Watch the Showcase
To view all or part of the 2020 Stellas Virtual Showcase, click here
Updated Dec. 7, 2020.
It's been a challenging year for meeting professionals. But if our industry is one thing, it is resilient. The Stella Awards Virtual Showcase, available for viewing here, brings together event professionals from around the world to rally behind the industry's recovery, celebrate best-in-class suppliers and hear from industry leaders about their expectations for the new year.
"The Stella Awards are just what our industry needs right now," said Richard Harper, executive vice president of HelmsBriscoe, a meetings procurement and site selection company. "The reactions of the winners, the motivational and funny messages from industry leaders throughout and a little rock 'n' roll flair make this fun to watch."
The digital event, broadcast from the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn., is produced and directed by Northstar Meetings Group and Demers Exposition Services, and is sponsored by Visit Long Beach. Musical entertainment is provided by SongDivision.
Hosted by Northstar's executive vice president and group publisher David Blansfield, and vice president and content director Loren Edelstein, the 2020 Stella Awards Virtual Showcase celebrates suppliers who consistently deliver quality service and innovation to meeting professionals. Honors are awarded in 17 categories and across six regions, celebrating overall excellence, superb food and beverage, professionalism of staff, sustainability initiatives, and other critical aspects of the event experience. The full list of winners and finalists can be found here. Eligible organizations include hotels, convention centers, conference centers, airlines, cruise lines, CVBs and DMCs spanning six regions in the U.S. and internationally. Applications for the 2021 Stella Awards are now open and can be submitted here.
"The Stella Awards celebrate suppliers who view client relationships as true partnerships, through the best of times and the worst of times," said Edelstein. "The fact that we took nearly 7,000 unique votes across all the categories demonstrates active participation and enthusiasm for deserving organizations."
Nearly 30 industry influencers participate in the virtual celebration to congratulate this year's winners and share their perspectives on the future of the industry. Among them is Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, who notes that the pandemic has brought a new awareness to the essential need of in-person events. According to Van Deventer, "The global shutdown of travel has highlighted to the world by its absence, the fundamental need of humans to interact face to face and the tremendous value and contributions that live events have in advancing our societies."
Other appearances from industry leaders include Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, David DuBois, president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, Michael Dominguez, president and CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International, and the IMEX Group's CEO Carina Bauer and chairman and founder Ray Bloom, among many others. All stressed the importance of the meetings and travel industries and expressed their "silver linings" from this year and their hopes for 2021.
"Let me remind everybody that after the Spanish flu in 1918 came the roaring twenties," said Jonathan Howe, president and founding partner of Howe & Hutton, Ltd. "We all hope that going forward with 2021, we're looking at the roaring twenties of this century."
All parties and partners involved in the Showcase have donated their time and effort to its production. In the spirit of giving, the Virtual Showcase was produced to raise funds for The Above and Beyond Foundation, which has been providing $500 grants to hospitality workers displaced by the Covid-19 pandemic. As of Dec. 2, the organization has raised and distributed $550,000 to those in need within the hospitality industry. TAABF is seeking to raise another $100,000 by the end of the year.
"Northstar stepped up once again for our industry with the 2020 Stella Awards, an awards program with arguably more rigor in its selection process than any other recognition program in the industry," said Tony Lorenz, board member of TAABF. "The Stellas also put a bright light on The Above and Beyond Foundation, giving many frontline colleagues and their families critical and immediate financial support this holiday season."
"It's exciting to be recognizing so many destinations, hoteliers and meetings industry service providers who've gone above and beyond in providing excellence to their customers with these Stella Awards," said Blansfield. "But ours is a people business, so let's not overlook the importance of investing in our people, too."
The Stella Awards Virtual Showcase can be viewed here. Applications for the 2021 Stella Awards are now being accepted. Click here to submit a nomination.