Biweekly Update: January 12, 2018

Greetings from Washington, D.C.

Our hearts go out to those affected by the mudslides in Santa Barbara County in California. Needless to say, Southern California has had a rough couple months and we will do anything in our power to support their recovery.

For many of us, the new year actually starts with PCMA’s Convening Leaders. This year, we were thrilled to be in Nashville, TN where Butch Spyridon, President of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. and Charles Starks, President and CEO of Music City Center, were the ultimate hosts. I continue to be amazed by the rapid growth in Nashville and its continued successes. Last week, there was a wonderful article written about the strategic and thoughtful growth that has occurred under Butch’s leadership at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. You may click here to read the article and watch the accompanying video.

As usual, PCMA Convening Leaders was a great execution of content, creativity and entertainment. They continue to raise the bar for our industry and we are thrilled to be their partner. Thanks to those of you who stopped by to visit us at our pop up Engagement Booth during the show. We also scheduled our first-ever Member Town Hall Meeting, which took place on Wednesday at the Music City Center. We covered many of the key activities taking place here at Destinations International and we also had a chance to recognize and celebrate Deborah Sexton. This was Deborah’s last meeting as President and CEO and we had the opportunity to thank her for her unwavering support regarding the importance that the destination plays in the booking of a meeting. We wish Deborah great success in her next endeavor and we look forward to working with Destinations International Foundation Board member, Sherrif Karamat, CAE, as he assumes the President and CEO position of this great organization and partner.

Thank you to our Board Chair, Tammy Blount, for her participation on behalf of both the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Destinations International during PCMA.

One of our biggest initiatives in 2018 will be the launch of a comprehensive Planner Facing Strategy. As part of that, we launched our Large Market Roundtable on Sunday while in Nashville. The Roundtable, consisting of 15 professionals, will meet twice a year at industry events to discuss new and important issues unique to large destination organizations. We want to thank those who were able to attend this important kick off meeting and look forward to working with you.


We were also excited to promote Destination Showcase throughout our time at PCMA. The event takes place February 13 in Washington, D.C. and is your opportunity to meet with top planners in one location. Both planners and exhibitors will have the opportunity to fully participate in all activities including: a keynote featuring culinary innovator, José Andrés, a networking exchange luncheon, an education session by PCMA, interactive learning labs, hands-on demonstrations and a closing reception. You may reserve your booth here.


We hope you will join the Destinations International Foundation at the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration, taking place February 12, 2018, for a night of inspiration where leaders come together to celebrate the power of destinations and travel. The event is a showcase of excellence in the tourism industry and raises funds critical to empowering destinations and the global travel industry. This year, we are ecstatic to honor National Geographic Traveler, recipient of the 2018 Spirit of Hospitality Award, the highest recognition presented annually to individuals and organizations that show exceptional dedication and commitment to the travel and tourism industry. You may click here to purchase tickets. Thanks to Chair Stephanie Brown on her leadership for this important event. 


Needless to say, in the tourism industry, it isn’t business as usual. In this ever-changing challenging world for destination organization CEOs, you need to be equipped with the tools necessary to not only survive industry threats but create an environment for tourism to thrive. Our CEO Summit, taking place April 23-26, 2018 in Southampton, Bermuda, will bring over 140 destination organization CEOs, C-suite and executive-level staff together to 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. Special thanks to our host the Bermuda Tourism Authority. You may learn more and register here.

Registration is open for the completely revamped CMO Summit, taking place March 4-6, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. Explore destination marketing like never before through off-site incubator sessions with some of the most well-respected luminaries in their fields including: Andy Masich with the Heinz History Center, Chris McAndrews with Cvent, Kristen Nolte with HomeAway and Anja Stas with the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center and Antwerp Zoo Society. The programming is designed for professionals in leadership positions within the marketing department of their organizations including chief marketing officers, vice presidents and directors. Special thanks to our host VisitPITTSBURGH. You may learn more and register here.


Congratulations to Tom Norwalk and his team at Visit Seattle for being recognized as one of Ad Age’s 10 Best Branded Content Partnerships of 2017.They are in great company with very impressive global brands.

Congratulations to Mark Crabb on his new position as Vice President of Convention Sales & Services with the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau. Mark has more than 25 years of tourism industry experience and we know he will be an asset to that great community.

Congratulations to our friend and tourism leader, Bob Doak, on his retirement from the Chattanooga CVB after 15 years. Bob put Chattanooga on the map and has been a dedicated supporter of our organization over the years. We know that Chattanooga will be in excellent hands with Barry White, CDME, being named President and CEO of the bureau. Barry was with the Augusta CVB for 26 years and led the organization through substantial growth. Barry serves on the Destinations International Board of Directors and we are very thankful for his leadership and commitment to our industry. Good luck to Bob and Barry!

You may have seen the recent news that L.A. County set another tourism record with 48.3 million visitors last year. Congratulations to Ernie Wooden Jr., President and CEO of Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and his team for this accomplishment. You may read more here.


We are pleased to announce the launch of the Overnight Room Demand Analyzer (ORDA), a new complimentary offering for MINT+ subscribers. This dynamic tool helps identify the number of rooms an event really uses and allows destination organizations to become more consultative to both planners and hotels as they are challenged to evaluate true demand. 

We will be hosting new user trainings and demonstrations in 2018. Please join us this month to learn more:


As part of Destinations International’s focus on creating a member-centric culture, the Board of Directors has recommended for approval, the addition of a Membership Committee to the list of standing committees of the association. The new committee will assist the association staff by providing input on strategies to increase membership engagement, interaction, and involvement; identifying means to measure membership satisfaction and priorities; and finally, shall assist in the development of strategies to grow the membership of the organization.

We ask that our members review the Proposed Membership Committee Amendment to the Destinations International Association Bylaws. You may click here to view the proposed membership amendment. New language we are adding is in red and language we propose to delete has been crossed out.

Please vote by responding to this email or by emailing [email protected]  with a “Yes” or “No.” Please make your vote by February 13, 2018 and include this email in response. If you have questions, please reach out to Jack Johnson at [email protected].


The IGLTA Annual Global Convention, the world’s premier educational and networking event for the LGBTQ tourism industry, celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2018. The event – which caters to those already engaged in the LGBTQ market and newcomers alike – features an appointment-driven Buyer/Supplier Marketplace with hosted buyer program; numerous educational sessions on topics ranging from social media marketing strategies to global LGBTQ travel trends; a media trade show to pitch your brand to international outlets; and networking receptions. UN Human Rights Officer Fabrice Houdart is a keynote speaker. The conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, May 9-12, 2018. For more information, please visit or [email protected]. Special thanks to John Tanzella, President/CEO at IGLTA for his commitment and service to our industry.


Our friends at Miles Partnership will be hosting a webinar on the Future of Meetings on January 25 from 12-2 p.m. EST. They will be sharing the latest research and insights on destination organizations and the meetings industry. You may learn more and register here.


We are thrilled to welcome Becky Heath, our new Director of Finance, to the Destinations International team. Becky joins the association with a wealth of financial and accounting experience. Most recently, Becky was the Controller for the American College of Radiology, where she managed their c6, c3 and PAC.  Prior to this role, she was the director of finance & administration for the ALFA. Becky will work closely with our CFO Julie Hart and our team in her new role. 

The year has gotten off to a very solid financial start. I’d like to thank all of you who have supported our mid-year membership dues adjustment. We are grateful for your continued confidence and support of the organization.

Next week, I have the honor and pleasure to represent Destinations International in London to celebrate the life of Paul Flackett. Paul was a dedicated and hardworking Board member of Destinations International for many years and I know I speak on behalf of the entire industry in saying that Paul was an inspiration and is truly missed.

From London, I will head to Madrid, Spain for a meeting with UNWTO and our partners at European Cities Marketing (ECM).

Thank you and best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.