Biweekly Update: August 24, 2018

I hope you have all had a great week. We know that many of you are just getting back from attending ASAE’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago, IL. Congratulations to John Graham and his team for assembling another action-packed week of meetings, education and social events. Congratulations also to David Whitaker, President and CEO of Choose Chicago, and his team, for their gracious hospitality during the week. Choose Chicago showcased their new hotel complex, the new Wintrust Arena and the legendary Navy Pier throughout the week. It was great being back in Chicago.

In an effort to continually provide beneficial educational content to our members, we offered our C-Suite Session: CVBs Engaged! in conjunction with ASAE’s Annual Meeting. We had over 40 CEOs and their board members attend this important two-day session. This new session was the latest in our education efforts led by Colleen Phalen. Thanks to our speakers including Jack Johnson, Julie Hart, Mike Gamble, Shelly Green and Mary Byers for speaking.

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There is no doubt that many of our member destinations continue to be plagued with various natural disasters. Again, our hearts and prayers go out to the many communities that are affected by wildfires, floods and the latest hurricane impacting Hawaii. I want to point out the challenges that many of our members in Florida are experiencing. For the past few months, red tide has had a traumatic impact on portions of the Southwest coast of Florida. I had the opportunity to attend a community meeting led by Destinations International Board member and CEO of Visit Sarasota, Virginia Haley, CDME, last week. Joining Virginia in the meeting were community leaders, members and Ken Lawson with VISIT FLORIDA. We also heard from the research leadership team from the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

VISIT FLORIDA launched two programs to assist local tourism development boards in counties adversely affected by naturally occurring red tide, which include Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The Tourism Recovery Grant Program for Red Tide and Red Tide Recovery Marketing Program are designed to assist each affected county with marketing their destination once red tide has subsided. These programs will allow our destinations to show visitors that Florida is ready to welcome visitors back to its world-renowned beaches in Southwest Florida.

It goes without saying, these popular tourism and beach locations rely heavily on tourists and the meetings industry to drive their economies. Unfortunately, there is not a clear indication as to when this red tide will dissipate, and things will get back to normal in these Western Florida communities. In the meantime, we will do whatever we can to support the efforts of these destinations.

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As you know, Destinations International and the Destinations International Foundation are driven by volunteer leadership. The members of our volunteer boards and committees truly play an important role in achieving our two missions.

Applications are now open to participate in a number of the Association and Foundation's standing committees. This is your opportunity to help shape the future of the Association and Foundation and industry as a whole. Click here for the committee descriptions and application form.

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Thank you to those of you who have joined us on our recent webinars. These short webinars, led by our membership team, show you how to connect with your peers, find the latest industry research and take advantage of continuous learning face-to-face or online. We hope you will join us on one of our upcoming webinars. You may click here to register.

We are thrilled to join Simpleview and IBTM Americas to host DMOs Day at IBTM Americas on September 3-4, 2018 in Mexico City before the IBTM annual event. Destination organizations of all shapes and sizes are invited to attend this complimentary event to gain knowledge and discuss tools and tactics available for destination organization professionals to transform their businesses. Throughout the program, attendees will learn database management, customer relationship management, sales tactics best practices and cutting-edge marketing initiatives. If you are interested in attending, please email [email protected].

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Last but not least, I want to thank our friends at U.S. Travel for accommodating a date conflict that would have resulted in an overlapping of our Annual Convention in St. Louis with their Summer 2019 Board meeting in Newport Beach, CA. Thanks to the leadership of Roger Dow and his team for accommodating attendees and allowing for maximum attendance for both meetings.

Safe wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International