Bi-weekly Update: April 7, 2017

DMAI on the Road in Pennsylvania - Political Attacks on LVCVA - Now Accepting DMAP Applications - Results from Spring Event Evaluations

Greetings and happy Friday,

We are pleased to report that these past couple of weeks have been highly productive as we work to further our rebrand initiatives and finalize more exciting details for the upcoming Annual Convention in Montreal.

Earlier this week I had the very rare opportunity to drive to an industry event rather than fly. For some, this may sound burdensome; however, this is an experience that I have not had over the last couple of years, and I was prepared to take full advantage of my scenic drive to State College, PA. There, I had the pleasure of attending the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA) Spring Conference at the historic Nittany Lion Inn. Special thanks to John Longstreet, PRLA’s president and CEO. Craig Davis of VisitPITTSBURGH moderated a panel entitled “The Impact of the Trump Administration on Travel & Tourism.” Together with Oxford Economics’ Aran Ryan, we had a spirited and interactive discussion. Although it was a brief visit, it afforded me the opportunity to reconnect with many of our members and industry partners.

While visiting this beautiful part of our country, I was able to check off two bucket list items, one of which was a visit to the Penn State campus. The real highlight for me; however, was my first visit to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA. As many of you may know, this Memorial was created to honor the 40 men and women who sacrificed their lives onboard United Flight 93 on that fateful September 11, 2001, and whom ultimately thwarted a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. The scenic drive is along a beautiful country road that winds through the Allegheny Mountains before arriving at the stunning mountaintop vista where this horrible tragedy occurred. I know many of us vividly recall that tragic day in the U.S. The Memorial is so thoughtfully and beautifully designed, and while my visit brought back memories of that tragic day, I was comforted by the expansive landscape that allows for reflection, prayer and a sense of peace. It was during this visit that I was once again reminded of the incredible industry we are fortunate to be involved in. For me, it was an honor to personally witness how such a horrific event has been memorialized with so much beauty so that current and future generations can understand the magnitude of what occurred on that fateful day. I encourage all of you to add the Flight 93 National Memorial to your travel plans.


The politically motivated attacks on destination organizations continue. Whether it is being held hostage for other political priorities (Illinois), being the focus of an activist initiated travel boycotts (Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee), or being attacked in order to justify stealing a destination organization’s resources for other political goals (Chattanooga, Florida, and Las Vegas) – politics is becoming a threat to our membership. Recently, two new destinations have been targeted – Las Vegas, NV and Chattanooga, TN.

Our good friend Rossi Ralenkotter and the LVCVA were the subject of an unbalanced and narrowly focused story in a local Las Vegas paper earlier this week. And it’s a subject many of us have had to defend many times over – spending money to secure business for the destination. Securing new and returning visitors is no different than any other industry segment. Booking business is not easy, and it does not come without a cost. We all know this, yet elected officials and the media continue to target these efforts. Because we were engaged early in the process we were able to craft Letters to the Editor for their local newspapers and elected officials that fully supports and defends what needs to be done to secure and retain business. You may view our editorial response here.

The Las Vegas attack by a local newspaper which is owned by a person who just months ago sought to divert the Bureau’s hotel tax revenues for other purposes has brought into question the motivation for this attack. Attacking for ulterior motives is becoming a common theme. The Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau and its President & CEO, Bob Doak have also seen an attack by a local politician who has already made it clear that his goal is to redirect the Bureau’s $2 million hotel tax funding to fund other projects. Chattanooga has seen a strong response from the industry in support of their efforts and opposition to the proposed redirection.

There was some good news out of North Carolina. Late last week a compromise was reached leading to the repeal of HB2. Shortly thereafter, the NCAA announced that they were ending their boycott of the state and just today, the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau announced that the American Society of Association Executives is once again open to hosting meetings in North Carolina. Like all compromises, the repeal of HB2 has left some unsatisfied on both sides of the political spectrum. Our hope is those disagreements will continue to be discussed in the political arena and not the focus of travel boycotts. Our friends at the Greater Raleigh CVB, as well as all of our members in North Carolina, are now working to reiterate that everyone is welcome. You may view Greater Raleigh’s latest initiative here

While political boycotts send a loud message, they also can cause unintended harm to those who are not the targets. The effects of these protests are magnified by freeze-outs from government mandated bans. Travel and tourism industry employees are too often the collateral damage of these boycotts that weaponize travel instead of using it as a force for an exchange of ideas and greater understanding of all viewpoints.

Every destination is at risk as this form of protest grows in popularity and continues to be viewed as an easy and effective vehicle for political action. The same is true of politically motivated attacks that are driven by ulterior motives and agendas. As a result of the Destination & Travel Foundation and your continued support, and with the great leadership of Jack Johnson and his team, we are developing the resources that allow us to advocate on behalf of our partners, empower you with tools and resources, and develop a library of research in these areas so that when issues such as these arise, all of us are ready.


We are excited to share that several new and popular programs are underway and we would like to remind you of a couple of deadlines coming up soon.

Applications are now being accepted for the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP). Members may log into the DMAI's Accreditation Management Site to submit a DMAP application. Unsure if DMAP is for you? Request a list of the five eligibility requirements via email, [email protected].

We are thrilled to welcome Anaheim, Baltimore and Kansas City to the Apprenticeship program. If you are interested in joining this important initiative, contact Ali Best before April 30, 2017.

DMAI is in the process of updating the 2014 Futures Study that laid the Foundation for DestinationNEXT. We invite you to join destinations from around the world to identify the trends and opportunities that will affect our industry in the future. The survey will officially launch on April 18, so be on the lookout for an invitation in your mailboxes. More details will be shared in the April 21 DMAI update.


Your feedback is critical for the continued improvement and effectiveness of these important programs. Thank you to all who participated in post-event surveys for the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration, Destination Showcase and the CEO Summit. The responses are encouraging and we have included a sample for each event:

CEO Summit:

  • Over 80% of those we surveyed believed Nashville did an excellent job Hosting the CEO Summit
  • 84% indicated they favor the Day and a half format length
  • Summit engagement was high with attendees selecting ‘The Nashville story’ as the top ranked session followed by the ‘Crisis Strikes Panel’ and the ‘President’s Report’
  • Attendees showed a strong desire for more Shirtsleeve style engagement with their peers

Spirit of Hospitality Celebration:

  • 78% were satisfied with their experience 
  • 61% indicated supporting the Destination & Travel Foundation as their primary reason for attending the event
  • 60% indicated they heard about SOH from a personal contact within DMAI or Foundation

Destination Showcase Exhibitor:

  • 62% were very satisfied with the new Kiosk setup for Showcase
  • 67% rated ‘Networking with other planners’ of highest value for exhibiting at showcase, followed by obtaining Meeting Planner leads
  • 52% received leads from Meetings planners from Exhibiting at Showcase
  • 77% plan to exhibit at 2018 Showcase

Destination Showcase Attendee:

  • 95% indicated they had a positive experience at Showcase
  • 88% felt the tradeshow format change over last year was positive
  • Meeting planners rated meeting the DMO representatives as the top reason to attend
  • 76% plan to attend the 2018 Showcase


Before we break for the weekend, I hope you will join us in sending thoughts and prayers to those affected by the tragic events this week in Stockholm, Sweden and in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and to those in Colombia as they work to recover from the devastating mudslides brought on by heaving rains this past weekend. It is with great hope that we will have future updates without having to acknowledge destinations impacted by such senseless terrorism and disasters.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.