Biweekly Update: January 26, 2018

Greetings from Las Vegas and happy Friday.

With the many activities taking place at Destinations International, we scheduled visits in San Jose, CA, Anaheim, CA and Las Vegas, NV to meet with our members to discuss these initiatives and most importantly, get their feedback.

Thanks to Karolyn Kirchgesler, Chief Executive Officer of Team San Jose and Jay Burress, CTA, President & CEO of Visit Anaheim for hosting our meetings this week in their cities. Thanks to Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California and Barbara Newton, President & CEO of the California Travel Industry Association for their support.

In San Jose, we had the opportunity to meet with 13 members and then we traveled down to Anaheim where we met with nearly 23 members. Our team was joined by John Lambeth, President & CEO of Civitas and Destinations International Foundation Board member and Tim Schneider, Founder and Chairman of Northstar's Sports Division. Thanks to our Board Chair, Tammy Blount, FCDME, for joining myself and the senior team for these two very important meetings. 

As we all know, nothing replaces a face-to-face meeting and these meetings certainly reinforced that belief. We intend to schedule other Member Town Hall meetings to meet with membership throughout the year to continue to gather important feedback which will help drive our business plans. Thanks to all of those who were able to attend these meetings; we were grateful for your time and feedback.

Today, we met with Rossi Ralenkotter, President/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and members of his senior leadership team here in Vegas.

You may have read earlier this week that the LVCVA announced the hiring of Steve Hill to fill the role of President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). Congratulations to Steve and to Cathy Tull and Ed Finger on their much-deserved promotions.


As you have seen in many of our communications, we have implemented a membership dues adjustment for members with budgets of $5 Million and above that started before the end of the year and will wrap up by the end of March 2018. We know that these types of adjustments were unplanned, but after much deliberation and discussion with our board of directors, we believe that the time had arrived to begin to right-size the dues structure of Destinations International.

This mid-year adjustment, coupled with the revenue enhancements that began in 2017, will ensure we are debt-free by the end of 2018 and will allow the association to continue to build upon delivering what our members want, need and are willing to support. If you have any questions about the dues adjustment, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

We are grateful for the support of our members and partners who have paid their mid-year dues adjustment.

  • Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Bloomington Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Brand USA
  • Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Catch Des Moines
  • Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
  • Chattanooga Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Destination Cleveland
  • Destination DC
  • Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Discover The Palm Beaches
  • Experience Scottsdale
  • Explore Asheville
  • Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Travel Portland
  • Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau Incorporated
  • Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Experience Kissimmee
  • Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau
  • Houston First Corporation
  • Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana CVB
  • Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
  • Long Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Meet AC
  • Meet Minneapolis
  • Meet Puerto Rico
  • Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
  • New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau Incorporated
  • Visit Newport Beach Inc
  • NYC & Company
  • Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Park City Chamber of Commerce & Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau
  • Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority
  • Richmond Region Tourism
  • Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority
  • Sonoma County Tourism
  • Team San Jose
  • Travel Michigan, MI Economic Development Corp.
  • Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Visit Albuquerque
  • Visit Anaheim
  • Visit Anchorage
  • Visit Austin
  • Visit Baltimore
  • Visit California
  • Visit Denver
  • Visit Frisco
  • Visit Indy
  • Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Visit Myrtle Beach
  • Visit Orlando
  • Visit Phoenix
  • Visit Pittsburgh
  • Visit Sacramento
  • Visit Salt Lake
  • Visit San Antonio
  • Visit Sarasota County
  • Visit Savannah
  • Visit Tampa Bay
  • Visit Tucson
  • Visit Wichita
  • VisitDallas
  • VisitLEX
  • VisitNorfolk

Thanks again to all of you for your continued support. In our next newsletter, we will be sharing a list of corporate sponsors and partners who have also stepped up to support Destinations International during this critical time.


As you read in our last newsletter, Destinations International’s 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.

If you haven’t yet, we ask that you please make your 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].


Last week, I had the honor of representing Destinations International in London to celebrate the life of Paul Flackett, a former Destinations International Board member and industry leader. Ray Bloom and his team at IMEX organized a beautiful tribute to Paul to recognize him and his leadership to our industry. It was a very special event and people from all around the world came to pay their tributes to a truly wonderful person.

While in London, I had the opportunity to meet with Helen Marano, Executive Vice-President, External Affairs, at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to discuss some of the many exciting initiatives that WTTC is focused on under the new leadership of Gloria Guevara Manzo. I also had a chance to meet with Toby Nicol, Executive Director of Uniting Travel.

I was able to spend some time with our longtime partner and friend, Ted Sullivan, Vice President of Destination Analytics at ADARA who has recently relocated to London.

Following London, I had productive trips to Barcelona and Madrid where I had the opportunity to spend quality time with our partners at European Cities Marketing (ECM). Flavie Baudot, Office Manager of ECM and I discussed many of the exciting ways we can continue our partnership. I also had the chance to meet with Ignacio de Delás, President of Turisme de Barcelona and Destinations International Board Member.

While in Madrid, I had the opportunity to attend the UNWTO 46th Meeting of the Board of the Affiliate Members and walk the floor of FITUR. As you know, FITUR is the global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound Ibero American markets.


Our friend, Jorge Pesquera, President & CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches needs the help of the tourism community. Next Monday, the Florida Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee will consider SB 1714. This bill, if passed, will adversely affect The Palm Beaches ability to generate visitation to our destination. 

  • It will drastically impair our ability to bring visitors and conventions to The Palm Beaches and kills our competitiveness in both domestic and international markets.
  • A loss of visitation will reduce revenues and will impact the 70,000 jobs supported by tourism in The Palm Beaches.
  • A loss in visitation to Palm Beach County would result in decreases to bed tax revenues, which can lead to increases in local fees and taxes.

Tourism led Florida's economy out of the last recession. In addition, tourism continues to drive our economy, create jobs and ensures that local and state taxes remain low. We also know tourism helps to lift our state out of crisis situations, like Hurricane Irma and the Gulf Oil Spill. Some legislators are now pushing detrimental measures through multiple channels that will cripple our thriving industry.

It is time for the Florida Senate to hear from you! We need to stop this destructive bill in the Senate. Your voice is the most powerful advocacy tool we have. Here's how you can help:

  • Contact the members of the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee as well as our local Palm Beach County Senators and ask them to VOTE NO on SB 1714 before Monday's 4:00 PM meeting. These Senators are listed below.
  • Share your personal concerns about how SB 1714 would adversely effect your business.
  • Phone calls and tweets are most effective, but emails work well, too.

Jorge will continue to keep us updated as the legislation progresses.


Congratulations to Meryl Levitz on her retirement from Visit Philadelphia. Under her leadership, Philadelphia has become a top-rated travel destination. Lauren Benedict, our Vice President of Membership Operations, had the chance to thank Meryl in person for her dedication to our industry at Visit Philadelphia’s 9th Annual New Year’s breakfast.

Congratulations to Karyl Leigh Barnes for being appointed as President of the Tourism Practice at Development Counsellors International (DCI).

We hope you will join our friends at U.S. Travel Association and industry colleagues from around the country for Destination Capitol Hill March 21-22, 2018 in Washington, D.C. This event brings travel leaders from across the country to Washington, D.C. to educate policymakers about the power of travel. The program combines a legislative day on Capitol Hill with advocacy training, guest speakers and peer-to-peer networking. You may click here for more information.

The University of Florida’s Tourism Crisis Management Initiative is currently conducting a survey on “Crisis Preparedness in the Tourism Industry.” As we all know, crisis management is a critical role destination organizations are tasked with undertaking in their communities and has become even more prevalent in recent years. I encourage you to participate in this research and help us gain a better understanding of the landscape. The first 200 individuals to complete the survey and provide an email address will receive an exclusive, complimentary full report. To participate, please click here.


Our team is looking forward to seeing many of you on February 12 in Washington D.C. for the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration where we will honor National Geographic Traveler with the 2018 Spirit of Hospitality Award. This award is the highest recognition presented annually to individuals and organizations that show exceptional dedication and commitment to the travel and tourism industry. Tickets can still be purchased here.

The next day, we look forward to seeing you at Destination Showcase. As of today, we have 700 planners registered and 140 destinations signed up to exhibit. This is your opportunity to meet with top planners in one location. Exhibit sales are still open for the event and booths may be reserved here. 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.

Learning Week takes place February 9-13 in Washington D.C. and will offer professionals of every career level the opportunity to advance their knowledge of the travel and tourism industry. Courses include: CDME (2 Core Courses, 2 Electives), PDM: Fundamentals of Sales and Sales Academy. You may learn more and register here.

Explore destination marketing like never before at our CMO Summit, taking place March 4-6, 2018, Pittsburgh, PA. 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.  You may learn more and register here.

Registration is open for the CEO Summit, taking place April 23-26 in Southampton, Bermuda. Join over 140 destination organization CEOs, C-suite and executive-level staff 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.  

Congratulations to the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles for making it to the Super Bowl! Needless to say, it will be an exciting game as Melvin Tennant, President and CEO of Meet Minneapolis and his team prepare to welcome fans from around the world.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh
President and CEO
Destinations International