Rock The Road Evolves Into Leadership, Innovation Event in Support of Cancer Research

COLUMBUS, OH—More than a year ago, Hotel Business interviewed Rockbridge President & CEO Jim Merkel about the private equity firm’s centerpiece event, Rock the Road (RTRX). Since then, the company has taken RTRX to new heights in support of cancer research.

Among the strides include an evolution of the event into a leadership and innovation experience complete with notable speakers who share expertise and innovation stations. The attendance has steadily climbed, with the event garnering 183 attendees in 2015, and topping more than 400 attendees this year.

“The investment we make to Pelotonia [an annual cycling event in support of cancer research]has also grown dramatically. In 2015, we made an investment of $655,000. In 2017, our investment to Pelotonia topped $1 million,” said Merkel. “We have also evolved the name from Rock The Road to RTRX. The X stands for experience, because we feel it’s grown to be more than an event. It now spans several days, and we believe this is only the start.”

With all this change and progress, what remains the same is Rockbridge’s steadfast commitment to the fight against cancer and support of cancer research through the James Cancer Hospital.

“I continue to be humbled and amazed by the trajectory of RTRX. 2017 marks our sixth event, and by all accounts, it was an overwhelming success. In those short six years, we have invested $3.3 million for cancer research. What we have accomplished together has set a new way we can do business with each other. The triple bottom line of business, inspiration and purpose is not a hope but a reality,” said Merkel. “I feel privileged to be part of this team, orchestrating what has become a very relevant and meaningful event for our industry. The commitment and feedback continues to inspire us to invest in and grow RTRX. I know more of our friends and colleagues would be interested in RTRX. What if…we doubled attendance next year? Together, the potential of RTRX is limitless.”

The hospitality industry is full of caring individuals. The Rockbridge team has mobilized industry leaders to do business together in a new way, encouraging a focus on its triple bottom line of business, inspiration and purpose.

“RTRX is a leadership and innovation event where attendees can learn from the best, nationally recognized speakers, who provide inspirational storytelling that they can take and use in their work and personal lives,” said Merkel. “All the investment raised goes directly to fighting cancer through Pelotonia. It goes to leading research institutes. In fact, some of the funding from RTRX has gone into the development of breakthrough drug therapies that are producing lifesaving results.”

Lead sponsors for RTRX 2017 included Aimbridge Hospitality, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, Rockbridge, RBHD, Marriott, Hodges Ward Elliott, Hospitality Ventures Management Group, IDC Construction, Hyatt Hotels Corp., JLL, S.R. Sams Construction and Morris, Manning & Martin LLP, among many other sponsors in other categories.

“We will continue to lead and innovate as we have done every year. The focus is on bringing relevant, inspiring expert talent to RTRX that provides great learning and value for our attendees,” he said. “Doing business at the event is extremely important for its success, so we create opportunities in the days leading up to and during the day of RTRX for industry attendees and business partners to meet and conduct business.”