The Best and Brightest Shine Brightly at RIHA’s Stars of the Industry Event

Dale J. Venturini
President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association

Well, we did it again…Rhode Island’s amazing hospitality industry converged on Twin River Casino Hotel to celebrate our best and brightest of 2018. This annual event is truly the highlight of my year, and even though it takes an enormous amount of work to pull of an event for nearly 900 people, it is certainly worth the time, energy and effort. Far too often, we don’t recognize our industry’s backbone…the workers who devote so much of themselves to creating a wonderful guest experience. From housekeepers, to servers, to bartenders, to valets, to caterers, to chefs and hoteliers, each person plays an important role in keeping our guests happy.

This is our 29th year of hosting this event and almost 900 people attended this celebration making it another sell out! Close to 100 awards were bestowed upon folks from every facet of our industry and our winners hailed from organizations representing hotels, restaurants, tourism, politics and allied businesses.

Many of the awards pay tribute to employees; others feature vendor, tourism entities, emerging leaders and lifetime achievers. This year, we even added a special new award, the ‘Pinnacle’ award which celebrates the epitome of a well-earned career in our industry. As our hospitality industry continues to flourish, grow and garner regional and national attention as a tourism driver, this event is a wonderful reminder of all of those who make us as strong as we are.

As I have often said, I wish I had the space to list each award winner by name in this column because each and every winner deserves the recognition, but there are simply too many! I encourage you to visit our website to see the full list; maybe you know one of our Stars this year! The full list can be found at

The wonderful thing about our Stars of the Industry event is that the majority of winners are nominated by customers, peers or their bosses – it’s really an incredible nomination process and each of us on the RIHA Board of Directors enjoys reading why each nominee deserves to win. Watching our Stars as their names are announced and they come up on stage to dance down the runway is truly one of the best nights of my life.

While we may have recognized the work of 100 or so individuals and organizations, there are thousands more who work to make the hospitality and tourism industry in Rhode Island such a wonderful, important and vital part of our state’s culture and community. And, just because someone wasn’t nominated this year, doesn’t mean that they won’t be up for consideration next year. I encourage everyone reading this column to think about who in your organization deserves recognition…who goes above and beyond in his/her job to contribute to our celebrated industry?

As we welcome 2019 with fresh expectations and optimism, I ask that you add a resolution to your list. Be kind and be thankful…take the time to recognize those around you, offer a motivational word or an act of encouragement. A helping hand, a word of advice and taking a few minutes to mentor someone can mean the world to those who need a little lift and can also make the difference between good and great work. And, after all, we are an industry that strives to be great…more than 80,000 people contribute to our success!

Once again, congratulations to all of our 2018 Stars of the Industry recipients! May your own star shine brightly in the year ahead!

Happy New Year!