Imagine, Create Inspire: NACE Sets The Stage

The theme of the 2017 NACE Experience Conference, hosted by the National Association for Catering and Events, was Imagine, Create, Inspire, and it delivered on all fronts!

As always the meals, breaks, and parties that would not be considered part of the educational program at any other conference, are of course core to the educational experience. Wedding and corporate event planners, caterers, event designers and industry professionals from across the country attend the NACE Experience Conference to see the most cutting-edge trends that they can take home to clients. More than 600 professionals were in attendance at this year's conference, held at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, Texas.

Industry Summit
The event started with an Industry Summit panel, moderated by BizBash's David Adler, with panelists Anirban Basu, a leading national economist, and Joyce Inderbitzin, of Hilton Hotels and Dennis Reynolds, Dean of the Conrad Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management.
Much of the conversation centered on managing millennial employees, and as many millennials in attendance confirmed, the new generation of workers wants to feel empowered, and like they are making a difference in the world. While their expectations may seem new and different, as the largest demographic making its way through the workforce, they have the leverage to see that their demands are met. Inderbitzin shared that once her company dropped its no tattoos and no piercings rule, the talent and quality of prospective employees vastly improved. 

Art of Events 
After the Industry Summit, it was on to the Art of Events Opening Reception at the Ballroom at Bayou Place in Houston. There was a wide variety of hors d'oeuvres that included peanut butter and jelly on brioche French toast, soy marinated beef tartar, a cotton candy station and a fresh donut station, and a full fixings bar that included fruit and fruit loops!

Design Experience
The keynote presentation of the Design Experience was an inspirational talk led by artist Phil Hansen, who spoke about how his artistic career nearly ended when his hand started uncontrollably shaking. But he returned to art, with a style all his own, and learned to “embraced the shake.”

Culinary Experience
The Culinary Experience was led by Monique Studak, CSW, of Pernot Ricard and featured Chef Jerry Edwards, CPCE, Chef's Expressions in Baltimore and Chef Patrick Gaughan of the Marriott Marquis. Studak led a conversation about wine pairings as the newly innovative Culinary Experience treated attendees to a meal in the round as each course was carefully explained. 

Educational Breakouts 
More than 600 attendees participated in our educational sessions presented by a line-up of thought leaders who addressed attendees more pressing topics in Catering Services and Cuisine, Beverage Trends, Sales and Marketing, Personal Development and Business and Technology

Foundation Night
Thank you to all who participated in Foundation Night: Inferno! Lighting the Fire for Giving. All proceeds from the event support the Foundation of NACE Scholarships and Community Grant programs. 

NACE One Awards
On Tuesday night, we wrapped up an amazing conference with the NACE One Awards where we recognized the best of the best in the industry. See who took home the trophy

NACE Gives Back
We closed out this amazing conference by giving back to our host city of Houston. It was truly an honor to support Kids' Meals, Inc., Dress for Success Houston, Emancipet Houston and Houston Independent School District!

Thank you to our 2017 Conference Sponsors, Donors and Exhibitors!
Our donors, sponsors and exhibitors play a huge role in making the NACE Experience Conference happen. We wouldn't be able to offer the events and networking opportunities that we do without their support. Click here to view our conference donors and sponsors. Click here to view our conference exhibitors.

The conference presented many more opportunities to learn, items to taste and décor to view. Make sure you don't miss next years' 2018 NACE Experience Conference in Palm Springs, California. 

By Kim Grimm
Interim Executive Director
National Association for Catering and Events