The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto Unveiled.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company announced plans to open The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto on February 7, 2014. The property is located on the Kamogawa River, Nijho Ohashi, close to Kyoto’s popular downtown areas including Gion and Kawaramachi-dori, the city’s retail and entertainment district. The hotel’s guest rooms will offer views of the river and the Higashiyama Mountains. In keeping with the traditions and cultural sensitivity of Kyoto, The Ritz-Carlton will be a subtle and inspired juxtaposition of modernity and respect for Japanese tradition. Featuring 136 large guest rooms, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto will feature four dining options, banquet and meeting rooms, as well as a spa and other recreational facilities. Kyoto draws 50 million visitors annually to experience the city and its 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. www.ritzcarlton.com
Cotai Strip Resorts Brings the DreamWorks Experience to Macao.
Cotai Strip Resorts will soon be home to the interactive and entertaining DreamWorks Experience at Cotai Strip Resorts, beginning July 1, 2013. Supported by the Macau Government Tourist Office, the DreamWorks Experience at Cotai Strip Resorts is the result of a new resort licensing agreement between Sands China and DreamWorks Animation, bringing the global entertainment company’s well-known characters and franchises, such as Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek and Madagascar to events, shows and offerings throughout Cotai Strip Resorts on the properties of Sands Cotai Central and The Venetian Macao. www.cotaistrip.com.mo/en
GBTA Outlook Projects Huge Increase in China’s Business Travel Spending. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) on April 15 released the results of its GBTA BTI Outlook – China, a semi-annual analysis of the business travel market, sponsored by Visa. Key highlights from the report include:
• After expanding by 7.8 percent in 2012, China’s economy should continue to usher the world out of its economic slowdown. GBTA forecasts that China’s GDP will increase by 8.3 percent in 2013, with growth predicted to be just below 9 percent in 2014.
• China’s total business travel spending increased by an average 15.5 percent per year from 2000 to 2012.
Building on this impressive performance, business travel spending is forecast to increase by 15.1 percent in 2013 to $226 billion. The projected expansion of 16.9 percent in 2014 is more than twice the rate of the U.S.
to be just below 9 percent in 2014
Welf J. Ebeling, Vice President Operations, GBTA Asia remarked: “Although economic growth has been moderated by ongoing global uncertainty, the Chinese economy is regaining its momentum. A range of government policy initiatives, which began last year, should deliver improved economic performance in 2013 and 2014. As a result, we are confident that stronger domestic demand will spur renewed growth in business travel spending. At the forecasted growth rates, China is likely to become the largest business travel market in the world as early as 2015.” The GBTA BTI Outlook – China is free of charge to all GBTA members by clicking here. Non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing email@example.com
Waldorf Astoria Panama Opens. Hilton Worldwide announced the opening of Waldorf Astoria Panama. The 248-room Waldorf Astoria Panama features Level 5 — more than 3,500 sf of meeting space that includes three multipurpose meeting rooms and a ballroom. The property boasts an impressive array of diverse culinary experiences, featuring four distinct restaurants and bars, including the renowned Peacock Alley. The Waldorf Astoria Spa, a 2,000-sf retreat, offers five treatment rooms, including a couples-only space. Wellness facilities at Waldorf Astoria Panama also include a fitness center by Life Fitness and an outdoor swimming pool designed with mosaic gold tiles. Located steps away from Calle Uruguay, in the heart of the entertainment area, Waldorf Astoria Panama is approximately 25 minutes from Tocumen International Airport and two blocks from the city center and financial district. www.waldorfastoriapanama.com
New Gulf MICE Facilities Planned. New facilities such as convention centers, hotels and other venues opening in the Gulf regions of the UAE, KSA and Oman will cater to projected increases in MICE-related business, according to Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the organizer of the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM). “In the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both forging ahead with significant projects and initiatives that are designed to draw more MICE business to the destination in line with their ambitious targets for this sector,” said Lois Hall, GIBTM exhibition manager, which takes place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from March 25–27. “Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and Oman are building and expanding convention facilities, helping to further establish the region as a meetings industry hub,” said Hall. www.gibtm.com
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Announces New Hotels. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group on February 28 announced the development of five hotel properties and one recent opening in the Caribbean and South America. The newest additions include: Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados; Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, St. George; Radisson Port of Spain Trinidad; Park Hotel by Radisson Vespucio, Santiago, Chile; and the newly opened Park Inn by Radisson San Jose, Costa Rica. The addition of these five new hotels boosts Carlson Rezidor’s portfolio in the Caribbean, Central and South America with a total of 50 hotels and 7,939 rooms in operation and under development. www.carlsonrezidor.com
World’s Tallest Hotel Now Open in Dubai. The JW Marriott brand celebrated on February 28 the newly opened JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, the “World’s Tallest Hotel,” and hosted more than 1,200 VIP guests who enjoyed performances and dined on international fare from six of the hotel’s signature restaurants — Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar, Izakaya, Tong Thai, Prime 68 La Farina and the Arabic Restaurant — while enjoying premium beverages from Dubai’s newest night spot Vault. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai features 684 rooms, 120 suites, 24 meeting rooms and 55,488 sf of total meeting space. Guest rooms are equipped with LCD TVs, iPod stations, Wi-Fi and a master room control tablet. www.marriott.com
Week of May 20
Appointments Up 33 Percent at IMEX in Frankfurt
At the end of the 2013 show on May 23, IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom announced several important new business achievements for the Frankfurt edition of IMEX. More than 3,900 hosted buyers from 75 countries attended the show, which saw a total of nearly 9,000 participants; 27 percent of them hailed from long-haul markets, which is up from 25 percent in 2012. On day one, 3,000 hosted buyers were in the halls doing business with exhibitors — another increase over last year. Bloom said a new record of more than 53,000 individual appointments between buyers and exhibitors took place, which represented an increase of 33 percent over 2012. Overall, nearly 65,000 appointments took place, which included individual and group appointments and also stand presentations. IMEX Association Day attracted more than 300 association executives for a full day of tracked education and networking. Bloom also referred to positive reaction from delegates who attended the new Exclusively Corporate @IMEX day, which will be expanded for 2014. Bloom gave a progress report on preparations for IMEX America, which takes place October 15-17 in Las Vegas. “We move into renovated halls at the Sands Expo this year, and these are both larger and offer state-of-the-art facilities, with new amenities which will benefit everyone. Numbers are also looking very good with increases expected in all areas of the show.” www.imex-frankfurt.com
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Completes Renovation
The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach Hotel and Resort announced the completion of its comprehensive $15 million renovation, which began in November 2012. The landmark hotel received a complete reinvention that encompassed all aspects of the property from the grand front drive, porte-cochère, and lobby to its 407 guest rooms and suites, to its pools, extensive grounds and restaurants. The newly reinvented Hyatt Regency Newport Beach now boasts three unique and distinctive pool environments; the new SHOR American Seafood Grill; and the stylish new Lobby Lounge. In addition to the spa, the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach also offers a 24-hour StayFit Health Club; a nine-hole golf course; access to the Newport Dunes for stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and boat rentals; and close proximity to Newport Beach’s 10 miles of scenic coastline. www.newportbeach.hyatt.com
DoubleTree by Hilton Omaha Downtown Receives Accolades
The DoubleTree by Hilton Omaha Downtown Hotel and Executive Meeting Center, which recently completed a $20 million renovation, won accolades from DoubleTree by Hilton for “Most Improved Quality” for 2012, and also was recognized by its management group Westmont Hospitality Group for excellence in guest service with the company’s coveted First Place Award for Best Year-Over-Year Service Score Improvement. The hotel is only a short walk to the CenturyLink Convention Center and offers complimentary shuttle service to Eppley Airport. The 414-room property features a new lobby with a welcoming reception area and a redesigned lounge. The hotel’s renovation included the re-mastering of all guest rooms and suites in earth tones with new furnishings and soft goods, including wall coverings and draperies, as well as updated bathrooms, and the addition of 42-inch, flat-screen LCD TVs. The 30,000 sf of meeting space, including the 9,500-sf Executive Meeting Center, has been remodeled and decorated for business with state-of-the-art meeting services and facilities. Each meeting room provides panoramic views of downtown Omaha; a choice of All Day Meeting Packages or flexible banquet service; state-of-the-art amenities such as powered tables and ergonomic chairs; and tackable surfaces and white boards. www.doubletreeomaha.com
MPI: Improving Conditions Leading to Seller’s Market
Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) 2013 April Business Barometer reveals overall conditions in the meeting and event industry continue to improve; however, the gap between North American and European meeting levels is widening. The U.S. corporate sector reports more bookings as well as greater lead times, and association meetings are up slightly but government meetings are flat. Budgets are flat in Europe, and the overall outlook is an increase of 2 percent, compared to 3.5 percent in the U.S. In the U.S., where corporate budgets are increasing, competition for space is pushing many corporate organizations to plan further ahead. Additionally, because of increased demand, planners and suppliers are seeing travel and lodging costs increase. Some U.S. planners and suppliers consider the current trend to represent a seller’s market. The increased use of social media and technology skills are trending higher than meeting and event industry knowledge, according to managers. MPI publishes the Business Barometer report on a bi-monthly basis to help its members and the broader meeting and event community understand how perceptions and realities of the economy affect decision-makers. The report, derived from surveying more than 300 senior meeting professionals on MPI’s Business Research Panel, includes current and predicted attendance trends, employment and budget statistics, and more. To obtain a copy, go to www.mpiweb.org/research.
Viking Launches New Ocean Cruise Line
Viking Cruises announced the launch of its ocean product line, Viking Ocean Cruises, marking the introduction of the travel industry’s first new cruise line in nearly a decade. Developed from the ground up, Viking Ocean Cruises will begin sailing in May 2015 with its first vessel — the new 928-passenger, all-veranda Viking Star — embarking on maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. Viking Cruises has expansion plans in both the ocean and river cruise categories, with a second ocean ship on order for delivery in 2016 and conditional orders and options for four more ocean vessels. The company continues its rapid fleet expansion in the river cruise sector, as 10 new river ships were christened in March and 12 new river ships are expected to launch in 2014. Viking Ocean Cruise itineraries are curated for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights so guests can experience local nightlife or evening performances. In addition, all-inclusive pricing includes a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Passengers also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service. www.vikingcruises.com/oceans
Segarra-Pancorbo to Lead Puerto Rico Convention Bureau
The board of directors of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau announced the appointment of Milton Segarra-Pancorbo as president and CEO of the organization. Effective in June, Segarra will oversee all aspects and operations of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau, including the headquarter offices in San Juan and regional hubs of New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. In addition to serving as executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Segarra has served as Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Segarra has also held various sales, marketing and top management positions with some of Puerto Rico’s top international hotel brands including Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Resorts Puerto Rico. Most recently, Segarra worked in business development within the island’s burgeoning medical tourism arena. “Milton is an extremely accomplished industry leader with extensive experience in the public and private sector,” stated Raúl Bustamante, chairman of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau board of directors. “His understanding of Puerto Rico’s tourism, meetings and conventions market, along with his industry relationships and business acumen make him the ideal individual to lead the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau forward.” Segarra will be based in the headquarter offices of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau in San Juan. www.meetpuertorico.com
AIBTM to Feature New Exhibitors, Accredited Education
The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) will showcase more than 50 new exhibitors at the show June 11-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, which includes a broad range of global participants from the travel, hospitality, destinations, incentives and meetings industry. New exhibitors participating at AIBTM for the first time include United Airlines, Savoya Global Chauffeured Services, Visit Savannah, Travizon Meeting Management, Sonesta Collection, The Breakers, Monte Carlo SBM-Hotels & Casinos, Detroit Metro CVB, Sustainable Travel/Namibia Tourism Board, Poken, Tropicana Las Vegas, Sedona Chamber of Commerce, Monaco Government & Tourist Convention Authority, Park City CVB, Jordan Tourism Board, Malaga CVB, Sun Country Airlines and many others from across the globe.
AIBTM's Education Day program will include 30 hours of CEU-accredited sessions. The program offers over 30 different sessions that are designed to support meetings industry professionals in “defining the future of meetings… together." In addition to sessions on face-to-face relationships, social networking, managing the generations and brain food, industry organizations are presenting topics including:
PCMA: “The Corporate Meeting Planner of the Future” and "The Art of Engagement."
ACTE: “How to Navigate the World of Global Travel Management.”
ICCA: “Understanding the North American Meetings Buyer” and “Going Global – Answers to North American Planners Toughest Questions.”
Site: “Buying the World: Finding and Qualifying Service Providers” and “Hosting Incentive Events at Sea - How a Cruise Ship Can Provide the Ultimate Experience.”
MPI: “Get Stakeholder Commitment and Measure the Business Value of Your Meetings” and “Wheel of Fortunes.”
PCMA and Healthcare Convention and Exhibitors Association: “Healthcare Convention Trends – What Medical Meeting Planners Need to Know” and “Conferences and Trade Shows On the Go.”
IAEE: “Key Value Propositions of Exhibitions in the New Economy.”
For complete information, visit www.aibtm.com
DMAI Annual Convention 'Better Together' in Orlando This July
Destination Marketing Association International expects more than 1,000 destination marketing professionals to convene in Orlando for its annual convention July 15–17 at The Peabody Orlando. As reported in Trade Show News, the conference connects more than 600 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) from around the globe. According to DMAI, the theme of this year’s convention is “Better Together: Integrating Our Strengths,” and topics to be covered in more than 40 education sessions include forming integrated teams, building collaborative partnerships within the community, creating integrated marketing and sales, and positioning and strengthening the DMO industry as a channel. “Here at DMAI, we have long realized destination marketing as a serious engine to drive job creation and economic growth through travel and tourism,” said Michael Gehrisch, president and CEO of DMAI. He added, “We equally realize the challenging environment for destination marketing executives, and are committed to improving the effectiveness of these organizations and ensuring their success.” Rachel Botsman, author, futurist and social innovator, will open the general session, and marketing and leadership strategist and author David Meerman Scott will close the meeting. Registration and more information is available at annual.destinationmarketing.org.
Access Wine Country Debuts
Access Destination Services, a destination management and event production company, has announced its expansion into the wine country of Northern California. Access Wine Country, serving Sonoma and Napa Valley will be led by industry veterans Mary Carvotta-Trexler and Robert Elliott. “We have been servicing this destination for many years out of our Northern California office. Over 40 percent of our business is in wine country and based on client demand it only makes sense to have a physical presence in wine country,” said Access Northern California owner Robert Elliott. The Access Wine Country daily operations will be run by Fiona Tropiano, director of business development. A seasoned veteran with more than 20 years in the hospitality industry, including seven years previously with Access in Southern California, Tropiano brings extensive knowledge and DMC expertise to the Access Wine Country team. www.accessdmc.com
MPI-WEC Aims to 'Revitalize Meeting Professionals'
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) will address the rapid changes facing the meeting and event industry at the 2013 World Education Congress (WEC) July 20–23 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas.
The opening general session will explore the transformational power of meetings with leading business experts and keynote speaker Candy Chang, a TED Senior Fellow and urban space artist and designer. Accomplished speaker and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman will discuss transformational leadership and how to find purpose through social action at the closing session. “We recognize the meeting and event industry is changing rapidly, so MPI is also transforming to better serve our members. At WEC 2013, we will provide new tools, techniques and learning experiences to help meeting professionals evolve and succeed,” said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. “Our goal with this year’s conference is to revitalize meeting professionals so their meetings can revitalize others.” MPI added a second Flash Point session, which is a distinctive, fast-paced platform of three 15-minute presentations from diverse and innovative speakers. Other program highlights include a hosted buyer program; MarketSquare; RISE Awards Luncheon; Helping Hands Community Service Project; and a Dierks Bentley Performance. Fundraising events include the Players Golf Tournament; The Big Deal, an official World Series of Poker satellite tournament; and Rendezvous, the foundation’s signature networking event. www.mpiweb.org/wec
Anaheim Hosts HSMAI’s MEET West
The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) will hold the second of its three-event MEET series, MEET West, on May 29–30 at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel. Keynote speaker Jim Davidson will speak on the power of partnership and dispense advice gleaned from his years of experience as a corporate manager, high-altitude climber and resilience expert. “Davidson’s stories are inspiring, and he makes them applicable to partnership and business challenges faced by HSMAI’s MEET attendees,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI. “We’re pleased to have him on board throughout the series, and we look forward to seeing the impact he’ll make on attendees at both HSMAI’s MEET West this month and HSMAI’s MEET National in September.”
HSMAI’s MEET, which stands for Meetings, Events, Education and Technology, has numerous benefits for attendees including TEEM Up: one-on-one appointments requested by the pre-qualified and hosted meeting professionals; MEET University: industry specialists’ insights geared toward planners and exhibitors through an interactive, hands-on educational platform. Meetings Professionals International (MPI), as part of its partnership with HSMAI, will provide edifying content for planners attending HSMAI’s MEET West, which is free to attend for qualified planners. www.hsmaimeet.com
CWT Introduces Meetings Spend Tool
CWT Meetings & Events has developed a new dashboard tool to give clients a comprehensive review of their meetings spend, according to a Business Travel News report. Currently used in Europe by CWT Meetings & Events program managers, the tool will be implemented in the Americas and Asia/Pacific this fall. The dashboard pulls spending data from CWT clients’ meetings technology tools, such as those offered by Cvent, The Active Network and more. “One thing our clients were asking us for was a holistic view of how they’re spending their money in the meetings and events arena,” said CWT Meetings & Events Global Senior Vice President Floyd Widener. “To do that, we could not stay with our traditional sources of data. Our traditional sources of data for the travel part of the business are the best quality, but that’s air, car and in some cases hotel. We needed to figure out how we could get all the data from those [meetings technology] tools into our repository, marry it with the information coming out of our core business data sources — when we’re issuing tickets and the like — and come up with a dashboard where we could pull that together and report it.” The resulting output represents “the first time we’ve ever had, and our customers have had, a comprehensive look at what they’re spending on meetings and events,” Widener said. www.carlsonwagonlit.com
Cancun’s Moon Palace Unveils New Amenities and Facilities
Palace Resorts’ Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, located in Cancun, Mexico, debuted enhancements, new amenities and facilities after a $55 million renovation project. The all-inclusive resort, which is recognized as a premier meeting resort in Mexico and the Caribbean, upgraded and enhanced more than 2,400 guest rooms and meeting space, added a new lobby in the Sunrise wing, and redesigned the Lobby Bar, the Sky Bar and updated three main restaurants. The FlowRider Double wave simulator was introduced as was the nightclub Noir, the Wired Teens Lounge, the Connection Zone Kids Club and a dolphinarium with eight resident dolphins. Also, 75 golf carts were added to transport groups around the property and its extensive meeting facilities, which include the 43,855-sf Convention Center; the 55,580-sf Universal Ballroom; and another 36,000 sf of conference space on the second floor. www.moonpalacecancun.com
Talbert Appointed to U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced the appointment effective May 10, 2013, of six new members to its Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, which serves the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the travel and tourism industry in the United States. Greater Miami Convention & Visitor Bureau (GMCVB) President and CEO William Talbert III, CDME, was recently appointed to the board, which also includes industry leaders from a cross-section of hotels and restaurants, transportation services, financial services, as well as a mix of small and large firms from across the country.
Generating more than $168 billion in U.S. exports last year, travel and tourism has a huge impact on the country’s economy. Travel and tourism is Miami’s No.1 industry and plays a vital role in the community’s economic well-being. Record-breaking tourism growth for the last three years generated consistent increases in industry jobs.
Talbert and the GMCVB team have put countless destination-wide programs into place and work closely with organizations year-round to ensure business and leisure visitors to the destination continually have improved infrastructure, services and amenities needed to keep travel and tourism growing.
“I’m honored and humbled to be appointed to this board and look forward to joining my esteemed colleagues and peers in working with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on policies and issues that impact the travel and tourism Industry,” said Talbert. “As a major point of entry into the United States and a top global destination, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to contribute our Miami experience to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board’s mission.” The list of Travel and Tourism Advisory Board members and more is available at http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/TTAB/TTAB_Home.html. www.miamimeetings.com
Post-Recession Recovery for Many Companies Linked to Business Travel
Companies that spent the most on business travel through the last recession are posting higher revenues and profits than others, according to a new Oxford Economics report commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association. In contrast, companies that reduced business travel spending were more likely to see a decline in profits. “When we analyzed data from the Great Recession and recovery, we learned that companies that invested the most in business travel tended to grow the fastest,” said Adam Sacks, managing director of Oxford Economics, who conducted the analysis as a follow up to a study performed in 2009. “After a dip in 2009–2010, domestic business travel spending has recovered and is projected to reach a new peak of $225 billion in 2012.” The report, titled The Role of Business Travel in the U.S. Economic Recovery, provides details on business travel and performance across 14 business sectors over an 18-year period. Oxford Economics also included a survey of business travelers that looked at the role that business travel plays in their corporate performance. Findings from the analysis and survey include:
- Business travel delivers a measurable return on investment. For every dollar invested in business travel, U.S. companies have experienced a $9.50 return in terms of revenue and $2.90 in profits.
- Business travel helps companies obtain new customers and retain existing ones. In-person meetings double the likelihood of “prospect conversion.” Business travelers believe that 42 percent of customers would eventually be lost without in-person meetings.
In addition, the report demonstrates that business travel continues to have a positive impact on the U.S. economy:
- Business travel is booming. In 2011, U.S. businesses spent $214 billion on domestic travel, surpassing a historic peak from 2007. For 2012, businesses are estimated to have spent $225 billion on U.S. domestic travel, about five percent more than the previous year.
- Business travel translates into jobs, tax revenues and income. Business travel expenditures generated 1.9 million jobs, $59 billion in personal income and $35 billion in tax revenues last year.
“The findings from this follow-up report reinforce the good business sense that face-to-face meetings matter,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “Business travel is essential for keeping customers and winning new business.” For more information and a copy of the full report, visit www.traveleffect.com. www.ustravel.org
Marriott Rolls Out 'Red Coat Direct' App
Marriott Hotels is introducing Red Coat Direct — the first branded hotel app to grant any meeting wish (within reason) from room temperature adjustments, to coffee refills or having lunch served earlier with an additional vegetarian dish. Without leaving the meeting room, meeting organizers can now adjust and edit their meeting requests and preferences with a touch of a button. Red Coat Direct is rolling out at 350 Marriott Hotel properties in the U.S. beginning in May and will be expanded to the brand’s entire global portfolio of 500 hotels by the end of 2014. The app is available for all internet-enabled devices and will be available in 19 languages by 2014. “The way people work is more mobile and global, but until now, organizing meetings has been stuck in the past. We are rethinking all aspects of meetings from the physical space to the experience for both attendees and planners, and looking for ways to enable and inspire people to do their best work,” said Peggy Roe, vice president, global operations services for Marriott Hotels. Workspace On Demand powered by Liquidspace, an application to book meetings on demand, is further differentiating the customer experience at Marriott Hotels by allowing guests to book both free and paid spaces as easily as they book a guest room. www.marriotthotels.com
DoubleTree by Hilton Opens Hotel in Binghamton
DoubleTree by Hilton announced the opening of its newest hotel in New York — the DoubleTree by Hilton Binghamton. Formerly the Riverwalk Hotel and Conference Center, the property experienced significant damage caused by Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Following the completion of a two-year, multimillion-dollar renovation, the property has transformed into an upscale, full-service hotel. Located in the city’s burgeoning downtown business and government districts, the 207-room DoubleTree by Hilton Binghamton boasts a fresh, modern design. The hotel offers 32,000 sf of flexible conference space including a courtyard and outdoor garden terrace and the Serling Room—the hotel’s state-of-the-art amphitheater-style lecture room that can accommodate up to 50 guests. Additionally, the hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi access in public areas and guest rooms. Just 10 miles from Greater Binghamton Airport, the hotel offers easy access to the area’s historic, cultural and scenic offerings. To mark the opening, DoubleTree by Hilton Binghamton will offer double HHonors points for stays completed through October 31, 2013. www.doubletree.com
Brad Weaber Named EVP of New Orleans CVB
Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (NOCVB), announced May 7 that Brad Weaber, CMP, will join the NOCVB in the newly created position of executive vice president (EVP). Effective August 1, Weaber’s appointment is part of a comprehensive strategic and tactical reorganization of the convention and meetings efforts of the NOCVB. A 25-year meetings industry veteran, Weaber currently serves as EVP of SmithBucklin’s Event Services unit. Prior to joining SmithBucklin in January 2009, he held numerous leadership positions during his 18-year tenure with Experient Inc./Conferon. “Brad Weaber is one of the most respected meeting professionals in the nation and a true rainmaker in our industry. His innovative ideas, strategic thinking and invaluable breadth of customer and marketplace experience will make New Orleans an even more competitive destination for meetings and conventions and add enormous value for our customers,” stated Perry. The NOCVB is also searching for a vice president of convention sales as part of the transition surrounding the summer 2013 retirement of Nikki Nicholson Moon. Weaber will continue to reside in Washington, DC, and divide time between New Orleans and travel throughout the country. www.neworleanscvb.com
IMEX America Survey Paints Optimistic Meetings Outlook
The latest IMEX America Index of Optimism results suggest that a majority feel optimistic about the future of meetings and events and expect budgets to slightly increase. The index, which was conducted in March 2013, asked more than 400 North American respondents (70 percent buyers and 30 percent suppliers) to share how they felt about the meetings industry’s business prospects over the coming months. Asked to compare their current levels of optimism to the same period (Q1) in 2012, 67 percent of respondents declared themselves “more optimistic” than this time last year.
Also, more than 58 percent of respondents expect to see the number of meetings and events they organize increase slightly throughout 2013 and into the first quarter of 2014. Additionally 8.5 percent anticipate significant increases. Nearly 50 percent have seen their 2013 budgets increase slightly compared to 2012, and nearly 8 percent are experiencing a significant budget increase. More than 25 percent have successfully held the line on budget levels.
IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom, said: “These results tell an interesting story; one that is borne out by experience and the feedback we hear from the market every day. And that is that business fundamentals in North America are strong, and gradually getting stronger, and that the overall trend is upwards, albeit gently.
Our experience, and that of our North American partners, is that the big picture is healthy and moving in a positive direction. This is also evidenced by the increases in demand we’re already seeing from exhibitors and, importantly, from hosted buyers for IMEX America this October, for which we will be issuing a full business update soon.”
IMEX America will take place at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas, connected to the show’s headquarters hotel, The Venetian|The Palazzo, October 15–17, 2013. www.imexamerica.com
Visit Orlando Is HelmsBriscoe's 'Destination Partner of the Year'
Visit Orlando received the 2012 Destination Partner of the Year in the U.S. award from HelmsBriscoe, the global leader in meetings procurement, at their Annual Business Conference recently held in Orlando. The presentation was made April 17 by HelmsBriscoe Founder and CEO Roger Helms to Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel at the Hard Rock Live Orlando. “I am honored to recognize Visit Orlando as HelmsBriscoe’s 2012 Destination Partner of the Year,” said Helms. “Visit Orlando has been a strong ally for not only our associates, but for our clients as well. The service that Visit Orlando provides is second to none, and I look forward to many more years of a mutually successful partnership.” Visit Orlando began closely partnering with HelmsBriscoe more than three years ago, strengthening the relationship through a number of initiatives, including working with their associates and clients to ensure they were able to leverage all of Orlando’s venues and resources. Aguel said, “HelmsBriscoe has helped increase awareness of our destination and services throughout their worldwide network, resulting in a notable increase in the number of corporate meetings and events in Orlando during the past three years.” www.visitorlando.com
MGM Resort Casino to Be Developed in Springfield
MGM Resorts International was selected by Springfield (MA) Mayor Domenic Sarno as the preferred developer for a resort casino on 14.5 acres of land in the city’s South End. If the signed host community agreement is approved by the city council and voters and then by the state’s gambling commission, Springfield stands to receive from MGM upfront and advance payments of $15 million as well as annual payments of approximately $25 million after the resort casino is built. Plans call for the project to open in 2016. A Penn National proposal was not selected. The two other projects under consideration by the state’s gambling commission include a Hard Rock International proposal for a casino in West Springfield and Mohegan Sun’s proposal for a casino in Palmer. According to published reports, MGM has spent $10 million on their casino resort project, including a grassroots campaign to win city approval. www.mgmresorts.com
Sheraton Framingham Hotel Renovations Nearly Complete
Sheraton Framingham Hotel & Conference Center, centrally located in the outer Boston technology belt, announced its multimillion-dollar renovation project will be completed in June. Extensive improvements to the 375-key hotel include freshly designed public space, a newly concepted restaurant and lounge, comfortably appointed guest rooms and an upgraded ballroom and fitness center. The expansive renovations will complement the existing 22,000-sf, state-of-the-art conference and meeting facilities approved by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). The Grand Ballroom, with its 18-foot ceilings, received updated touches of soft greys and neutrals. This space offers the most expansive dance floor in the region, accommodating up to 1,200 people. The expansive fitness center will update to Sheraton Fitness programmed by Core Performance. The hotel’s extensive IACC-approved conference facilities are comprised of approximately 22,000 sf of versatile meeting space, which are designed to maximize productivity of meetings for groups of 25–75 attendees with features including 18-hour ergonomic chairs, tackable surfaces with white boards, non-glare surfaces and lighting and acoustics optimized for conferences. www.sheratonframingham.com
Hard Rock Plans Beachfront Hotel in Daytona Beach
Hard Rock International, in collaboration with Bayshore Capital, announces plans for a Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach, expected to debut in 2016 at the time of the 58th Annual Daytona 500. Situated on a beachfront site, plans call for 250 hotel rooms, 100 condominium units with access to all hotel amenities and a signature Hard Rock Cafe. “The city and county have been working hand-in-hand to rejuvenate the city of Daytona Beach, and we’re thrilled Hard Rock and Bayshore Capital have chosen ‘The World’s Most Famous Beach’ as its newest location for expansion,” said Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry. Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach will be the brand’s fourth hotel in Florida and is currently anticipated to offer two rock star suites; Body Rock workout facility; Rock Spa; the Rock Shop; and a world-famous Hard Rock Cafe. The property will feature live music and entertainment. More than 28,000 sf of ballroom and banquet facility space are planned as well. www.hardrockhotels.com
Starwood Hotels Invests in Its New York City Portfolio
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. announced that together with its owner and developer partners, it has invested more than $400 million to revitalize its New York City portfolio of hotels. Newly renovated properties include the Sheraton brand’s flagship hotel — Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, W New York, Times Square, W New York, Union Square, W New York, The Westin New York at Times Square and The Westin New York Grand Central. Starwood also has enhanced its New York City portfolio with the addition of several new properties in the past three years including The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel and W New York, Downtown. All nine of Starwood’s distinctive global brands are represented in New York City, where the company boasts a total portfolio of 21 hotels. www.starwoodhotels.com
Helping Meeting Planners Get 'Up to Speed' on Bandwidth
Planners are challenged with accommodating the ever-increasing number of bandwidth-hungry mobile devices that attendees bring to meetings and events to connect and stay connected — not to mention the data demands that the meeting and/or exhibition itself present. The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the Convention Industry Council's (CIC) APEX Event Bandwidth Workgroup guided development of a new white paper, “Up to Speed: Event Bandwidth and High Speed Internet Access.” Since its inception in June 2012, the workgroup has delivered a range of resources and best practices that include a bandwidth estimator tool, articles, face-to-face education and sessions at major industry events. The members of the APEX Event Bandwidth Workgroup are Chair John Rissi, PSAV; MaryAnne Bobrow, Bobrow & Associates; Steve Enselein, Hyatt Hotels The Americas; Charles Massey, SYNAXIS Meetings & Events; Michael Owen, EventGenuity; John Pollard, Sonic Foundry; Stuart Ruff, The Risk and Insurance Management Society Inc.; and Todd Walton, MGM Resorts. Additional resources such as a new glossary of terminology, enhancements to the APEX RFP Workbook and best practices on post-event bandwidth reporting, will follow. The whitepaper can be accessed at www.conventionindustry.org/StandardsPractices/APEX/eventbandwidth. www.conventionindustry.org, www.hsmai.org
Windstar Cruises Names Its First New Power Yacht
Windstar Cruises recently announced Star Pride — the new name of the first of its three new power yachts. Star Pride, which will launch May 2014, will spend its first season in Europe offering new voyages, which open for bookings on May 14, 2013. The names of the additional two yachts will be announced in the coming weeks, and they are scheduled to start sailing in May of 2015. Increasing the size of the fleet enables Windstar to cruise a global set of itineraries to new destinations, such as Wind Spirit’s much anticipated return to Tahiti and Star Pride’s European voyage collection. In the future, Global Windstar will provide opportunities to visit Asia and South America. The identical yachts have a guest capacity of 212 each in 106 suites. As the three yachts enter the fleet, they will undergo a Windstar branded renovation. www.windstarcruises.com
Convene Opens Conference Center in NYC
New York City’s newest corporate conference center — a nearly 40,000-sf facility that brings new capabilities to the downtown business community for hosting conferences and collaborations — opened for business April 29 in the city’s downtown financial district. The location at 32 Old Slip is Convene’s third conference center in New York and is an adaptive reuse of what was formerly a Goldman Sachs training center. A $4 million renovation has transformed the vacated space into New York’s most technologically integrated conference and collaboration site with space and service that reflects its human-centered design methodology. Founded in 2009 as Sentry Centers by Christopher Kelly and Ryan Simonetti, the company rebranded as Convene in February 2013. Its three locations in Manhattan offer a combined 110,000 sf of space making it the largest network of dedicated conference centers in New York City. Convene’s meeting rooms can accommodate groups ranging from eight to 300 people. www.convene.com
The Westin Imagine Orlando Renamed The Westin Orlando Universal Boulevard
The five-year-old Westin Imagine Orlando recently announced a name change — The Westin Orlando Universal Boulevard — which was introduced to help travelers identify that the property is located close to the Orange County Convention Center as well as key Orlando attractions. The 315-room hotel features luxury one– and two–bedroom suites with balconies and equipped with Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed, Heavenly Shower, full kitchens or kitchenettes. To kick off their 5th anniversary, The Westin will feature special hotel packages and culinary offerings throughout the year. www.westinimagineorlando.com
JHM Hotels Completes Hyatt Regency Greenville Renovation Project
JHM Hotels announced on April 29 the completion of its multimillion-dollar renovation of Hyatt Regency Greenville, SC. The project included the renovation and redesign of the entire property, including all of the hotel’s 328 guest rooms and suites; the addition of meeting and event space; the launch of Roost — a new soil-to-city restaurant; and refreshed public areas, lobby and guest room corridors. A focal point of the renovation is the hotel’s reinvented atrium lobby, fitted with new wood and stainless-steel trimmed architectural coverings, accented by 14-foot light towers, and a one-of-a-kind 40-foot artisan chandelier suspended over the hotel’s circular Orb Lounge. The property also added more event and meeting space including the new Boardroom and Think Tank meeting rooms, bringing the total space to 37,500 sf. Hyatt Regency Greenville now boasts the largest hotel ballroom in Greenville. The newly opened Studio 220 gallery, a unique and contemporary-styled meeting space situated on the corner of Main and Beattie Streets, can accommodate up to 300 attendees. www.greenville.hyatt.com
Disney Magic Relaunches With New Experiences for Attendees
The Disney Magic has new spaces, new adventures, reimagined areas and new experiences for meeting and incentive program attendees, according to Disney Cruise Lines. The ship features fun new experiences with Marvel characters — the first time Super Hero icons from the Marvel Universe have been introduced on a Disney Cruise Line ship. After the transformation of the ship this fall in Cadiz, Spain, the Disney Magic will introduce many new and upgraded features including a three-story water slide; an updated Animator’s Palate restaurant with all-new, animation-adorned walls and larger HD flat-screens; a new restaurant named Carioca’s after Donald Duck’s parrot pal; and Cabanas, a new casual dining experience. After Hours, the nighttime adult entertainment district, offers an all-new lineup of venues for dancing, comedy, music and variety shows. In 2014, Disney Cruise Line will offer new itineraries, including an expanded collection of European cruises highlighting the Greek Isles. Also, Disney Cruise Line will depart for the first time from homeports in Venice, Italy and San Juan, Puerto Rico. From May to August of 2014, the Disney Magic returns to the Mediterranean using Venice, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, as homeports for a variety of itineraries. The Disney Magic also will sail four seven-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean from San Juan to a variety ports of call, including Grenada, from September to October. www.disneymeetings.com/disneycruise
Washington, DC, Hyatt Hotels Complete Renovations
Grand Hyatt Washington and Hyatt Regency Washington hotels announced on April 25 the completion of their combined renovation.
Grand Hyatt Washington, located in the heart of Washington DC, completed a $23 million renovation of its guest rooms and doubled the size of its Grand Club lounge. The renovations encompassed all of the hotel’s 897 guest rooms, suites and guest room corridors. All guest rooms feature Hyatt Grand Beds with special headboard reading lights, HDMI TV cabling, an iHome stereo with iPod docking station, extra nightstand outlets for charging electronics, a comfortable leather reading chair with floor lamp, a 42-inch, flat-screen TV, a spacious desk with ergonomic desk chair, in-room refrigerator, an in-room safe large enough for laptop storage, energy-saving smart thermostats with infrared motion sensors, and upgraded high-speed internet access.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill completed a $19 million redesign of its guest rooms and public spaces, which includes the remodeling of all 836 of the hotel’s guest rooms and suites, including bedding, carpeting, wall covering, light fixtures and new ecoMode thermostats that support the hotel’s energy conservation efforts. Additional electrical outlets near the work desk and on the base of every lamp were also added. The Regency Club lounge was expanded to offer additional seating and a new state-of-the-art technology center that includes two iMac workstations, loaded with both Apple OS and Windows 7. Additionally, the property, which has 38,000 sf of meeting space, updated its Capitol Ballroom and Thornton Room. www.hyattregencywashington.com
Great Wolf Resorts Announces Family-Friendly Additions
Great Wolf Resorts Inc., announced a multimillion-dollar investment in new attractions and guest experiences at its 11 indoor waterpark resorts. The Great Wolf Lodge located in Traverse City, MI, will introduce the River Canyon Run, four-person waterslide ride through a long indoor tunnel that stretches outside the resort and then back in, culminating in a final splash. Also, Ten Paw Alley bowling, a six-lane alley will soon debut at the resort. The Great Wolf Kids Store will open in May at the resorts in Grand Mound, WA; Mason, OH; Williamsburg, VA; Concord, NC; and the Pocono Mountains, PA. Great Wolf Lodge also is enhancing its food offerings company-wide, and select resorts will receive the exclusive new Great Wolf Lodge Cabin Comfort Collection mattresses, new sleeper sofas and carpet in all of the guest suites. Three thousand new televisions that will be added across the brand along with energy-saving automatic thermostats in guest suites. www.greatwolf.com
Fed Reports Healthy Business Travel Activity
According to Business Travel News, a Federal Reserve report released this month shows overall economic activity expanded at “a moderate pace” during the reporting period from late February to early April. The report also noted “travel and tourism expanded across most reporting districts, boosted by both business and leisure travel.” Boston, Atlanta and Minneapolis districts were cited as areas of robust business travel activity. Despite the decrease in government and business bookings, overall demand was healthy in the Atlanta district.
Hilton New York Renamed New York Hilton-Midtown
On the eve of its 50th anniversary, Hilton New York adopted the new name of New York Hilton-Midtown as a tribute to its storied past and a way of helping travelers more easily identify its Manhattan neighborhood. According to the hotel, the new name celebrates the iconic sites and attractions that midtown has to offer including Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Central Park, Carnegie Hall, Fifth Avenue and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to name a few. The 1,981-room New York Hilton-Midtown is a short walk from Times Square, Broadway theaters and the renowned Fifth Avenue shopping district, and can accommodate large conferences and conventions, smaller meetings and banquets. www.hiltonnewyorkhotel.com
Technology Is Key Theme at AIBTM Education Day
AIBTM 2013, the Americas Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, which takes place June 11–13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, will devote 34 education sessions to support the theme “Defining the Future of Meetings…Together.” Education Day on June 11 will kick off with “What’s Your Sway Factor? Learn the Art of International Social Networking for Career Success” by Sima Dahl, founder of Parley Communications. “How to Virtually Extend Your Event,” led by digital event strategist Michael Doyle, executive director of the Virtual Edge Institute, is scheduled to follow. “It’s #mobilesociallocal,” delivered by Jim Spellos, president of Meeting U, will conclude the technology-themed education sessions. Michael Lyons, Reed Travel Exhibitions, AIBTM exhibition director commented, “We are delighted to be welcoming such a high caliber lineup of speakers to the show this year, and look forward to engaging with our attendees through education. The high-quality content, presented by experienced industry leaders, will ensure our delegates understand future trends and innovations, allowing them to better plan and execute their meetings and business strategies, and adapt to the fast-paced world in which we live.” www.aibtm.com
TSA Postpones Knife Policy
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), applauded the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to postpone allowing passengers to carry knives on board aircraft. Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO, stated: “This postponement will allow TSA to work closely with industry stakeholders to solicit input and shape policies and procedures to keep the traveling public safe. It will also allow us time to work with the travel management community to discuss and prepare for any necessary changes that travelers may experience. While GBTA called for this postponement of the knife policy last month, we have long supported TSA’s risk-based initiatives and better alignment of security processes across the globe. In addition to exploring risk-based screening methods, GBTA calls for further expansion of all trusted traveler programs, such as Pre Check and Global Entry, which have helped to facilitate business traveler ease through airports. U.S. business travelers are taking over 40 million business trips a month and are vital to the economy and job creation. We look forward to working with TSA through this critical re-evaluation period to ensure a positive outcome.” www.gbta.org