2021 January Featured Destination of the Month: Development Counsellors Int.

Development Counsellors International (DCI) is the leader in travel marketing and economic development marketing, increasing visitors and business inquiries for destinations around the globe.

What is your organization most known for?

Development Counsellors International is a specialist in marketing places – that’s all we do. We are hyper-focused on increasing North American visitor arrivals, spending and dispersal throughout the destinations with whom we partner. Our team is passionate about our calling to leverage tourism as a force for good, creating living-wage jobs and improving the quality of life for people around the world. Since 1960, we have worked with more than 500 travel destinations around the globe.

During this time, how can we enjoy the destinations that you represent?

At DCI, we understand how important safety is when it comes to travelling – now more than ever. In every one of our client destinations we seek out the best experiences that allow travelers to remain socially distanced, focusing on showcasing these experiences to prospective travelers through editorial coverage. We believe that vacations can still be rewarding despite a shifting landscape and we pride ourselves on helping travelers find the experiences that allow them to decompress and reconnect with those they love.

What hidden gem should not be missed when visiting a DCI destination?

We understand that its difficult to travel abroad right now, so I want to take the time to talk about traveling in the U.S. or Canada – which ever market you call home. One of the most enriching parts of domestic travel is satisfying our cultural curiosity. Even if it’s logistically impossible to travel abroad right now given closed borders, you can still learn about different cultures that are flourishing right here in the U.S. and Canada. Chickasaw Country in Oklahoma offers a wealth of opportunities for eager travelers to learn about First American heritage, and tours like the Five Tribes Experience are an excellent way to do so. There are also modern cultural contributions worth discovering, like the Art of Black in Miami, an immersive experience centered around Black artists and their influential role in enriching the city. You don’t need to use your passport to still advance your worldview and learn to appreciate the contributions of BIPOC communities in curating the culture of the nations we call home.

What’s one feature that can’t be missed when visiting your website?

If you’re a destination public relations professional, you should definitely visit the blog on our website at aboutdci.com. We go in-depth on a variety of destination public relations topics – ranging from how to work with cultural institutions to keep your destination top of mind when travel is difficult, how to cultivate relationships with influencers and work with them during the pandemic to promote your destination, how to safely court “snowbirds” during this pandemic, and what to expect from Canadian travelers when the borders open.

Journalists too will find helpful profiles of travel editors and what they are seeking in terms of content and pitches for the outlets they oversee. You’ll also find a variety of research which can provide perspective and statistics that can inform your own editorial.

How did you hear about NATJA, why did you join?

In this industry, relationships are key. While hosting a press trip in the late 90s, I met Bob and the late Sandy Nesoff. Later I worked with Jeffrey Lehmann on half a dozen Weekend Explorer shows that spanned the globe. They convinced me to look further into NATJA, and I found that it offered great opportunities to meet with journalists in the annual media marketplace. I make the initial connection with a journalist at the marketplace and then dive deeper into a formal relationship over meals, professional development sessions and activities during the annual conference.

Is there anything else you feel travel media should know about your organization?

DCI has a long history representing many destinations. Over time we have developed an ability to serve as an essential resource providing examples for developing stories, connections with spokespersons to interview, and helpful statistics on traveler and meeting planner preferences. Please connect with me to learn more at karyl.barnes@aboutdci.com.

Karyl Leigh Barnes is the President of Development Counsellors International. In the last 20 years she has worked with destinations on every continent to help tell their stories and welcome visitors. She is inspired by the opportunity to leverage travel as a source for good – helping improve the quality of life for those who live in the communities with which she works.

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