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Destination Passion at DMAI’s Annual Meeting

A record 1,300-plus attendees were on hand for Destination Marketing Association International’s (DMAI) Annual Convention in Seattle on July 16-18, solidifying an upswing for the association since it struggled through budget cutbacks over the past several years.

DMAI Convene

Representatives from destination marketing organizations (DMOs), venues, suppliers, and other industry professionals assembled at the Washington State Convention Center to celebrate the theme “Local Passion, Global Impact.”

In a keynote address sponsored by Convene, opening general session speaker Jason Ryan Dorsey was passionate.  The “Gen Y Guy” spoke to the audience at length about the challenges and opportunities that result from having multiple generations in the workplace – most notably Baby Boomers and Millennials.  Dorsey noted that Millennials are often the bookends of the hospitality industry, but that they’re also the lowest paid and least trained, which can significantly affect the destination experiences of tourists and event attendees alike.

The meeting’s opening celebration was a showcase of local food, wine, spirits, and entertainment – including stilt-walkers and a fire-swallower – from Washington state destinations such as Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, and Spokane.  Guests gathered at Pier 66 on Bell Harbor on a gorgeous evening to enjoy panoramic views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains at sunset.

On the trade-show floor, more than 100 industry suppliers and companies set up booths in the Business Exchange.  The Social Media Internet Café took up one corner of the exhibit floor, giving attendees a place to go online without leaving the show.  Convene’s own living-room–style booth featured cover images from the magazine’s past, as well as issue archives from 1986 onward – a particular hit with attendees who recognized themselves in the pages of the magazine from decades ago.  Convene’s client dinner, held at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle’s famous waterfront district, overlooking Puget Sound, was a resounding success.  More than 50 representatives from various destinations joined Convene staff members and PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton for a Pacific Northwest–inspired meal catered by the Edgewater’s Six Seven restaurant.  Guests were then treated to some surprise entertainment from the Mexico Tourism Board’s Eduardo Chaillo, CMP, CMM, and the Guadalajara CVB’s Oscar Morales as they sang a lovely rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” – in English and Spanish.

At DMAI’s closing general session, Sally Hogshead presented her “7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation,” which is a measure of how other people perceive you (read more about these triggers at here).  Her ideas about how people can use their natural strengths to fascinate and persuade seemed particularly appropriate for destination marketing professionals, who are in the business of persuasion.  Not surprisingly, as Hogshead showed the audience the metrics of attendees who had taken her survey to determine their primary and secondary personality triggers, a large percentage fell into one of two personality archetypes: “The Ringleader” or “The Catalyst.” It was also interesting to find out that very few (possibly only two in the audience, by show of hands) had “Trust” as a primary personality trigger.

Also at the closing event, DMAI’s Destination & Travel Foundation announced that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will receive the foundation’s distinguished Spirit of Hospitality Award for “exceptional dedication and commitment to the travel and tourism industry.” The award will be presented at the foundation’s annual Dinner & Dream Auction, which is tentatively scheduled for March 12, 2013, at the Walter E.  Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

If passion was the theme, conference attendees surely personified it.  As I spoke to people throughout the event – from CEOs to marketing representatives – I found that many of them happened into a destination-marketing career by accident, but that their enthusiasm for the industry was undeniable.

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Katie Kervin

Katie Kervin was formerly assistant editor of Convene.