The hospitality industry in the Southwest suburbs laid out a table of plenty Thursday at the fourth annual Daily Herald Business Ledger's Hospitality Expo -- Southwest.
More than 800 people came through the Tinley Park Convention Center during the afternoon to network, sample some food and drinks, and gain some ideas for their next meeting or company event.
For the more than 60 vendors at the event, it was not only a chance to gather business leads, but also to catch up with others and see what trends are developing.
"We meet a lot of interesting people here, and it's a good way to tell people about our place," said Meg Sakka, manager of La Banque Hotel in Homewood.
It's La Banque's third time as an expo vendor, and Sakka noted she had a particular interest in a nearby vendor -- U.S. Poker and Casino Parties, where attendees were getting a taste of Las Vegas-style table games.
"I'm dying to have a casino night sometime at the hotel," she said. "I think it would be a great fundraiser."
For first-time vendor Pam Darter, sales manager at Gizmo's Fun Factory in Orland Park, the expo was "something we had to do" to get exposure for the new business.
"We want to get our name out there and get a lot of leads to bring people in and have a great time," Darter said.
Attendee Don Peelman of Southwest suburban economic planning firm Peelman Consultants took a moment from the event to sample candied bacon and homemade kettle chips from Square Celt Ale House in Orland Park.
"This is fantastic," he said. "To promote the area like this is a good thing for our area, because sometimes we're looked upon as being the stepchild to other areas."
The Hospitality Expo is the first of three to be hosted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger this year. The next one will focus on DuPage County businesses on Oct. 12, and the final one will host businesses in the Northwest suburbs on Nov. 9. Times and locations will be posted on the Business Ledger's website, www.dhbusinessledger.com