Destination Marketing Association International's annual convention, which took place Aug. 1-4 in Minneapolis, attracted 1,506 registrants. The event, themed "It's a Brand New Day," was a coming-out party of sorts for the association's new president & CEO Don Welsh and his team, many of whom are recent additions to the staff. The opening kick-off, in keeping with the theme, was held at the just completed U.S. Bank Stadium; DMAI was the first group to hold an event in the Vikings' new home.
Among the highlights and hot topics was a general session called "Embracing Innovation: How Destinations are Figuring Out the Sharing Economy," which featured Chip Conley, head of global hospitality and strategy at Airbnb, and destination executives from three markets who have worked closely with his organization: Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Providence/Warwick (R.I.) Convention & Visitors Bureau; Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel; and Isaac Mizrachi, director of tourism for the city of Tel Aviv, Israel. A panel spearheaded by Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, discussed "Cities in Crisis, Funding Management and Natural Disasters."
Other sessions included an introduction to "smarketing" by marketing guru Jay Baer, who extolled the value of sales and marketing teams working together strategically; "Global All Stars," which showcased cutting-edge social-media marketing campaigns by Tourism Australia and South African Tourism; and a panel discussion on the future and current state of global meetings and conventions, which was moderated by Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company.
DMAI also used the event to introduce its 2016 class of "30 Under 30" DMO professionals; to award the certified destination marketing executive credential to 42 individuals; and to induct four industry leaders into its Hall of Fame: Ray Bloom, chairman and founder of the IMEX Group; the late Brad Burlingame, former president and CEO of the Visit West Hollywood (Calif.) Tourism Bureau; Nicki Grossman, former president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau; and the late Gary Sain, former president and CEO of Visit Orlando.