Rossi Ralenkotter and Peter Yesawich to be Honored for Leadership and Dedication to Industry at DMAI's Spirit of Hospitality Celebration

Ticket Sales and Sponsorship Opportunities Now Open

Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Chairman Gary C. Sherwin, CDME, and President and CEO of Visit Newport Beach, Inc.; Destination and Travel Foundation Chairman Joe Marinelli, and President of Visit Savannah; and DMAI President and CEO Don Welsh, today announced that two of the industry’s most prolific leaders – Rossi Ralenkotter and Peter Yesawich -- will be honored for their leadership and vision at DMAI’s Spirit of Hospitality Celebration on March 1, 2017 at DAR Constitution Hall.  

Rossi Ralenkotter, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, will receive the inaugural Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Leadership Award in recognition of his significant and long-term contributions to the DMO industry.  Established by the Executive Committee of the DMAI Board of Directors, this annual award is amongst the association's most prestigious honors, recognizing those outstanding individuals who, through their exceptional work and achievements, have made a significant contribution to the destination marketing Industry and a profound difference in the communities they serve.

"I'm delighted that Rossi is the first recipient of this new and annual award, which celebrates excellence in leadership in our profession," said Sherwin.  "This honor sets a high bar for future recipients.  Rossi and the LVCVA are the ideal role models for many of our members and their organizations.  Given his industry-wide reputation for excellence, Rossi is the perfect individual to begin this annual recognition of our peers."

“On behalf of the DMAI team and its Board of Directors, we could not be more thrilled to recognize the superior leadership of Rossi, an industry leader and true visionary, who continues to make a significant and measurable impact on a destination,” said Welsh.

Ralenkotter began his career at the LVCVA more than 40 years ago, as a research analyst.  Under his leadership, the LVCVA launched the most successful branding campaign in tourism history, which is best known for its oft-repeated tagline, “What happens here, stays here.™”  Las Vegas remains the world’s trade show capital, hosting 54 of the largest 250 trade shows.  Ralenkotter has launched the Las Vegas Convention Center District, a transformational project that will further establish Las Vegas as a leading business destination in the world by reinventing and expanding the Las Vegas Convention Center and the surrounding area.

“As someone who has been passionate about the travel and tourism industry for many years, it’s always an honor to be recognized by my peers,” said Ralenkotter. “The true honor for me, though, is to share this recognition with the hundreds of employees and colleagues who equal that passion and provide the inspiration and hard work to continue pushing our industry forward.”

The new DMO Leadership Award is open to all DMAI member DMOs and their teams. Any DMAI member can nominate an individual for the award.  Criteria includes an individual who has demonstrated a significant and long-term contribution to the DMO industry, specifically, one whom has provided leadership, innovation and credibility among their colleagues and has developed a reputation for excellence through the management of their DMO and the use of best practices, cutting-edge technology and strategy.  

Peter Yesawich, Vice Chairman of MMGY Global will receive the Destination and Travel Foundation’s annual Spirit of Hospitality Award which is the highest recognition presented annually to individuals and organizations that show exceptional dedication and commitment to the travel and tourism industry. Yesawich joins a distinguished community of past recipients including Brand USA, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, American Express and the Travel Channel. 

During his more than forty-year tenure in the hospitality industry, Yesawich has become regarded as one of the most respected and insightful sources on the habits and preferences of American travelers. In his role at MMGY Global, the leading integrated travel and marketing firm in the US., Yesawich leads all of the agency’s consumer insight efforts. 

“It is a great honor to receive this prestigious award from the Destination & Travel Foundation. We have a mutual mission to enhance the efforts of the travel industry through research,” said Yesawich. “Everything we do at MMGY Global is guided by behavioral insights, which is proving to be crucial as the industry changes at exponentially faster rates. Organizations like DMAI and its foundation are invaluable in improving travel-related insights and resources and making them available to travel professionals.” 

“Peter has exemplified the finest that our industry has to offer for a long, long time and his work has touched many of us over the years,” said Marinelli. “His insights and representation of our industry have positively impacted tourism professionals at every level, and that impact has helped many of us shape our marketing efforts strategies for the foreseeable future.”  

Ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities for the 2017 Spirit of Hospitality Celebration are now open.  Formerly known as the Foundation Dinner, the goal of this annual event is to raise funds for the Destination & Travel Foundation to support education, research, advocacy and scholarship initiatives to empower destinations and the global travel industry.  

Reimagined to allow for greater networking, the new format will feature a cocktail reception, followed by a speaking program and award presentation, concluding with a concert by a Grammy-nominated band. Individual tickets are $395.  

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available here.