One of the events industry’s shining stars, educator, consultant, speaker, and author, Patti Shock, passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 22. She was a respected and beloved fixture in the event and experiential event industry.
Patti grew up in Oakland, Calif., and in her family’s restaurant. She owned a restaurant before she was 20 at a time when female-owned businesses were a real rarity. She had aspired to be a general manager of a Hyatt Regency hotel, but when she realized how much of the job was accounting and not directly interacting with the people and the direction of the hotel, she dropped that and eventually became a beloved and respected educator. In the late 1970s she developed the first college courses in convention management. She chaired the Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Department at Georgia State University in Atlanta for a decade before serving for 28 years as a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. For 18 of those years at UNLV, she was the chair of the tourism and convention administration. She also served as director of distance learning at Harrah College of Hotel Administration UNLV. She became a professor at The International School of Hospitality (TISOH) in Las Vegas in 2006, and there is a scholarship in her name there in conjunction with the National Association for Catering & Events (NACE) for the Meeting and Event Catering Certificate program.
Shock was inducted in the Events Industry Council (EIC) Hall of Leaders in 2014. In a video tribute to Shock on the EIC Hall of Leaders website page, Chris Meyer, CEM, CMP, vice president of global sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, credited Shock with being an early adopter of online learning. She served as director of distance learning at Harrah College of Hotel Administration UNLV and had taught online for Florida International University since 2013.
In an article about her death in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Marcus Lam, director of admissions and recruitment at The International School of Hospitality, summed up why she was such a force.
“Patti was the greatest connector of people,” says Lam “While her legend was built on textbooks and pioneering achievements in catering education, it was the numerous people she brought together that truly made her so special. If there was an introduction to be made, she managed to make it, despite the difficulty or boldness required.”
Among her numerous other industry achievements, Shock was recognized by the Professional Convention Management Association as Educator of the Year in 1996 and Author of the Year in 2002. When she received her PCMA Educator of the Year Award, Howard Reichbart, Professor Emeritus at Northern Virginia Community College spoke at length about her:
“Her philosophy on teaching has always emphasized a hands-on approach,” Reichbart says. “Almost 30 years since she first taught students about convention management by putting on a convention in Atlanta, she and her students maintained that legacy by producing the Las Vegas International Hospitality and Convention Summit each June for the past 10 years.”
Shock was also known for her sense of humor, mixing funny quotes into her professional web page and for a time she produced a “Wacky Hospitality” web page that won a humor award from MSNBC.
Her celebration of life took place on Dec. 9. at TISOH. The announcement likely would have pleased her.
“As we celebrate her life, we will do so in typical Patti fashion. Which means, expect to share a laugh, connect with old friends and meet new ones.”
This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 74. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/exhibitcitynews_janfeb_2020