Corporate Event News Briefs: Destinations International, Connect, MGM Resorts International and More Forge Strategic Partnerships

April 9, 2024

Three travel, tourism and event organizations and two leading hospitality companies recently announced strategic alliances and partnerships to benefit their members and audiences. Take a look!

Destinations International Forms New Partnerships

Destinations International (DI), a leading resource for destination organizations, has been establishing collaborative relationships with event and tourism organizations to spearhead business development efforts for its members.


The organization recently formed a multi-year partnership with Connect, a leading business-to-business events company for meetings, travel and sports professionals. The alliance reaffirms Connect’s ongoing commitment to assisting DMOs in attracting valuable group, business and leisure travel through its various platforms and verticals, according to Matt Johnson, managing director of Connect, which recently joined Informa Connect, Informa’s portfolio of events.

“This partnership is the first of several steps Connect plans to better re-engage with destinations, which are the core of all of the company’s verticals,” Johnson said. “At the root of any great meeting, event and sports or travel experience is a host that rolls out the red carpet for its guests.”

Connect Marketplace 2023
Connect's ever-popular one-on-one appointments at Connect Marketplace 2023 in Minneapolis Aug. 22-24.

He continued, “Connect’s job is to put the right people in front of each other to develop business that drives tourism growth while ensuring attendees and travelers build memories of a lifetime. Working hand-in-hand with Destinations International is the best possible way to deliver win-win propositions.”

As a Premier Partner of Destinations International in 2024, Connect will be an active participant at several DI conferences, while DI will contribute to education geared toward DMO professionals at Connect Marketplace, set for Aug. 27-29 in Milwaukee, Wis.

DI President and CEO Don Welsh expressed enthusiasm about re-engaging with Connect under its new leadership and joining forces to innovate and enhance the industry.

“This collaboration marks a promising new chapter for us all, and we can’t wait to see where it leads,” Welsh said.

Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

Earlier this month, DI also announced it has partnered with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC), a national non-profit Indigenous tourism industry organization established in 2015 to grow and promote the Indigenous tourism industry across the country.

Formed to deepen the understanding and appreciation of Indigenous tourism through education, fostering authentic engagement and promoting The Original Original mark of excellence, the new collaboration is a step toward empowering destinations to engage authentically with Indigenous tourism business owners, thus benefiting both visitors and Indigenous communities, according to DI and ITAC officials.

“Through our partnership with Destinations International, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous tourism and its cultural significance within the global travel industry,” explained Keith Henry, ITAC president and CEO. “Through education and raising awareness of The Original Original mark of excellence, we empower destinations to authentically engage with Indigenous tourism business owners, thereby enriching the travel experience for visitors while promoting economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples.”

Don Welsh & Keith Henry
DI CEO Don Welsh and ITAC CEO Keith Henry at DI’s recent CEO Summit in Boston following the partnership announcement.

He added, “Destinations International’s strategic priorities for destination organizations in 2024 align with ITAC’s vision to help make Canada become the global leader in Indigenous tourism by 2030.”

Sophia Hyder Hock, DI’s chief inclusion officer, emphasized the association’s ongoing initiatives to promote genuine appreciation over appropriation and to amplify Indigenous voices in tourism.

“Our partnership with ITAC aligns perfectly with these efforts, further enabling us to support our members in making meaningful contributions to cultural preservation and understanding,” she said.

According to Welsh, the partnership signifies a milestone in DI’s journey toward fostering a more inclusive and diverse tourism industry.

“By prioritizing Indigenous-led storytelling and education on The Original Original mark, we underscore our commitment to responsible and respectful destination management,” he said.

The collaboration will also feature a joint research project with destination organizations to explore best practices in Indigenous tourism to set a precedent for how destinations across the world can engage with and support Indigenous-led tourism initiatives.

MGM Resorts and Marriott Unveil MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott International and MGM Resorts International recently developed an exclusive long-term strategic partnership and launched MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy, which encompasses 16 of MGM Resorts’ resort destination properties.

Under this new licensing agreement, Marriott Bonvoy members can earn and redeem points at more than 40,000 rooms in Las Vegas, including some of the most popular resorts on The Strip, as well as a handful of MGM properties in other U.S. cities, including:

  • New York-New York Hotel & Casino, MGM Collection   
  • MGM Grand Hotel & Casino 
  • Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, MGM Collection         
  • Vdara Hotel & Spa, MGM Collection  
  • The Signature at MGM Grand 
  • Luxor Hotel & Casino, MGM Collection  
  • Excalibur Hotel & Casino, MGM Collection  
  • Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, MGM Collection (Atlantic City, NJ) 
  • Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, MGM Collection (Biloxi, Miss.) 
  • MGM Grand Detroit (Detroit, Mich.) 
  • MGM National Harbor (Oxon Hill, MD) 
  • MGM Springfield (Springfield, Mass.)  

Of the 16 MGM resorts comprising MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy, four of the properties are also affiliated with existing Marriott collection brands:  

  • Bellagio, a Luxury Collection Resort & Casino, Las Vegas  
  • ARIA Resort & Casino, Autograph Collection  
  • Park MGM Las Vegas, a Tribute Portfolio Resort 
  • The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection  
MGM Grand Las Vegas
MGM Grand Las Vegas

Now accepting reservations on and the Marriott Bonvoy app, MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy also offers Marriott Bonvoy Moments inspired by MGM Collection, a suite of exclusive event and entertainment opportunities that Marriott Bonvoy members can redeem with points earned through stays and activities.

Currently, Marriott Bonvoy Moments packages include the chance to choreograph the iconic Bellagio Fountain Show; enjoy an exclusive golf weekend at Shadow Creek, one of the country’s most exclusive golf courses; and immerse oneself in a behind-the-scenes experience of four of Cirque du Soleil’s most awe-inspiring shows, including KÀ, Michael Jackson ONE, Mad Apple and “O.”

“Travelers are seeking larger-than-life moments that speak to their passions and the destinations they love, and this guides our approach to orchestrating the guest and Marriott Bonvoy member experience at MGM Collection properties,” said Peggy Roe, Marriott International executive vice president and chief customer officer.

She continued, “MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy is the fusion of two experiential giants in MGM Resorts and Marriott International that will provide epic and extraordinary moments for our guests – through world-class acts, impeccable service and endless opportunities to indulge – as delivered by some of the most recognizable resorts in Las Vegas and the United States.” 

Members of MGM Resorts’ award-winning loyalty program, MGM Rewards, are also eligible to link accounts with Marriott Bonvoy to directly Tier Match and receive member benefits.  

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