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5 Key Takeaways from the NACE Conference + Expo

The National Association for Catering & Events (NACE) is a professional organization for event and catering specialists. NACE has been around for more than 60-years and has over 40 chapters and 3,500 members.  Each year they host an annual conference. In 2019, the event was held in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Gecko Hospitality was pleased to attend the show. Here are some highlights we took away from an excellent event.

Why We Attended NACE

Gecko’s partners and staff were at the conference, assisting attendees with resume tips, interview advice, and LinkedIn tune-ups. It was a great way to meet people and provide expertise to our colleagues in the catering and events industry.

The team set up in the Foundation Lounge and had great networking opportunities. Samantha Brown, Gecko’s Senior Executive Recruiter in the Hospitality Division presented several times to attendees. Megan Applegate, CPCE, who sits on the Board of Directors as Secretary for the Charlotte NACE chapter, presented awards at the NACE One Awards Gala. This was her 5th conference in a row, and she was pleased to represent the team at her North Carolina franchise. She commented afterward on the effectiveness of this year’s conference, stating:

“National Association of Catering & Event members are the best of the best in the hospitality industry, and to be considered NACE’s only hospitality recruiting partner is a true honor.  Having connections to all the professional industry leaders nationally makes my job that much easier!”

How NACE Helps Organizations Succeed

The NACE conference highlighted the organization’s industry connections and their efforts to provide their members with the best resources, including research and training on best practices in the job market. The organization focuses on ethics, advocacy and guidance on key issues affecting the industry. The goals of the conference included the following:

  • Experience community and collaboration through endless amounts of networking opportunities
  • Excite and awaken the creativity of attendees through exposure to the latest in events design and production
  • Explore culinary and beverage innovations that will set companies apart from competitors

The conference goals fit well with the organization’s overall strategy, “To be the premier resource and community for catering and event professionals.”

The organization’s commitment to these and some of their other goals was apparent in the quality of the programming they offered. This year’s speeches emphasized some of the latest gadgets and tools for members to utilize. There were excellent presentations on everything from design to processes and technologies. It was also a great event to get to know vendors servicing the industry.

Samantha Brown gave an enthusiastic two thumbs up on the conference, saying,

“NACE Experience provides great visibility for partners. It’s great to be a part of such an inquisitive, supportive community.”

David Donnelly, who handles executive hospitality for Gecko in hotels, resorts, country clubs and casinos, also enjoyed the conference. He said, “It was a fun event with a lot of energetic, passionate and creative people focused on the betterment of the meeting industry.”

The experiences of the Gecko Hospitality team were that the event was an outstanding educational and networking activity, particularly for anyone involved in the hospitality industry we serve. We were pleased to represent Gecko Hospitality and look forward to next year’s conference in Las Vegas.

Gecko Hospitality


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