Destination Marketing Association International capped a busy year of change with a record-breaking attendance of 1,000 registrants at its annual meeting in San Diego last week.
Formerly the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus, DMAI officially adopted its new name and logo August 2. The name change, effected after two years of research and a membership vote strongly in support of it, reflects a clearer identity and focus for the 91-year-old association, says Michael Gehrisch, DMAI’s president and CEO. "We need to be perfectly clear about our members’ primary mission--destination marketing," he said at a press conference at the convention, adding that the new name is more appealing to potential members outside the U.S. "Our goal is to expand our reach internationally while remaining true to our core constituency," Gehrisch said.
International members currently account for about 12 percent of DMAI’s membership, said Jonathan M. Hutchison, managing director of the Sydney CVB, and DMAI’s new chair. He is the first non-North American to hold that position and he hopes his appointment will help "foster the advantages of the international market."
Keynote speaker Thomas J. Donahue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the conference with a speech calling upon CVB leaders to join the chamber in an effort to reform the U.S. aviation industry, which he said was on the brink of failure due to the high cost of fuel, antiquated labor and pension laws, and the refusal of the airlines to raise prices to cover their costs.
In other news at the convention, DMAI announced plans to roll out an accreditation program in 2006 for CVBs and tourist boards. Last year, the association established performance reporting standards for bureaus. Both initiatives aim to establish professional standards for CVBs, which across the country are facing increasing pressure to justify their expenditures and marketing practices.
A new online hotel booking tool was also announced at the conference. OfficialTravelGuide.com, which DMAI sold last year to USDM.net, now serves as the official travel portal for DMAI, allowing consumers to gather information about destinations from Web sites designed and maintained by CVBs around the world. The site has a new functionality called dmoDirect, which gives users direct online hotel booking capability, and guarantees best rates, said Leah Woolford, founder and CEO of USDM.net, an interactive agency for the travel industry. "Consumers won’t find Expedia, Travelocity, or other third-party rates on this site. Using dmoDirect will give them direct online booking at their favorite hotels with best-rate guarantees, and hotel loyalty points for booking."
The DMAI Foundation announced that Henry Givray, president and CEO of SmithBucklin, will be honored with the foundation’s Spirit of Hospitality Award. Givray, who heads up the largest association management company in the U.S., will receive the award at the foundation’s annual fundraising dinner, February 15, 2006 in Washington, D.C., during DMAI’s Destination Showcase.