Stella Awards Showcase to Honor Winners and End a Tough Year on a High Note

The industry will come together to celebrate excellence and raise funds for front-line hospitality workers displaced by the pandemic.


Northstar Meetings Group’s Stella Awards Showcase promises to end the year on a high note. The 90-minute digital event, produced in partnership with The Above and Beyond Foundation and Song Division, will recognize and celebrate winners of the 2020 Stella Awards; raise money for TAABF; and offer inspiration, levity and encouragement after a challenging year. To be broadcast live on Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 2 to 3:30 pm ET, the event is free of charge. Donations to TAABF, which directly support hospitality workers in need, will be encouraged.

“Our aim is to cap off 2020 in a spirit of appreciation and positive thinking,” said David Blansfield, executive vice president and group publisher of Northstar Meetings Group. “Leaders from across the industry will be joining us, not only to help us celebrate excellence during a time of great challenge but to help inspire us and remind us of the importance of giving back. Think of it as a holiday party for the meetings industry — and you’re invited!”

Among the many industry leaders who will “drop in” during the showcase will be U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow, ConferenceDirect CEO Brian Stevens, and Maritz Global Events president David Peckinpaugh.

Northstar, Song Division, Demers Exposition Services, and the Connecticut Convention Center, where the showcase will be produced, are donating their time and services to support this initiative.

Northstar’s Stella Awards honor best-in-class hotels, convention centers, conference centers, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, and destination management companies. This year, nearly 7,000 votes were cast for 553 organizations nominated in 17 categories that span six regions in the U.S. and internationally. The winners were chosen for overall excellence, professionalism of staff, sustainability initiatives, superb food and beverage, and other critical elements that impact the event experience.

The awards to be announced during the showcase are Best Hotel Chain, Best Boutique/Lifestyle Hotel Brand, Best Airline, Best Cruise Line, Best CVB/DMO, Best Hotel/Resort and Best Renovation.

In the Spirit of Giving

TAABF established the Helping Hospitality Urgent Grant Program in April as a means to support front-line hospitality workers who were laid off or furloughed. By December, TAABF will have given out about 700 monetary grants. 

Based on nominations by their managers, the grants support hardworking, unsung heroes in our industry, according to Mary Jo Valentine Blythe, founder and CEO of TAABF. Every dollar donated goes directly to the charity. “As we make a dollar, we give a dollar, in $500 chunks.” What has changed in recent months, she said, is the inpouring of donations at higher dollar amounts and from a wider range of sources both inside and outside of the meetings and travel industry.  

“We've got it down to a pretty well-oiled machine, so we can get this money into people's hands as quickly as possible,” added Blythe. That has been our goal and we're going to continue helping as many people as we can.”

This holiday season will be particularly difficult for many in our industry, Blythe noted. This year, those who typically give business gifts for the holidays might consider instead making a donation to TAABF on the recipient’s behalf. 

“Suppliers really want to stay connected with their clients through all of this,” said Blythe. “What better way than to send a note saying you’ve made donation in their name that will go directly to the hardworking people in our industry who are struggling to support themselves and their families?”

To donate, visit the Helping Hospitality Urgent Grant Program.

To join your industry friends in this year-end celebration of the meetings and events industry, please register for the Stella Awards Showcase here