Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI) 96th Annual Convention hosted just over 900 individuals, from 14 countries, in Fort Lauderdale last month. Themed “Achieve Excellence: Right Here. Right Now,” over 570 destination marketing professionals, educators, students, and industry partners from over 245 destinations registered for the convention, held at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa. In addition, over 300 individual exhibitors and sponsors are participated in the convention. Over 100 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) industry providers exhibited on a sold out Business Exchange tradeshow floor, a number that is up 9 percent since 2009.
Those in attendence at the covention were the first to receive news about new programs and improved tools for DMOs to use in order to bolster their business at various levels. For starters, to help DMOs communicate the value they bring to their communities as well as local and global economies, DMAI commissioned Roger Rickard, founder of Voice in Advocacy, and partner of REvent, LLC, in the development of a new advocacy toolkit for DMOs. Working in collaboration, Rickard and DMAI’s Advocacy Committee are developing a toolkit that provides key strategies for communicating to the variety of stakeholder audiences that DMOs work with, including resources such as talking points, legislative contacts, fact sheets, and more.
“It’s important for DMOs to communicate to their stakeholders and community members in ways they understand,” explained Michael D. Gehrisch, president and CEO of DMAI. “For too long, DMOs have been explaining their value in a single language, often confusing the diverse audiences with verbiage that is specific to the meetings and travel industries. If we are going to truly showcase the value that DMOs bring to a destination, DMOs and supporting organizations must explain their value in a language customized to each individual audience.”
On the legislative side, the Advocacy Committee has reviewed current and proposed legislative policies and made recommendations on behalf of DMAI and the destination marketing industry.
“This working group’s goal is to find valuable solutions to the important issues of the moment,” explained Dan Fenton, DMAI board chair and CEO of Team San Jose. “In addition, this dedicated group of members provides an official voice on behalf of the destination marketing industry by proposing recommended positions on industry issues to the Association Board for approval.”
DMAI is currently taking a lead role, working closely with the National Tour Association (NTA) and U.S. Travel, in garnering U.S. congressional support for the Travel Regional Investment Partnership (TRIP) Act which creates a matching grant program in the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote domestic tourism through local/regional partnerships. Regarding the online travel tax debate, DMAI has taken an official position opposing any preemptive tax legislation at the federal level that could damage the ability of local and state governments to operate efficiently and for DMOs to market their destinations effectively.
Another initiative by DMAI to help DMOs improve business is the online Live Learning Center, which aims to make it easier for destination marketing professionals to access the latest in industry information and education. As part of the 96th Annual Convention, DMAI recorded over 20 hours of convention education, ultimately making this online education compilation available for purchase through its Live Learning Center. For those individuals who were unable to attend this year’s event, the online option offers a multimedia experience which contains recorded audio synchronized to session presentations, along with corresponding handouts, and MP3 files available for download.
Not limited to a one-time view, purchasers can access their Live Learning Center content anytime and anywhere through a streamlined channel, and are given unlimited access to their purchased education. The Live Learning Center is also host to a new webinar series by DMAI. The monthly, one-hour webinar series covers topics such as corporate social responsibility, emerging technology trends, and advocacy best practices, and focus on providing participants with takeaways for immediate results and improved effectiveness. Upcoming webinars will be held at 2 p.m. ET on August 25, September 29, October 27, November 17 and December 16.
Also housed in the Live Learning Center are free one-off webinars that include education offered through the association’s Destinations Showcase program, and DMAI’s IMEX seminar, “Emerging Destinations - How to Establish & Build a CVB”.
Also at this year’s event, host destinations were announced for the association’s 99th and 100th Annual Conventions— Orlando for the 99th, Las Vegas for the 100th. DMAI’s 97th Annual Convention will take place in New Orleans.