Biweekly Newsletter: March 1, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday.

Since seeing many of you in Washington, D.C. at the Spirit of Hospitality and Destination Showcase events, I have been on the road. One of the great pleasures and honors of this job is the ability to help represent our industry and meet with many of our members in destinations around the world. I had the pleasure to attend the AIME Conference last week in Melbourne, Australia this year, which is one of the top meetings industry shows in the Asia-Pacific owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau. This was the first year of a completely revised show under the leadership of Matt Pearce, CEO of Talk2 Media & Events. Thanks to Karen Bolinger, CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau for her commitment to our industry and congratulations on a great show.

Based on the packed exhibit floor, it is easy to see why this show is an eagerly anticipated event each year. I also had the chance to meet with many of our members and partners during the trip including Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney, Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO of PCMA and Rich Reasons, President of Simpleview.

From there, I departed to Auckland, New Zealand for my first visit to this beautiful city and country. I know that New Zealand and Australia are on many bucket lists and I can assure you, when you visit, you won’t be disappointed. While in Auckland, I had the opportunity to spend time with Steve Armitage, General Manager-Destination of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development and Anna Hayward, Head of the Auckland Convention Bureau, who are long-time supporters of our industry and Destinations International.

If there was ever a city in total transformation, it is Auckland. Over 90 construction cranes can be seen throughout the city and they are currently doubling their downtown hotel capacity from 4,000 rooms to 8,000, building a brand-new convention center, and getting ready to host the 2021 America’s Cup. It is a city of natural beauty, a dynamic waterfront, incredible food and some of the best wines in the world. We look forward to hopefully seeing our Australian and New Zealand friends at our upcoming Annual Convention in St. Louis this summer.

And speaking of St. Louis, I hope you will mark your calendar for July 23-25, for what promises to be a great Annual Convention. We are excited to announce registration in the coming weeks.


Nina Winston and I had the pleasure this week of spending time in Buffalo, NY with Patrick J. Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara to see firsthand the many exciting changes taking place in this fast-growing city. From there, Nina and I stopped by the Destination Niagara USA office. Our Foundation Board trustee, John Percy, President & CEO of Destination Niagara USA was on holiday, but we had the opportunity to meet with Andrea Czopp, Vice President of Operations and Julie Gilbert, CTP, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and the entire team to hear some of the exciting things taking place in their city.

We then spent considerable time with Don Foste, Vice President of Sales and his team at the global headquarters of Delaware North, which is a major company based in Buffalo that owns and operates airports, stadiums, hotels, attractions and national parks around the world.


Last week, Alyssa Poulin, our own Product Engagement Manager, represented Destinations International at the European Cities Marketing (ECM) Spring Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. This fully-loaded conference with leading international experts, event owners and international showcases provided attendees with the insights and inspiration needed to cultivate the event scene in their destinations.

Alyssa had the opportunity to connect with representatives from Barcelona, Bolzano, Graz, Liverpool, London, Lviv, Malmö, Oslo, Poznan, Prague, IBTM, IMEX, Simpleview and others to share knowledge about the Event Impact Calculator (EIC). Alyssa supported David Goodger, our European counterpart with Tourism Economics, who led an educational session on the tool. The session, attended by over 50 participants, was a forum for European destination organizations to learn about the utility of the EIC in stating their business case through calculating the economic impact of events. As a result of the session, several destinations have requested information or subscribed to the tool.


This week, we announced that nominations are open for the Hall of Fame and the Destination Organization Leadership Award. Please take a look at both awards and consider nominating a leader in our industry. You may learn more here.

We are also excited to announce that 30 Under 30 applications are now open through March 22. Investing in the future generation of destination experts, 30 individuals under the age of 30 will be selected to gain valuable industry networking opportunities and increased thought leadership throughout the year. Honorees will receive:

  • Complimentary registration and three nights' hotel accommodations during Destinations International's 2019 Annual Convention
  • Recognition on stage and throughout the 2019 Annual Convention in St. Louis, MO on July 23-25, 2019
  • Complimentary registration for Fundamentals in Destination Marketing, the first course of Destinations International's PDM program
  • Year-round professional development focus, including regular interactive webinars and an online community to share ideas
  • Opportunity to apply to attend the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux's Annual Conference

We encourage you to nominate a young leader at your destination organization. You may learn more and access the application here.


We are thrilled to welcome Peter Mayer Advertising and Tourism Kamloops, BC, Canada as new members of Destinations International. Our team is excited to have you on board! Thanks again for your support!

Congratulations to our friend, Angie Briggs, who was recently announced as the new Vice President of Industry Relations at the U.S. Travel Association. We have enjoyed working with Angie while with Miles Partnership and we look forward to working with her in her new role.

Congratulations to Brad Dean, President and CEO, Leah Chandler, CMO and Liz Mabe, Digital Marketing Director of Discover Puerto Rico, on the launch of their new website and logo!

Congratulations to Gretchen Hall with Little Rock CVB on being named Arkansas Tourism’s Person of the Year! What a well-deserved honor.


Last but not least, on a personal note, I know we are all touched in our lives by the dreaded word, cancer. Our family has experienced it firsthand.

The advancements in cancer research and the cure are getting better every day. However, it is not coming fast enough. There is a great organization called the St. Baldrick’s Foundation that is committed to eradicating pediatric cancer.

They have an annual head shaving contest that I will be gladly participating in this year in Indianapolis, IN to raise money. My good friends, Leonard Hoops, President and CEO and Chris Gahl, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications with Visit Indy, will be doing the honors of shaving my head that evening … and will be paying greatly to do so!

In all seriousness, I can’t find a better cause to help raise money for the children and young women and men around the world fighting this horrible disease. So, if you are so inclined to make a contribution, I would be most grateful. You may learn more and donate here.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International