Biweekly Newsletter: March 15, 2019

Greetings and happy Friday.

We were thrilled this week to launch registration for this year’s Annual Convention in St. Louis, MO. You may click here to register and take advantage of the Early Bird Rate, which goes through April 15. Kitty Ratcliffe and her team are excited to welcome you all to St. Louis. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to watch the video from Kitty to see what the city has in store for us this July. 

We are working closely with our Professional Development Committee to assemble over 50 exciting sessions with content that will evolve and elevate destination thinking. There will also be time for plenty of peer-to-peer networking, socializing and entertainment. Based on the response from the first few days of registration being open, I would encourage you to register soon and book your hotel.


We are also putting the finishing touches on our CEO Summit April 15-18 in Asheville, NC. I am pleased to report that we have nearly 200 attendees planning to attend. Our host and immediate past chair of our Foundation, Stephanie Pace Brown, is helping us assemble an unforgettable experience for everyone attending. You may click here to learn more and register.

Following our CEO Summit is our CMO Summit April 28-30 in Houston, TX. This annual summit is designed for destination organization professionals in leadership positions within the marketing department of their organization. Thanks to Mike Waterman and his team for hosting us in their great city! Kicking off our summit will be keynote, Jim Schleckser, who specializes in the issues that fast growth organizations experience in their business models, talent, processes and systems as they reach higher levels of performance. Piera Gelardi, Co-founder & Executive Creative Director of Refinery29, will also be a keynote at the summit. Her company has changed the way media and advertising speaks to and represents women and reaches a devoted audience of 500 million globally with diverse, original content, storytelling, and experiences. You may click here to learn more and register.


Melissa Cherry and Nina Winston have been in the UK this week for meetings with our friends and partners. They kicked off our two-year partnership in public relations with Hills Balfour, an MMGY company, to launch communications and strategic planning efforts with a focus on Europe.

They met with Ray Bloom, Chairman; Carina Bauer, President; Richard Allchild, Senior Sales Manager; and Natasha Richard, Senior Manager for Advocacy and Industry Relations at IMEX Group to discuss our continued partnership.

At London & Partners, they met with Barbara Jamison, Head of Business Development, Europe and Jakob Oddershede, Senior Economist from London & Partners, along with David Goodger, Director, Tourism Economics Europe. At the Convention Bureaux of Ireland, they met with Sam Johnston, who wears two hats – one for the Dublin Convention Bureau and one for the national marketing arm for MICE.

They also met with the WTTC membership team including Caroline Moultrie, EVP of Membership; Cathrin Czerwinka, Head of Membership and Andrew Brown, Global Commercial Manager to discuss ways to collaborate on a more targeted basis.

And finally, they visited our friends and partners at Oxford Economics at their headquarters to discuss the continued growth of the Event Impact Calculator (EIC) in Europe.

It was a very productive week with a lot of exciting opportunities discussed.


Earlier this week, I had the chance to spend time in the Houston, TX area to visit with some of our members to hear their thoughts on how we can continue to serve their various needs.

I spent the afternoon with Nick Wolda, President and Elizabeth Eddins, Executive Director for Visit The Woodlands. I also had the chance to meet with their Board Chairman, Bruce Rieser, who has been instrumental since 1989 in building The Woodlands to a true visionary city of over 110,000 people with major corporations, a vibrant art scene, non-stop music, biking, hiking and waterways. It is truly a beautiful place to live and work. For those of you who have not visited The Woodlands, I would encourage you to do so when you are visiting the Houston area. It is a short 45-minute ride from downtown Houston. We discussed the importance of all destinations having a master tourism plan with key stakeholder input. And, it is always nice to be in a community where the key stakeholders, city officials, industry partners, and the destination organization are fully aligned.

While in Houston, I caught up with John Solis, VP of Sales with Visit Houston, and talked about how we can continue to improve our Convention Sales and Services Committee. John shared the importance of identifying potentially new emerging industries or companies that are important for our industry.


Every day, our team works to raise the level of professionalism of the people who make up our industry. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read our 2019 Business Plan, we encourage you to download it here.

Nominations are now open for seats on the Destinations International Board of Directors and Destinations International Foundation Board of Trustees. If you are interested or wish to recommend a colleague, please click here to access the nomination form. Please return the form with the candidate’s resume/bio and any relevant information supporting this nomination to Chelsea Dunlop Welter at [email protected] by April 7, 2019.

Hall of Fame and Destination Organization Leadership Award nominations are now open. You may click here to download the Hall of Fame nomination form. You may click here to download the Destination Organization Leadership Award nomination form. The nomination form declaring your nominee for the 2019 Hall of Fame and/or 2019 Destination Organization Leadership Award must be submitted by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Friday April 5, 2019 to Chelsea Welter at [email protected].

Applications are open until March 22, 2019 at 5 p.m. ET for our 2019 30 Under 30 Program. If you, or someone you know, is a future leader of our industry, please click here to learn more.


Last Wednesday, we hosted the Foundation Strategic Planning Task Force at ASAE’s office in Washington D.C. Special thanks to Jason Fulvi, John Groh, John Lambeth, Stephanie Pace Brown, John Percy, Craig Davis, Leonard Hoops, Gregg Shapiro, Vail Ross and Annette Rummel for joining us. It was a highly productive day that saw agreement and alignment on many of the future endeavors and planning for the Foundation. Lastly, a huge thank you to Karl Ely and John Graham at ASAE for hosting our group at their office.


And, a final shameless plug for my plan to “Brave the Shave.” Thanks to the many of you who have graciously donated to this cause in helping eliminate pediatric cancer. Again, 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 on March 22 in Indianapolis. Pictures and a video to follow! You may learn more and of course, donate, here.

Thanks, and best wishes for a safe and enjoyable St. Patrick's Day weekend!

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International