The Future Looks Bright for Destinations International’s Young Leaders

Wondering what the dynamic meetings industry future holds? We asked the stewards that will be leading the way to whatever comes next, the 2022 Destinations International 30 Under 30 Class, what most excites them about the future of meetings and events and their responses gave us hope for a brighter tomorrow.

The 30 Under 30 Class

“The meetings and events industry has nowhere to go but up coming out of the pandemic. We’ve had a great opportunity to slow down and really think about what was working, what wasn’t, and how to bring things back even better than before—and now we get to act on that.”

–  Chris Riggins, destination marketing manager, Destination Bryan 

“Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic showed destination organizations that we are ready and capable of handling the unexpected. At the local level, it is exciting to see new meeting and conference sectors emerge that engage a new market and heighten our ability to reach new visitors.”

–  Mallory Snyder, vice president of communications and strategic development, Visit York County

“I’m excited to see our industry return to normal! Aside from that, I am really excited about all the sustainable changes that are being implemented in our industry. It is wonderful to see more and more meetings going in a sustainable direction. Knowing people care about our environment and our planet is very comforting.”

–  Amy Shen, sales coordinator, Destination Toronto

“I am excited about meetings and conventions returning to Greater Palm Springs post-pandemic, as group business is such a vital part of the tourism economy. Just as the year-round sunshine and wide-open spaces make for an inspirational meeting experience in Greater Palm Springs, I look forward to seeing how the future of meetings will include unique and memorable settings for networking and in-person events.”

–  Krystal Kusmieruk, senior marketing manager, Visit Greater Palm Springs

“Give-back programs at meetings and events are the future. Having purposeful experiences at conferences for attendees is something that I enjoy. Attendees are interested in having an opportunity for a hands-on eco-tourism experience to give back to the host destination. Seeing those experiences on conference schedules allows for breaks and the ability to do something good for the community attendees are visiting.”

– April Brown, special events manager, South Padre Island Convention & Visitors Bureau

“Through the Covid-19 pandemic and the age of uncertainty, the M&C industry has been adjusting to accommodate the importance of choice in planning safe and engaging events. Meetings and events are shifting to allow attendees the power and the means to choose their own experiences, whether it’s an elevated in-person environment or the flexibility of a digital platform. Key topics such as sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, and mental and physical wellbeing are being prioritized, and I’m eager to see how these philosophies will be incorporated to engage attendees and grow the industry.”

–  Celeste Rodriguez, digital communications specialist, Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority

“I’m excited by the shift towards more socially and environmentally responsible meetings and events and the impact that this movement will have on our communities. Policies and practices that support sustainable and responsible business events are a priority for both residents and visitors and will ultimately lead to important economic investment in addition to a positive community impact.”

–  Annie Cameron, senior marketing content manager, Discover Halifax

“I am excited for the endless opportunities to use technology to bring us together. During the pandemic, we used technology to gather virtually together and utilized new ways to share data. As restrictions are being lifted, we can meet in person and technology gives us an opportunity to enhance our experiences together. There are hot technology trends in our industry which include using apps, gamification, augmented reality and the metaverse. I am thrilled to see what the future has in store for us creating one-of-a-kind of experiences.”

Dani Keller, business applications specialist, Explore St. Louis

“With all the new additions and happenings in Oklahoma City right now, I am super excited to see the city come together to make each meeting and event an outstanding experience for all attendees.”

–  Kellie Myers, convention services manager, Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau

“The future of meetings and events is exciting to me because of a heightened level of intentionality among attendees. I am eager to see people express their rejuvenated gratitude for these opportunities going forward. I envision that gratitude manifesting in the form of increased willingness to network and interact outside of structured time as well as being present in the moment. I’m excited to see how a two-year, in-person event hiatus positively impacts the way attendees show up to meetings and events.”

–  Olivia Novak, marketing manager, Discover Lancaster

“What excites me most is the human interaction. It helps to interact with people and bounce ideas around regarding the growth of the industry. Human interaction gives me more ideas on issues that I want to focus on because I had the opportunity to discuss and engage other people. The other factor is travelling, mixing business and pleasure (bleisure). Travelling to different places to interact with other people is something that I look forward to and the opportunity to expand my network.”

–  Sinothando Adonisi, researcher, Cape Town Tourism

“Thanks to the pandemic, meetings and events have already improved a lot. Now we have webinars, hybrid conventions, on-demand sessions available and still have in-person events which gives everyone a chance to attend meetings they might never have been able to attend in the past. We are now able to connect through a combination of virtual and face-to-face experiences, which will increase numbers of attendees, return on investments and economic impact in the meetings and events industry. I am excited to see what new creative ideas and technology we will come up with in the next few years.”

–  Ophelie Le Livec, creative design specialist, VisitNorfolk

“The resurgence of meetings and events is exciting because they are the perfect opportunities to spark the next great idea. Whether it’s through networking and collaborating with like-minded professionals, hearing from energizing speakers about outside-of-the-box thinking, or simply by being outside of the typical daily workflow and office space, there is immense potential to ignite new and exciting connections and ideas that can better one’s own work, company and industry. Nothing can replace the energy and expectancy of in-person meetings and events.”

–  Kaitlyn Grekoff, digital marketing manager, Visit Dallas

“What’s exciting about the future of events is how the focus on supporting local and the community during the pandemic will transition into post-pandemic events. We make a strong effort to source from local vendors to give visitors a uniquely Fort McMurray experience during the events we host. I’m looking forward to having less cookie-cutter events in the future and more experiences that are by and of the community that is hosting them.”

–  Tyler Cole, economic development officer for sports and events, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism

https://ibb.co/Wz5NFwZ

“I am most excited for the continuation of technology advancement and what that looks like for future meetings and events. Meetings and events are done completely different than they were even 5 years ago with the help of technology so it is very exciting to see what the future looks like for our industry. Opportunities are endless.”

–  Kayla Adams, sports sales manager, Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

“I’m excited to contribute to expanding the of definition of success in our industry, navigate the challenges and opportunities that come with identifying and measuring new KPIs, and to create a desire for families to travel, for teams compete, and for Rhode Islanders to showcase our homefield advantage.”

–  Jonathan Walker, sports sales manager, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau

“The future of travel and tourism is now. As the industry continues to shift and adapt to environmental and cultural needs, we also see this change in our destination services. Destination marketing leaders are challenged to implement more value-based marketing, experiences and technology-forward resources that connect on a deeper level with our clientele and allows them to access information at their fingertips. What most excites me about the future of meetings and events is to welcome this new approach, and people to our destination, as we celebrate the value travel holds for our communities, businesses and economy.”

–  Courtney Swenson, marketing manager, Stafford County Department of Economic Development & Tourism

“What excites me most about future events is our new product developments. We have been working towards an indoor multi-sports complex that is on schedule to break ground later this year. This will position our destination to be more competitive with the top destinations in the country. This will also expand our sports tournament resume and welcome sports that we do not currently host right now. We have also launched our Tourism Capital Improvement fund which will improve our existing venues and attractions, so they are ready to welcome visitors for many years to come.”

–  Nick Kleva, sports tourism manager, Visit South Bend Mishawaka

 

advertisement