Biweekly Newsletter: January 18, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday.

No doubt that 2019 promises to be yet another exciting, challenging and eventful year.

As I said in an earlier email, the new year seems to kick off with PCMA's Convening Leaders. Let me begin by congratulating our incoming Board Chair, Craig Davis and his team at VisitPITTSBURGH and Board member, Sherrif Karamat and his team at PCMA for another successful Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh, PA last week. They hosted nearly 4,000 attendees and had almost 1,000 watching virtually. They also assembled a diverse, eclectic and inspiring series of speakers during their conference. Congratulations on another successful Convening Leaders!


Our team is gearing up for two big events in February: the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration and Destination Showcase.

A showcase of excellence in the tourism industry, the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration brings together industry leadership to provide funds critical to support the Foundation programs that empower the work of destination organizations globally through research, education, advocacy and leadership initiatives.

Along with supporting our industry, we will also be celebrating our Spirit of Hospitality Award Honoree, Samantha Brown. Travel expert and television host, Samantha Brown, has been hosting TV travel programs for 18 years. Samantha's new travel series, Samantha Brown's Places to Love features the destinations, experiences and most importantly the people that make us, the traveler, feel like we belong to a place. Samantha is a true ambassador for our industry and we look forward to honoring her on February 12. We hope you will be able to attend.

The Spirit of Hospitality Celebration Committee is pleased to offer a variety of ticket packages for the 2019 Spirit of Hospitality Celebration. Bring your VIP meeting professionals and clients to enjoy a night to remember! Great songwriter and musician, Pat McGee and his band will be performing. Pat will be joined on stage by some special musician friends. You may click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

We have also added some additional sponsorship opportunities for destinations that would like to support the work of the Foundation in a greater capacity. Please click here to learn more.

The next day on February 13, is our annual Destination Showcase, that will take place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. This one-day event connects your team with over 1,000 meeting planners so they can learn first-hand from you all the exciting things taking place at your destination and how your CVB can make their event successful.

Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer, Leslie Odom Jr. will be our keynote for the event. Best known for his breakout role as 'Aaron Burr' in the smash hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, Odom Jr. received a 2015 Drama Desk Award nomination and won the Tony Award for "Best Actor in a Musical" for his performance. He also won a Grammy Award as a principal soloist on the original cast recording.

If you are still deciding on becoming an exhibitor, read our blog post on the "Top 5 Reasons to Attend Destination Showcase" to help you make up your mind.


As you know, diversity and inclusion is a critical topic in our industry and Destinations International is proud to support many important initiatives surrounding this issue.

We have partnered with the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau to promote an excellent Diversity & Inclusion Conference on March 25 and 26. The event is designed for senior executives and will be full of strategies that can influence corporate social responsibility and broaden cross-cultural understanding, producing critical dialogue and exchange of information for effective tactics. Early bird rates are available through January 25, and I invite you to click here to learn more and register now.

I would also like to invite you to participate in a critical survey to begin to benchmark the diversity of our destination member organizations to continue to advance this conversation. We are looking to document the first baseline data to collect information that will help us see a snapshot of racial and workforce diversity examining demographics of board leadership, executive leadership and some general policies. Later in 2019, there will be a second phase of research to further outline our strategy to lead and engage diversity and inclusion efforts in the future.

The survey should only take approximately 8 minutes to complete. Please click here to take the survey.


We are excited to partner with NEXTFactor Enterprises on a new webinar series to explore trends and best practices in destination development and community engagement - the two main components of the DestinationNEXT research and assessment tool developed by NEXTFactor and Destinations International. Join us for the inaugural webinar on January 24 from 2:00 - 3:00 PM, "How Travel Brands Are Selling Experiences in the Mobile-First Era." You may click here to register.


Last week, our team had the opportunity to have a site visit in St. Louis for our 2019 Annual Convention. A special thank you to Kathleen Ratcliffe, President of Explore St. Louis, and her team for their hospitality! You may click here to see a photo from the site visit. We have a lot of exciting events and content planned, so make sure to mark your calendar for July 23-26!

While in St. Louis, we had the chance to take part in the Maritz Global Events Experience Design Lab where we strategized and planned for our Annual Convention. This is an exercise and process I think we can all learn from in helping to raise the bar on all of our meetings. Special thanks to David Peckinpaugh, President of Maritz Global Events, Greg Bogue, Chief Experience Architect and Scott Durkin, Vice President, Partner Development.


Many congratulations are in order to a number of professionals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of our industry.

First, to our friend, Christine "Shimo" Shimasaki, on her company, 2Synergize, on joining the Simpleview family. Shimo will be transferring her knowledge to Simpleview's existing support teams to create new sources of consulting and data analysis.

Congratulations as well to Chris Tatum, former Marriott executive, on his new position as President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. We look forward to working with him in his new role. You may click here to learn more.

We would like to send our best wishes to Destinations International board member Johanne R. Bélanger, FCPA, FCA, on her successful tenure at Tourism Toronto. Congratulations on truly advancing Toronto’s tourism efforts and we wish her the best of luck in her new role with Marriott International.

Please join me in welcoming Linsey Simpson Gallagher to the destination organization community as she joins Visit Napa Valley as the organization's new president. Linsey was formerly in a senior leadership position at the California Wine Institute where she worked closely with Visit California in collaborative marketing efforts.

I would also like to recognize the incredible work of our friend Karen Kotowski as she moves on from her position as CEO of the Events Industry Council for the past ten years. Karen was instrumental in the growth of the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program as well as many studies on the economic impact of events. We wish Karen the best as she moves on to her next venture.

Finally, congratulations to our own Director of Meetings, Greg Morris, CMP, who was named one of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties and recognized at PCMA’s Convening Leaders last week. You may read more about Greg and the rest of the young leaders by clicking here.


Last but not least, I want to take this opportunity to thank two Destinations International leaders who have worked tirelessly over the last couple years in helping elevate our organization and our industry. I am reminded often by the old saying that "the only constant is change."

Terri Roberts has served Destinations International for many years with empowerMINT and on our Membership Engagement Team. Terri goes back many years with our dear friend, Shimo, and has decided to join Shimo in her new partnership with Simpleview.

Ali Best joined me as our first initial new hire at Destinations International and has served in the role of EVP of Membership Engagement. Ali and her team played a critical role in the development of our new membership model. Ali will be joining Julie Hart with CFO by Design, who has also played an instrumental role at Destinations International in serving as our CFO since late 2015. As we all know, our industry continues to evolve, and Julie is expanding the services they provide to meet the growing needs of destination organizations and associations. No doubt that Ali will provide the experience and resources to support and grow their client base. More details from Julie will be announced in the coming weeks, but we look forward to continuing to work closely with Ali and Julie as CFO by Design is a valuable partner to Destinations International. 

During this transition, we will remain totally focused on continuing to provide the best possible service and value to all of our members. We are working with our partners at SearchWide Global and will begin the search very soon for these two important positions. 

Have a great weekend and we hope to see you at our Spirit of Hospitality celebration or Destination Showcase next month.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International