Out of 500 submissions across more than 70 categories, HipMaps has been named a 2023 BizBash Event Experience Award (EEA) winner in the Best New Event Product/Service category.
“Growing up, I always loved maps — and eventually found myself wanting to take the leap and create a business around them,” said Rachel LeRoy, founder and CEO of HipMaps. “Receiving this honor from BizBash is a solid reminder that the risk I took by leaving full-time work to pursue my dream of spreading joy through personalized maps was 100% worth it!”
For the last 10 years, BizBash has awarded event industry professionals EEAs in categories ranging from Best Attendee Gifting Experience/Swag Bag to Best Conference to Best Influencer Event. Recipients are selected by the BizBash advisory board. (More information about this year’s winners can be found here.)
And it’s not lost on LeRoy how meaningful it is to win this award, especially since it’s been less than two years since she started her journey with HipMaps. Before launching the business, LeRoy worked in vineyard design and creating maps for wineries.
“I knew it was time for me to make a career change, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what I should do,” she said. “At the first networking event I attended, I sat next to a woman who asked me if I’d ever made site maps for wedding planners.”
That was the “ah-ha” moment that LeRoy needed.
“It made me think of the times I’d attended a weekend wedding but didn’t know where to go to eat or what to do when there was spare time,” she said. “It hit me that I could make a map of all of those awesome places the couple wants to share to ensure their guests have a blast the whole weekend vs. just at the wedding. And then I thought, ‘Why limit the idea to just weddings?’”
But, timing is everything, as LeRoy learned when she first tried to launch HipMaps in March of 2020 — just days before the pandemic shut the world down.
“My business plan didn’t include a global pandemic,” she joked. “But, the silver lining was that I really wasn’t ready to launch the business at that point. I needed to build the smart phone app component of HipMaps — which added the host’s comments about each place (to better connect with guests) and directions so guests could easily get to the right place.”
Today, HipMaps is creating custom maps for clients ranging from conference event planners looking to provide attendees with restaurant options for dinner to hotels and Airbnbs wanting to provide guests with a resource that gives personalized recommendations of what to see in the neighborhood. In addition to the 2023 BizBash EEA, HipMaps also received a 2022 International Live Events Association Esprit Award for Best Industry Innovation and was short listed for a 2022 SKIFT Travel Idea Award for Companies on the Rise.
“Our maps are meant to be a 24/7 concierge,” LeRoy said. “We want guests and attendees to feel a connection to their host or the property they’re visiting. And I think the maps, with our app, do a spot-on job of accomplishing this.”