Northstar's Leadership Forum Looks Ahead and Gives Back

The annual event at Pebble Beach brought together industry leaders to reflect, plan for recovery and raise funds for frontline hospitality workers.

Nearly 100 meetings industry thought leaders gathered at Northstar's Leadership Forum, held last week at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, Calif. The three-day event brought together planning professionals and suppliers to network, reflect on the past year, share best practices and plan for recovery. Participants also helped raise more $55,000 for frontline hospitality workers, in partnership with The Above and Beyond Foundation.  
The program's morning educational session consisted of brief interviews conducted by Northstar Meetings Group's vice president and content director Loren Edelstein, with six industry leaders about hot topics of the day, including lobbying efforts to support recovery. (See details in the gallery below, with photos taken by Michael Troutman of DMT Imaging.)

The event included unstructured activities and offsite experiences in and around Monterey, coordinated in partnership with the Monterey Convention and Visitors Bureau and supported by the event’s transportation provider, CCM&E, providing attendees ample opportunity to share, learn and network.
The final night of the Leadership Forum was especially poignant, with a dinner and live auction in the hotel's St. Andrew's Ballroom. Participants bid on travel and high-end goods donated by their colleagues, raising $55,400 for The Above and Beyond Foundation, which provides monetary awards to outstanding individuals employed on the front lines of the hospitality industry.
"We have a large number of grant applications for consideration," noted Mary Jo Valentine Blythe, founder and CEO of the charitable organization. "The Northstar Leadership Forum auction proceeds will allow us to accelerate our grant distribution for 2022 and recognize and reward even more frontline workers than anticipated."
Following are highlights.

Insights and Expertise

Nan Marchand Beauvois of the U.S. Travel Association discussed the organization's lobbying efforts to support travel recovery.

Aran Ryan of Tourism Economics presented the findings of new research on the pace of recovery. The Global Events Barometer research was commissioned by the Events Industry Council and is supported by Northstar and other industry organizations.

Northstar's David Blansfield presented new findings from the latest PULSE Survey, which has been tracking planner sentiment since March 2020.

IAEE's Dave Dubois explained the mission of Exhibitions Mean Business and how Forum participants can take action to further the industry's collective interest.

Stephanie Jones, CEO of the National Blacks in Travel and Tourism Collaborative and a member of Northstar Travel Group's Black Advisory Board, stressed our need as an industry to put much more effort into equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Tony Lorenz of Notified reflected on the opportunity for digital channels to bring growth to the meeting and events industry.

Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, underscored the importance of the Global Events Barometer and the need for more industry funding to continue this quarterly research, as well as the forthcoming Economic Significance Study.

Participants joined the lively conversation (pictured center: Richard Harper of HelmsBriscoe).

Stellar Activities

Fab foursome: (from left) Chris Bond, Sahara Las Vegas; Jim Pedone, Royal Sonesta Kauai; Steve Kinsley, Kinsley Meetings; and Tom Wilson, Maritz Global Events.

Foodies took a guided tour to sample the best of Carmel Valley.

Folktale Winery & Vineyards sponsored a group dinner, with stunning décor provided by Illusions of Grandeur.

The Final Night: Above and Beyond

A live auction raised $55,400 to support frontline hospitality workers. Entering a bid: Ron Price of Visit Phoenix.

The Above and Beyond Foundation bestowed awards to three deserving Pebble Beach associates: (from left) Johnny Bowers, Juanita Velazquez-Felix and Jimmy Dunn.

The crowd stood and cheered for longtime Pebble Beach employee Jimmy Dunn (left), who received the coveted Heart of Hospitality Award, with a $10,000 prize.

“This is the most important and pleasant thing I’ve done in a long time,” said Pebble Beach CEO David Stivers, who bestowed the honors. Also pictured: (fom left) Stacy Lucherini of Associated Luxury Hotels International, award recipient Jimmy Dunn, and Mary Jo Valentine Blythe of TAABF.

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