Melissa A. Riley

Travel And Tour World engages in a candid conversation with Melissa A. Riley, Senior Vice President, Convention Sales and Services, Destination DC to know more about the organisation’s commitment to expand its reach across North America and promote a positive impact through business events.

Travel And Tour World: What factors contributed to the decision to include Washington, DC as the 13th destination in the BestCities Global Alliance, and how do you see this benefiting the international network of business events destinations?

Melissa A. Riley: The decision to include Washington, DC as the 13th destination in the BestCities Global Alliance was driven by the alliance’s commitment to expanding its reach across North America and promoting a positive impact through business events. Washington, DC’s unique attributes as a connected hub with proximity to the 2.3 million-square-foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center, iconic attractions, an array of Michelin-starred restaurants, and diverse accommodation options make it an exceptional addition to the alliance. This expansion benefits the international network of business events destinations by offering planners the opportunity to leverage DC’s distinct offerings and create memorable experiences for delegates, contributing to the alliance’s mission of fostering impactful business events worldwide.


Travel And Tour World: The Walter E. Washington Convention Center is a significant asset in Washington, DC. Could you share some insights into how this convention centre enhances the city’s appeal for hosting business events and conventions?

Melissa A. Riley: The Walter E. Washington Convention Center stands as a pivotal asset in enhancing Washington, DC’s appeal for hosting business events and conventions. Its recent LEED Gold certification underscores its commitment to sustainability, from smart building design to eco-conscious practices like water efficiency, green-product procurement, and food waste management. The Center’s downtown location offers convenience, with hotels, transportation options, restaurants, and world-class museums and attractions all within easy walking distance.


Travel And Tour World: Washington, DC is known for its culinary scene, including 24 Michelin-starred restaurants. How do you believe this diverse dining experience enhances the overall experience for delegates attending business events in the city?

Melissa A. Riley: Washington, DC’s renowned culinary scene, featuring 24 Michelin-starred restaurants and a multitude of Bib Gourmand-designated establishments, significantly enriches the overall experience for delegates. Beyond the high-end dining options, the diverse range of affordable yet high-quality eateries ensures that every palate is catered to. Whether savoring local flavors at iconic spots like the 65-year-old Ben’s Chili Bowl or exploring the myriad of international cuisines available in neighborhoods throughout the city, delegates have the opportunity to embark on a gastronomic journey that complements their professional engagements.


Travel And Tour World: With 135 hotels and over 32,000 hotel rooms available, Washington, DC seems well-equipped for hosting various sizes of meetings and events. Could you elaborate on the range of accommodation options and their proximity to key business event venues?

Melissa A. Riley: Washington, DC boasts a diverse range of accommodations, catering to a wide spectrum of preferences and budgets. Visitors can choose from luxurious five-star hotels, charming boutique options, and value-oriented establishments. Accessibility to key business event venues is a significant advantage, with the Convention Center conveniently situated within reach of more than 40 hotels. What makes DC even more appealing is its neighborhood-centric approach, where various areas each have their distinct personality and charm. Whether it’s the historical allure of Georgetown, the vibrant atmosphere of the Wharf waterfront, or the artistic ambiance of Dupont Circle’s gallery scene, attendees have a plethora of options to explore, all within walking distance from their chosen accommodations.


Travel And Tour World: In terms of promoting a positive impact through business events, how do you envision Washington, DC contributing to this goal within the BestCities Global Alliance, and what unique features does the capital city bring to the table in this regard?

Melissa A. Riley: Washington, DC’s vision within the BestCities Global Alliance is to leverage our Connected Community to align with the BestCities Incredible Impact Award. We prioritize leaving a lasting local legacy through business events, a commitment that naturally aligns with the BestCities initiative. The unique features of our capital city, such as its historical significance, political influence, and cultural diversity, enable us to excel in this endeavor. These elements provide a distinctive backdrop for events that not only foster meaningful connections but also drive positive change and long-term impact on the local community.

Travel And Tour World: Share your message on World Tourism Day 2023.

Melissa A. Riley: Business events drive social and economic progress in our destinations and raise awareness about the impact of sustainability and cultural stewardship.



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