Destinations International to Honor Elliott Ferguson, Hall of Fame Inductees During 2021 Hybrid Conference

The Destination DC president and CEO is the recipient of the Destination Organization Leadership Award.

Elliott-Ferguson-Destinations-International
Destination DC president and CEO Elliott Ferguson. Photo Credit:Chris Ferenzi Photography (taken at The Hay-Adams hotel)

Destinations International will present its annual Destination Organization Leadership Award to Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC, and induct four CVB executives into the organization's Hall of Fame during its annual conference that will take place in Baltimore, July 13-15.

Ferguson, who has helmed Destination DC since 2009, currently serves as board chair of Tourism Diversity Matters, an organization focused on creating diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities at all levels of the industry's workforce. He is focused on pandemic strategic recovery with many organizations including Destination DC’s Recovery Advisory Committee, Connected DMV and the Downtown Recovery Work Group.

Ferguson previously served as national chair of U.S. Travel’s board; he is currently chair of the organization's compensation committee.

The four 2021 DI Hall of Fame inductees are Larry Alexander, former president and CEO of Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau; Deb Archer, CDME, former president and CEO of Destination Madison; Wayne Chappell, who formerly served as executive director of Visit Baltimore, president of Visit KC and COO and vice president of Visit Houston; and Marion Frances Szurek, the deceased former executive director of the San Angelo Convention & Visitors Bureau

"These industry leaders have made tremendous contributions to our sector," said Don Welsh, Destinations International’s president and CEO. "This very distinguished group has been responsible for the evolution of our industry and has had a profound impact on its healthy future."

The Destination Organization Leadership Award was launched in 2017 to recognize outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry and their communities. The Hall of Fame was created in 2014 to recognize CVB professionals who have changed the future of the industry for the better, made significant contributions to the advancement of the industry and shaped travel marketing and management.

New Annual Conference Format

The 2021 Destination International Annual Conference, where Ferguson and the Hall of Fame inductees will be honored, will be a hybrid event taking place at the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor and hosting both in-person and virtual attendees. 

The hybrid format is not the only change to DI's largest annual event. The 2021 conference won't have a trade show component, which was a long-time feature of the annual meeting. Instead, partners will have the opportunity to connect with convention and visitors bureaus in several new formats. Among them is the "Connections Lounge," where partners can hold in-person, appointment-based client meetings; virtual appointments also can be scheduled via the event's online platform.

Partners can also engage with their audience by showcasing their expertise. "Flashes of Brilliance" are 15-minute micro-education sessions held in an open-space foyer of the hotel, where suppliers can share ideas, mini case studies and tips. Another forum, "Ask the Experts," lets partners and attendees discuss challenges on issues including disruption and innovation; community-shared values and community alignment; destination stewardship and sustainability; stakeholder engagement; funding, governance and organizational structure, and equity, diversity and inclusion. These sessions will also take place in the hotel foyer.

According to Melissa Cherry, DI's COO, the decision to abandon the trade-show format was made prior to the pandemic. "They've become outdated; we want to promote more natural engagement between our partners and members."