Meetings, Travel, Hospitality Leaders Speak at IMEX America to Support #VegasStrong After Mass Shooting
Leaders representing the meetings, travel and hospitality sectors gathered Oct. 10 during IMEX America at the Sands Expo & Convention Center to support #VegasStrong, the hashtag that represents the resiliency of Las Vegas after a mass shooting occurred at the Route 91 Harvest Festival 10 days earlier.
The Sands Showroom was packed for the press conference with individuals from the Las Vegas hospitality community, as well as media and executives from industry associations, including IAEE, SISO and ASAE.
A video played first with an Andre Agassi voiceover asking “What Is Strength” and then detailing all of the heroic actions during and after the shooting took place and ending with “Strength is our promise for tomorrow.”
Ray Bloom, chairman and founder of IMEX Group, took the stage and said, “When we first heard the news of what happened here in Vegas, we wanted to give our support.”
IMEX Group, a hosted buyer event for the meetings and events industry, decided to go ahead with its show that brings 12,000 attendees and a $23.7 million overall economic impact to Las Vegas. “It is very fitting we have the meetings industry here to show their support,” Bloom said.
Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, took the stage next and said that Las Vegas always has been a “compassionate community,” adding, “all of a sudden this happened. It was all attack on all of us. … The best of what we are (also) happened that night.”
He detailed how the LVCVA’s marketing agency R&R created the #VegasStrong hashtag to support the community and how the Las Vegas Convention Center still is being used as a support center for people impacted by the shooting. “This really is a caring community,” Ralenkotter said.
Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel Association, spoke next, saying, “We’ve been so proud to see the way you all have handled this. One fear, one senseless act – Las Vegas has refused to let this define them.”
Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, the parent company of Mandalay Bay where the gunman went on his rampage from, spoke next during the press conference.
He said he represented 50,000 men in women in Las Vegas who work for the MGM properties, as well as their families. “They have a job because of you, and without you they cannot take care of their families,” Murren said. “IMEX being here right now is almost poetic.”
He added that he has never been prouder of the MGM organization. “We are heartbroken, but we are not broken,” Murren said.
David Peckinpaugh took the stage next and said he was speaking on behalf of all the 43 million people who visit Las Vegas every year.
“As an industry that’s involved with meetings, events, incentives and trade shows, we need to make sure we are educating our clients,” he added. “We need to let our customers know it is a great place to hold events and continues to be a great place to hold events.”
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