There's a lot to look forward to in 2018 - but first, we want to celebrate everything great from 2017, and there's a lot to celebrate!
The year 2017 was a year of growth and stability for New Mexico lodging and tourism. The industry met several milestones that signified the continued growth of New Mexico tourism, demonstrated the integral role of this industry in the greater economic ecosystem of New Mexico, and validated the need for continued investment in New Mexico tourism.
We began 2017 by hosting the Hospitality and Tourism TRENDS Conference at the Eldorado Hotel & Spa in Santa Fe, Jan. 23-25. We had over 350 guests attend the TRENDS Conference in 2017, indicative of the commitment to a prosperous tourism industry from leadership in lodging and tourism throughout the state. The TRENDS Conference helped set the industry agenda for the 2017 Legislative Session, and the conference also featured a multi-layered analysis of the latest regional, national and international travel trends from Smith Travel Research and Longwoods International. We concluded TRENDS with the Unity Dinner, which brought together elected officials, tribal leaders and hospitality and tourism industry professionals to recognize the potential for a prosperous New Mexico economy when we have a strong and vibrant tourism industry. (view more photos here).
The New Mexico Hospitality Association also hosted Bridging Business & Government, a collaborative partnership between the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI) and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce intended to facilitate robust conversations between industry leaders and elected officials about the state of the New Mexico economy heading into the 2017 Legislative Session. The program began with the Legislative Reception hosted by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce the evening before TRENDS, and continued the following morning with the Business Day in Santa Fe breakfast hosted by ACI. The event successfully expanded the conversation of New Mexico business and industry, and how the hospitality and tourism industry plays a vital role in building a healthy economy for New Mexico.
The New Mexico Hospitality Association also hosted its Annual Meeting during the TRENDS Conference where Board Leadership updated all members on the state of the Association, along with a vision for membership throughout 2017. The Board of Directors also welcomed four new Board Members to begin their service: Mara Bouvier (Sunrise Springs Spa Resort), Adrian Montoya (Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town), John Feins (Meow Wolf), and Lindsay Lancaster.
The New Mexico Hospitality Association hosted the 2017 New Mexico True Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism in Albuquerque at the Albuquerque Convention Center, May 7-10. The New Mexico True Governor’s Conference is the industry’s biggest annual event dedicated to networking and professional development for hospitality and tourism professionals. We had close to 500 people participate in the 2017 New Mexico True Governor’s Conference, an incredibly encouraging sign of the desire of professionals to learn and help develop New Mexico tourism.
The 2017 New Mexico True Governor’s Conference began with the 2nd Annual Hospitality Golf Tournament to benefit the Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship Fund and the New Mexico Hospitality Official Pub Search (NMHOPS). The group led by NMHA Board Member Travis Suazo took home first place for the 2nd Annual Hospitality Golf Tournament, and Isleta Resort & Casino claimed first place and the ownership of the traveling trophy for NMHOPS.
The 2017 New Mexico True Governor’s Conference offered a more robust educational program, adding an operations management track along with the sales, marketing and tourism/product development tracks. Our general session agenda provided attendees with thoughts, insights and words of wisdom from the likes of Ticketmaster, the Student Youth & Travel Association and MGM Resorts International. (view more photos here).
We concluded the 2017 New Mexico True Governor’s Conference with the Wells Fargo Hall of Fame Dinner and induction ceremony, where NMHA inducted Charlie Gray and Dave Hayduk into the New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame. Gray currently serves as the Executive Director for the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association (GAIA) and the Santa Fe Lodgers Association, and entered the New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame with decades of experience in the hotel and lodging industry. Hayduk, who owns and operates HK Advertising, entered the New Mexico Tourism Hall of Fame thanks to years of his incredible work marketing and promoting destinations across New Mexico. (view more photos here).
The New Mexico Hospitality Association spent some time between September and October traveling New Mexico to learn about the current state of tourism economies at the local level and facilitating dynamic conversations to encourage more collaboration across communities with the Regional Tourism Economic Summit Series. NMHA visited Silver City, Las Cruces, Carlsbad, Hobbs, Ruidoso, Corrales (Sandoval County), Gallup, Los Alamos, Taos and Santa Fe over the course of the Summit Series. NMHA curated a series of economic indicators to prepare a data dashboard to help New Mexico industry members better understand the trends of their local tourism economy, which will be built into a more comprehensive data dashboard that will roll out in early 2018. The challenges and opportunities expressed throughout the summit series will also help shape our legislative focus as we move into 2018 and beyond. (view more photos here).
NMHA also launched the Member Information Center, or MIC, to serve as the go-to resource for industry news, connections, jobs, events and materials, reserved exclusively for NMHA members. NMHA looks forward to continue building out the MIC with more resources and exclusives throughout 2018. Learn more about the MIC here.
NMHA concluded 2017 with the Top HAT Awards Gala to celebrate industry excellence from 2017. We had over 300 award nominations and saw close to 450 people attend the Gala, demonstrative of the collective recognition deserved to the excellence in our industry. NMHA added Supplier/Vendor of the Year as a new Premier Award, and expanded Hotel of the Year into two separate awards: Limited Service Hotel of the Year and Full Service Hotel of the Year. Click here to view all award winners.
It was during the 2017 Top HAT Awards Gala where NMHA was able to award our first scholarship through the endowed Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship Fund. After the 2nd Annual Hospitality Golf Tournament and the 2017 Top HAT Awards Gala, we finally reached our fundraising goal for the endowed scholarship fund. NMHA awarded its first scholarship to the Hotel, Restaurant, Tourism Management program at New Mexico State University to help fund opportunities for students to attend hospitality and tourism workshops and conventions. NMHA also partnered with Swire Coca-Cola to create the Swire Coca-Cola Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship to award a $1,000 scholarship to each of five separate students. We want to thank Jose Garcia of the Albuquerque Convention Center and Travis Suazo of PNM for co-chairing the Scholarship Committee and successfully launching this scholarship fund to provide learning opportunities to future hospitality and tourism professionals. (view more photos here).
The statewide industry reached some important milestones in 2017. New Mexico reached the 100,000 job threshold in employment in leisure and hospitality for the first time in 2017. Current Employment Statistics provided by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions indicate an estimated 100,200 jobs in leisure and hospitality for May 2017. The employment metric peaked at 103,800 for June 2017 during the height of the tourism season. New Mexico also witnessed a new record in visitation numbers. The most recent available data provided by the New Mexico Tourism Department reveals that an estimated 34.4 million trips were taken to New Mexico in 2016, surpassing the previous record of 33.4 million trips from 2015.
Our industry had many accomplishments to celebrate in 2017, and we look forward to even more celebration throughout 2018. A special thanks to everyone who helped build a stronger and more vibrant hospitality and tourism industry in 2017, and join us as we strive for an even better year in 2018!