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Just planning and executing meetings is deserving of a medal in many cases, but there are some in our industry who truly go above and beyond to set the bar higher. Following are 20 professionals—selected by polling our readers, consulting with past Meetings Trendsetters and our editors and contributors, and reaching out to others in the industry—who have taken a leading role in the last year.


Las Vegas police are conducting a criminal investigation into the mishandling of funds by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), according to reporting published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.


The UNITE HERE labor union rolled out travel advisories on Marriott hotels in eight major American cities, where contracts have either expired or are set to, for over 12,000 unionized workers.


Meetings Today reached out to Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel, to discuss a major medical association’s decision to opt out of a longstanding contract with the city due to open drug use on the streets and other safety concerns voiced by those visiting the city for meetings.


A major Chicago-based medical association is moving its $40 million convention out of San Francisco due to safety concerns for attendees. The city’s—and in particular the Moscone Convention Center’s SoMa neighborhood’s—open drug use and homelessness issues are being blamed for the decision.


The former Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama in Panama City will be managed by Marriott International as a JW Marriott. Ithaca Capitol took control of the property from the Trump Organization in March 2018 following a fight that included court cases in the U.S. and Panama and Trump Organization lawyers asking president of Panama to intervene in the dispute.


California’s Santa Clara CVB had its funding suspended for 60 days by the City of Santa Clara until a new management company can be found. Employee salaries and benefits will be paid during the 60 days.


Joint venture partners the Bernstein Companies and Boston Properties broke ground on the new Marriott International headquarters complex and adjacent Marriott hotel in downtown Bethesda, Maryland.


Teneo Hospitality Group identified the top concerns and trends within the meetings industry so far in 2018, according to its recent poll of planners in the U.S. The results presented by Teneo identify budgets, quality control, cost and reliability of audiovisual and technical services, security of content and the challenges of meeting increasingly complex dietary demands as the most prominent concerns of planners.


Urban districts are heating up in a multitude of places around the country. We asked meeting planners for input on what cities they think are up-and-coming and why the locations are trending nowadays.


The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a judgement on June 21, 2018, in favor of RockStar Hotels and rejecting claims of trademark infringement in a suit brought by Hard Rock Hotels. This allows the hotel company to continue using the RockStar Hotels name.


Kalahari Resorts and Conventions owners the Nelson family and company executives gathered with more than 100 attendees to break ground on the expansion of the company’s Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, convention center. Scheduled to open in late 2019, the addition will more than double the size of meeting facilities on location, adding 105,000 square feet of space to the convention center.


Now more than ever, people want to be immersed in destinations and have a sense of well-being when they visit. When it comes to incentives at resorts, the same holds true. Authentic experiences, locally inspired food and design, and plenty of wellness options are high in demand, according to five industry experts we contacted to get their take on 2018 market trends.


PSAV, an event production company with branches across the U.S. and beyond, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by private equity and real estate funds affiliated with Blackstone from affiliates of Goldman Sachs and Olympus Partners.


Caesars Entertainment Corporation was recognized for the fourth year as one of the most community-minded companies, and for the third time as the leader in the consumer discretionary industry, by Civic 50, a Points of Light initiative.


One of the best ways for planners to incorporate wellness into meetings is by gifting attendees with health-conscious amenities during the agenda. From essential oils to bath products to nutritious cookbooks, the choices nowadays are endless. Following are four great options.


The historic Wigwam in Litchfield, Ariz., is bucking the commission-slashing trend and continuing to support meeting planners with a generous new promotion. Under the property’s Make History in ’18 program, planners will receive 18 percent commission on group room nights for stays from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.


CORT Events shared four ways to have an on-trend outdoor event this year. The furniture, lighting and accessories rental company reports that transitional furniture, bold yet classic color paletes and patterns, Mediterranean influences and most importantly, bringing indoor comforts outdoors, are all trends for 2018 that will leave your attendees feeling at home in the outdoors.


Omaha’s downtown convention district along the city’s riverfront will undergo a $290 million transformation. Plans for the new development, which will connect the convention district, downtown Omaha and the riverfront, were revealed on June 14, 2018, via an announcement to the press.


Tragedy struck during the NeoCon 50 tradeshow after Jacqueline E. Albertine, 57, fell from a swing installed in the David Edward showroom on the 3rd floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. She died on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. The NeoCon example shows that it is critical for meeting and event planners to exercise the proper duty of care to mitigate accidents and reduce organizational liability if the unforeseen happens.


We are living in a time of unprecedented technology change. How will these changes affect meetings and tradeshows? Will they remain a central form of education, networking and marketing? Will virtual meetings and other communication technologies replace the need for face-to-face events and exhibitions? Although there will likely be very significant changes in these next few years, there are some strong drivers that bode well for the future of events. Here are five constants that will keep meetings viable in the future.


Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), announced he is planning to retire during an authority board meeting, according to a story published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The newspaper previously ran a report highlighting the mishandling of authority funds, including gift cards, and noted that Ralenkotter used $16,207 for personal travel.


Tradeshow season does more than send you home with great ideas for your next meeting or event; there’s also all of that booth swag—a seemingly endless array of trinkets and gadgets. While that tote or T-shirt felt like a must-have at the show, it often ends up forgotten in your closet or cluttering up your office. Even if you plan on using the items, consider this—what did you do with all of last year’s swag? Chances are if you didn’t keep and use it then, it’s now this year’s garbage. Why not repurpose it?


In the age of ever-evolving gender diversity acceptance and recognition, creating warm and welcoming experiences for all attendees is becoming increasingly important as meeting professionals. At MPI's WEC 2018, Bernadette Smith offered the following action steps for designing LGBTQIA-inclusive meetings and events.


There is still much confusion in the meetings industry following the May 25, 2018, implementation of the Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Bruce Smith, managing director of London-based Tenax Analytics, helped explain some of the intricacies of the EU and UK regulation and risks for planners and suppliers during his MPI WEC 2018 presentation: “How to Thrive in the New Era of Data Privacy: A Forensic Insight to the GDPR.”


Following a morning of intriguing sessions in its newly designed “village” format, MPI’s 2018 World Education Congress (WEC) wrapped Tuesday, June 5, with a rousing pep rally, show and luncheon, followed by a trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a bucket list-level closing experience.


One of the hot topics at MPI’s WEC 2018 is sex trafficking, as it relates to the travel industry. Michelle Guelbart, director of private sector engagement for ECPAT-USA, detailed some of the signs and ways to help during her presentation “ECPAT: The Meeting and Event Industry’s Role in Combatting Sex Trafficking,” which took place on Monday, June 4, 2018. ECPAT-USA is a nonprofit organization that exists to end human trafficking.


Meeting Professionals International (MPI) announced it will publish “The Essential Guide to Safety and Security: Best Practices for Meeting and Event Planning 2018” by the end of June 2018. In addition, the association will develop education, research reports and case studies based on the guide’s recommended practices, with launch plans slated for later this year and in 2019.


Indy knows how to woo its first-time guests. Fresh off the plane for a quick pre MPI WEC 2018 fam, I set off for an evening of art, food and creative cocktails. Our first stop was the Conrad Indianapolis.


Collective bargaining is a major component of the meetings, events and tradeshow industry. Those who are part of collective bargaining units—or unions—work in hotels, convention centers, restaurants and arenas. And in nearly every discussion about unions with industry colleagues, there is anger surrounding the many rules in working with them.


The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 released the results of a study conducted by UNITE HERE’s Culinary and Bartender Unions of over 10,000 Las Vegas casino workers that reported 59% of cocktail servers and 27% of hotel housekeepers said they had been sexually harassed while on the job.


UNITE HERE Gaming Research, the research arm of the hospitality workers’ union, projected that a one-month strike in Las Vegas could cost the two largest employers on the Las Vegas Strip—MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corporation—over $300 million in operating profits.


Who wants the same-old, same-old in their meetings? From presentations and breakouts to teambuilding and networking events, attendees are shaking their fists at the heavens and wailing the plaintive cry “quit boring the hell out of me with your cookie-cutter meeting components!”


Gather a room full of planners and a great many will single out the recent commission cuts by Marriott, Hilton and IHG as the issue that keeps them up at night, as was showcased in our interviews at Meetings Today LIVE! MidAmerica in St. Louis.


The sight of an empty swinging egg chair was irresistible enough. But glimpsing the view before me—the mesmerizingly turquoise hues of the ocean—if I grabbed that seat made it impossible not to jump right in. I did just that, happily swaying like a kid for a bit after checking in to the Serafina Beach Hotel, Puerto Rico’s new design-driven hot spot.


In St. Louis, red rules. Of course, they love their St. Louis Blues hockey team, but it’s the MLB Cardinals that rule The Roost. Called by many “the best fans in baseball,” the good citizens of St. Louis know how to cheer on their teams, and also how to provide a great setting for meetings and events that serve up a good, honest portion of Midwest quality and tradition. Participants of Meetings Today LIVE! MidAmerica discovered several exciting venues and group options on the second day of the event’s May 20-23, 2018, program.

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