For the first time in its history, Destination Marketing Association International has established a committee with the International Association of Assembly Managers Inc. aimed at providing consistency and better communication between convention and visitors bureaus and convention facilities and ultimately at serving the meeting planner more effectively.

At its annual meeting last week in Austin, Texas, which drew record-breaking attendance with more than 1,200 people, DMAI (formerly the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus) said the volunteer committee was formed to serve “as the universal voice to facilitate partnership, provide joint advocacy, and identify common objectives for destination marketing organizations and convention facilities,” according to the official statement.

A session about how convention centers and bureaus are marketed and funded drew a large crowd at last week’s meeting, the follow-up to a session that CVB executives participated in at IAAM’s annual meeting in October.

DMAI also announced that it would open its first global office in Brussels by early next year through a partnership with MCI/SmithBucklin and open another office in Asia by early 2008 with the expectation of growing its non-North American membership.

And beginning this fall DMAI will beta test up to six cities in its Destination Marketing Accreditation Program and will roll out the program to all CVBs/DMOs in early 2007. The DMAP, aimed at providing better experiences for the customer, according to Michael D. Gehrisch, president and CEO, DMAI, is open to all CVBs and requires that organizations meet a variety of mandatory and voluntary standards in order to become accredited. DMAI “hopes that 40 cities or DMOs will go through the program by the end of its first year,” he said at a press conference during the annual meeting.

Gehrisch also announced that DMAI would introduce a brand awareness campaign through national advertising and public relations efforts in 2007 so that destination management organizations would be known as “the official, trusted destination source.”