by Alex Palmer | February 12, 2018
Outstanding events, innovative destination management, and dedicated service were recognized at this year's Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) Achievement Awards Gala. Held in the grand ballroom of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, the ceremony capped off the three-day 2018 Annual Conference on a celebratory note. 
At the 1920s-themed gathering, destination management companies from around the world were recognized for their outstanding programs, in categories ranging from Excellence in Cultural and Traditional Integration to Best Teambuilding Program.

Perhaps the most emotional moment came during the Distinguished Service Award, given to ADMEI Executive Vice President Fran Rickenbach, CAE, IOM, and president of Management Excellence, Inc., who is stepping down this year after serving in this role for 14 years. To honor her work, helping to guide the organization as it formalized its certification and accreditation program and expanded beyond the U.S. (adding "International" to its name in 2012), all ADMEI current and past board presidents who were in attendance -- 10 in all -- took to the stage to each offer a personal tribute to Rickenbach and her work. 

The organization also honored Susan Gray, DMCP, past president of ADMEI and member of its Certification and Accreditation board, with the Hall of Fame/Lifetime Achievement Award for her years of service to the organization.

Daniel Ecklund, DMCP, account executive of Hosts Chicago, was awarded the Joanne O'Connor President's Award, while Michelle Harding Lorber, senior sales manager at AlliedPRA Atlanta, received the Destination Management Rising Star Award. Destination Mangement Professional of the Year went to Shannon Gardner, DMCP, of Accent Indy, a DMC Network Company.

The full list of winners is:

EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Excellence in Cultural and Tradition Integration
International Truffle Exhibition AXA 2016, +39 Italy, Milano, Italy

Excellence in Entertainment Production
Play Like A Kid - Party Like An Adult - Welcome to Camp Ignite, Destination South Meetings + Events, A DMC Network Company, Atlanta, GA

Excellence in Event Décor/Design
Boundary Ranch Rodeo, Pacific Destination Services Inc., Vancouver, BC Canada

Excellence in Incentive Travel Programming or Service
Taste of Austin - Incentive Awards Trip, Red Velvet Events, a Global DMC Partner, Austin, TX

Excellence in Meeting Services
VF Corp, Corinthian Events, a Global DMC Partner, Boston, MA

Excellence in Risk & Crisis Management
IPW Opening Night Event, Hello! Washington DC Destination Management, Washington, DC

Excellence in Site Inspection
Take it Off "site", Juice Studios, a Hosts Global Member, Atlanta, GA

Excellence in Sustainable Initiatives
Rooted in Thirty Years, Destination Nashville, a Global DMC Partner, Nashville, TN

Excellence in Technical Production
A Perfect Day in Hawaii, AlliedPRA Hawaii, Honolulu, HI

Excellence in Technology Integration
Dining Innovation at The Phoenician, Hello! Arizona Destination Management, Scottsdale, AZ


BEST INNOVATIVE EVENTS

Best Innovative Event Under $50,000
Candy Land in the Cafeteria, AlliedPRA New England, Boston, MA

Best Innovative Event $50,001 - $100,000
Wimblepong!, 360 Destination Group, Chicago, IL

Best Innovative Event $100,001 - $200,000
Bathing Man Event, Destination Tahoe Meetings & Events, a DMC Network Company, Stateline, NV

Best Innovative Event $200,001 - $500,000
Safari Soiree at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Hosts DC, a Hosts Global Member, Washington, DC

Best Innovative Event $500,001 and up
Dine on the Nine - Tunnel 9 Welcome Reception, Pacific Destination Services Inc., Vancouver, BC Canada

Best Transportation Logistics
The Hybrid of NOLA Parades, BBC Destination Management, a Global DMC Partner, New Orleans, LA


BEST CREATIVE EVENTS

Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program
Circle of Excellence 2016 - GIG Rome, +39 Italy, Milano, Italy

Best Destination Marketing
20 Years of Russian Magic, Russkie Prostori, Petersburg, Russia

Best Public Event
NORTHSIDE, Red Velvet Events, a Global DMC Partner, Austin, TX

Best Recreational Activity
A Day On the Ranch, Red Velvet Events, a Global DMC Partner, Austin, TX

Best Teambuilding Activity
Teambuilding with Sponsors, Stations & Sweets!, Mosaix Group, Asheville, NC

Best Tour Program
2017 San Gabriel Valley YPO 49'er Group: Couples Retreat, AlliedPRA Chicago, Chicago, IL

Best Overall Program
Platinum Conference, AlliedPRA Hawaii, Honolulu, HI