by Michael J. Shapiro | January 08, 2018
In a lunchtime interview with facilitator Nick Ross today, Hilton president and CEO Christopher Nassetta said he anticipates a rosy 2018 for the travel industry. "Most people know I'm an optimist by nature," he noted. Nassetta expects incremental growth for both the hotel industry and the global economy overall. This "golden age of travel," as he called it, is being propelled by both the global rise of the middle class and a growing desire for experiences rather than products. "This bodes really well for our industry for the next 10 to 20 years," he predicted. The interview was held during the Professional Convention Management Association's Convening Leaders conference, which kicked off Sunday night, Jan. 7, in Nashville.

Following this year's event, Deborah Sexton, FASAE, PCMA's president and CEO, will turn over the organization's leadership reins to longtime COO Sheriff Karamat, CAE. During a press conference held Monday morning, Sexton challenged industry members to spread the word about the worth of face-to-face meetings. "We... talk to ourselves beautifully, but we've got to get outside of our industry and start talking about the value of what we do to the people who don't already understand that. We've got to speak to a global audience. We can't be speaking to ourselves," she said.

PCMA's annual meeting will likely post the association's highest attendance ever for any conference. In addition to the on-site crowd, which will exceed 4,500 attendees, approximately 2,000 people are attending remotely, watching live-streamed sessions. Official attendance figures will be available in about 10 days.