Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: May/June 2018
A CONVERSATION WITH NCBMP’s RECENTLY ELECTED CHAIRMAN, FREDRICK BELL
By: Victoria Head

Fredrick Bell has been in the meetings industry for the past 21 years and the convention director for the AEAONMS in New Orleans for the past 16 years.  He began with the Shrine Organization as a member and then became their local coordinator when his mentor, Charles Hales, AEAONMS' Imperial Convention Director at the time, asked him to assist when the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners annual convention was coming to their town.  Bell subsequently became a member of the NCBMP, served on the Board for close to 3 years and in December, 2017 was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors.  With his many years of experience as a meeting planner (averaging 13,000 total room nights annually for AEAONMS) as well as his longtime service with the NCBMP, Chairman Fredrick Bell is positioned to be a catalyst of advancement in the hospitality industry as it relates to the African-American meetings and conventions community.

Additional elected officers who will be in service on the board through 2018 are Marlinda Henry, President; Jason Dunn, Vice President; Dzidra Junior, Treasurer and Stephanie Marshall, Secretary.  Together, this team of professionals has dedicated themselves to highlighting the relevancy and influence that African-American conventions yield on a national level, while improving the meetings, conferences, exhibitions and convocations their members are responsible for.  The Coalition's objectives will remain foundationally intact as they continue to promote the growth of their membership and by way of the NCBMP's annual educational conferences purpose to:

  • Assist in the educational advancement of association executives, meeting planners and other meeting professionals through the information shared at NCBMP'S conferences.
  • Enhance the professional status of African-American association executives, meeting planners and other meeting professionals by providing educational opportunities in support of the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) examination.
  • Stimulate managerial opportunities in the hospitality industry for qualified African-Americans.
  • Develop a network in the hospitality industry for African-American association executives, meeting planners and suppliers.  This network is set up to facilitate job referrals, exchange lists of consultants and vendors and to share other pertinent resources.
  • Educate youth for the purpose of helping them obtain careers in the hospitality industry.

In 1983 when NCBMP was founded, no African-Americans were heading up any of the nearly 500 convention and visitors bureaus in the country; only 15 African-Americans were employed at these bureaus in any capacity.  Out of 55,000 hotels in the nation, only one had an African-American hotel general manager. Since that time, the NCBMP has made great strides in aiding the education and professionalism of African-American planners and suppliers, encouraging their upward movement within the industry.

When Bell was asked how he would grade the industry in terms of diversity and inclusion today, he states that it is still below satisfactory level.  With African-American travel and tourism being a $60 billion industry, Bell believes that having that type of economic impact should yield a higher degree of diversity and inclusion.  "There should be a greater migration of African-American hospitality workers into executive roles" says Bell.  One of NCBMP's current tasks is to aid the increase of African-Americans in the industry by focusing more on the upcoming generation.  He reports that the NCBMP has been partnering with college students and making them aware of the opportunities and various programs that now exist at colleges providing hospitality and tourism industry training. 

Young people who are developing an interest in the industry are being encouraged to find out that more and more companies have discovered that the development of a diverse workforce can create a highly competitive advantage for today's businesses; it improves the staffs moral, as well as the longevity of their employees.  As tourists from all over the globe are coming into contact with the hospitality industry, it's noted that companies with a diverse workforce help to ensure their employees can bring a better cultural perspective of the travelers they are serving.  The industry is finding out that having staff that can genuinely relate to a wider variety of its clientele is a great preventative measure; especially when complaints and cell phone captured videos have the potential these days of going embarrassingly viral.

In order to have a broad affect on the organization's mission and goals, Chairman Bell and his fellow Board Members desire to continue building awareness of the impact that African-American tourism has on the industry as a whole.  The NCBMP will continue to provide its members with solid and relevant training content and will empower them to align themselves with organizations that support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Fredrick Bell remains a resident of New Orleans; Nawlins, recently voted among the top three cities in the U.S. for its great fun time scene including neighborhood establishments, most fascinating people and cool boutique hotels.  As work keeps Bell on the road much of the time, he does enjoy an impromptu staycation and the year-round plethora of festivals New Orleans has to offer.  However, when the Chairman decides to getaway, he plans a trip down to the Gulf of Mexico, as saltwater fishing is one of his favorite hobbies.  Though you may find Bell on a cruise ship from time to time, he does profess…"you can't beat saltwater fishing on the Gulf."

Black Meetings and Tourism honors NCBMP Chairman, Fredrick Bell along with this year's NCBMP serving Board Members for each new step of industry advancement they will take in the years to come.

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