Leadership Summit Recap

Forty-five CEOs searching for ways to keep their organizations nimble gathered in Arizona for DMA West’s 27th annual Leadership Summit. With one CEO on the job for less than a month and other CEOs with three decades of experience, both newly minted and veteran DMO leaders learned from one another. The Leadership Summit also offered an opportunity to build face-to-face networks with CEO colleagues to garner industry intelligence and resources.

New components this year included two Peer Panels addressing “Branding Experiences” and “Measuring and Reporting ROI.” Thanks to peer presenters Danielle Cowan, Marc Garcia, Melyssa Laughlin, Wes Rhea, Tania Armenta, Brent DeRaad, Cheryl Kilday and Kari Westlund.

Some of the discussion topics at the Peer Learning Sessions included topics such as relevant tradeshows and conferences, working with other visitor organizations within the destination, nontraditional sporting events, working with influencers, advertising effectiveness and focus group experiences, FAM tour policies and tracking visitor volume.

A sampling of other topics included leveraging PR with limited staff and time, crisis management plans, the role of DMO in the community and local politics, customer-service training programs, working with local economic development departments, communicating and implementing organizational change and board engagement.

The Budget Roundtables were also part of the program focusing on issues such as funding sources and models, multi-year funding agreements, cultivating leadership on your team and team-building activities.

The Marketing Idea Exchange is a valuable fixture at this program. Participants shared one marketing idea that has worked for them. The ideas were varied—“Grown and Made” program, sustainability assessment with city agencies, libation marketing ideas, integrated campaign for wedding venues/vendors, project with arts community to fill empty storefront windows, destination videos, postcards in visitors center with paid postage, events for influencers, co-op programs, delivery truck trailers with destination wraps, phone app for self-guided tours, fun campaigns that garnered considerable social media buzz and more.

Thanks to the Planning Committee members (Danielle Cowan, Julie Saupe, and Jennifer Wesselhoff) for their work in developing the program. In addition, thanks to the peer facilitators who guided discussion and captured session comments.

Special thanks to Leadership Summit Signature Sponsors for their support—Arizona DMOs (Marana, Glendale, Kingman, Mesa, Phoenix, Prescott, Sedona, Tempe, Tucson, Yuma), Madden Media and TripAdvisor.

Some of the comments shared by CEO Forum delegates about this year’s event included:

“I was so impressed and inspired by everyone I met at the 2016 Leadership Summit. I will definitely be adding this program as a “must do” each year.” ~ Cody Jennings, Director, Skagway (AK) CVB

 “I am so glad that our organization opted to join DMA West. What a great group of professionals! I felt warmly welcomed and included throughout the [Leadership Summit] conference!” ~ Nancy Rezac, Executive Director, Visit Longmont (CO)

If you did not attend this year, plan to attend the 2017 Leadership Summit, in late July, in Aspen, Colorado, with the Aspen Chamber Resort Association as the program host.