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Phil Craig

19554125_10209337379055719_2689755592424383821_nHe was the man who said, "You gotta be there before you gotta be there." It's one of a shortlist of quotes I share with virtually every client and audience with whom I work. And, in this era of the increasing devaluation of Destination Marketing by governments across the country, his words ring truer today than when he uttered them 20 some years ago.

Phil began his next great adventure Sunday night.

A mentor to so many in the Ohio DMO world, we were kindred spirits...and I'll never forget that conspiratorial smile he'd flash as we strategized next steps in advancing the Destination Marketing sector.

Lover of good bourbon and cigars, Phil was one of Ohio's premier lobbyists. The Ohio Association of CVBs could no more afford his services than a homeless person could afford a steak dinner at a 5-star restaurant. But, Phil loved the concept of Destination Marketing. He connected the dots, like so few do, and realized that a vibrant tourism economy benefited all of his other clients. So, he was in...for far less than his other clients paid.

And, that says volumes about the man with the infectious laugh and one of the warmest handshakes I've ever known.

The annual meeting of DMAI is where we always reconnected. That meeting, just weeks away, will be far less memorable this year without that warm embrace and drink.

As they roll the names and faces of those that have departed terra firma this year at the Convention in Montreal, it will be Phil's face that will be the hardest for me to not to shed a tear. And, I'm guessing I will.

You rocked your time here, my friend. I'll never forget you. You're quoted in my book. You're one in a million.

And, we raised a toast to you last night with our prayers.

Damn, we will miss you.


Bill Geist

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