Bi-weekly Update: December 15, 2017

Greetings and Happy Friday.

I am writing to you from Chicago, IL where we just wrapped up our annual Convention Sales and Marketing Summit. We had a record 150 sales and services professionals join us for a full day to discuss how we can advance their work and our industry overall, which was expanded this year to include Services.

Our members heard from many of our industry’s leaders. Erin Francis-Cummings, President & CEO of Destination Analysts and Randi Rogers, Account Director of Miles Partnership, provided an insider’s analysis about the Future of the Meetings Industry from the CVB Perspective.

Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics and Vail Brown, SVP Global Business Development & Marketing of STR recapped 2017 and more importantly, what our industry needs to know to further build on our strategies for the coming year.

The Destinations International Planner Influencer Board’s panel (Jill Gately, NASPA; Kelly Ricker, COMPTIA; Jessie States, MPI) answered burning questions from the audience.

We wrapped up and transitioned to many of the events surrounding Association Forum’s Holiday Showcase.

Special thanks to Michelle Mason, President and CEO of Association Forum for her ongoing partnership. Michelle was kind enough to include John Graham, President and CEO of ASAE and myself in the Unity Wall where we paid special tribute to the many destinations around the world who have been impacted by both natural disasters and acts of terrorism this past year. We are evaluating potential partnerships to assist with recovery for those destinations impacted by these untimely and unfortunate events. We will share more details on this important project after the new year.


Last week we had the opportunity to spend three days in Savannah, GA for our year-end Board meetings to review and approve our 2018 business plan and budget. Thanks to Tammy Blount, our Association Chair and Stephanie Pace Brown, our Foundation Chair, for their unwavering leadership during this important year at Destinations International. Joe Marinelli and his team at Visit Savannah were the ultimate hosts and we had the opportunity to experience many fun and unique attractions during our stay. Additionally, we hosted theCEO Session: Media Training Master Class, curated by our Chief Marketing Officer, Melissa Cherry and support from the public relations and crisis management experts, Kivvit, where executives engaged in media best practices, tactics and strategies.

We are pleased to report that during our meetings, our Board of Directors unanimously approved our 2018 plan and we have included a copy for you below. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to myself or a member of the team.

Click here to read the 2018 Business Plan.

Congratulations to Deborah Sexton on her retirement from PCMA. I know I speak on behalf of our entire industry in extending thanks and appreciation to Deborah for her more than 12 years of leadership and vision at PCMA. Under her leadership, PCMA has grown to a global association representing organizations and has been a true partner to Destinations International over the years.

Congratulations to Sherrif Karamat, currently the Chief Operating Officer at PCMA who has been selected as the next President and CEO of the organization. Sherrif has been a thoughtful and strategic leader at PCMA since joining the organization in October 2003 and currently serves on the Board for the Destinations International Foundation. We are planning a special tribute to Deborah and Sherrif on Tuesday, January 9 during PCMA. Additional information will be available soon.


Our Spring Learning Week kicks off with CDME on February 9-12 in Washington, D.C. Join fellow senior executives in advancing your career to blend theory with experience and application of knowledge to help industry leaders thrive in a constantly changing environment. The CDME program focuses on vision, leadership, productivity and implementing business strategies. You may learn more about course offerings and sign up for face-to-face courses here.


During the inaugural Destinations International Advocacy Summit, Jim McCaul delivered a thought-provoking presentation on the ideological argument for destination promotion. For years, leaders in our industry have stressed the importance of proving the economic value of tourism marketing to protect and attract more funding. Yet over the past year, we’ve seen clearly that a positive ROI is not enough. Destinations across the United States are having their funding scrutinized in the face of evidence demonstrating a strong return on investment. This is a sign of the times we live in, where advocacy efforts must lead with an ideological argument followed by a demonstrated ROI. We encourage you to read our new policy brief entitled “Advocacy in the Face of Ideology” before creating your advocacy plans for 2018 and beyond. You may click here to read the brief. We welcome your feedback on this piece, so please contact the team at [email protected] to let us know your thoughts.

Dark matter politics continue to pose a threat to our industry. These are issues outside of the tourism realm that we may not have traditionally paid attention to, but are now impacting our destinations and our organizations. Sanctuary cities is one such issue. Several destinations have faced travel advisories or boycotts over impending bans on sanctuary cities. The reality is that this is an issue that impacts some of the largest destinations in the United States, and something our industry cannot afford to ignore. We invite you to read our new Threat Analysis on the issue, and use the insights to guide your advocacy efforts. You may click here to read the analysis. 


Our friends at U.S. Travel recently announced the release of a new interactive tool that shows the importance of travel spending to economies nationwide. The Travel Economic Impact Calculator simulates the effects of changes in travel spending at the national level and for each state. You may click here to learn more.


With the holiday season approaching, this will be the last newsletter for 2017. With that in mind, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our members and partners who have continued to support Destinations International. We look forward to continuing to serve you in 2018 with many exciting upcoming initiatives.

We wish you and your family a safe and wonderful holiday season.