Biweekly Newsletter: August 2, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday.

We would like to thank everyone that attended our Annual Convention in St. Louis, MO. More than 1,525 attendees engaged in five keynote sessions, four mega sessions and over 50 concurrent sessions, all designed around the theme of “Evolve and Elevate.” Thank you to Kitty Ratcliffe and her team at Explore St. Louis for being incredible hosts. Kitty and her team went above and beyond to welcome us to her city, and I know we all left St. Louis learning something new and exciting about the destination.

During the convention, we had the opportunity to thank William Pate, President and CEO of the Atlanta CVB and Jason Fulvi, CDME, President and CEO of Visit KC, for their vision and guidance this past year. We welcomed our new Destinations International Board Chair, Craig Davis, CDME, President and CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH, and our new Foundation Board Chair, John Groh, CDME, President/CEO of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Congratulations to you both and we look forward to working with you to continue to advance our industry and our work at Destinations International and the Destinations International Foundation.

During the convention, Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO of PCMA, joined me on the general session stage to announce Destinations International’s joint venture with PCMA for Destination Showcase. This exciting new joint venture will further enhance Destination Showcase’s impact to meeting planners and destination organizations. We look forward to sharing more information on this new venture soon!

We recognized our 2019 Hall of Fame recipients including:

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

We also had the chance to hear from our Destination Organization Leadership Award recipient, Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. It is always a pleasure to hear from Brad!

We had the pleasure of congratulating 48 destination organizations with the DMAP designation and 31 professionals that earned their CDME. 

We had 30 young industry leaders be recognized with our 30 Under 30 program. Thanks to Mike Gamble with SearchWide Global, Shalise DeMott with Northstar Meetings Group, Carina Bauer with IMEX Group and Craig Compagnone with MMGY Global, for their support of this program.

We were proud to host attendees from 12 countries outside of the United States to St. Louis. Many traveled a great distance to be with us. In addition to participating in our Annual Convention, our global attendees participated in a variety of special meetings, events and programs throughout the week. We will continue to build on these efforts as we plan our July 2020 Annual Convention.

We are excited to announce that the Annual Convention Silent Auction raised almost $91,000 this year. Overall, the Foundation raised over $98,000 during the Annual Convention through our related fundraising activities that included raffles, t-shirt sales and others.  

This year, we were thrilled to engage with many of you in our CEO Lounge, which was a dedicated space for industry leaders to gather, unwind and catch up with peers. With the leadership and help of our friends at CFO By Design and ASAE, we activated the CEO Lounge with five informative and timely sessions led by leaders in the industry. Thanks to CFO by Design, ASAE and all of the presenters who made this year’s CEO Lounge a success!

Special thanks to our Professional Development Committee that helped us with this year's programming and our session speakers. We would also like to thank all of the committees and task forces that met during the convention - we are grateful for the hard work you all do to elevate our industry throughout the year. 

If you haven't had the chance to fill our the Annual Convention survey, we encourage you to do so. 

Make sure to mark you calendar for the 2020 Annual Convention in Chicago, July 13-15!


Some congratulations are in order! Congratulations to Cleo Battle with Louisville Tourism for his promotion to Chief Operating Officer! Also, congratulations to Tom Norwalk for being inducted to the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management 2020 Hall of Fame!

Our friends at the California Travel Association will be hosting their 37th annual California Travel Summit on September 10-13, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA. To learn more and to register, please visit their website. 


I know we have all been following the news on Baltimore, MD after an unfavorable and broad-based tweet was sent out about the destination. Congratulations to Al Hutchinson, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore, and his team on their quick and decisive action to respond with a very positive message. Visit Baltimore invited the world to experience everything the city has to offer: the celebrated Inner Harbor; the world-class art scene; and the city’s rich African American heritage and history. Visit Baltimore placed full page ads and generated media coverage of Baltimore to spead the news. The optimistic outlook incited civic pride instantly. Baltimoreans and other notable voices have been very vocal in their support of the city, and media outlets are all working on helping spread the positive messaging. 


With the 2019 Annual Convention behind us, our team is now in full planning mode for our upcoming summits. Please make sure to check out all of our upcoming events and mark your calendar to attend! You may see a full list of events on our website.

For those of you attending ASAE's Annual Meeting next week in Columbus, OH, we look forward to seeing you! Thanks again for your support of Destinations International and our industry. 

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International