinations is being put at risk when the message being sent around the world is that the U.S. is not a welcoming destination. There is no doubt that the rhetoric around the so-called "travel ban" has damaged the U.S. brand. As a result of President Trump’s executive order, Tourism Economics projects that inbound travelers will spend $18 billion less in the U.S. by the end of 2018. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, there has already been a 4% to 5% drop worldwide in airline bookings and travel searches for trips to the U.S. within the first week of the first travel order. Destination organizations are now faced with the challenging task of how to allocate or even reallocate their marketing dollars to ensure key international markets understand that they are indeed “open for business.” Earlier this week Emirates Airline announced it will pare back flights to five of the 12 U.S. cities it serves, ultimately a reduction of 25 flights per week. Ernie Wooden and his team at Discover Los Angeles launched a Welcome Initiative, a video and social networking project designed to put out a virtual welcome mat for visitors from international locations as well as domestic destinations. The core message: “We welcome everyone.” Details of the campaign can be found here. Los Angeles is not alone. Fred Dixon and his team at NYC & Co. invested in a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign in the UK, Mexico, Germany and Spain to welcome visitors. It is a critical campaign as Tourism Economics forecast 300,000 fewer international visitors just in NYC alone this year compared to last year, a loss of $900 million in direct spending and $900 million in rippling economic effects.  Read the full story here.


Protecting travel from dangerous actions is an increasingly complicated mission and the threat is only increasing.  As if this is not bad enough, cyber threats are exponentially increasing as more and more companies across the travel sector are in hackers' crosshairs.  Our congratulations to the U.S. Travel Association for hosting a successful Secure Tourism Summit 2017 in New York City this week.

A key point was repeatedly hammered home - thorough preparation and a comprehensive response plan makes all the difference when it comes to rapidly addressing security threats. Now more than ever, it is critical to have in place an effective rapid response plan to ensure your organization and destination remain in control.

This is an exciting time as we begin to implement our rebrand to Destinations International. We are only 80 days away from the 2017 Annual Convention, the launching pad for an exciting future. Together with you, our members, Destinations International will represent powerful forward-thinking, collaborative association; exchanging bold ideas, connecting innovative people, and excelling tourism to its highest potential. We believe that we have curated a highly strategic and impactful program and hope that you agree.


Last week we shared that Chris Gardner, the inspiration for the critically-acclaimed movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” will deliver the Closing Keynote on July 14. I have come to know Chris over the past few years and he truly is an inspirational individual who will undoubtedly challenge all of us to achieve our full potential. He will also challenge us as to how we all define our happiness. Two featured sessions led by our industry’s most notable thought leaders were announced earlier this week. Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics, will survey the state of the U.S. and global economies and share his firm’s view of the implications for the U.S. travel industry over the coming year.  Peter Yesawich, Principal with MMGY Global, will discuss how generational shifts, changes in media formats and access to big data are changing the portrait of the U.S. traveler as he shares critical insights from MMGY's recently released 2017 Portrait of American Travelers and Travel Horizons studies, along with data from DK Shifflet.

We had the opportunity to meet last week in Chicago with the new “Small DMO Taskforce” chaired by Melyssa Laughlin, President and CEO of Visit Vacaville. This was a very valuable meeting with a great exchange about how we can better serve this important and growing market for DMAI. This new taskforce is comprised of CEOs from destination organizations with an annual budget of under $1M. If you are a small DMO, please plan to attend the two shirtsleeve sessions at the Annual Convention and learn more about the work that this collective group is tackling. Thanks to you all!


The Hall of Fame, created in 2014 during DMAI’s 100th Anniversary, recognizes and acknowledges up to four individuals annually who have made significant contributions to the advancement of our industry.  As a group, the inductees provide a historical narrative and represent the leaders who, throughout the years, have grown and nurtured the destination organization industry to where it is today. Hall of Fame inductees will be announced during the 2017 Annual Convention.

The nomination process for the 2017 Hall of Fame is now open. We encourage you to submit one or several nominations for an industry representative whom you believe demonstrates a significant and long-term contribution to the field through their leadership, innovation and creativity. The deadline for submissions is May 8, 2017. Please send along names of candidates along with a brief statement as to why the nominee deserves such designation in an email to Andrew Schall at [email protected].


Serving as a nonprofit board member is among the most challenging and rewarding of volunteer assignments. The Association and Foundation are driven by its volunteer leadership.  The members of our volunteer boards and committees truly play an important role in achieving our two missions.  While appointment or election to a Board is an honor, members also have important legal and fiduciary responsibilities which requires a commitment of time and resources.  This year, terms for several members of the DMAI and the Destination & Travel Foundation Boards will expire.  We are grateful for their time, advise, and service and we are now seeking new members who share their interest in growing the two organizations to step up and accept the challenge.  Please contact Andrew Schall at [email protected] to express your interest, nominate a peer or request further details.  The deadline for submissions is May 14, 2017.


In 2014, DMAI launched the groundbreaking DestinationNEXT (DNEXT) initiative. No one could have predicted the impact DNEXT would have on our industry. Since that time, the research report has been shared with industry leaders around the world, and more than 300 destinations from 18 countries have utilized DNEXT to strategically assess their destinations. Thanks to a generous grant from the Destination & Travel Foundation, DMAI is now in the process of updating the 2014 Futures Study that laid the foundation for DNEXT. The updated survey was issued yesterday, and we are happy to report that we already have more than 40 participating destination organizations!

Our industry today is a hyper-competitive global marketplace, with an incredible pace of change. DNEXT provides a road map to the future for DMO leaders and their stakeholders in this environment. I encourage you to join destinations from around the world to provide critical input to this new study. We will unveil the results of the study at the Annual Convention. If you have any questions on the study or DestinationNEXT, please contact Jim McCaul at [email protected]


The Destination & Travel Foundation is pleased to offer five $3,500 USD scholarships to European Cities Marketing (ECM) Summer School August 26-30 in Dresden, Germany. This is a wonderful educational opportunity for a junior to mid-level team member to build a solid understanding of the meetings industry while also connecting with Europe’s leading destination organizations. Attendees receive credit towards their CMP accreditation. Full details on the educational program can be found here. To request a scholarship application, please contact Andrew Schall, Destination & Travel Foundation Board Manager, at [email protected] or (202) 835-4082.

We are excited to announce that DMAI and NTA have officially committed to an industry partnership as we work collectively to grow the relationship between our two organizations and our respective communities. The tour and travel trade industries represent crucial business for destinations, and through this collaboration we hope to provide further education and awareness for the benefit of our members.

DMAI is thrilled to welcome two new members to our team. Pamela Richardson joined us earlier this week in the new role of Director of Information Technology. With nearly 20 years of experience, Pamela was most recently the Director of IT with the Industrial Research Institute overseeing all technology-related aspects for the Institute. Pamela will be responsible for building and maintaining all aspects of the Association’s technology infrastructure to serve and support the DMAI members, team and vendors. Caitlyn Blizzard will join Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) as the Director of Communications, effective May 3, 2017. In this role, she will assist in implementing a strategic communications plan that promotes DMAI’s mission and goals, strengthens its brand, and deepens the impact of its work to advance the success of destination marketing worldwide. Blizzard brings seven years of Communications/PR experience, including five years working for a destination organization. Welcome Pamela and Caitlyn!


Congratulations and best wishes to Carl Wilgus who for the last nine years led the Pocono Mountains Visitor Bureau. Carl has officially retired to do more traveling and giving back to his community. On behalf of the entire DMAI team, thank you for your support and enjoy your weeks of “six Saturdays and one Sunday”!

Best wishes for an enjoyable weekend.