Destinations International’s Annual Convention in Baltimore Was a Huge Success for More Than 800 In-Person Attendees

The main meetings & conventions themes were workforce development issues, service quality standards & destination staffing needs

This week, Destinations International hosted its Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, bringing together more than 800 industry professionals in person for the city’s first major conference post pandemic. The enthusiasm for the event was incredible with this being the first time for travel for many attendees.

The main themes for this year’s conference were community advocacy, diversity, equity and inclusion. The unofficial themes that were bubbling up in conversations were related to workforce development issues for our industry as a whole and for the more than 100 job openings within destinations right now—and concerns over the quality of services for the upcoming meetings and conventions scheduled for the rest of the year.

Destinations International and PCMA announced the new fall date for the Destination Showcase will be on October 6 at the Gaylord National in Washington, D.C.  This event was rescheduled from its traditional February date and will be the second time the two organizations have partnered together on this conference with a tradeshow component.

 

ICYMI: Mya Surrency’s Microsession: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Meetings Database

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During the One Size Doesn’t Fit All Meetings & Conventions Panel Discussion with three meeting planners, the main themes were:

  • There is a need for full transparency among destinations on what groups and attendees can expect for future meetings in terms of service levels, business openings and experience offerings. Planners know and understand that things won’t be like they used to be but if they don’t have full transparency or  they can’t help the destinations communicate to attendees on what to expect.
  • Virtual fatigue is real! Many planners and attendees are tired and burnt out from the virtual conference experience and craving face-to-face opportunities.
  • Sales people, who traditionally work the trade show circuit for business development, want and need business to return to normal in some manner having gone more than 18 months without that key interaction. Moving forward, many of these sales people will have goals that are going to require them to be able to operate in-person in the traditional trade show format.

During the LOI (Letter of Intent) Panel Discussion,  the main themes were:

  • The need for destinations to operate more professionally with contracts that have binding consequences to hold meetings accountable to are pertinent.
  • Indiannapolis shared how their destination’s LOI agreement helped them retain their group business during the pandemic.
  • Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia also shared strategies they have implemented with their LOI agreements to hold meetings & conventions accountable for holding dates, accepting incentives and contracting with the hotels and event centers.
  • Overall, the sentiment was that if destinations are not operating with a contractual agreement they are putting their own team, partners and destinations at an unnecessary risk. Planners and the decision makers are accepting of these agreements and expecting them.

 

2021 MMGY Destinations International Futures Study Group Sales Highlights: 

  • Business event customers want better collaboration with destinations to achieve greater outcomes. The evolving business models with hybrid meeting and risk management are requiring CVB’s and planners to collaborate more closely.
  • The focus for destinations moving forward is on content creation and dissemination strategies. The digital acceleration that occurred during the pandemic accelerated digital activity by 5 years.
  • It is key to build the brand in alignment with community values and energy that aligns with the experience attendees will receive.
  • CVBs will need to better integrate with economic development and talent attraction when sourcing business.
  • The top 3 transformational opportunities are destination alignment, sustainable development and value-based marketing.

As we were all meeting face-to-face in Baltimore, the latest Travel Vertical issue published more than 115 DMO job vacancies. Not only are our hospitality partners having workforce development issues but destinations and CVBs are working to find talent, as well. It is evident that finding talent is an issue that runs deep and the demand for talent is very strong as CVBs are working to help their communities come back.  

As your destinations work to drive new opportunities and reposition yourselves post pandemic, know you can rely on Digital Edge for innovative meetings marketing and a depth of services created just for you — our destination partners.

 

We offer some pretty cool things worth the sell…see for yourself!

  • Content development for your website & meeting storytelling
  • Strategic meetings marketing
  • Fresh creative that aligns with your brand
  • Integrated email marketing
  • Video storytelling for planner audiences
  • Social media training, distribution and engagement for group sales
  • Website audits & strategies for your meetings & convention sections

And So Much More!

Destination Marketing Meetings and Conventions News Video