Tourism Academy 2024 Highlights

Reflect on the inspirational sessions, immersive destination experiences, and exciting networking opportunities from Tourism Academy 2024.

We packed 4 days of education, training, networking, and inspiration into this year’s Tourism Academy. Thank you to all the attendees, speakers, sponsors, and partners whose knowledge and experience culminated in, what we think, was the best Tourism Academy ever!

A special thanks to the team at Visit Detroit, who not only welcomed everyone with open arms but collaborated with Tempest to share the best of their city to our conference attendees. Like Stan Smith, Senior Marketing Director of Visit Detroit told us if you "come with an open mind and an open heart, Detroit will fill it up" — and that it certainly did.

Now that we’ve had time to take back all our gained knowledge and process it a bit, let’s revisit some of the highlights from Detroit.


Walking/ Bus Tour

We had an amazing time on the Detroit Then and Now City Overview Tour, which gave us a unique look at how the city is evolving. We saw the exteriors of iconic landmarks like the Michigan Central Station, Comerica Park, Campus Martius Park, and Motown Museum. We stepped inside of the Fisher Building and were blown away by the beautiful details of the art deco interiors and opulent decorations. The tour guide also gave us a look into Detroit’s French history and the origins of the city’s urban planning and layout.

Advisory Board Meetings

We kicked off the conference strong and gathered some industry veteran’s together for some pre-conference brainstorming. The groups were able to share insights, challenges, and best practices from each of their respective DMO’s and use that information to collaborate solutions and dream up visions for the future of tourism.

Networking Happy Hour

Conference attendees took a short walk from our host hotel and headed to Union Assembly, a beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant overlooking Comerica Park, Detroit’s Baseball field. The night was spent mingling and meeting new conference attendees while catching up with familiar faces. Union Assembly is adjacent to Mom’s Spaghetti, Eminem’s restaurant and storefront so we were able to grab some souvenirs before the night was over.


Morning Fun Run w/ WeRun313

Led by members of the Tempest Team alongside WeRun313, the day began with a relaxed 2.5 mile run around the city allowing participants to experience Detroit's iconic landmarks, including the Detroit Tiger statue, the Fist monument, and the Spirit of Detroit, while learning about local events like the unique Detroit Free Press Marathon.

Opening Keynote from Alex Heimann

Tempest CEO Alex Heimann took the stage kicking off Tourism Academy 2024 with an engaging opening keynote, addressing current trends in the travel industry and the growing impact of artificial intelligence. He also highlighted key developments at Tempest, such as the acquisition of the Sports Tourism Index and Jupiter, offering a forward-looking perspective on the travel and tourism landscape.

Interactive Session

To break the ice, conference attendees participated in a lively networking game of “Get to Know the Other Pros.” that sparked engaging conversations. Swapping more than just stickers, the “pros” exchanged a wealth of knowledge and fresh perspectives from industry standards and marketing techniques to novel approaches for community engagement.

Keynote lunch with Jack Johnson

Destinations International Chief Advocacy Officer, Jack Johnson, introduced the group to the “Destination Effect” explaining the vital role destination marketing plays in community growth and economic development while inspiring the group to be the catalyst for change in their destinations.

Baseball Game at Comerica Park

The Detroit Tigers game against the Washington Nationals provided the perfect backdrop for networking and baseball excitement. As we cheered on the home team, we also forged valuable connections with fellow tourism professionals throughout the innings.


Keynote breakfast with Stan Smith, Visit Detroit

Following an early morning dance lesson led by Hustle & Line Dance Instructor Sheri Green, day two kicked off with Stan Smith from Visit Detroit. Smith tapped into the secrets of unforgettable destination branding, emphasizing how Detroit's successful approach blends compelling storytelling with a strong sense of community.

Keynote with Nicole Porter, U.S. Travel

During day two’s fireside chat, Nicole Porter, Vice President of Political Affairs at U.S. Travel, explored the latest travel industry trends, advocacy efforts to improve traveler experiences for upcoming major sporting events, and ways to get involved in shaping the future of travel.

Keynote with Josiah Brown, Famous Destination Marketing

Josiah Brown, aka the New York Sherpa, wrapped up the afternoon by sharing his expertise on attracting first-time visitors to destinations by leveraging impactful words, visuals, and stories that resonate with travelers, drawing from his extensive experience working with thousands of travelers annually through his mobile visitor center.

Closing Party at Saint Andrew’s Hall

The conference closed out in an electrifying concert at Saint Andrew's Hall where the Tempest house band, joined by a roster of talented guest performers lit up the stage. The energy was palpable as the stage was set for an epic Lip Sync Battle, a showdown that would ultimately be won by a passionate group of die-hard Swifties.


Breakout Sessions

On our final day of Tourism Academy we finished off strong with a series of educational workshops, trainings, and informative sessions. This year we had many memorable breakout sessions throughout the conference including:

  • An engaging whodunit-style presentation that entertained conference-goers while playfully investigating the culprit of a website's poor performance woes
  • Dynamic panel discussions with industry leaders, sharing insider tips on marketing mega-events like the NFL Draft, Eras Tour, and Solar Eclipse
  • Hands-on training sessions that equipped attendees with actionable strategies for CRM and website management

Tourism Academy 2024 set a new bar with our most dynamic and comprehensive conference to date. We were thrilled to offer an unprecedented number of sessions, spanning a diverse range of topics that sparked new ideas and fostered collaboration. For those who joined us, we hope you left feeling energized and inspired. And if you couldn't make it, we invite you to experience the magic firsthand at the next Tourism Academy.

The countdown to Tourism Academy 2025 has officially begun! We can't wait to welcome you next year for another unforgettable experience.

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