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DMAI Sees ‘Good Taste’ as a Necessary Ingredient for Trade Shows


Washington, DC – The idea that running a trade show is something of an art form has been apparently taken to heart by the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), which gives the visual and culinary arts a prominent role in its centennial meetings slate.

The upcoming DMAI 2014 Annual Meeting this Summer marks the 100th year of DMAI. It includes a speaking agenda topped by a filmmaker, the creative director of Cirque du Soleil and even a graffiti artist, all of whom will explore the notion of a trade show being as pleasing to the eye and taste buds as it is to the ROI.

“We have long recognized that destination marketing is a serious engine for job creation and economic growth through travel and tourism,” said DMAI President & CEO Michael Gehrisch. “We equally recognize the current challenging environment for destination marketing executives.”

Like show organizers, the destination-marketing community is well aware that showing attendees a good time is an important ingredient in the success of an exhibition. Long lines, uninspired food and downtown streets being rolled up at sundown are no longer acceptable to attendees, nor to meeting planners.

But the promise of a memorable experience and all-around good time helps convince attendees to commit to a trade show and can keep the buzz about a show and the host city humming.


Earlier this year, the agenda at DMAI Destination Week in Washington took a serious look at the role that top-notch food plays in turning a city into a top host for out-of-town and international attendees. The star of the conference in February was Capricia Penavic Marshall, former chief of protocol for the Obama White House. She talked about the payoff of a fine banquet in both her keynote and while moderating a panel of top chefs from the James Beard Foundation.

“Food is such an indelible aspect of our American culture,” Marshall told Trade Show Executive. Turning a trade show luncheon or reception into a work of art is one way of making a trade show a memorable experience for visitors. Marshall said the idea was taken to heart by Destination Week attendees. “It was humbling to hear from participants about how they present the best of the best to their visitors from all over the world,” she said. “That exchange of ideas is the very foundation of Destination Week.” Marshall also talked about how the State Department used “smart power” to enhance diplomatic efforts through meetings and events, and build bonds between people and cultures.


And the DMAI Annual Meeting – which will no doubt have a great menu – shifts from the taste buds to the visual July 21-23 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The theme of the conference is “Celebrating the Journey, Advancing Destinations,” and will look beyond the basics of hotel inventory and union rules in the marketing of host cities.

The speakers will include:

  • Bryan Smith, an award-winning filmmaker who specializes in travel segments that bring out the best in a destination.
  • Welby Altidore, director of creation for Cirque du Soleil, who knows a thing or two about the visual palate.
  • Eric Wahl, a graffiti artist nicknamed the “Picasso of Productivity” and “Renoir of ROI,” who uses spray-painted creations to encourage innovation and top-notch performances within organizations.

The 99th DMAI Annual Meeting in Orlando last year drew a record crowd of more than 1,300. This year’s gathering promises to attract a similar crowd of destination marketing executives who can help turn trade shows in their respective cities into must-attend masterpieces.

Reach DMAI’s Monique Gilliam for registration at (202) 835-4083 or

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