The Out & Equal Workplace Summit held Oct. 22-25 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel broke records.
Justin Tanis, director of communications for the organization, reported that 2,623 people registered for the conference, which was a record. Participants came from 30 countries.
“The summit overall raised $2.5 million,” Tanis said.
That total includes corporate sponsorships, registrations, merchandise sales and auctions.
At the Thursday night gala, live and silent auctions raised $74,660 that will benefit the Out & Equal Scholarship Fund for LGBT students. In addition, Northrup Grumman gave Youth First Texas a check for $20,000.
According to Cordey Lash, Hilton Anatole’s senior sales manager — multicultural, the conference had a $3 million impact on the hotel. That number includes just under 6,000 room-nights sold, as well as food and beverage sales.
Because the hotel was sold out for three nights of the conference, the impact to Dallas was even greater. Three surrounding hotels also sold hundreds of additional room-nights.
Thursday night’s gala attracted 2,800 people, one of the largest seated dinners at the hotel since the Black Tie Dinner moved from the hotel.
“It was one of the most impactful conferences of the year,” Lash said.
He called the 60 CEOs in the hotel at one time “possibly a first.” More than 130 corporations were represented at the conference, including ExxonMobil, known for being one of the few Fortune 500 companies with a 0 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
Wells Fargo was the company represented by the most employees. Banking was the industry with the strongest representation, followed by consulting, aerospace, defense, retail and food and beverage.
The conference had a positive impact on local LGBT business as well. Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman coordinated “community night” on Wednesday. Shuttle buses ran from the hotel to Cedar Springs Road.
“I must have greeted at least 1,000 people,” he said. “All the merchants, bars and restaurants had signs and participated.”
He said the Round-Up Saloon reported its Wednesday night total was equivalent to “a good Friday.”
And all of the restaurants had lines.
“The Black Eyed Pea was slammed for three hours,” Doughman said. “Macho Nacho had lines out the door. Hunky’s was packed all night.”
Tanis said that conference evaluations from attendees rated their experience in Dallas very highly. He said that Out & Equal looked forward to returning to the city soon.
Next year the conference is booked in Baltimore and the 2013 location is already set but not yet announced. So 2014 or soon after is a possibility.
Lash called the Out & Equal attendees the friendliest group the hotel has hosted. He said it changed the culture in the hotel among the staff.
He said that the blocks of panels from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt set off the piece of the Berlin Wall that stands in the hotel in a way it has never been seen — the Anatole’s chunk of the wall is covered in graffiti that includes the ACT-UP logo. And C.U.R.E. raised $360 from donations at the Quilt display.
“To bring that much positive energy together,” Lash said, “we look forward to welcoming them back.”
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