Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), which represents CVBs (also referred to as destination marketing organizations, or DMOs) throughout the world, set records both in attendance and in the number of suppliers that participated in the organization’s 97th Annual Convention.
The event, held July 16-18 at the Washington State Convention Center, attracted approximately 1,300 attendees and 120 industry suppliers who came from as far as South Korea, Europe and Dubai.
“Our industry is back on the growth curve after being flat or down in most cases, and I think DMAI is a reflection of that, after being down,” said Kevin Kane, chair of the DMAI Board of Directors and president and CEO of the Memphis CVB.
Michael Gehrisch, president and CEO of DMAI, noted that the industry has recovered to pre-recession levels, which hit rock bottom in 2009 when occupancy taxes from hotels were at their lowest levels in recent history.
According to Gehrisch, 85 percent of DMAI’s members receive 75 percent of their revenue through occupancy taxes, which were down 16 percent at the height of the recession.
“This year we’re looking at a 5.5 percent increase,” he said, “which will bring us back to 2007 levels.”
DMAI also announced the results of a landmark study conducted in conjunction with Tourism Economics, which found that one in five group room nights in the U.S. were booked as the result of influence from a CVB.
Key findings of the study—which examined 100 DMAI CVB members representing a range of budget levels—include the following: in 2011, DMOs booked 37.5 million room nights for future events35.6 million group room nights occurred in 2011 as a result of DMO sales and marketing efforts; DMO’s new group room bookings grew 4.8 percent in 2011; In the 275 markets where DMOs are active in group sales, DMOs represented 19 percent, or one in five, of all group room demand in 2011.
Gehrisch also noted that a new source of funding, Tourism Improvement Districts (TIDs)—that are modeled after the Business Improvement District concept—are being formed throughout the country, with California and Michigan being early adopters. TIDs are approved by local voters and typically are funded through a $1 or $2 per night assessment on hotel rooms.
“In most cases the TID has increased the marketing budget 50 percent. We’re seeing this new funding mechanism as a leading indicator of things to come,” Gehrisch said.
Texas and Florida are currently considering the assessment, he added.