RegencyExpo| International Exhibitions agency 

For the second year in a row and much to my chagrin, I was unable to attend the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders annual meeting. 

This year, it was held in the great city of Austin, Texas, and had three days packed with education and networking events.

One week after Will Secombe stepped down from the top post at Visit Florida in the midst of a controversy surrounding a $1 million promotional contract paid to musician Pitbull, Ken Lawson was named the bureau’s new President and CEO. 

The announcement was made following a unanimous vote of the Visit Florida Board of Directors during a meeting Jan. 10 in Orlando. 

Lawson, who currently serves as the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), will assume his new position with Visit Florida Jan. 11.

“The work VISIT FLORIDA does to promote tourism is vital to the continued growth of the state’s economy and having someone with Secretary Lawson’s strong leadership background will secure our continued success.” said William D. Talbert, III, CDME, president & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors.

Lawson, a native Floridian and former U.S. Marine Corps Judge Advocate General, has spent 12 years serving and protecting the public in numerous regulatory positions, including his most recent work overseeing - among other divisions - restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals with DBPR.

Instead of ending on a quiet note, last year finished up with a flurry of new hires and promotions at venues, convention bureaus and other companies.

John Gonzalez, the long-time director of event and guest services at the George R. Brown Convention Center, has been promoted to the new vice president position at Houston First Corporation’s downtown convention complex.

In his new role, Gonzalez will assist HFC COO Luther Villagomez in the administration of the George R. Brown and its central role in shaping the new Avenida Houston convention and entertainment district.

Gonzalez will interface with business representatives, organizations, suppliers, contractors, advisory committees, show promoters and contractor services. In addition, his successor over event and guest services will report to him.

Team San Jose promoted Cheryl Little to director of Sales and Destination Services. Little has been with Team San Jose for 26 years, and her expertise will help Team San Jose drive group sales and room nights.

Reed Exhibitions Greater China continues its contribution to the future of the nation’s exhibition industry with the ninth annual edition of The Reed Exhibitions Greater China Scholarship Program.

The Reed Exhibitions Greater China Scholarship Program award ceremony recently was held Dec. 13 at Beijing International Studies University (BISU).The Reed Exhibitions Greater China Scholarship Program was created to attract and motivate outstanding young talents who endeavor to serve China’s MICE trade through the exhibition industry. 

Eco Expo Asia 2016, held Oct. 26-29, closed amid great acclaim with record-breaking exhibitor and visitor numbers.

The Expo was jointly organised by Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, and co-organised by the Environment Bureau of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The four-day event attracted 325 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions, including 15 overseas and local pavilions and group participation.