by Lisa A. Grimaldi | October 11, 2017
The seventh annual IMEX America trade show kicked off Tuesday at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas with a strong show of support for the city that is reeling from the tragic shootings on Oct. 1. 
 
An audience of city and industry leaders gathered in the Sands Showroom to hear meetings industry leaders -- Ray Bloom, IMEX Chairman; Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International; Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association; Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and David Peckinpaugh, president Maritz Global Events --  speak to #VegasStrong, the campaign the city created after the tragedy. 
 
Ralenkotter told the audience that the outpouring of support the city has received has made him think of the 43 million people who visit Las Vegas every year not as visitors, "but as 43 million friends." A visibly emotional Murren followed Ralenkotter, stating, "People here have a job because of you. Meetings and conventions are the backbone of this city. Without them everything else falls away." Murren added, "We are heart-broken, but we are not broken."
 
U.S. Travel's Dow pledged, "We've been here for the good times, we stand with you for the toughest of times." And Maritz's Peckinpaugh stated, "The best thing we can do as an industry [following the tragedy]… is to make sure we are educating clients, informing them of the facts." He added, "Is Vegas different now? Yes, but it still offers the same excellent experience."
 
The session concluded with members of the Meetings Mean Business coalition joining the speakers on stage to show their rousing support of #VegasStrong and the city.