Music of the Night. The musical interludes and transitions between each award were fantastic, many with Broadway themes (the hotel is located on Broadway in New York’s Times Square), or other classic tunes from the 1930s through the 1960s, which tied into the evening’s theme, A Night to Remember. It also provided a touch of class to the black-tie event.

Chunking it Out. The awards lasted two hours. There were a lot of awards to give out. But because some companies were being recognized for their digital marketing efforts, the organizers made generous use of video, and it became the savior of the day. It broke the monotony, and nowadays who doesn’t have some kind of video to show?

Sustaining or Upping the Attendance. Any award gala organizer understands the importance of having a wide appeal so that enough people attend (especially if it is a ticketed event, often with a high price tag).  It’s a delicate balance, since the more award winners, the more boring (witness the Oscars, which this year moved every technical award to another awards ceremony, showing just clips at the main event).

HSMAI also showcases the “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing” as part of its annual Adrian Awards Gala, a list that highlights those who have “made a sizeable influence on the hospitality, travel, and tourism industries.” Two lifetime achievement awards were also given out, one to David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western International, chosen as the recipient of the Albert E. Koehl Award for advertising and marketing; and one to Richard S. Kahn, president and owner of Kahn Travel Communications (KTCpr), who was presented with the Winthrop W. Grice Award for public relations excellence.

• The Right Team. HSMAI has worked with Sequence, an event company based in New York, for almost 10 years, because the team led by Managing Director Lizz Torgovnick, “has been a true event partner,” says Fran Brasseux, CHSE, executive vice president of HSMAI. “They always bring new ideas to the table, some of which make the next year’s show, and some that are held for future consideration.” HSMAI also went outside its internal team for this event to contract with a meeting and event planner, Peggy Shughrue Walz, of PegMotions. “Her attention to detail took the creative ideas and made them work in the Marriott space so well the first year we contracted with her, that long-time attendees actually thought HSMAI had used new space at the hotel for the event! But even the best event team can’t pull off a great event without the partnership of a very experienced hotel catering team. This is where years count, and respect is earned not given, event by event.”