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CEO Michael Gehrisch Departs as DMAI Eyes Future Changes


Washington, DC – The Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) is now looking for a new leader as it continues with its ambitious plan to reshape and refocus the entire destination marketing business.

Michael Gehrisch is leaving the association after 15 years as president and CEO. The announcement came about one month before a previously scheduled strategy session for DMAI board members and the trustees of the Destination & Travel Foundation.

“We are thankful and appreciative of the leadership and contributions that Michael made during his tenure that have made a positive impact on the growth and respect for the destination marketing industry internationally,” said Bob Lander, chairman of the DMAI Board of Directors and president and CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lander said there would be no immediate changes in the DMAI’s meeting schedule or programming. Chief Operating Officer Charles Jeffers will steer the day-to-day operations of the association until a new CEO is selected.

Gehrisch said the time was right to step down and that he would consult with the DMAI during the leadership transition. “Fifteen years with in one organization is long enough for any association executive,” he said.

Gehrisch joined DMAI in 2000 when it was known as the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (IACVB). He led a repositioning that included changing the name to DMAI, and creating the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program. The association currently has more than 600 member destination marketing organizations (DMO) in the U.S. and worldwide.

The DMAI last year launched another drive to update and reposition itself, known as the DestinationNEXT. The primary goal is to redefining the role of DMOs with an emphasis on collecting data and establishing best practices that can be used by DMOs of any size.

The second phase of DestinationNEXT, which was unveiled at the DMAI’s Annual Convention this Summer, will build on the research carried out during Phase 1 to create a series of case studies and an online took kit for use by member DMOs.

Lander said the October strategy session in Dallas would help set the parameters for the CEO search and any course changes that the new leader would be making. “Times of transition provide an opportunity to redefine an organization and create a new way forward,” he said.

Reach Bob Lander at (512) 228-4354 or

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