Trendspotting at DMAI’s 2016 Annual Conference

By Kelsey Ogletree, August 5, 2016

Earlier this week I headed to Minneapolis to join about 1,500 DMO professionals at Destination Marketing Association International’s annual conference. Led by new president and CEO Don Welsh, DMAI sought to make this year’s event bigger and better with the theme “It’s a Brand New Day.” This being my first time attending the show, I have no point of reference with which to compare—though the highly energetic opening session that saw Welsh shaking his groove thang to KC and The Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes” certainly kicked off the conference on a high note. (That evening’s reception at the brand-new U.S. Bank Stadium didn’t hurt, either.) If you didn’t make it to the show, here are a few trends I picked up on that are worthy of note.

Urban incentives will make a big splash in 2017, if Jerry Cito has his way. Of course, the senior vice president of convention development for NYC & Company is a tad biased. Indeed, there are plenty of new opportunities for giving incentive winners what they want—a one-of-a-kind experience they couldn’t get on their own—outside of a tropical locale. “It’s time to get them off the beach,” says Cito, citing VIP New York City-centric activities such as behind-the-scenes tours of Broadway, exclusive sample sales and private fun runs through Central Park.

Hotel development has a huge impact on DMO marketing efforts, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a brilliant example of that. Beginning in 2007 when a St. Regis (now a Ritz-Carlton) was erected in the city, many new, high-end hotels have come on board—including W Fort Lauderdale, the all-suite Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, a Melia property opening soon, a Conrad in 2017 and a Four Seasons in 2018. This added infrastructure has been “transformative” for the city, says Christine Roberts-Tascione, CMP, vice president of convention sales and services for the CVB, as it’s allowed them to target more affluent travelers and convention markets.

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