Biweekly Newsletter: March 29, 2019

Greetings and Happy Friday.

We are very fortunate at Destinations International to be included and engaged in many exciting initiatives and projects to help advance our industry. During my tenure at Destinations International, I can’t recall a more important and timely meeting than what occurred this week in Philadelphia, PA at the Diversity and Inclusion Conference. We had the opportunity to convene with industry leaders to discuss the importance and significance of a diverse and inclusive environment for our industry. Our conversation helped us to define diversity, inclusion, and equity for all organizations, take a deep look at our organization’s current approach to diversity and inclusion, and begin to identify ways to measure and define success. I know over the years that many organizations have worked hard to develop strategies and measurement for their respective organizations. I believe this was the first time that industry leaders from the meetings industry were all gathered in a room to work on this together. You may click here to see a photo from the conference.

I would like to thank our Chief Operating Officer, Melissa Cherry, and our Diversity and Inclusion Task Force Co-chairs, John Percy, Kellie Henderson and Al Hutchinson for their unwavering commitment to make diversity and inclusion part of the cultural DNA at Destinations International and more importantly, for our member and partner organizations.

Special thanks to Executive Committee Board member, Julie Coker Graham, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau and Greg DeShields, Executive Director at PHLDiversity Multicultural Affairs Congress, for their unwavering commitment to this important initiative.


This past week, Jack Johnson spoke about the importance of the work of our industry at the Opening Day Advocacy Event sponsored by the Cincinnati Regional Tourism Partners (Cincinnati USA CVB, the Cincinnati Regional Tourism Network and the Meet Northern Kentucky CVB). This event was a great example of leveraging a popular current event – the Cincinnati Reds Annual Opening Day Parade – and adding an advocacy element that brings together industry staff and government officials.


Nominations are still 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].


We are looking forward to our CMO Summit, taking place 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! Four dynamic incubators with expert leaders in their respected fields will delve into the topics of innovation, branding, technology and diversity and inclusion to address current challenges, future trends and best practices. 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. We are also excited to have Bernadette Smith, CEO of Equality Institute, share her candid and practical, yet humorous timely messages of gender, boundaries, anti-harassment, and diversity and inclusion that can be directly tied to a company's improved bottom line. And finally, Dr. Anijo Mathew will share his work and research on how new information landscapes help shift urban experiences and show how innovative technologies and experiences can redefine what it means to be an urban citizen. You may click here to learn more and register.

We are in full planning mode for our Annual Convention, taking place July 23-25 in St. Louis, MO. You may click here to register and take advantage of the Early Bird Rate, that will end on April 15.

This morning, you received an email with our 2018 Annual Report. We are pleased to present this report that captures many of the exciting activities that took place in 2018. You may click here to download it.


Congratulations to our friends Nick Breedlove, Executive Director of the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, Jay Tusa, Executive Director of Visit South Walton and Jason Cutshaw, Director of Administration for Visit South Walton, on their organizations being honored by the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) as a Tourism Office of the year. The Jackson County TDA received the award for the “budgets under $2 million” category and Visit South Walton won for the “budgets of more than $2 million” category. The awards are well-deserved. Thank you for your support of Destinations International!


We are pleased to welcome two new team members to Destinations International. Please join us in welcoming Elizabeth Jordan and Vernon Hemphill.

Elizabeth Jordan joins us as our Certification and Program Manager. She will be responsible for all program development and support for our CDME and PDM programs and will assist our educational team as it relates to programming and meetings. Elizabeth has her B.A. in History from Kenyon College, Professional Certification in Event Management and a Masters of Tourism Administration (MTA), Sustainable Tourism, both from George Washington University (GWU) School of Business. She is a Graduate Fellow from the Events and Special Services, Mount Vernon Campus and was a Research Assistant from the International Institute of Tourism Studies at GWU.

Vernon Hemphill joins us as our Membership Onboarding, Training & Engagement Manager. Vernon will serve members who want to strengthen the engagement of their organization. Vernon brings 18 years of extensive experience in various membership roles to the team. Most recently, he served as the Director of Field Services and Training for the Navy League of the United States. He is passionate about membership and understands that every member is different. Vernon has his BA in Business Management from Fayetteville State University North Carolina and is currently preparing for his CAE exam.


This week we learned that our dear friend and former Destinations International Board member, Karen Bolinger, has announced her departure from the Melbourne Convention Bureau. Karen has served our industry with great distinction and impact in Sydney and Melbourne. We thank her for her leadership and support in our efforts in Australia. We know our paths will continue to cross. Thank you, Karen.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International