Travis Tague
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ESPA Honors Hyatt Centric French Quarter’s Travis Tague

The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) announced today that an executive at the Hyatt Centric French Quarter (HCFQ) was recognized with a prestigious national award along with other industry professionals at its annual conference.

Travis Tague, who is general manager at HCFQ, was honored with the Executive Excellence Award at ESPA’s annual conference in Pittsburgh, which was held January 19-22.

“As one of his team members, I can say firsthand that Travis understands the value that event service professionals provide,” said Denise Reid, ESPA president and event planning manager at the HCFQ in New Orleans. “He supports the service team’s professional development on a daily basis so they can exceed expectations and retain the business for the venue and the destination.”

Tague consistently supports the active participation of event services in a professional organization for continuing education as well as professional development. His “lead-by-example” management style showcases his mentoring and problem-solving skills. Unexpected issues don’t break his level-headed approach, which always places the best interest of the venue as the top priority.

HCFQ’s general manager supports event service professionals in various parts of daily operations. From ensuring they eat lunch in between multiple events throughout the day to asking them for feedback on capital projects, Tague brings everyone together.

With his vast background in human resources, Tague also gives professional advice generously to his employees and spends a large amount of time volunteering in the local New Orleans community with various charities. To build deeper relationships, he leads the hospitality team in the annual Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure run and the annual Angel Tree Toy Drive for the New Orleans Women’s Shelter, benefitting homeless mothers and their children. Tague currently serves as Vice-President/President Elect of the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association.

Each year at the annual conference, ESPA recognizes an executive for his or her commitment and dedication to the profession of event services, as well as support and leadership to members of their services team.

ESPA also recognized several award-winners at its 2023 annual conference.

Event Service Professional of the Year

Yvonne Williams, senior manager of Destination Services at The Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, won the Event Service Professional of the Year award at this year’s annual ESPA conference.

When meeting planner David Fowler, CMP, needed to make adjustments to account for Mother Nature for UniPro’s fall conference, Williams was able to remove the obstacle by anticipating the need for busing ahead of an incoming storm front.

“Within 24 hours, she had buses lined up to take attendees from the hotels to the convention center, signs printed to inform them of such and made sure each day the buses were running,” Fowler said. “Never even had one issue with that. But I learned that is what she was very good, no excellent at, anticipating things that, frankly, I didn’t even consider. Being in Palm Beach for the first time, having a person like Yvonne ‘having my back!’ made that part of the conference a success.”

Fowler adds, “I am proud to recommend Yvonne for a number of reasons. When I joined Bill Just in forming ACOM in 1988, one of the criteria for the organization then and even now is the ability to react and take care of the hundreds of things we do some 35 years later. Yvonne was the type of person we set out to design ACOM, now ESPA for, recognizing those individuals who went the extra mile, made the call and judgement when needed. This truly reflects what a win-win partnership between a planner and an event professional should be. Yvonne truly reflects that in her abilities. It was a pleasure to work with her.”

Meeting Professional of the Year

Rene Daines, executive director of Governor’s Hurricane Conference (GHC) based in Tarpon Springs, Florida, won ESPA’s Meeting Professional of the Year award for leading the association’s first annual conference since the passing of the group’s founder, Lynn Daines, who is also Rene’s mother.

Rene’s integrity and willingness to work across several government agencies helped produce record attendance of 2,100 at last year’s annual conference, despite leadership transition and staffing shortages.

“Rene’s selflessness and strength in the face of adversity during the sudden loss of Lynn was nothing but heart-warming,” says Williams. “There were several organizations that showed interest to buyout GHC’s contract or to rebrand this important conference, but Rene saw that their vision was not what had made GHC successful for over three decades.”

When one of the association’s hotel partners attempted to displace GHC’s clients, Rene was able to appease the clients and provide additional concessions to include a free night, honor points and a complimentary breakfast.

Williams, who has worked with Rene and Lynn for six years, says, “GHC is an amazing partner and customer. Their conference contributes to our local economy in The Palm Beaches, but most importantly to our nation’s emergency management services workers, by continuing to educate our first responders about the ever-changing results of national disasters.”

Inspiration in Service Award

Amanda Fox, CMP, director of Event Services & Events at Visit Rochester, won ESPA’s Inspiration in Service award at the 2023 annual conference.

Last year, Fox provided excellent event service to many groups needing special attention. As part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative, one group needed 1,500 gift cards for a donation to deserving nurses within two weeks, and she found a way to deliver them in time for the conference.

Fox also spearheaded Visit Rochester’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, co-creating a committee that trained more than 450 members. “This has given everyone the opportunity to learn best practices to give locals or visitors in Rochester the best experience,” said Amber Brewer, event service specialist at Visit Rochester, who nominated Fox for the award.

Brewer adds, “This is only a small portion of everything Amanda truly does for our organization. Every single group she services gets 110%. You couldn’t find a more dedicated and hard-working person for this award!”

ESPA Member Awards

During the 2023 annual conference, ESPA also presented awards to four members.

  • Lindsay Clapp, CMP, Event Manager, Tech Factory Productions, was given the William H. Just Memorial Award for being a recent CMP designate while supporting ESPA programs in a number of capacities.
  • Dominique Bonds, Director of Engagement, Pennsylvania Convention Center & Adrienne Terry, Event Services Director, Chattanooga Tourism Co., were named ESPA Members of the Year for their dedication to the DEI Task Force.
  • Carol Gagnon, CMP, CEM, Director of Event Operations, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, was presented the ESPA Presidents Award for a high level of continued volunteerism, including service as a 2022 Conference vice chair and participation on the Professional Development Committee.

Value Proposition: Event Service Professionals

An event service professional works at a hotel, convention center or CVB and manages all the logistics of an event with a meeting planner to efficiently bring it to life after the sales team closes the sale. They are highly educated, resourceful and highly skilled problem solvers.

Prior to the event date, their objective is to execute all event elements on time and on budget. Event service professionals are also on-site during the event, working with the meeting planner as their partner and lifeline on daily logistics, ensuring all needs are met and assisting to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. They also share their knowledge on local regulations and guidelines, providing guidance on safety measures for groups.


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