Exclusive: Q&A with CSI DMC’s New President Hope Valentine

January 30, 2024

Destination and event management company CSI DMC, Inc. has appointed a new president. The company tapped 28-year events industry veteran Hope Valentine to take the helm after serving as an integral part of CSI DMC’s senior leadership team for 12 years, most recently as chief sales officer.

A Florida native based in the Greater Orlando area, Valentine has built a successful career developing and managing large, complex programs for FORTUNE 500 companies, including Ford, Procter & Gamble, CVS, Honda and Wells Fargo, in a variety of roles spanning proposal development, sales and event execution.

As the head of CSI DMC’s sales team, she was instrumental in its overall growth, including its expanded workforce and implementation of a more regional format that prioritizes location expertise and relationships, according to COO Tom Hubler.

“Hope has become one of our industry’s most proven successful entrepreneurs,” Hubler said. “She leads with a pure sense of confidence, sincere interest and care for our industry and our clients, and is aspirational to every employee’s personal career goals.”

CSI DMC serves more than 65 destinations annually, with regional offices in Arizona, Baltimore, Boston, California, Chicago, Colorado Springs, Denver, Las Vegas, Nashville, Newport, RI, Orlando and South Florida, Texas, Washington, D.C. and globally with CSI International.

Valentine expressed excitement for her new leadership role.

“Embracing the privilege and responsibility of leadership, I am honored to serve as the president of this incredible company,” Valentine said. “Together, we will chart new horizons, foster innovation and build a future where we nurture relationships and provide an exceptional client experience. Our journey is a collective endeavor, and I am excited to lead and collaborate with an exceptional team.”

She continued, “The past 28 years in this industry have provided me with many lessons, proud moments, an eye for detail, and most importantly, lifelong friendships. I look forward to embarking on this adventure together, driven by a shared vision and fueled by the passion to achieve greatness.”

Corporate Event News recently had a chance to sit down with Valentine to learn more about how her career path led her to the C-suite, and how meeting and event planners can maximize their relationships with DMCs to pull off exceptional event experiences.

What about your previous roles, including your most recent position as chief sales officer, prepared you for your new leadership position?

My experience has given me a dynamic viewpoint on the factors that drive company decisions, encompassing the intricate needs of not only stakeholders but also the individuals they unite. Although each company’s meeting and event objectives may vary, the ultimate driving forces are connection and purpose. These principles are central to how I approach my new role.

Having a profound understanding of the demanding needs within a DMC, and occupying various roles in such an environment, has equipped me to mentor, empathize with and motivate the CSI DMC Team over the past 12 years. I derive great satisfaction from helping young professionals grow and flourish in our industry.

What are your plans for CSI DMC in the coming year and what are you most excited about?

We are excited to kick off 2024 with growth objectives across the board. We are thrilled to continue to build and invest in our team, remain innovative and cutting-edge and embrace all the exciting technology that is defining our industry. Providing ideas and tools for sustainability for our clients is also high on the list. This is a very important initiative for our company and our industry.

For example, we recently signed an agreement with the Food Recovery Network and Trees for Travel. The goal is to provide clients with more sustainable event solutions, like donating unused food to charities locally after their events, and in the case of Trees4Travel, for those wishing to participate in carbon offsetting programs. It’s exciting for all of us to be part of this movement in our industry.

What are the biggest challenges facing the destination management industry at this time and how will you address them?

As someone who has been immersed in the destination management industry for 28 years, I’m keenly aware of the challenges we face as an industry. One of the biggest trends that we are addressing is the integration of AI technology in event and experience planning. We recognize the potential benefits that different AI programs can provide while still maintaining the personal touch that sets us apart. To this end, we are committed to incorporating AI innovations to our programs to help provide our clients with personalized solutions.

Another challenge that we are addressing is the need to justify budget resourcing. We understand the importance of striking a balance between our clients’ needs and responsible financial management. We address this through transparent communication with our clients about budgeting and resourcing decisions. We also offer detailed justifications for our recommendations so they can be confident in their investments. By working collaboratively and fostering open communication, we can present creative solutions that align with our clients’ objectives and don’t sacrifice quality, while still being mindful of budgetary constraints.

We are also aware of workforce shortages affecting the hospitality industry. To address this issue, we are taking a strategic planning approach to ensure that we have the partnerships and resources necessary to meet our clients’ needs. As president, I’m also focused on investing in our employees and creating a positive work environment that attracts and retains top talent.

What are the best ways that event planners can maximize their relationships with DMCs in 2024?

Be honest and transparent about your clients’ needs and expectations – this will help your DMC partner understand exactly what you’re looking for and how they can best support you. Be open to feedback and willing to work collaboratively to develop creative solutions that meet your clients’ goals.

Rather than approaching your DMC as a vendor, strive to build a true partnership. Take the time to understand their capabilities and expertise and leverage those strengths to create the most impactful experiences for your clients. Be willing to share your own insights and expertise, so you can work together to achieve a shared vision.

Authenticity is key. By being true to yourself and your clients, and by approaching your relationships in a genuine way, you’ll build trust and respect that will carry over into every aspect of your work together. This will enable you and your DMC to deliver truly unique and memorable experiences that exceed your clients’ expectations and make a lasting impact.


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