Leadership Summit 2017

Aspen Chamber Resort Association Hosts DMO Leaders

Nearly 60 DMO leaders joined their peers in Aspen for DMA West’s 28th annual Leadership Summit. With one CEO on the job for just two months and other CEOs with three decades of experience, both newly minted and veteran DMO leaders learned from one another. Aspen Chamber Resort Association President & CEO Debbie Braun, IOM, CDME welcomed delegates to the Town of Aspen -- a first-time visit for many of the DMO leaders.

The Leadership Summit offered an opportunity to build face-to-face networks with peer colleagues to garner industry intelligence and resources.

The summit included a trio of sessions presented by local Aspen elected leaders and experts. Aspen local Neal Beidleman shared his story, “Return to Everest: Reconciling the 1996 Everest Tragedy 15 Years Later.” He is known for surviving the 1996 Mount Everest disaster and saving lives that day. He made a return trip to Mount Everest in 2011. The book, “Into Thin Air,” is based on that fateful 1996 Mount Everest climb.

Corey Enloe from the Aspen Club and Jayne Gottlieb, founder of Aspen Shakti, presented “Wellness Destination Tourism -- A Mountain Town Twist.

“Cannabis Tourism” was the topic for a luncheon panel presentation by Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, and Julia Theisen and Erik Klanderud from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association. They shared the challenges and opportunities for destinations that have legalized marijuana. A spirited Q&A session followed the presentation.

Two Peer Panels addressed “Destination Management and Partnership Development,” and “Leadership Development.” Thanks to peer panelists Lucy Kay, Breckenridge; Jennifer Wesselhoff, CDME, Sedona; Stephanie Nowack, Tempe; and Shauna Stewart, Olympia.

Some of the discussion topics at the Peer Learning Sessions included subjects such as DMOs as the authorities on destinations and a vital part of the travel-planning decision process; destination development, marketing and management; product development and brand alignment.

A sampling of other topics included DMO investment in international marketing, political issues, airlift and international visitation and best practices for providing translated information to overseas markets. In the areas of measuring and reporting, discussion focused on future measurement tactics, new KPIs and storytelling formats to demonstrate value to stakeholders.

The Operations Roundtables were also part of the program focusing on issues such as funding finances and programmatic budgets; government relations with elected leaders; board/stakeholder relations; and staff recruitment, management and retention.

Toot Your Horn! At the Marketing Idea Exchange, each delegate highlighted one marketing idea from his/her DMO. The ideas were varied -- here’s a few -- providing an event consultant to work with local event organizers for better events, timing, room nights; partnering with local high school program for video/image content; eat/drink/play mobile app platform; curated experiences for LGBTQ campaign; partnering with a local food company for themed promotional items; and using marketing staff to highlight the key elements of the DMO’s annual marketing plan.

Other ideas included destination-branded products, art gallery program with lodging partners, using local influencers, mobile tracking of visitors in destination, selecting an Art Month for collective marketing, destination TV commercial featuring all seasons in a one-minute spot, and implementing a “family” of brochures (design) to provide a coordinated look among area offerings/activities. Special thanks to the peer facilitators who guided discussion and captured session comments.

Hats off to the Leadership Summit Signature Sponsors for their support—Aspen Chamber Resort Association (event at the Aspen Institute), Madden Media (reception/dinner) and TripAdvisor (luncheon).

DMO CEOs: Plan to attend the 2018 Leadership Summit, July 30 - August 1, 2018, in Washington, with Visit Walla Walla as the program host.