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Industry Briefs

Black Meetings & Tourism Media exhibited again this year at IMEX America in Las Vegas.   Taking place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center Sept. 10-12, IMEX Group reports an estimated 14,000 attendees participated in this year’s event generating an overall economic impact of more than $20 million. The show, which celebrated its ninth year in Las Vegas, included more than 3,500 exhibitors representing more than 150 countries. In total, IMEX Group estimates a total of 76,000 individual and group appointments in 2019.


In addition to the exhibit hall activity with scheduled one-on-one meetings, there were a host of networking events, press conferences, keynote addresses, and educational workshops with titles like “Leading a High Converting Sales Team: Win and Attract More Leads,” ”Laugh All The Way to The Bank: Inspiration and Innovation on a Budget,” and “Fine Tuning Your Negotiation Skills.”


Industry icons like Elliott Ferguson, president/CEO of Destination DC, Ernest Wooden president/CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism Board, Kitty Ratcliff, president/CEO of Explore St. Louis, and Al Hutchinson, president/CEO of Visit Baltimore, played hands-on roles promoting their individual destinations and made themselves available to the cadre of meeting planner hosted buyers who navigated the cavernous exhibit halls in search of information about destinations where they can book their future meetings.


In addition to exhibiting, this year Black Meetings & Tourism also hosted an African-American Meet Up at a suite in The Palazzo, which is connected to the Sands Expo Center.   Approximately 50 attendees came to the event, some of whom were members of the National Coalition of Black Meetings Professionals, the online Black Meeting & Event Professionals, and Travel Professionals of Color (TPOC), where they enjoyed tasty culinary offerings and an open bar.  

Albert Tucker

The Meet Up was sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB (GFLCVB) and the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach DoubleTree by Hilton, and presentations were made by Albert Tucker, vice president, Multicultural Business Development, GFLCVB, and Anneessa Reid, senior sales manager of Bahia Mar.   There was also an impassioned plea for understanding and assistance from Janet Cuffie, director of the Bahamas Tourist Office in Toronto, in the wake of the recent hurricane that devastated two islands in The Bahamas.


Norman C. Williams receives drawing prize from Anneessa Reid

All attending planners submitted their business cards for a special drawing of a 2-night stay at Bahia Mar.  Norman C. Williams of Majestic Dream Vacations, LLC was the lucky winner.


According to Solomon and Gloria Herbert, Publishers/Editors of Black Meetings & Tourism, the purpose of the African-American Meet Up was “to acknowledge the importance of the role that planners and others from our community play in this industry, share pertinent information that will be of assistance in their careers, and encourage them to network and support one another.”   BM&T team member Katrina Ruff, owner/operator of Forums Meetings & Events, which is headquartered in Denver, CO, orchestrated the highly successful Meet Up.   The Herberts say BM&T plans to host another African-American Meet Up at next year’s IMEX America, which will be even bigger and better.


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