Seems like only yesterday i received the email in which i was notified that I would be one of the 30 Inaugural recipients for the 30 Under 30 Program heading to New Orleans for the DMAI Annual Convention.
Just between us, I truly never thought I would actually win, given the low quality of my video (which the world will never see again) and just an overall sense of hesitation that maybe i hadn't accomplished enough at that point in my career to warrant such an inclusion to this elite group. I Guess its like the old saying goes, you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket... so i bought a ticket and the rest is history.
Attending the annual convention that year really changed my outlook on our industry in regards to professional development and advocacy related issues. Up to that point i hadn't been to many conferences, spent much time with speaking to and engaging with my colleagues from around the country or caring about occupancy tax related issues. Now when I go to conference i am looking to not only take in the educational content, but to be sure that I spend a considerable amount of time making connections with colleagues and talking about the issues in the industry that are common to us all.
This conference was also a driving force in me wanting to continue my education and have a greater foundational perspective on the travel industry in general, and as a result i will complete my Master's Degree in Hospitality Management later this year. This furthers my goal of hopefully one day having the opportunity to lead a DMO as CEO or Executive Director, and I can credit this conference and recognition with providing me that inspiration.
Having said tall of that, here are some of the takeaways from my experience as a 30 under 30 recipient:
5. Simply Enjoy the Conference - Go to the sessions ask questions, take notes, enjoy the destination and really make sure you soak it all in from the standpoint of being in the presence of some of the industry's brightest minds and great speaker lineups. I mean come on, it is Vegas after all!
4. Bring Plenty of Business Cards - This was a mistake that I made in that i didn't bring enough. Was naive enough at the time to think that I wouldn't hand them all out.
3. Network With your 30 Under 30 Peers - This is huge, as you have the opportunity to be in constant communication for those days and beyond with the brightest young minds. Build relationships that will last you a lifetime. I still speak to a many people that i met over the course of those few days and i wouldn't trade those relationships for anything.
2. Don't Be Afraid to Punch Above Your Weight - By that I mean don't be afraid to walk up to a CEO or executive director or VP and engage them in conversation. These men and women have years of industry experience and insight at are at your disposal. You never know when a handshake today can lead to an opportunity ten years from now, so don't be afraid to take that step. I had my first introduction to some of the heavyweights in our industry such as Michael Gehrisch, Maura Gast, Stephen Perry, Tom Martin, Dave Serino and many more. That was also the first time I had the chance to meet Victoria Isley, who has been nothing but an inspiration to me since then.
1. Don't Let the Relationships You Build This Year End with the Conference - Dialogue off-line and stay in touch with everyone you meet, as you never know when their experience will come in handy for you down the road. Keep the conversation going always.
Congrats to this years class and i am looking forward to meeting each of you in a few months time!