Visit Mesa Awarded Best Idea Program by DMA West
This year’s Best Idea Program awards were presented during the 2021 DMA West Education Summit, September 29 to October 1, 2021, in Vancouver, Washington.
October 6, 2021
Western DMOs Take Top Honors Among Peers
Best Idea Program Achievement Awards
DMA West congratulates the following member DMOs ─ Visit Mesa, Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, Visit Tri-Cities, and Visit Vancouver USA ─ for receiving outstanding achievement awards for their organizations in the 2021 DMA West Best Idea Program.
Visit Mesa (Arizona)
Project Title: Mesa, Arizona Named Country's First Autism Certified City
Visit Mesa embarked on a year-long quest to tailor travel experiences for individuals with autism that led to a major declaration in November 2019. At the start of this journey, Visit Mesa became the country’s first-ever destination marketing organization designated as a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This distinction is a result of the organization’s staff and governing board of directors completing hundreds of hours of specialized training to help families and individuals with special needs prepare for their perfect vacation. Upon the heels of that achievement (earned in March 2019), Visit Mesa championed Arizona’s third-largest city to become America's First-Ever Autism Certified City. That was achieved November 18, 2019, and marked the beginning of a new movement centered on inclusion that continues to this day. Visit Mesa’s staff are all Certified Autism Travel Professionals. By gaining recognition as the first Autism Certified City, Visit Mesa could tap into a market with 32 million annual travelers who spend more than $262 billion on autism-related services in the U.S. each year. What began as a localized hospitality campaign quickly evolved into a community-wide initiative as public (Mesa Police, Fire and Parks) and private agencies embraced the efforts of Visit Mesa and united with them to become autism-certified. Mesa hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues participated in specialized autism training geared toward executives and front-facing hospitality service staff to better recognize autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and service the needs of ASD travelers from the planning stages of a vacation to when they arrive in the destination,
and throughout their stay. Visit Mesa’s strategy to target the family travel market as well as older ASD travelers to consider visitation to Mesa, Arizona, included research and development, video production, the development of planning tools both print and digital, an online website, community engagement and advocacy, and the execution of a robust ad campaign and public relations support.
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The Destination Marketing Association of the West (DMA West) is a regional professional association serving more than 150 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in the West.
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