Biweekly Newsletter: April 26, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday.

It is with great pleasure that we announce our 2019 Hall of Fame honorees and our Destination Organization Leadership Award recipient. Each leader has made tremendous contributions to our industry and we are thrilled to honor them at our Annual Convention in St. Louis, July 23-25.

The 2019 Destinations International Hall of Fame Inductees:

  • Cole Carley, Former President & CEO of Fargo, Moorhead CVB (Retired)
  • Kathleen (Kitty) Ratcliffe, President of Explore St. Louis
  • Shelley Johnson, CDME, LCTP, Executive Director/CEO of Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • W. Bill Williams, Former VP of Diversity Sales at Choose Chicago (Retired)

Our 2019 Destinations International Destination Organization Leadership Award Recipient is Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.

Special thanks to Steve Moore, President and CEO of Visit Phoenix and Paul Arrigo, CDME, President and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, for co-chairing the Awards Committee. We are also thankful to the Awards Committee members: Bennish Brown, Deb Archer, Marla Roe, Scott White, Ryan George and Jennifer Vigil.


Last week, we wrapped up our CEO Summit in Asheville, NC. We were thrilled and honored to welcome over 250 CEOs and industry leaders who attended this important annual gathering. We had a wide range of speakers covering important and relevant topics. You may read more about the speakers and the event here.

Thanks to our former Foundation Board chair, Stephanie Pace Brown, and the Explore Asheville team for their hospitality and for showing us some of the best of Asheville. This is a very important meeting and we will continue to solicit candid feedback on how we can improve on all of our events. With that in mind, we ask that you please complete surveys that we send after each event. We understand that events are an investment in both money and time, and we want to provide the best learning and social experiences possible.

This week, you received a survey asking you about our educational opportunities. We are committed to enabling you with education solutions that will equip you with the knowledge and tools you need. We invite you to take about five minutes of your time to fill out this survey.


Melissa Cherry, our Chief Operating Officer, and our marketing and communications team are getting ready for our CMO Summit starting on Sunday this week in Houston, TX. We look forward to welcoming over 130 marketing leaders and partners to this great event!

As of today, we have close to 600 attendees registered for our Annual Convention! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with and learn from peers and thought leaders from inside and outside the industry. We will have incredible sessions and networking events this year – including our Welcome Reception at Ballpark Village and our Grand Celebration at the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery. You may click here to register.

For those working towards your CDME, we will have concurrent core courses (Strategic Issues in Destination Management and Destination Leadership) and concurrent electives (Destination Positioning and Branding and Destination Organization Human Resources) right before the Annual Convention. Learn more and register for courses here. If you have any questions regarding your CDME, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Certification and Program Manager, Elizabeth Jordan, at [email protected].


This week, Melissa Cherry, had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion at the IGLTA Annual Global Convention along with other industry leaders. The event is the world’s premier educational and networking event for LGBTQ tourism professionals and the roundtable discussion took place at the Google Campus in New York City. Thanks to John Tanzella, President & CEO of IGLTA for inviting us to participate in this discussion.

Next week I will have the pleasure of attending the Events Industry Council meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the first official meeting under the leadership of its new President and CEO, Amy Calvert.

We would like to congratulate our friend and partner, Amir Eylon, on his recent promotion to CEO, President and Partner of Longwoods International. Amir is a true leader in our industry, and we are continuously grateful for his support.


At Destinations International, we are making the conscious effort of eliminating the single-use of plastics within the office and at our events. We are excited to join our former Board chair, Tammy Blount-Canavan, and the Monterey County CVB, as they address this issue along with Positive Impact, an organization dedicated to creating a sustainable meetings industry. They have released a new set of educational tools and resources to help event organizers, suppliers and attendees find alternatives to address the role of single-use plastics in the events industry. We encourage you to learn more about this initiative here.


I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome two new team members: Mary Bramley and Paula Beck.

Mary has filled our new position of Senior Manager of Foundation Development where she will be working with Jack Johnson and the Foundation Board of Trustees on developing the Foundation fundraising strategy and developing a range of initiatives, amongst other Foundation strategic planning goals. Mary comes to us from the world of higher education where she has been employed for the past nine years working previously for Virginia Commonwealth University as conference services coordinator, and more recently at NOVA (Northern Virginia Community College) as assistant director of their educational foundation. Other areas of expertise for Mary include event logistics, fundraising, client support, and donor cultivation.  Her background in event experience, membership giving programs, and stewardship planning made her the perfect candidate for this role.

Paula has joined us as our Marketing and Communications team as the Director of Marketing. In her new role, Paula will work with the team to develop and implement analytics-driven marketing and branding strategies for the organization. Prior to joining Destinations International, Paula served as the Director of Sales and Marketing for eight years within Aramark's Parks & Destinations division.

There, she led the overall promotional programs of hospitality services within the National Park & Forest markets, including Yellowstone National Park, Lake Tahoe and Olympic National Park. She is an expert at building marketing strategies focusing on increasing revenue and impacting the economy for her tourism clients.


We would like to welcome our newest members of Destinations International. We look forward to working with you!

  • Shenandoah Convention & Visitors Bureau, TX
  • Visit Durango, CO
  • Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau, KY

Last but not least, we wish our friend Butch Spyridon, President/CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., and his team great success during the NFL Draft, that kicked off last night.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International