100 Years of Advancing Destinations

DMAI Honors Inaugural Destination Marketing Hall of Fame Inductees

Monday, July 21, 2014

As Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) celebrates 100 years of advancing destinations, the organization is honoring the individuals who paved the way for the industry with the inaugural destination marketing Hall of Fame Awards. The award was created to honor individuals who have changed the future of destination marketing for the better, made significant contributions to the advancement of the industry and shaped travel marketing. 

“DMAI as an organization recognized the importance of leadership in our industry to sustain our 100 year history and grow destination marketing into the multibillion dollar industry that it is today,” said Michael Gehrisch, President and CEO of DMAI. “Our goal is to shine a spotlight on these pioneers, champions and influencers, and allow our members around the globe an opportunity to get to know them and their works.”

The Hall of Fame Award is open to any member of the DMO industry who has demonstrated a significant and long term contribution to their field.  Six destination marketing leaders were selected for the inaugural class of inductees.

2014 Hall of Fame Inductees

Milton J. Carmichael
President/CEO/Founder, Detroit Convention and Tourists' Bureau

Milton J. Carmichael, secretary of the Detroit Convention and Tourists’ Bureau, conceived of and organized the first destination marketing organization. For his groundbreaking work in advocating the congregation of businessmen to market cities and locales as destinations for travel, Carmichael is often viewed as the pioneer in the destination marketing industry.

Leonard E. Rolston
President, Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

Named President of the Greater Houston CVB in 1977, with over 20 years of experience in destination marketing and conventions business in Detroit, Rolston staunchly supported the city during its roller coaster journey through the oil boom and bust of the 1970s to 1980s. Recognized for his high ideals of service and business ethics, he was known for his leadership in improving convention exposition labor relations by negotiating a labor agreement which became a model for the industry.

Peggy Flower
Executive Director of Convention Sales, Greater Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Peggy Flower was a pioneer in the destination marketing industry with her unique approach and character. As one of the key figures in the establishment of the Greater Omaha CVB, Peggy was instrumental in bringing the concept of destination marketing to a city that had until the early 1980s relied solely on its Chamber of Commerce to market the city’s charm and attractions. As the first female board member in DMAI’s history, Flower not only opened doors for women in what had been a man's world, but did it with dignity and passion. 

George D. Kirkland, CAE
Former President, Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau

George D. Kirkland’s service to the travel and hospitality industry is considered legendary. Kirkland left behind a grand legacy, changing Los Angeles into international gateway city for travel and tourism, and the nation's second most popular visitor destination. Kirkland was also a great educator and gave himself generously to the mission of mentoring and encouraging young people to enter into the industry that he so loved.

Rossi Ralenkotter
President/CEO, Las Vagas Convention and Visitors Authority

As President/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), Rossi Ralenkotter truly represents the definition of a destination marketing "lifer." Under his leadership, the LVCVA successfully launched “Vegas Stories,” the most successful branding campaign in tourism history. The campaign is best known for its oft-repeated tagline, “What happens here, stays here.™” As President/CEO of the LVCVA, Mr. Ralenkotter has embarked on a new three-year vision plan to lead the destination through unprecedented economic times.

Gary Grimmer
CEO, Gaining Edge

Gary Grimmer has 30 years’ experience in the convention industry around the world, from Houston and Vancouver to Johannesburg to Tokyo. He has been involved in the establishment of convention bureaus in Serbia, South Africa and Malaysia and provided guidance on the development of their convention and meetings industries.  Grimmer is a former Chairman of the Board of the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus (now DMAI) and former Chairman of the Business Events Council of Australia.