past Talks

2019 Destinations International Annual Convention

St. Louis MO United States
23 - 25

As the premier event for destination professionals, Destinations International's 2019 Annual Convention provided a unique opportunity for destination organizations to connect with and learn from peers and thought leaders from inside and outside the industry.

All programming for the convention was held at America's Convention Center Complex in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

Below is an overview of each of the Brand USA-led sessions:

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Basics of International Marketing
Moderator: Maria Sheetz, Brand USA’s Senior Director, Partner Engagement

International visitation provides great benefits to U.S. destinations. Small DMOs can face challenges related to reaching an international audience. Gain pointers to help you get started from experts in the field and learn best practices, including market identification and how a nongateway destination can maximize its opportunities.


  • Jennifer Case – Director of Marketing & Creative, TraverseCity Tourism
  • Anne Taber Klenke, CTIS – Tourism Director, Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Mitch Whitten – Executive Vice President for Marketing & Strategy, Visit Fort Worth


The Science of Storytelling
Moderator: Jesselle Macatiag, Brand USA’s Director, Emerging Platforms & Audience Development

Digital video viewing is one of the top digital activities worldwide and it continues to grow at a rapid pace. Video does what text can’t – it creates immediate, real, and authentic interest and engagement with consumers. Learn from topic experts about the importance of video as a marketing channel, how to build videos for attention, and tips on how to produce engaging videos to inspire and activate travelers. 


  • Amrita Gurney – Vice President of Marketing, CrowdRiff
  • Gabe Saglie – Anchor/Producer, Travelzoo


Navigating China: The Latest Insights & Trends
Moderator: Jackie Ennis, Brand USA’s Senior Director, Global Trade Development

China is the largest and fastest growing economy in the world and the largest outbound travel market in the world, with 150 million outbound travelers in 2018. Our expert panel will provide a current market overview and latest insights and highlight digital and travel trade strategies that have proved effective in navigating China’s ever-changing travel landscape.


  • Marcus Carney – Tourism Manager, Visit Seattle
  • Devon Dow – Director of Global Strategy, Mailman Group


Thursday, July 25
Destination Resiliency: Reaction, Response, and Rebirth in the Face of Adversity
Moderator: Anne Madison, Brand USA’s Chief Strategy & Communications Officer

Responding to natural disasters and crises requires more than establishing a command center and issuing press releases. Join Brand USA's Anne Madison as she leads our expert panelists from Discover Puerto Rico and Visit Sarasota through a review of three unique, case studies and discuss best practices and key actions everyone should implement across three different stages of recovery and rebirth.


  • Leah Chandler, CDME – Chief Marketing Officer, Discover Puerto Rico
  • Virginia Haley, CDME – President, Visit Sarasota


International Marketing: Emerging Markets
Moderator: Karyn Gruenberg, Brand USA’s Senior Vice President, Partner Marketing & Strategic Alliances

Does your DMO have established direct-to-consumer marketing efforts? Interested in expanding your international audience? Gain insights into emerging markets like fast-growing India. And, learn about travel industry trends, the media landscape and opportunities to reach international travelers through Brand USA media and marketing programs.


  • Brandon Barnes – Director of International Tourism Sales, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Greg Eckhart – Director, Global Sales, Travel Oregon
  • Jeff Morris – Chief Marketing Officer, Visit West Hollywood