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2021 Education Summit & Vendor Showcase

It was an in-person conference in Vancouver! While wearing masks and following health protocols, Education Summit delegates spent a few days together reflecting on shared experiences, acquiring new tactics with a look to the future, and — most important — celebrating the resiliency of the destination-marketing profession with colleagues and friends from across the West.

Advocacy, economics, industry best practices, cultural tourism, career decisions and more were part of the offerings at the Education Summit & Vendor Showcase in Vancouver, Washington. Delegates gained insights about group sales, meeting planner expectations, and marketing innovations.

We’ve had more than a year of uncertainty and the future is unknown, and it’s difficult to prepare for the unknown. Education Summit speaker Bill Stainton, CSP, CPAE, from Ovation Consulting Group, Inc., shared that one’s best defense is a good offense ─ and that offense is the ability to be proactive creatively ─ on demand with ideas, solutions, and innovations.

Erik Evjen, CHIA, Director of Data Analytics and Insights at Tourism Economics, shared Tourism Economics’ latest views on the economy, the mindset of travelers, and expectations for recovery. He also included practical takeaways on using data analytics for more effective decision making as well as for advocacy and community engagement.   

Dr. Katherine Foss, Professor of Media Studies in the School of Journalism & Strategic Media at Middle Tennessee University, discussed how our contemporary media landscape has completely revolutionized how people consume, perceive, and use information. Journalism’s shift to digital content, paired with the emergence of social media sites, blogs, and individual-produced content, has muddled public understanding of fact, fabrication, and opinion. Thus, trust and credibility of news have come under question. Dr. Foss shared tips on how to navigate the overwhelming bombardment of content without falling into an echo chamber.

One of the workshops highlighted New Expectations from Meeting Planners, with Lynn Edwards, Owner of Proper Planning and Gregg Mindt, CAE, Executive Director at the Northwest Environmental Business Council, discussing business conditions and booking patterns as well as how local partners can assist planners in this new environment and how DMOs can assist to re-educate audiences on the value of attending an in-person event.

The workshop Providing Accessible Travel is Both a Social Imperative and a Business Opportunity included a moderated Q&A session with Alison Brooks, Director, Destination Experience and Advocacy, Visit Mesa, and Brett Heising, CEO, brett approved. Delegates were reminded that people with disabilities should not be overlooked when creating travel experiences. It was noted that people with disabilities are as diverse as are their disabilities. Ideas and programs that DMOs can implement in their communities to assist accessible travelers and engage the local hospitality community in awareness programs and training were shared during the session.

Santa Cruz team at Ed Summit_Group Shot.jpg

Visit Santa Cruz County’s fabulous delegation at the 2021 DMA West Education Summit in Vancouver, Washington, (L to R) Jenn Day, Marketing Communications Coordinator; Flavia Oliveira, Director of Sales & Marketing; Rachel Endsley, Social Media Director; and Christina Glynn, Communications Director.

The Peer-to-Peer Advice Sessions continue to be popular components of the Education Summit. A number of delegates noted that the advice sessions are always helpful.

The Best Idea Program presentations continue as a favorite component of the Education Summit. From showcasing a destination’s expanding initiatives associated with being the country’s first Autism Certified City to implementing a frontline FAM virtual series to provide reliable tourism and safety information and from coordinating a collaborative weekly take-out dining experience to entice people to support local restaurants to creating high-quality in-market campaigns to encourage COVID-19 mitigation behaviors, these innovate projects informed and delighted conference attendees. Achievement awards were presented to Mesa, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, Vancouver USA, and Tri-Cities. (See separate Best Idea Program article with project overviews and links to projects.)

Thanks to our Visit Vancouver USA hosts for welcoming Education Summit attendees to their destination. The Visit Vancouver USA team and local stakeholders showcased the destination and its attractions with a couple of cool ways to experience the local area. Participants gathered tips and strategies to develop or enhance visitor experiences in their own destinations during the “get-to-know-the destination” outings. During the Waterfront Wonder Experiential Session participants enjoyed lunch on the Vancouver Waterfront, toured Terminal 1 to learn about its connection to military shipbuilding and learned about new developments that will bring a public market, premier hotel, and community space to the north shore. Then, the group dived into the history of the Port of Vancouver along with the Port’s historical connection to two Pacific Northwest staples: beer and Subarus. The group participating in the Cultural Crossroads tour experienced the influence of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe on the area’s history with a tour at the ilani Casino. Yes, there was a little time to try the slot machines or table games. Participants then explored Vancouver’s past with a stroll back in time at the Historic Reserve, just one mile from the city’s downtown core. A guided tour of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site—a reconstructed fur-trading outpost established in 1825 by the Hudson’s Bay Company—and a ride back through Officers Row’s 22 preserved Victorian homes completed the destination tour.

On the social side, Drozian Webworks sponsored a relaxed welcome reception at the Hilton—we all wore our “I Only Drink Sitting Down” stickers to conform to the hotel’s protocols. The Best Idea Program Awards luncheon was sponsored by NBC Digital and Destination Analysts sponsored an afternoon refreshment break.

Visit Vancouver USA and Simpleview hosted an evening of Pacific Northwest locally sourced food and beverages during an offsite reception and dinner at the Pearson Field and Air Museum. Delegates toured the museum before dinner, enjoyed a colorful sunset during the outdoor reception and musical entertainment with dinner.

Special thanks to the Education Summit sponsors and exhibitors for their participation and support.

ARC (Airlines Reporting Corporation) |
Bandwango |
Connect |
Coraggio Group
Destination Analysts
Drozian Webworks |
Madden Media |
NBC Digital | | | |
Northwest Travel & Life Magazine - Explorer Media
Relic Agency | 
RootRez |
Simpleview |
Tempest |
Visit Vancouver USA |
Wend/XplorIt |