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Industry Briefs
Apex Awards One Of Many Highlights Of TPOC Conference
Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC) held their 9th Annual Conference and Trade Show in Louisville, KY, May 12-15, at the spectacular Galt House Hotel. The conference theme – “Business Excellence through Perseverance and Possibilities” – was the perfect fit for this vital industry organization that has played such an important role in the education and development of travel agents and tour operators of color, as well as destination reps and other industry professionals, at a time when many within the industry are challenged to simply survive.

Founding member and TPOC president, Charlotte Haymore, set the tone for the gathering in her “Greetings from our President” message in the conference brochure, calling the theme a “true testament from the TPOC National Office,” which despite many difficulties, has managed to grow the organization and receive rave reviews for the quality and content of their conferences.

“We feel fortunate and blessed that we are still standing ad celebrating nine years, this year in Louisville, Kentucky. Our goal, through training and networking, has been to provide a vehicle to help TPOC members connect their will to persevere with unlimited possibilities resulting in business excellence.

The uplifting conference theme was evident in many agenda items, from the keynote address at the opening luncheon by Joel Secundy, deputy assistant secretary for services with the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, to an array of informative and thought provoking workshops and general sessions. Workshop topics ranged from “How to Open and Operate Your Own Travel Business” and “Cuba’s Opportunities for Religious and Heritage Travel,” to “Diverse Travel Careers to Consider” and “How to Effectively Use Social Media to Grow Your Business.”

Roy Jay, president of the Oregon Convention & Visitors Services Network, returned as Conference Emcee, while others who contributed greatly to the proceedings included Charlotte Haymore and Betty Jones of TPOC, Peggy Riley, director of Multicultural Sales for the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Andy Ingraham, president & CEO of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), Laura Mandala of Mandala Research, and Gloria Herbert, associate publisher/editor of Black Meetings & Tourism.

In addition to workshops, the conference featured a trade show, a Business Pavilion, a gala closing banquet, an Executive Roundtable, an outstanding performance by Gullah-Flavored Aunt Pearlie Sue, the creation of a new TPOC student chapter, and the roll out of TPOC’s new and improved Heritage Tourism Certification Program. Trinidad & Tobago, which sponsored the Saturday’s lunch and general assembly, is the latest TPOC Authenticated Destination.

Pre-conference activities included several visits to Macy’s Department Store for breakfast and presentations, as well as city tours, which among other things, explored the fascinating and wonderful Muhammad Ali Center and other local landmarks and historically significant attractions.

One of the highlights of the TPOC Conference was the annual APEX Awards for Distinguished Service, presented by Black Meetings & Tourism. The awards are present each year to a select number of individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their particular fields of endeavor that have positively impacted travel and tourism.

This year’s recipients included Jessie Allen, GM of the Orange County Convention Center, Clara Carter, president and founder of the Multicultural Convention Services Network (MCCN), Lewis H. Dawley III, regional VP of Convention Center Operation for SMG, Anthony L. “Tony” Gladney, VP of National Diversity Relations for Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Connie Kinnard, senior VP of Multicultural Sales & Development for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Tom Noonan, president & CEO of Visit Baltimore, Daniel O’Byrne, president & CEO of Visit Jacksonville, Ava Pope, director of Sales for the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Stephen B. Richer, CTP, public affairs advocate for the National Tour Association, John Rolfe, president & CEO of Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau, Monica Smith, president and CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and David Whitaker, president & CEO of Tourism Toronto.

Pictured here are APEX Award recipients in attendance (l-r): Lisa Simon (president of NTA who accepted award on behalf of Richer), Gloria Herbert, Clara Carter, David Whitaker, Connie Kinnard, Monica Smith, Jessie Allen, and BM&T publisher/Editor-in-Chief Solomon J. Herbert.
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