I am writing this note in the wake of a very successful—and busy—IMEX America in Las Vegas. The seventh annual mega meeting of event professional and hospitality minds was a celebration of the strength of the industry, only a week after the horrific shooting of more than 50 people in that city.
Despite scary headlines, IMEX Group reported that none of the 3,300 destination and support exhibitors canceled and more than 12,000 people made the pilgrimage to Sands Expo to do what we do best—meet face-to-face and do business. The #VegasStrong message was heard loud and clear during the keynotes, in the booths and even at the scholarship fundraising events that collected a half-million dollars to advance industry careers in the coming years.
Unfortunately, our strength has been tested all too much in the last few months. Hurricanes in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean were followed by a massive earthquake in Mexico City, a mass shooting in Las Vegas and devastating fires in my home community of Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties in California. Over and over, we have faced news of imminent danger, evacuations, damaged properties, cancelled flights and forced changes of plans. We have responded by pledging to continue to plan and promote events, and meet in these cities. I like to say that we face challenges by coming together and getting business done—no matter what.
I am particularly proud of how our industry has stepped up to house evacuees, collect donations and be a beacon of light for employees, their families and our communities in their time of need. This is nothing new, of course. It is not only when disaster strikes that hospitality professionals go above and beyond to live up to the welcoming spirit that “hospitality” implies. Our Supplier of the Year Awards starting on page 46 recognize the difference these people make every day as visionaries, leaders and other professionals who make things happen. We also made a point of recognizing rising stars in our industry who will carry on the legacy of resilience, connections and strength that has been so evident in the last few months.
I encourage you to take some time today to thank those who help bring your ideas to life—the people who work diligently behind the scenes to make it seem effortless—and very importantly, the people who come to our events with a spirit of engagement and commitment to get business done.
We are stronger together.