Bi-weekly Update: May 19, 2017

Fifteenth Edition IMEX Frankfurt - ECM and DMAI Partnership - Texas Legislation and Florida Budget Update - Travel Boycott Study

Greetings and Happy Friday,

First, I would like to congratulate our great partners and friends Ray Bloom and Carina Bauer on another successful IMEX which took place May 16-18 in Frankfurt, Germany. Ray Bloom was honored by the JMIC Unity Award at the annual IMEX Gala dinner in recognition of his significant contribution to the advancement of the meetings industry. IMEX was full of exciting and memorable events and it again set another record with over 10,000 registered attendees. Record attendance is also expected in IMEX America in Las Vegas this fall.

After months of discussions and numerous meetings we were pleased to announce the Memorandum of Understanding between European Cities Marketing (ECM) and DMAI, which will promote and deliver key research and educational resources to respective members while working together to build the value of each organization. ECM is the only non-profit organization improving the competitiveness and performance of leading cities of Europe by providing a platform for convention, leisure and city marketing professionals to exchange knowledge, best practice and widen their network to build new business. ECM has a leading role in promoting city marketing as a profession and is linking the interests of members from more than 100 major cities in 36 countries.

This partnership further demonstrates DMAI’s mission to empower our members with the tools and resources they require to help their destinations excel. Through the partnership, several key projects will be initiated in the coming years. The first two activities include DMAI’s DestinationNEXT program and the Annual ECM Summer School program. This is a significant partnership and we look forward to working with ECM.

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. You may download the call for applications and scholarship application. For more information, contact Andrew Schall, Destination & Travel Foundation Board Manager, at [email protected] or (202) 835-4082.

Thank you to Ignasi de Delàs, President of ECM and Deputy General Manager of Turisme de Barcelona for his partnership and to Anja Loetscher, DMAI Board member and Director, Geneva Convention Bureau, for her support and for representing DMAI internationally over the years. Thank you, Gary Sherwin, DMAI Board Chair, and Tammy Blount, Chair-Elect, for attending with our team.

Thanks to Martin Sirk from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Paul Ouimet, Executive Director of DNEXT, was allowed the opportunity to speak to over 150 destination organizations about DNEXT. This powerful tool provides destination organizations with practical actions and strategies for a sustainable success in a dramatically changing world.

The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) had a successful meeting at IMEX. It is clear that we need to do a better job with reporting the significant economic impact meetings contribute to the economy on a global scale. The Iceberg, a two-year industry campaign that will promote the value of meetings and business events to governments and business/professional communities worldwide was launched earlier this year. Playing on the analogous image of The Iceberg, used by the industry to illustrate the enormity of what rests beneath the tip of its travel and hospitality dividend, The Iceberg serves as a gateway to case studies, white papers, and research with complimentary access to the world`s leading industry information, education, and event resources. DMAI is honored to be a Founding Partner, along with many of our association partners, including ASAE, ECM, ICCA, MPI, PCMA, Site, and more. Full details about this important initiative can be found here.

I had the opportunity Wednesday morning to attend the Events Industry Council meeting with the leadership committee, the global champion for event professionals and event industry excellence. Congratulations to chair, Susan Robertson from ASAE, who led the rebrand of this project, and Karen Kotowski, CEO of the Convention Industry Council, for their continued vision on this very important initiative for the industry.

Congratulations to Ana Maria Gallego Martinez and the Medellín CVB team upon receiving the DMAI 2017 Destination Leadership Award! During the IMEX Gala dinner, Gary Sherwin and I had the honor of introducing this prestigious award which is given to a destination organization that demonstrates significant leadership and support of its community. With over 700,000 visitors in 2016 and its highest hotel occupancy in 10 years, Medellín is demonstrating continued and rapid growth as a destination for business and leisure travel. Tourism continues to deliver key growth to Medellín, creating new jobs and generating significant economic impact. Visitors are discovering Medellín and experiencing a city that has undergone a remarkable transformation!


In Texas, a proposal to nix cities and school districts’ trans-inclusive bathroom policies did not advance in the House of Representatives ahead of a crucial deadline, stopping the measure's chances of getting a vote by the full chamber. This means that the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year and a similar bill introduced in the House are now dead. The legislature does not adjourn until the end of the month so the issue can still be resurrected. In fact, on Wednesday of this week, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the chief advocate of the bill, threatened to try and force the Legislature into a special session if the House doesn’t pass legislation that would address the public restrooms issue. While only Gov. Greg Abbott can call a special session, Patrick has leverage in his role as presiding officer in the Senate. He has threatened to not call several key bills for a vote until the House moves on the issue.

This proposal continues to be opposed by a coalition that includes many of the leading destination organizations in the state. Thank you to Phillip Jones, President & CEO of VisitDallas, for his leadership in the “Texas Welcomes All” coalition that is leading the effort to fight legislation that could mean millions in lost revenue for Texas. Thank you also to the other destination organizations that joined the effort including Arlington, Austin, El Paso, Ft. Worth, Houston, Irving and San Antonio as well as the Texas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus. This is a great example of our industry coming together!

Unfortunately, in Florida, the state legislature approved a $82.4 billion budget that calls for slashing Visit Florida’s funding by 67 percent, from $78 million to $25 million. The budget was adopted by a 34-4 vote in the Senate and a House of Representatives vote of 98-14 and now goes to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott for action. Scott, who has strongly supported increasing funding for Visit Florida to as much as $100 million, has indicated that he may veto the entire state budget. Other options under review include vetoing a portion of the budget or calling a special legislative session.

Tourism leaders continue to warn about the harm a Visit Florida budget cut will have. The decision by some elected officials to cut funding will have negative consequences for the state, not only to the tourism industry, but to Florida residents who will realize potentially the reduction of revenues and state taxes. Read what others in the industry are saying about the budget cut in this recent Travel Weekly article.


We are less than eight weeks away from Annual Convention. We recently announced that Willie Geist and Evita (Evie) Turquoise Robinson will be joining the list of diverse and respected speakers this year. We look forward to inspiring and equipping you with education sessions as well as giving you the opportunity to connect with industry peers in Montréal. Register now to attend the premier event for destination marketing and management professionals. The hotel block is filling up quickly - the Le Westin Montreal is sold out; however, there is still availability at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, Holiday Inn Downtown Montreal and InterContinental Montreal. You may book your hotel with the discounted rates with the room block here.


Congratulations to Paul Upchurch and his team at VISIT Milwaukee for hosting an inspiring and true celebration of its 50th anniversary at its Annual Meeting, which had over 500 attendees. Estimates from The Economic Impact of Tourism in Wisconsin state that direct visitor spending in 2016 totaled $3 billion, up four percent over 2015 in the Greater Milwaukee, four county area. There are very bright days ahead for Milwaukee tourism! We also look forward to the 117th U.S. Open Championship, which will take place in Erin, Wisconsin June 12-18.


Thanks to Deborah Sexton and the PCMA Foundation for their generous contribution to help underwrite the Destination and Travel Foundation’s Travel Boycott Study. The Foundation provided $30,000 which represents 50 percent of the cost of phase one of the study, which will be released in July at the Annual Convention.

SearchWide, a long-time partner and leading recruitment firm in the travel, tourism, hospitality, convention, trade association, venue management and experiential marketing industries, has announced the launch of its CEO Interview Series. It was a privilege to be included in the first episode focusing on “Diversity and Inclusion.” You can learn more here about what industry leaders are saying about hiring topics and trends.

City Nation Place Americas, taking place in New York City June 14-15, is a new forum for state marketing teams, mayoral offices and destination marketing professionals from states and cities across the Americas. Bringing together place marketing, place leadership and place branding with tourism, talent attraction and economic development, the forum is a must-attend event for anyone responsible for the effective implementation of policies and strategies that drive competitive identity for their nations, states and cities. The full agenda includes speakers from 15 cities and states including DMAI’s Chief Marketing Officer, Melissa Cherry. DMAI members can receive a 15 percent discount with the code DMAI15.

In closing, this week in Frankfurt was filled with many highly productive meetings and events for Gary, Tammy and our team. During these turbulent and uncertain times, it reminds us that we have so much more in common than the differences that divide us. As we've said before, travel is the true uniter that bridges cultures, geographic divides and other barriers we face today. I know I speak on behalf of our many members, partners and friends who attended IMEX that the human spirit was on full display in Frankfurt and the importance of travel and face-to-face meetings has never been more critical.

Thanks again and enjoy your weekend!