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Destination DC outlines Convention Sales and Services strategy, outlook for fiscal year 2016 and beyond

Destination DC’s Convention Sales and Services team has outlined strategies to continue attracting business to Washington, DC going into the new fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, 2015.  The team will focus on research, attracting international business and creating unified city site visits.  Between these refined tactics, $9.2 billion in physical developments underway in the city and DC’s numerous recent accolades, Destination DC is positioned to attract top meetings and conventions.

In fiscal year 2016, DC will host 15 citywide conventions (meetings totaling 2,500 room nights or more), totaling 388,615 room nights, with an estimated economic impact of $277.9 million. Highlights include the American Dental Association’s Annual Meeting (Nov. 5-10, 2015); U.S. Green Building Council Annual Green Building Conference & Expo (Nov. 18-20, 2015); American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (April 10-12, 2016); American Alliance of Museums Annual Convention (May 27-29, 2016); and Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference & Expo (June 19-22, 2016).  

Melissa Riley, vice president of convention sales and services, has outlined priorities to help her domestic and international teams secure business far beyond 2016. “Seamless site visits are one of my top initiatives,” said Riley. “We will work with partners including Events DC, hotels, restaurants and destination management companies to ensure everything from the prospect’s arrival at the airport to dining experiences are unparalleled.”  

This approach has recently helped secure the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development annual meeting in 2021 and 2024. “People are still talking about the display that had our ‘Learn, Teach, Lead’ mission on it,” said Rob Webb, CMP, MBA, director of meetings & travel services for ASCD. “The attention to detail showed DC’s commitment to success and we are thrilled to host our meeting there.”  

“I’ve charged Melissa with continuing to expand our international business and developing innovative ways to reach new customers,” said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Her leadership will help us continue to win clients in international and luxury markets.”  

Riley will implement a detailed research strategy that targets specific industries to highlight DC’s benefits. The research will give specific customer intelligence in order to better target niche markets, such as those in the pharmaceutical space. The forward-thinking research is the first time Destination DC will utilize detailed intelligence to make its business pitches more attractive. Luxe DC (luxe-dc.com) is another offering from Destination DC that features luxury and one-of-a-kind experiences in the city and is meant to attract the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions market.  

The international sales team is expanding its DC Ambassador Circle, which utilizes respected third parties to help bid on international business in their respective fields. This approach has helped secure business such as the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) annual meeting in 2017. A member of the Ambassador Circle, Dr. Jeffrey Dome with Children’s National Medical Center, was instrumental in helping decision makers select the nation’s capital. “Washington is a phenomenal place to hold the SIOP Congress based on its accessibility to the international community, rich cultural offerings, abundance of meeting facilities and outstanding regional scientific community,” he said.  

Other wins from this year include the International Astronautical Congress for 2019 and the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in 2021. These two conventions will bring an estimated $17 million of economic impact to the city.  

In 2014, Destination DC had a record 20.2 million visitors: 18.34 domestic and 1.9 million overseas, generating $6.8 billion in visitor spending. Overseas visitation was up 16%, DC’s largest increase. Business travelers make up 43% of domestic arrivals and account for 62% of spending.  

The city is being revitalized with $9.2 billion in physical developments. New and refreshed hotel, attraction and transportation inventory are significant draws for meetings and conventions. There are 2,004 hotel rooms coming online through the rest of the year and in 2016, and inventory will include the refreshed Watergate Hotel and the Trump Hotel at The Old Post Office. Washington, DC was recently ranked #6 on Cvent’s list of the top 50 cities for meetings and events in the US in 2015, and was named the world’s “top city in to visit in 2015” by Lonely Planet.  

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