2018: A Year in Review for NMHA

Posted by:Cody
02 January 0   0


We began 2018 with our Hospitality and Tourism TRENDS & Annual Meeting, hosted at the La Fonda on the Plaza on January 30, 2018.

2018 TRENDS was condensed to a 1-day event to make it easier for members and industry representatives to attend the event.

NMHA again partnered with the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI) and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce (SFCC) to provide the Bridging Business and Government program for all TRENDS attendees by offering reciprocal access to the Legislative Reception, hosted by SFCC (Jan. 29) and the Business Day in Santa Fe Breakfast, hosted by ACI (Jan. 30). The collaboration was again successful and provided unique value to this event through access to business leaders and elected officials.

The 2018 TRENDS program offered special programming to attendees that ranged from an active shooter workshop to a preview of the NMTD co-op marketing program to a presentation on best practices for search keywords. We again hosted Chris Klauda, Director of Destination Research for STR, as our keynote presenter who provided another great analysis of recent occupancy and travel data, and projections of what we should have to expect for 2018. We also unveiled the New Mexico Travel Trends Data Dashboard at TRENDS, which offers members an interactive look at important industry statistics, such as visitation, enplanement, employment, etc.

At the Annual Meeting, NMHA provided an overview of activities and developments from 2017 and a preview of what to expect from NMHA throughout 2018. NMHA also formally installed Antoinette Vigil, Director of Economic Development for Sandoval County, as the Board Chair for 2018.

2018 Legislative Session

The Legislative Session in 2018 was a 30-day session,  which is limited to fiscal issues. Though just under 700 bills were introduced, only a fraction actually passed. Though relatively quiet, this session was productive for the tourism and lodging industry because several important measures were passed while no negative pieces of legislation made it to the Governor’s desk.

The most notable development of the 2018 Legislative Session was the availability of about $200 million in “new money” that was distributed throughout this years $6.3 billion budget.  A majority of that “new money” went to cover the 2% to 2.5% raises given to all state employees who have had flat salaries since 2010, and to cover the cost of increased funding to public safety entities like District Attorney offices and Judiciary.  However, with the availability of additional funds the New Mexico Tourism Department did see an overall increase it its budget of about $1 million, which does represent a substantial increase over the Department’s FY 18 budget. In addition, a one-time special appropriation of $300,000 for Special Olympics New Mexico was also included.

For a complete overview of the 2018 Legislative Session, check out our 2018 Legislative Session Report.

The New Mexico Hospitality Association also hosted Tourism Day in Santa Fe on January 31 as a day dedicated to connecting hospitality and tourism professionals with elected officials as the Legislature focused on fiscal business for the state of New Mexico. Tourism Day ended up as a successful showcase of industry representation and unity, and provided much-needed connection between elected officials and constituents who work in the tourism industry.

New Leadership

2018 was a year of transition for the New Mexico Hospitality Association. NMHA bid farewell to Jen Schroer who served as President & CEO since NMHA was founded in January 2015 and welcomed Kathy Komoll as the incoming CEO in April 2018.

Kathy quickly got up to speed on the services and programs of NMHA and the state of the industry just in time for the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism where she was able to meet and greet many of our members for the first time.

Kathy has since enhanced our events, programs and services by bringing fresh ideas and implementing creative elements to our core features. Heading into 2019, Kathy will be leading our advocacy efforts through what should be a very eventful Legislative Session and she will implement her vision for NMHA as we move into a new chapter for the Association.

Governor’s Conference

NMHA hosted the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in Mescalero, May 6-8, where over 300 industry professionals from around New Mexico and the Southwest region gathered for two days of learning, networking and celebration.

Conference attendees had the chance to hear from Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona on how creativity and collaboration and driving community culture, Ruidoso’s own Jasper Riddle on perseverance, problem-solving and entrepreneurship, and Tourism Secretary Rebecca Latham on New Mexico tourism: then and now. Attendees were afforded a great selection of professional development topics to fuel growth in sales, marketing and tourism development. Our programming explored topics such as how to lead an effective sales team, the future of the visitors guide, and the power of social influencers just to name a few.

The 2018 Governor’s Conference concluded with the New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where we welcomed Jill Lane and Dr. Priscilla Bloomquist into the Hall of Fame. Review each of the 2018 New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame inductees here.

We concluded the Hall of Fame induction ceremony with the announcement that we will be hosting the 2019 Governor’s Conference April 29-30 in Santa Fe.


2018 proved to be another great year for New Mexico tourism. In July, the New Mexico Tourism Department announced that New Mexico tourism broke visitation records for a 6th consecutive year for 2017. Overall, New Mexico saw 35.4 million trips to New Mexico, and 1,700 jobs in hospitality and leisure were added to the workforce in 2017.

Regarding economic impact, direct visitor spending reaching an all-time high of $6.6 billion in 2017, which signified a $200 million increase from 2016. Visitor spending generated an estimated $661 million in local and state taxes in 2017, which offset the household tax burden for New Mexico families by an average of $868.

Gubernatorial Election

A gubernatorial election had not taken place since the founding of the New Mexico Hospitality Association until 2018. NMHA decided to host the two major candidates for a first-ever series of gubernatorial forums focused on the hospitality and tourism industry. Each candidate was invited to a separate forum with hospitality and tourism business leaders and stakeholders where they had the opportunity to present their vision for the industry as Governor. Representatives from the industry also had the opportunity to ask questions and present issues to each candidate so they could present their thoughts and proposed solutions to the industry with the purpose of developing tourism.

The forums provided great on-the-record insight of each candidate and where they stood on specific issues that affected New Mexico tourism, such as preservation of the New Mexico True brand, which Governor-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham promised to retain at the forum, and has promised to retain upon election.

Top HAT Awards Gala

We concluded 2018 with the annual Top HAT Awards Gala, hosted Nov. 8 at the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel.

The 2018 Top HAT Awards Gala generated strong interest from the start, with registration hitting capacity an entire month out from the event. Fortunately, we were able to seat everyone who wanted to be a part of the event after we hit capacity.

We received nearly 200 nominations for the 2018 Top HAT Awards. We were able to open up nominations in July and kept the nomination window open for nearly two months, providing plenty of time for interested parties to submit a nomination.

We introduced the inaugural Best Social Media Campaign in the Marketing Awards category at the 2018 Top HAT Awards, which garnered immediate interest and became one of our most competitive awards. The Best Broadcast Award was retired after its final presentation at the 2018 installment of the Top HAT Awards Gala.

Overall, we had healthy representation from around the state with the award finalists and winners. You can review all the 2018 Top HAT Award winners here.

Looking forward to 2019

There’s a lot for NMHA and for the New Mexico tourism industry to look forward to in 2019!

  • Incoming Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham tabbed former NMHA President & CEO Jen Schroer to serve as Secretary of Tourism.
  • 60-Day Legislative Session brings promise of statewide solution to short-term rental contributions to Lodgers’ Tax.
  • Regional Tourism Economic Summit Series
  • Continued professional development through the TRENDS Conference and the Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism.

We look forward to working together on another year of development and prosperity for New Mexico tourism !