Entire Industry Needed To Make IH/M&RS Better

It’s hard to believe it is November again and time for the annual International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City. This will be my 24th straight year attending the show. I remember years when there was a foot of snow, and at the same time, I can even recall a year or two when the temperature was in the 70s. There’s one thing, however, that has always been consistent for me, the feeling that nothing could be better than being in the world’s greatest city during the fall.
That feeling has not necessarily subsided, but I must admit the excitement and buzz leading up to the show has waned a bit over the last few years. Let’s face it, the IH/M&R Show isn’t what it used to be. While reminiscing with people just recently coming into our industry, I frequently talk about how the show once was. It was the time when the entire marketplace would convene to recap the year just wrapping up, and begin planning and forecasting for the year to come.
Both exhibit floors, upstairs and downstairs, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center always seemed to be filled from wall to wall. There was the aroma of prime rib cooking at the Alto Shaam booth, hot fresh donuts being served at the Belshaw Bakery Group exhibit and, of course, all of the Nathans franks you could eat. The nightlife was nonstop and included client dinners at Smith & Wollensky and Sparks, galas at the Waldorf Astoria, the Plaza and New York Palace and party hopping at the Big Apple’s hottest clubs and night spots. At the end of each evening, everybody who was anybody would meet up at the circular bar in the lobby of the Loews Hotel for a nightcap. I can remember as a newcomer to the industry intently listening to stories being told by such industry execs as Patricia Durkan from Durkan Carpets, Tom Strickland of Philips Electronics and John Beasley, formerly of Zenith. The IH/M&RS was, without a doubt, the most important event of the year.
My intention here isn’t to live in the past, point fingers, nor put the sole responsibility for the show’s decline on the shoulders of its management company (GLM), its owners, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, or the Hotel Association of New York City and the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association.
Some of the world events, from 9/11 to the more recent economic meltdown, over the past decade have definitely had a major impact on the show. My objective is to challenge the entire industry to work on a solution together. Few would disagree that a successful IH/M&RS is important for all involved.
I’m not suggesting that company’s exhibit or hoteliers attend just for the sake of gratuitously supporting the show. Nobody understands better than I do the pressure of showing an ROI on every marketing dollar spent. What I am recommending is to actively communicate with the officials at AH&LA, HANYC and NYSH&TA. Exhibitors, you need to let them know what changes will have to be made for you to continue supporting the show. Attendees do the same; make it clear what it will take for you to keep coming to New York in November.