Biweekly Update: February 24, 2018

Greetings and happy Friday.

I want to first take the time to update you on what was truly an exceptional week in Washington, DC. last week.

Let me begin by congratulating Stephanie Pace Brown, John Groh, John Percy and the entire Destinations International Foundation Board of Trustees for a highly successful and sold out Spirit of Hospitality Celebration last Monday night. It was a beautiful evening in the corporate headquarters of National Geographic and generated more revenue than expected. From start to finish, Stephanie Pace Brown had a clear vision for this year’s event that was flawlessly executed. The award recipients from National Geographic, Declan Moore and George Stone, were gracious hosts and shared moving and inspirational thoughts on their business and our industry. Thanks again to the Foundation and to those that attended for their unwavering support of our mission. Thanks to Jack Johnson, Daniel Dozier and Colleen Phalen for their hard work on this very special evening. You may see photos from the event here.

I’m also pleased to report that Destination Showcase hosted over 1,000 attendees in the Grand Ballroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The morning started with an educational session provided by PCMA, that was very well attended. Throughout the day, we focused on the tremendous value and services that destinations provide to the meeting planning industry. Our keynote was the legendary restauranteur, José Andrés, who delivered a truly inspirational message with a genuine sense of humor. He challenged everyone in the room to do whatever they can to be of service to the less fortunate. Needless to say, it is no surprise that José was chosen as the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year. Thanks to the Atlanta CVB’s David McAuley for moderating the keynote session. It was a high energy and inspiring kind of day. Thanks to all of you who exhibited and supported this very important event. You may click here to view photos from the event.


Destinations International is driven by our mission of empowering our members so their destinations excel, and we continue to equip you with what you need through our community, advocacy, research and education initiatives.

This past year marked a very important yet challenging year for the Association, but needless to say, our organization continues to strive to build upon our goal of delivering what our members want and need. We are grateful for your continued support and commitment to Destinations International, and I am pleased to share the first look at our 2017 Annual Report. You may click here to view the report. This report highlights many of the strategic initiatives and projects that the team put in place in 2016, implemented in 2017 and continue to build upon in 2018. In the coming weeks, destination CEOs and partners will receive a hard copy of this Annual Report for both the Association and Foundation. In the coming year, we will continue to investigate the most effective ways to provide our members with the maximum return on their investment and support of the Association.


Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce Salute to Business Luncheon, which was an exceptional day of celebrating the region’s economic development. I have long been a fan of South Bend, IN and I know I join many when I say that Notre Dame is a bucket list destination. Speaking of turnarounds, South Bend was once on Newsweek’s undesirable list of dying cities and is now a booming town. After speaking, I had the pleasure of spending time at the Visit South Bend office to meet with their team and other area CVBs.

Visit South Bend has been a longtime supporter of our organization and it was a great opportunity to spend time with them and see all the progress the city continues to make. Thanks to Rob DeCleene and Jeff Rea for their hospitality. You may click here to see a photo from the event.


We look forward to seeing many of you at our CMO Summit taking place March 4-6, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. There is still time to register! Attendees will learn from some of the most well-respected luminaries in their fields through off-site incubator sessions. The programming is designed for professionals in leadership positions within the marketing department of their organizations including chief marketing officers, vice presidents and directors.

As you know, it isn’t business as usual in our destinations. In this ever-changing challenging world for CEOs of destination organizations, you need to be equipped with the tools necessary to not only survive industry threats but create an environment for tourism to thrive. We hope that you will join us at our CEO Summit, taking place April 23-26 in Southampton, Bermuda. Destination organization CEOs, C-suite and executive-level staff will learn from global leaders addressing high-level topics such as: overtourism, destination guardianship, crisis response, office culture of the future and the weaponization of travel. If you are planning to attend, please make your plans soon as the hotel block will be closing on March 12. You may learn more and register here.

MMGY in partnership with Quantcast, will be hosting a Golf Tournament and Reception prior to CEO Summit on April 22 at the Turtle Hill Golf Club in Bermuda. All proceeds will benefit the Destinations International Foundation. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

We look forward to hosting our Association and Foundation Boards in Washington, D.C. this March for our Joint Board Meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday March 20 from 2 – 5 p.m. at the St. Gregory Hotel. This meeting will be a great kick-off to the U.S. Travel Association’s week of Board meetings and Destination Capitol Hill. Thank you to those of you who will be joining us.


Next week we will say goodbye to two Destinations International veterans. Lauren Benedict has been with our organization for over 11 years and Joy Lin has been with us for almost eight! Both have been critical to so many of our projects throughout their time here. I know I speak on behalf of our entire team in thanking them for their years of dedicated service and in wishing them both all the best in the future.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Don Welsh
President and CEO
Destinations International