DMOU: Destination Marketing Organization University
Destination DC's Elliott Ferguson is Chair of the recently founded organization called Tourism Diversity Matters. On this episode of DMOU, he shares the vision for the organization, why (with everything else going on in DC the past year) he felt compelled to take on this role at this time and how DMOs can continue to up their game in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. It is about the uncomfortable conversation...one that Elliott encourages us all to have more often.
52: The Future of Diversity and Inclusion within DMOs with Elliott Ferguson
The Business of Meetings
We have the great pleasure of speaking to yet another icon in our industry today, Elliott Ferguson. He is the President and CEO of Destination DC and the current national chair of the board of directors of the U.S. Travel Association. In this episode, we will be talking about three main topics. We will discuss how DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) can help business owners navigate the current situation and what will come after the pandemic. We will also talk about diversity, equality, and inclusion and the leading role Elliott has taken in that area. Finally, we will look at Elliot’s role as the chair of U.S. Travel and what will be coming next for our industry. We hope you will enjoy our fascinating conversation with Elliott as much as we did! Elliott Ferguson’s bio Elliott Ferguson serves as President and CEO of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC. A 30-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, Ferguson leads Destination DC’s efforts to generate economic opportunity for the District through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organization’s convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance, and business development operations. Ferguson began his tenure with Destination DC in December 2001 as the Vice President of Convention Sales, became Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and Services in 2005, and has served as President and CEO since 2009. Before working at Destination DC, he served as Director of Sales and Vice President of Sales at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also served as Director of Sales at the Savannah CVB. Ferguson currently serves as National Chair of the board of directors for the U.S. Travel Association, where he guides the board and association’s efforts to advance policies that facilitate more international and domestic travel. He also serves on the board of directors for the following organizations: Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Zoo; DC Jazz Festival; Ryan Kerrigan “Blitz for the Better” Foundation and the United Way of the National Capital Area. He represents Destination DC as part of the Hospitality Alliance of Washington, D.C. Ferguson received a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Business Administration from Savannah State University. His many industry memberships include Professional Conference Management Association, International Association of Exhibition Executives, Destinations International, National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, Meeting Professionals International, and American Society of Association Executives. Ferguson and his wife, Telesa Via, a hospitality industry veteran, are longtime residents of Capitol Hill. He is active with Capital Partners for Education, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and Delta Sigma Pi. Joining the industry In the early 1990s, Elliott got an opportunity to work with the Savannah Economic Development Authority organization. The focus was on economic development and bringing business to Savannah and Georgia by way of industry relocating or expanding. The person running the Business Bureau was on the board of that organization, and he approached Elliott one day to offer him the opportunity to join the Business Bureau. Back then, there was not much diversity in the industry, and the board member of the Business Bureau liked what Elliott was doing and felt that he and Elliott would work well together. Being young and naïve at the time, Elliott avoided him for six months. Joining the organization After spending six months thinking about it, doing some research, and learning about what the organization did, Elliott joined the organization. Now, more than thirty years later, he is still doing that. Moving to Washington DC Elliott moved to Washington DC in December of 2001, just after 9/11. The last twelve months Having lived through 9/11, Elliott felt accustomed to things affecting business travel and tourism to Washington DC. Although the last twelve months have been the hardest to deal with, there is strength in numbers. After coming out of a state of denial and dealing with the shock of the reality of the situation, all Elliott’s peers around the country started talking about recovery, being more proactive, and looking towards the future. What Americans need to work on As Americans, we need to work on our tendency to believe that some things that affect the global community will never happen to us here, in America. The Da Vinci Code You can visit Washington DC, based on the book, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. There is a program that shows the different places from the book in Washington. There was also a tour that showed Washington through the eyes of those who followed the Dan Brown movies. Diversity, equality, and inclusion Elliot feels that things are improving slightly in terms of diversity, equality, and inclusion because when he entered the industry in 1992, there was only one black male who was the CEO of a DMO. The National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners Elliott was actively involved in the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners. He realized that there were opportunities and diversity at the lower level of the pyramid in our industry, but as you got further up the pyramid, there were fewer and fewer opportunities. Diversity and inclusion within DMOs In 2021, America is a nation with 600-700 DMOs, and less than ten of them are run by people of color and females. There are still many opportunities and enough time to look at that and dissect it through a different lens. A wake-up call Last year was a wake-up call for Elliott. He realized that COVID could happen in America, and he needed to do a lot more in terms of diversity and inclusion within the industry. Elliott Ferguson’s idea of doing better Doing better for Elliott Ferguson is not only about white people recognizing and understanding the plight of the black community. It is about understanding that there is something wrong with being one of only two black people walking into a room filled with white people in 2021. Also, when representing an industry that he loves and not seeing the diversity, seeing the opportunities to have conversations about that. Discrimination Most discrimination comes from ignorance. Seeing diversity in the future Because of the things they have seen and experienced, kids entering the workforce in the next few years will expect to see some diversity in the companies for which they work. If not, they won’t want to work for those companies. Those who want to believe that it is just a black problem, a Jewish problem, or a problem that does not affect them will be left behind. Diversity within companies Sometimes, people don’t even realize that the things they are saying are racist. So, people need to challenge themselves to be more purposeful with the conversations they have within their companies. They need to understand that those diverse companies are the most profitable and they are usually the places where the most people want to work. Elliott’s role is coming to an end In the next few weeks, Elliott’s role as the chair of U.S. Travel will end. He spent two years in that role, and it was an interesting time for him. Dealing with a pandemic As we continue to focus on stressors like Black Lives Matter, the change of administration, and homeschooling, we realize that we are dealing with a pandemic, and people will be losing their lives. Elliott appreciates the direction the Biden administration is taking in terms of prioritizing the focus on the pandemic. The focus of the U.S. Travel Association In the short-term, the U.S. Travel Association is focusing on domestic markets and on building relationships. Now, when there is no travel at all, people are paying attention to what is missing and how important the travel industry is. The new chair of the U.S. Travel Association The new chair of the U.S. Travel Association will be focusing on ensuring that the U.S. Travel Association is dealing with the priorities tied to recovery and getting back on track so that people can start traveling again. Something to be proud of The U.S. Travel Association has done two webinars with NDEI, focused on diversity from the standpoint of being black in America. There were more than two thousand people on each Zoom. Racism that Elliott Ferguson experienced at IMEX The U.S. Travel Association won two awards at IMEX. A few seconds after Elliott Ferguson got off the stage to accept the awards, someone came up to him and asked him to fill their glass of wine. Everyone was shocked! Although Elliott’s first inclination was to reassure everyone and make them feel okay, he felt deflated. Creating awareness After that incident, he decided that he would no longer focus on making other people feel comfortable in those situations. Going forward, he would rather prioritize helping people understand what is being referred to, in terms of marginalizing people because of the color of their skin. Leading the way Elliott feels that the hospitality industry should be leading the way in terms of understanding people’s cultural differences. Connect with Eric On LinkedIn On Facebook On Instagram On Website Connect with Elliot On LinkedIn On Website
261: Destination DC CEO Elliott Ferguson Recommends That Sales Professionals Implement These Steps to Bring Value to their Customers Right Now
Sales Game Changers | Tips from Successful Sales Leaders
Read the complete transcript on the Sales Game Changers Podcast website. Elliott Ferguson is the President and CEO of Destination DC. ELLIOTT'S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: "People can see when you're happy. I gave my entire team mirrors years ago and I said, "Every time you pick up the phone, I want you to look in the mirror and look at your facial expression. I want you to smile when you're talking to them and see whether or not they see a difference in how you're talking because that's how people perceive you, that's exactly what they hear and that's really important as we're looking at developing our brand - because each of us are a brand - as we're looking at moving forward and getting out of COVID."
Culture Shift: A New Vision for the Travel Industry with Elliott Ferguson
Thanks for joining us on Episode 7 with our guest Elliott Ferguson, President & CEO at Destination DC. The Traveling Podcast is hosted by Dan Sherman and Ryan Barth, CMP.In this episode we'll touch on the top stories in group business travel, live events and sports. In addition, Elliott will share how he got started in the destination marketing and tourism industry, his leadership approach at Destination DC and his vision for improving race, diversity and equality as american culture shifts beneath us. Elliott FergusonPresident & CEODestination DCLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elliott-ferguson-44ba97/ Bio: A 30-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, Elliott Ferguson serves as President and CEO of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC in addition to National Chair for US Travel Association Board of Directors. Ferguson leads Destination DC’s efforts to generate economic opportunity for the District through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organization’s convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance and business development operations.The Traveling Podcast is Presented by: HIP NetworkHIP Network is a B2B digital media company shaping the hospitality industry’s agenda with expertly curated content that fuels growth. To learn more, please visit www.HipNetwork.comSupport the show (http://www.hipnetwork.com/traveling-podcast)
Destination DC’s Elliott Ferguson on the Government Shutdown and D.C. Happenings
Meetings Today Podcast
Meetings Today’s Tyler Davidson talks with Destination DC chief Elliott Ferguson about the federal government shutdown and how Washington, D.C., is navigating it. They also discuss hot spots for planners and attendees to visit while in D.C. Read more insights from Ferguson and others regarding the shutdown here. Enjoying this episode? View more episodes of the Meetings Today Podcast!
Branding a City for Universal Appeal with Elliott Ferguson – ECEO025
In this episode, Rebecca Linder speaks with Elliott Ferguson, President & CEO of Destination DC. Elliott reveals what it takes to make your city attractive to potential visitors (and to “compete” with other U.S. cities), how Washington, D.C. will be affected by IPW, and the hard work it takes to connect planners of big events and conventions to local hotels and venues. Topics include: The role destination marketing organizations play in building commerce in a city How “DC Cool” has made the branding of Washington, D.C. sexy How planners can utilize destination marketing organizations to deliver a smooth event Giving travel agents a “Wow!” experience to share with their clients visiting the city Utilizing social media to include end-user participation in branding DC venues and sites mentioned in this episode: Convention Center Carnegie Library RFK Stadium Stadium-Armory National Mall Air and Space Museum Nats Park Ben’s Chili Bowl CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE < Back to Podcast Homepage Elliott Ferguson serves as President and CEO of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC. A 26-year veteran of the travel and hospitality industry, Ferguson leads Destination DC’s efforts to generate economic opportunity for the District through meetings and tourism, overseeing the organization’s convention and tourism sales, marketing, finance and business development operations. Ferguson began his tenure with Destination DC in 2001 as Senior Vice President of Convention Sales and Services and has served as President and CEO of Destination DC since 2009. Prior to working at Destination DC, he served as Vice President of Sales at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also served as Director of Sales for both the Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Ferguson received a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Business Administration from Savannah State University. His many memberships in the industry include the American Society of Association Executives, Professional Conference Management Association, International Association of Exhibition Executives and Destination Marketing Association International. Ferguson currently serves on the board of directors for the following organizations: U.S. Travel Association; Travel and Tourism Advisory Board; Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Zoo; DC Jazz Festival; Capital Partners for Education; and the Ryan Kerrigan “Blitz for the Better” Foundation. Ferguson also serves on the Hospitality Alliance of Washington, DC.