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Friends and Colleagues Pay Tribute to Patti Shock

Groundbreaking meetings industry educator and Hall of Leaders inductee has died.

In the 2014 video created for her induction into the Events Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders, Patti Shock said, “I always consider myself having one foot in the [meetings] industry and one foot in academia, but my main thing is working with students and getting them hands-on experience.” Sadly, the caring, common-sense philosophy of this much-honored meeting industry educator will need to be carried on by others; Shock passed away on November 22 following several surgeries.

Shock was in her 28th year teaching at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 18 of which she served as chair of the tourism and convention administration department. She was also the academic consultant for The International School of Hospitality in Las Vegas; the author or coauthor of six books focused on catering, including A Meeting Planner’s Guide to Catered Events; a frequent speaker at industry events; and for many years a food & beverage columnist for MeetingsNet’s magazines.

In addition to her recognition in the Hall of Leaders, Shock was recognized by the Professional Convention Management Association as Educator of the Year in 1996 and Author of the Year in 2002.

“Patti Shock was a hospitality and meetings industry icon,” says Joan Eisenstodt, principal of Eisenstodt Associates LLC. “Many people knew her or knew of her from her many contributions to education through universities and her contributions to PCMA and the National Association for Catering & Events. Others had the privilege of being mentored by her. In fact, little known to all is that the amazing Guy Fieri was one of her students. We're all sure he'd never have been who he is without Patti!

“To me she was all that and a friend and confidante for more than 35 years,” Eisenstodt adds. “Over these days since her hospitalization for what was to be a simple 45-minute procedure until her death on November 22, I've revisited her EIC Hall of Leaders video, her past emails and messages, our Words with Friends games, everything that I have that she was part of, and I've cried because losing a friend is so painful.

“What the industry has lost is wisdom, knowledge, and historical knowledge. What Patti left are books, webinars, and articles that will guide future generations. Those of you who didn't know her or hadn't experienced her should now learn more. We all have a responsibility to carry on her legacy of learning and teaching.”

Tyra Warner (Hilliard), PhD, JD, CMP, department chair, Hospitality & Tourism Management at the College of Coastal Georgia, also remembers Shock fondly. “Patti was a good friend and a role model,” she says. “I first heard her name when I got my first teaching job at Georgia State, where she had also taught. I was told I ‘had to meet her.’ She was a pioneer in meetings education and, beyond that, she continued to be a pioneer and a leader in all things technology in education. She might have been older than a lot of her colleagues, but she was a better online teacher than many of us.  

“She was a private person,” continues Warner, “but a public figure in the meetings industry. We couldn't go anywhere in Las Vegas without one of her former UNLV or TISOH students recognizing her. Each time it was a nice reminder of the impact she had on the industry.”

For Lisa Hurley, content director for Special Events magazine and The Special Event show, one memory illustrates Shock’s skill as an engaging educator. “Patti had a remarkable command of trends in the meeting and events industry. I once moderated a panel for a conference in Las Vegas and Patti was to be the last speaker in the final session of the day. I could see attendees starting to glance at their watches; cocktails and casinos were calling. But once Patti started her presentation, she had attendees enrapt. She shared a wide range of cutting-edge trends—including the coming role of cannabis, about which she shared her personal experiences. The audience loved her.”

Paraphrasing Sandra Day O’Connor in the 2014 video created for her HOL induction, Shock said, “None of us achieves anything alone; we’re all the sum total of all the webs that have created our lives, all the people who have influenced us.” For many, Shock was a valuable part of their web and she will be long missed.

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