Biweekly Newsletter: October 25, 2019

Greetings and Happy Friday.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to spend time at our Membership Summit in St. Pete/Clearwater, FL. I am pleased to report that we had 154 attendees join us. It is always great to spend time with our members.

Jim Gilmore, the acclaimed author of “The Experience Economy” was our keynote speaker. He talked about the importance that our industry has in bringing the visitor/tourism economy to life. Special thanks to Suzanne Scully Hackman, CDME, Vice President, Business Development, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and the entire CVB team for hosting us. And of course, we couldn’t have done this without our planning committee. Special thanks to the following volunteers who helped assemble great content for all who attended:

  • Susan Cantrell, Visit KC
  • Chelsea Fey, Visit Saint Paul
  • Terrie Gardner, Visit Mesa
  • Suzanne Scully Hackman, CDME, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
  • Erin Hurter, Visit Sarasota County
  • Angela Jones, Detroit Metro CVB
  • Sherri Mullery, Bloomington CVB
  • Renee Prine, Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area
  • Vanessa Said, CTA, Visit San Antonio
  • Brenda Scott Savage, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau/Houston First Corporation
  • Allison Tribo, Memphis Tourism
  • Kristin Wensing, Destination Madison
  • Tamera Wilkins Harris, Richmond Region Tourism

It was a pleasure to be in St. Pete/Clearwater and we are looking forward to welcoming Steve Hayes as the new President and CEO very soon.


Yesterday I had the privilege and honor to attend the celebration of life for Spurgeon Richardson, affectionately known as Spurge. I joined William Pate and many other industry leaders to pay our respects to a person who genuinely put Atlanta on the map. Spurge clearly saw what Atlanta could become and put all the wheels in motion to make that happen. His talents were matched with deep passion, focus, an incredible sense of humor and a genuine love for his community and the people who worked with him. All of this was evident from the outpouring of affection from his family, friends and colleagues. I am thrilled that we had the chance to honor Spurge as part of our 2017 Hall of Fame inductees. His legacy has been profound and was on full display at the celebration of life.


This week, Jack Johnson had the opportunity to present the Community Shared Value strategy with the Visit Anaheim Board of Directors after the bureau’s board chair saw Jack speak at our Annual Convention in St. Louis. Special thanks to Jay Burress and his team for the hospitality.

Two weeks ago, in partnership with Travel Alberta, we welcomed more than 30 destination professionals to Banff, Alberta for four days of CDME education. Hosted at the Banff Centre, attendees enjoyed two to four days of intense learning and valuable relationship building with their peers. Thank you to Marty Eberth with Travel Alberta and Board member, Leslie Bruce, with Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, for their collaboration and support.

Melissa Cherry joined Milton Segarra, CDME, at the Coastal Mississippi Customer Advisory Board meeting last week. The group plays a key role in a multi-year series of events that will differentiate Coastal Mississippi and guide the design, marketing and communications for the region.

We are thrilled to welcome the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus and Visit Lake County, FL as members! We look forward to working with you and your teams!


Congratulations are in order for our Board Chair, Craig Davis and the VisitPITTSBURGH team for winning the PRNEWS Digital Game-Changer Award for their Pull up a Chair campaign. VisitPITTSBURGH was grouped with a prestigious list of finalists including Marriott, Coca Cola, Universal Studios, Taco Bell and global marketing agencies. News like this continues to show the importance destination organizations play in their communities across the globe. You may read more about the award here and if you haven’t had the chance to see the Pull up a Chair campaign, we encourage you to check it out here.


The weaponization of travel continues. I am sure many of you saw the news that the Pure Michigan budget has been vetoed. Our advocacy team has been working with the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus since the news broke. I think we can all agree that Pure Michigan is worth saving. It has proven to be effective in bringing people in from across the country and around the world to the state in record numbers. If you haven’t had the chance to read our op-ed in Crain’s Detroit Business, we encourage you to take the time to read it here.

Fighting for your funding is just one of the topics that will be discussed during the eagerly anticipated Advocacy Summit taking place November 12-14 in Madison, WI. This year’s summit will help you become a more effective advocate for your destination organization and give you the tools you need to become a community shared value. Registration has surged beyond our original projections and we are coming up on capacity for the event, so we encourage you to register now if you are thinking of attending. You may learn more and register here.

Over 70 destinations have already signed up to exhibit at the 2020 Destination Showcase on February 5, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Our joint venture with PCMA will truly elevate the value of Destination Showcase for the planner community and our destination organization members. The early bird rate ends on October 31, so reserve your spot soon! You may learn more and register here.

This is a big weekend for Houston and Washington, D.C. We hope you all enjoy watching the games this weekend with friends and family. Of course, being based in Washington, D.C., our office will be pulling for the Nats! 

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International