Wall Street workroom: Benchmark Hospitality's new World Trade
Call it a quiet success story. While the
hospitality industry has mostly hunkered down to survive this long
period of travel-economy doldrums, small growth has come in the
conference center segment. According to a report compiled for the
International Association of Conference Centers by David Arnold and
Dana Ramus of the Philadelphia-based office of PKF Consulting,
these specialty meeting properties lately have been generating
higher revenues and operating income than hotels, both per
available room and per occupied room.
Meanwhile, a number of new IACC-certified centers opened in
2003, with more on the way for this year and the next. And as
economic woes ease, so might funding portals, allowing
long-discussed projects finally to go forth.
Member properties of the St. Louis-based IACC (www.iacconline.com)
must comply with a long list of requirements, called the Universal
Criteria, to be certified. These rules include strict
specifications for conference-room chairs, continuous breaks set
outside meeting rooms and the minimum amount of dining seats
required to meet the capacity of a facility for lunch in two
These criteria took on more potency in January, when the
organization’s board moved to abolish the Universal Criteria’s
grandfather clause, which exempted current members from new
criteria that were put in place after they were accepted for
“Now, all members must undergo an independent inspection every
four years, and they must comply with the Universal Criteria that
are in effect at the time of the inspections,” says Tom Bolman,
CAE, executive vice president of IACC. The inspections are being
carried out by Fairfax, Va.-based Bare and Associates. One quarter
of IACC members will be looked at this year; over the next four
years, every property will be checked for compliance.
Following is a roundup of new centers available now or soon to
meeting planners worldwide.