Bi-weekly Update: September 8, 2017

Good Afternoon,

For those of you who normally read our message, we tend to always say “Happy Friday.” Unfortunately, I had a hard time writing those words today since I know many of you, your families and your cities are facing significant challenges and personal hardships.

Earlier this week, I visited Houston, TX and met with Mike Waterman from Visit Houston. After seeing all the media reports, I expected Houston to still be under water after Hurricane Harvey. Although there are vast parts of Texas that are devastated and many people remain homeless or displaced after Hurricane Harvey, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the city of Houston is recovering quickly and is open for business.

My visit with Mike and some of his team was inspiring and I started giving thought on the words that I believe are relevant and timely with what is happening in the U.S. and around the world. The words that came to mind were tenacity, resilience, hope and peace.

Not only was Houston rocked by Hurricane Harvey, other cities in Texas and Louisiana suffered just as greatly, if not more. We pray for those who lost loved ones from this storm and wish those injured a speedy recovery. After touring the Houston Convention Center and seeing the outpouring of concern, love, respect and preparation, it made me so proud to work in this industry. These evident signs of compassion and concern for one another during these times of natural disasters including hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes, acts of terrorism and many global challenges, all seem to be met with resilience and acts of kindness. As difficult as these times are, they seem to bring out the best in people and the human spirit.

Milton Segarra and our friends at Meet Puerto Rico informed us that they are all safe after Hurricane Irma. After reaching out to their members (hotels, airports, venues and transportation services), they found that most of the hotels are fully operational, ready to welcome guests and are accepting reservations. Most of the damage was restricted to debris, which is being removed. The Luis Munoz Marin International Airport is up and running on generators and reporting no structural damage.

Airbnb has activated its Disaster Response Program to aid Floridians forced to evacuate from their homes in connection to Hurricane Irma as well as relief workers arriving to provide assistance. The program provides a tool to support neighbors helping neighbors, allowing residents who have been displaced -- as well as emergency relief workers and volunteers who are coming in to assist -- to find temporary housing with local Airbnb hosts who are opening their homes free of charge. For more information, please click here. 

As our friends in Florida and other Southeast states continue to prepare for Hurricane Irma, and with the massive earthquake in Mexico today, they will need the same level of support, friendship and love as what’s been shown so frequently from our industry peers around the world. Please know that we will do everything in our power to keep you updated on these various events taking place around the globe. You may click here to see a list of organizations providing resources for those affected by these natural disasters.

Congratulations to Craig Compagnone and his team on celebrating the 20th anniversary of the MMGY Summit in Vail, Colorado. Today, I led a panel discussion with industry leaders, including Todd Davidson, CEO of Travel Oregon, on what is happening in various parts of the world. Some of the industry's most powerful global marketing organizations such as Expedia, HomeAway, Sojern, TripAdvisor, Travel Audience, United Airlines and Google were in attendance. These companies and many others will hopefully assist us in the rebuilding efforts that will be required in various destinations.

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A lot of exciting events in our industry took place this past week. Our Board Chair, Tammy Blount, FCDME, just returned from representing Destinations International at two industry events in Mexico: The 3rd Annual Association of Marketing Destination Mexico Congress (hosted by AMDEM, the Mexican Association of Destination Marketing Organizations) in León, Guanajuato; and DMO Day at ibtm Latin America 2017 in Mexico City. The focus of both events was on the research, programs and tools Destinations International delivers to destination organizations to help strengthen their efforts and build on their success. Ana Maria Viscasillas worked with Destinations International on the development of these programs which reached more than 50 Mexican destination organizations at AMDEM’s meeting as well as dozens of destinations throughout Latin America at ibtm. Special thanks to Richard Reasons and our friends at Simpleview for their support of our efforts in Mexico City. 

On Thursday of this week, Paul Ouimet joined Anja Loetscher in beautiful Lucerne, Switzerland to kick off a DestinationNEXT assessment with the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. Next week, Paul will travel to the state of Michigan to conduct multiple workshops as part of a statewide assessment on behalf of Travel Michigan. DestinationNEXT was created to be a resource for destinations of all mandates and sizes, and these projects demonstrate that success. For more information about DestinationNEXT, contact Jim McCaul at [email protected].

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The new Canadian model for the Event Impact Calculator (EIC) is now available. Destinations like Toronto, Waterloo, Ottawa and Edmonton will utilize the EIC to deliver customized economic impact of the meetings, festivals and sports events hosted throughout their communities. The ability to provide this data to local government and stakeholders helps to further emphasize the importance of meetings and events for their respective economies.  Tourism industry leaders throughout Canada continue to evaluate how the EIC can support destinations both large and small. We are thrilled to provide this new tool in partnership with Tourism Economics. For more information about the Canadian EIC, contact Alison Best at [email protected].

The Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) application deadline is September 29, 2017. The globally recognized accreditation program serves as a visible industry distinction that defines quality and performance standards in destination marketing and management. Achieving DMAP accreditation positions a destination organization or CVB as a valued and respected organization in your community and increases your credibility among stakeholders. You may begin your application or check your renewal status here. For questions or to confirm eligibility, please reach out to Brian London, Accreditation Program Manager at [email protected] or (850) 559-0012.

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Congratulations to the list of professionals slated for PCMA’s 2018 board officer and director positions. Claire Smith, CMP, Vancouver Convention Centre’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, will become the first supplier and non-U.S.-based Chair of the organization.

A few members of our team had the pleasure of meeting with Michelle Mason, President & CEO of Association Forum to tour the organization’s newly renovated office in Chicago, IL. We look forward to further collaboration and partnership with Michelle and the Association Forum team.

Congratulations to Kyle Edmiston, CDME, Director of the Louisiana Tourism Office, on receiving the State Tourism Director of the Year award from U.S. Travel Association. Thank you, Kyle, for all your great work in Louisiana and for your continued support of Destinations International.

Hats off to Karen Bolinger, CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau on being appointed as the new President of the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB).

Special thanks to the Events Industry Council for inviting me to serve on the Board of Directors. This is a great honor and I look forward to expanding the mission of Events Industry Council and its importance to our members and industry partners.

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Participation for our 2017 Organization and Finance profile study opened this past week and we want to thank those that have already submitted their data. Those that answer at least 50 percent of the questions will receive the results at no charge.

In response to feedback from our members, the new Organization and Finance platform will allow you to create your own peer segmentation to help aide you in gathering spending and revenue data from other destination organizations.  This information has become a must-have for explaining to stakeholders how you measure up against your peer set or the industry in general. More details can be found here.

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As we continue to share tips on healthy living through the “Take Carra Yourself” Health and Wellness program, we would like to hear how your organization stays healthy and active. Please share your initiatives with us by emailing Caitlyn Blizzard at [email protected]

I depart tomorrow for The World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 22nd General Assembly in Chengdu, China. Last month, we received the official notification from UNWTO on Destinations International’s appointment as a member of their Board of Affiliate Members, who serve as an advisory body to their Secretary-General. This is an incredible honor for our organization and we look forward to serving on the Board.

We wish everyone, especially those in Irma’s path, a safe weekend.