Destination Marketing Association International President and CEO Don Welsh launched his organization’s new Destinations International brand and strategic mission in front of almost 1,500 people at the opening session for the organization’s 2017 annual convention in Montreal on June 12. It included some lessons that could help all event architects build better meetings.
1. Do your homework
The new branding for the organization included an extensive listening tour that talked to thousands of destination marketers over an eight-month period to better understand their needs and how the organization could help them.
The same is true of all groups. We often assume we understand what keeps our attendees up at night. Have you taken the time to ask what really adds value for the people sitting in the chairs at your meetings?
2. Mirror your mission on your home page
In addition to a new mission statement and name, Destinations International worked with Miles Partnership to create a new, mobile-friendly website focused on international members. The clean design puts the mission—advocacy, community, education and research—front and center with a resource library, case studies and a new online user community.
Gary C. Sherwin, chair of Destinations International as well as president and CEO of Newport Beach & Company, explains, “Our industry website is often the first interaction between the association and its members.” Are you making a first impression that reflects your mission?
3. Put People First
Welsh stresses that the association’s main job is “connecting people at different stages of their careers to help their cities, states and countries thrive.” New online resources and educational sessions at events around the world—along with an apprenticeship program, career center and recognition of emerging leaders program—do just that.
What are you doing to help people make personal connections that can develop their professional growth?
4. Be Better Together
While in Montreal, Destinations International made a point of meeting jointly with Meetings Mean Business Canada (previously known as Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada) to ensure everyone in the industry is speaking with a unified voice when it comes to messaging about the importance of face-to-face meetings for the larger economy worldwide.
Partnering with other organizations in the space can help both groups be more effective. What other resources could you join forces with to help your audience be heard?
5. Do Good
The annual conference included a golf tournament and dinner to raise money for Destinations International Foundation. This nonprofit provides scholarships for education, industry research, advocacy and leadership development.
Corporate social responsibility is increasingly being included in meeting agendas. What can you do as part of your events to raise awareness about important issues and give back to the community?
Bonus: One extra lesson Welsh expressed fluently as he had fun bantering about his lack of French speaking skills with Tourism Montreal President-Director General Yves Lalumiere is don’t take yourself too seriously. That is a valuable message, indeed.