IMEX America has always been a hugely important event in the annual calendar of the DMC Network. We have our booth presence there for the 3 show days and then, on the Tuesday night, we have our annual Talent Search party. It’s all about days that run into nights, constant chat, on your feet all the time, an endless, relentless physical effort that leaves you drained for days and days.

But this year was different. This was my last IMEX as Managing Director of The DMC Network and, knowing that in advance, I approached IMEX America with a slightly different attitude and left with a radically different perspective. A week after my last IMEX as MD of the DMC Network, I’m still glowing with a profound sense of gratitude for our industry in general, and for the role that I’ve been privileged to play over the past 11 years with The DMC Network.

In ways, IMEX IS the industry. Everybody is there: destinations from all four corners of the world, agencies from all five continents, Eventtech companies, all the industry associations from FICP to SITE. And when our industry comes together, sparks ignite. There’s an energy that could light up Vegas all on its own. When you’re too close to it, you often don’t notice but this year I did and, boy, is it special and unique.

After the DMC Network Talent Search party at Mandalay Bay, I walked the two miles up Las Vegas Boulevard with a close industry friend. It was 2:30 in the morning but, this being Vegas, it could just as easily have been 2:30 in the afternoon. Having collaborated extensively together over the past 11 years, he and I reflected on the highs and the lows (way more highs, by the way) and agreed we both won a Vegas-like jackpot the day we inadvertently wandered into this industry.

In my role as MD of the DMC Network, I visited more places around the world than I ever dreamed possible. Most importantly, I’ve met people in those places who have molded and shaped who I am today, enriching me with their stories, their challenges and successes, their sheer diversity.

I can’t think of any industry that fosters global connections like ours does and with those global connections comes tolerance, understanding, empathy, reflecting Mark Twain’s famous dictum that “travel is the enemy of bigotry”. As an industry we may not be curing cancer, but we are contributing to world peace.

Thank you, one and all, for allowing me play my own small role in this marvelous travel adventure.