by Morton D. Rosenbaum | February 01, 2005
Michael Collins, LA Inc.The Los Angeles convention and visitors bureau, LA Inc., has been given a surprisingly brief six- month contract extension, a move that has elicited mixed reactions from the hospitality industry and local officials.
    “CVB contracts are usually multiyear agreements,” said one industry analyst on the condition of anonymity. “A  six-month contract does not look good at all.”
    Some insiders think the move is at least in part due to the drastically diminished bookings at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which have slid from 35 conventions in 2001 to 15 in 2004, with only 12 booked for this year as of press time.
    Officials from both the bureau and the city, however, claim that the short extension, granted in December, serves as a bridge between contracts rather than a gradual winding down.
    “The city felt it was time to  upgrade to a more modern, more explicitly process-driven contract,” said Michael Collins, LA Inc.’s executive vice president, above, “one that would delineate explicitly how the destination would be marketed, and how and when the bureau would report back to the city.  Six months gives us the time we need to redefine the terms of our contract and move forward.”
    Martin Ludlow, city council member and chair of the  Conventions, Tourism and Entertainment committee, agreed, calling the six-month extension a “temporary, interim agreement” to buy time for rewriting and renegotiating.
    When asked why so long an interim was necessary, and why the new contract could not have been reworked before the previous contract had expired, Ludlow pointed to the bureau’s budget, halved just last year, and conceivably vulnerable to further cuts.
    “There are a number of officials who would like to revisit the budget question,” Ludlow said. “The bureau needs a better standing on dollars, and I didn’t think we were ready to demonstrate the need yet.”
    While Ludlow echoed Collins’ confidence in the city and the bureau’s relationship, claiming that there is “no threat to LA Inc.,” he did acknowledge an imminent  opportunity for outside bids, although he attributed this to bureaucratic protocol rather than interest. “LA Inc. works for the city,” he said. “Our city attorney would argue that we can extend contracts for a period, but at a certain time you need to hear bids again.”