Bi-weekly Update: November 17, 2017

Greetings from Houston, TX.

I am here participating at National Association of Sports Commission (NASC) Chief Executives Summit. Congratulations to Al Kidd on the great momentum that he has had with the organization since taking over as President and CEO. Needless to say, sports commissions and sporting events contribute significantly to communities around the world, and we are thrilled to be working with NASC on these opportunities.

I was delighted and honored to be a guest speaker at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.’s Chairman & President’s Luncheon yesterday. With Butch Spyridon’s leadership over the last 25 years, Nashville has truly risen to one of the top tourist and convention destinations in North America.


Congratulations to Roger Dow and his team at U.S. Travel for another highly successful and well attended Board Meeting in Washington, D.C. The timing of the meeting was ideal given the many challenges our industry has experienced this year. The efforts between U.S. Travel and Brand USA to grow international travel to the United States are critical to building upon the momentum over the last six years. Congratulations to Randy Smith, Chairman and Co-Founder of STR and Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International, Inc. who were honored with the Hall of Leaders award. It was a wonderful evening to celebrate the impact that these two gentlemen continue to have on our industry worldwide.

Hats off to Bill Talbert (“Miami Bill”), President and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau for receiving the Hospitality Legend of the Year Award at the 34th Annual HSMAI South Florida Hospitality Awards Gala!


Earlier this week we announced the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration will take place on February 12, 2018 at the National Geographic Washington D.C. Headquarters. The Spirit of Hospitality event is a celebration of excellence and is also a critical fundraiser for the Destinations International Foundation which supports education, research, advocacy and leadership development initiatives to empower destinations and the global travel industry. Tickets will go on sale in late November. We hope you will join us for a night of inspiration and to celebrate the power of destinations and travel.

Following the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration, Destination Showcase will take place February 13, 2018 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Grand Ballroom in Washington D.C. This dynamic one-day event offers CVB professionals the opportunity to connect with some of the industry’s top planners in one location. We welcome CVBs and destination organizations to participate through one of several exhibit or sponsorship packages. Advanced registration discounts are available through December 1, 2017. Please click here to learn more.

Registration is still open for the CEO Session: Media Training Master Class on December 4 in Savannah, Georgia. The one-day session will focus on the skills and techniques to handle difficult questions and scenarios from the media or other audiences, guidance on interview do’s and don’ts, how to handle yourself in press conferences as well as various interview formats, ambush interview situations and social media best practices. Click here to register.

We look forward to seeing many of you who will be attending this year’s Convention Sales and Services Summit in Chicago in conjunction with Association Forum’s Holiday Showcase. During the event, the new Overnight Room Demand Analyzer (ORDA) will be released. Destination professionals dedicated to developing and nurturing group and meetings business may register here and join us in Chicago! This is an exciting time to visit Chicago as it is expected to exceed the 55 million annual visitors mark this year – three years earlier than anticipated. Congratulations to David Whitaker and his team at Choose Chicago on exceeding your goals!

More than 40 CDME applicants attended Destinations International’s newly revamped Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) program in Baton Rouge, LA earlier this month. CDME applicants were invited to participate in the following courses:

  • Strategic Issues in Destination Management, by Gary Sherwin, President & CEO of Newport Beach & Company and Maura Gast, Executive Director of the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Destination Marketing Planning, by Kelly Miller, President and CEO of Visit Huntington Beach and Doug McClain, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer of Newport Beach & Company
  • Destination Financial Management, by Michael Zumbaugh, Vice President, Finance & Administration of the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau and Matt Jones, CFO/COO of Visit Dallas              
  • Destination Sales and Services, by Mary German, CFO/COO of Visit Dallas and Kristin McGrath, Vice President Sales, Sports & Services of Visit Albuquerque

On behalf of the Destinations International team, I would like to thank our new faculty members for their time and dedication to ensure the CDME Fall program was a success. Special thanks to our dedicated CDME Board members for their leadership and dedication to our industry and members. For more information about CDME please click here. Thanks to Paul J. Arrigo, CDME, President and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, who truly rolled out the red carpet for our CDME and Sales Academy attendees.


Last week, we launched the new CVB Attendance Promotion Practices Handbook. As we continue to educate meeting planners on the value of connecting with convention and visitors bureaus, it is important that destination organizations know how to best utilize their skills when working with planners. You may download the complimentary handbook here.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the IMEX team and Paul Flackett’s family following his passing earlier this week. Paul has been a dedicated leader in our industry. He truly left a mark on every person that he met, and he will be missed.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for your continued support of Destinations International. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and loyal group of members and partners who are truly advancing our industry during a time that has never been more important.

For those of you who will be celebrating Thanksgiving, our team wishes you a wonderful, safe and restful time with family and friends.