Akshar V. Patel, 36, works in Atlanta as senior director of conventions at AAHOA. As a 2019 40 Under 40 honoree, Patel discusses his passion for the events industry.
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What I do: I am responsible for the planning, implementation and execution of our annual convention, which has more than 7,000 attendees and 600 vendors. All of the planning happens in-house with me as a one-man team and other departments. In addition, I am responsible for all contracts—present and future— budgets and accountability that each convention is a success.
How I got here: I started in catering sales, moved to convention services and, lastly, into F&B in hotels. I stumbled upon this opportunity and knew it was a great fit as it gave me the best of both worlds: hotels and events. Having gone through the facility side and now being on the client side, I am able to be well-rounded in all areas.
Greatest career accomplishment: When I took this role, we were merely contracted two years out. I am now happy to say we are contracted five years out, which gives us great negotiating power along with more lead time on the planning.
Impressive stats: Since I joined the association, I have been able to create a steady profitability of $1 million in net profit and keeping total expenses down by 20 percent. Also, when I started, I had a team of three including myself, and successfully executed close to 150 events.
Specific improvement I’ve made: Before I joined, we did not have a registration system connected to our CRM system. We were doing it manually and data dumping. Within a year, I implemented a full-service registration system for approximately 200 events.
What I do outside of work: I am a trained musician in Indian classical music; I have two beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife who I love spending time with. I also am heavily involved in my Temple organization BAPS where I am the event lead on conventions for 10,000-plus youths and young adults.