Biweekly Update: September 7, 2018

Greetings and happy Friday!

It is hard to believe that summer is almost over and many of us are shifting into the busy fall and early winter schedules for the remainder of this year. As noted in previous messages, we will kick off our fall summit schedule later this month. You may view a list of all the summits here.

We are really jazzed about our Advocacy Summit that will take place November 7-9, 2018 in Philadelphia, PA! Jack Johnson and his team have put together an action-packed agenda with important and timely content. You may learn more and register here. We look forward to sharing more information about additional speakers with you very soon.

We are proud to announce that this year, we are partnering with Community Marketing and Insights (CMI) and IGLTA for the LGBTQ Tourism Forum, taking place December 2-4, 2018 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. In its 19th year, this event brings together leading industry professionals to share insights about the LGBTQ market. Destinations International members will receive a US$ 100 discount on registration through October 31, 2018. You may learn more and register on CMI’s website here.


Latin America continues to be a key global focus for Destinations International and exciting new opportunities in this region continue to develop. Past Chair Tammy Blount-Canavan along with Nina Winston, EVP of Global Development and Strategic Alliances, just returned from Mexico City, where IBTM Americas took place. For the second year, we worked with our Pinnacle Partner, Simpleview, and IBTM Americas to offer DMOs Day, a full day of education, networking and sharing of best practices. More than 60 destination professionals from a dozen countries took part in our program. In addition to our collaborators in developing this effort, we would like to thank all of our partners that participated in the educational program including HelmsBriscoe, Maritz Global Events, PCMA and TripAdvisor. While there, Tammy and Nina also had the opportunity to connect with leadership from across the region, and we look forward to continuing to grow our engagement and deliver value in Latin America. A special thank you to Business Tourism Services, who worked with us in the development of this exciting and well-received program.

Destinations International was also recently invited to participate in the Australian Association of Convention Bureaux (AACB) Annual Conference and board meeting, which was held August 12-14. Nina Winston attended this meeting and presented to the AACB Board of Directors on our organization and potential partnership opportunities for the future. Two of our 2018 30 Under 30 participants and one alumna from a previous year were in attendance. While there, Nina also connected with members and industry leaders in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, New Zealand. A special thank you to Karen Bolinger, CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau, who serves as Board President of AACB, and to Andrew Hiebl, AACB’s CEO. Thanks also to Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney, Anna Hayward, Head of Auckland Convention Bureau and Gary Grimmer, CEO of GainingEdge.

Our partners at European Cities Marketing (ECM) hosted their 32nd Summer School on August 25-29, 2018. Colleen Phalen, our EVP of Educational Development and Meetings, had the opportunity to join their faculty for the program. Click here to see a photo taken during the conference. Special thanks to the ECM team including Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, Flavie Baudot, Katy Wrobel Schmitt and Pier Paolo Mariotti.

Our team attended Business Events Canada’s Advisory Board meeting and together with Tourism Economics, we continue to lead the conversation about standardized reporting in Canada. We are thankful for the destinations and leadership at BEC, Meetings Mean Business Canada and DMAC for their ongoing partnership on this important topic.


Kate Skidmore, Caitlyn Blizzard and Jack Johnson joined me last week in Atlanta for the Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference. It is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to see so many of our members and partners. Thank you to Jay Markwalter, Executive Director of the GA Association of CVBs, Julie Ford Musselman, Kevin Langston, Deputy Commissioner for Tourism for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, and the entire Georgia Economic Development office for giving our team the opportunity to speak at two sessions and engage with our members. We also were able to spend time with our Board Chair, William Pate, President and CEO of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, and past Foundation Chair, Joe Marinelli, President of Visit Savannah.


Congratulations to Monica Smith, President and CEO of Southeast Tourism Society. We had the opportunity to meet with her while in Atlanta about future collaboration. We wish her great success in her new role.

Congratulations to Jeff Guaracino, who was selected to lead VISIT PHILADELPHIA® as President and CEO. Jeff will follow Meryl Levitz, the organization’s founding President and CEO, in developing the organization as a globally recognized industry leader in tourism marketing. We look forward to working with Jeff and his team.


Our team continues to offer webinars for how to use the online Member Forum and how to get the most out of your Destinations International membership. Several webinars are taking place in the coming months and we invite you and your staff to sign up here.

We are excited to add a new Small Destination Organization webinar to the list. Destination organizations with budgets of less than $2 million represent over a third of Destinations International’s membership and are critical to our continued success. These destination organizations have spoken clearly about the need for more online education, greater representation on Destinations International committees and boards, a wider scope of sessions with small destination organization relevance at Annual Convention, and more affordable access to education. Our team listened! Forming the Small Destination Organization Task Force, led by Melyssa Laughlin, President and CEO of Visit Vacaville, we have sought proactive solutions to each of these requests and look forward to sharing them with you during our Small Destination Organization webinars. We invite you to join for one of the following upcoming webinars:


We are thrilled to welcome six new members to Destinations International. Our team has enjoyed onboarding these destination organizations. Thanks to the following CVBs for their support:

  • Visit Rancho Cordova
  • Travel Marquette
  • Explore Trumbull County
  • Leavenworth CVB
  • League City CVB
  • Greater Beaufort-Port Royal CVB


During her keynote at our Annual Convention in Anaheim, CA, Caroline Beteta, President and CEO of Visit California, offered to share her team’s Crisis Evaluation Matrix with Destinations International members. You may click here to read the blog post, “Always Prepared: Crisis Response Requires Critical Analysis and Planning,” which includes a link to download the matrix.


I know we are all in the early stages of planning for 2019. We are pleased to inform you that the Spirit of Hospitality Celebration, which plays a critical role in the fundraising efforts for the Destinations International Foundation, will take place on February 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Destination Showcase will take place the following day on February 13, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Additional details on both events will be available soon.


I want to thank all of our members who have continued to show unwavering support for this association. Thank you for renewing your membership dues, subscribing to our products and attending our meetings and events. Your participation and support have led to a financially healthy organization that will continue to provide products and services to meet your needs.

Last but not least, we want to thank Jim McCaul for his five and a half years of service with Destinations International. Jim’s last day with our team is today and we had the chance to celebrate his time here while he is visiting from Toronto. We wish Jim all the best and we know he will excel in his new role with Resonance Consultancy in Toronto.

Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Don Welsh signature

Don Welsh
President & CEO
Destinations International