Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
New Exec in L.A. Faces
Can Mark Liberman, the new president and CEO of LA
Inc., rekindle Los Angeles’ ailing convention business while coping
with a shrinking budget and discontent among some members?
Liberman takes helm at a challenging time: A 20 percent budget
cut has forced the CVB to scale down to 70 employees from 90.
Meanwhile, the convention center has a mere 15 events on the books
for 2004, and with only a few months before the new year, that
number is unlikely to change much. At press time, 13 conventions
were booked for 2005.
At least two conventions have canceled because plans for a new
headquarters hotel remain in limbo.
The low bookings have raised questions about the bureau’s
ability to market the convention center. Poor numbers also are
aggravating already strained relations with some hoteliers who have
watched their group occupancy numbers evaporate. Still, the
Brooklyn native and former United Airlines executive is confident
his organization has what it takes to market and sell the city.
“We have to roll up our sleeves and attract business that hasn’t
been here before,” said Liberman. Part of that effort could involve
courting clients who typically meet in second-tier cities,
according to Michael Collins, the bureau’s executive vice
president. However, a few hoteliers have had doubts that Liberman,
a former CVB board member, can steer the bureau in a radically new
direction, according to Uno Thimansson, operator of Log Angeles’
“I think Liberman has a terrific opportunity to be a hero,” said
Bill Worcester, general manager of the downtown Marriott and past
critic of the bureau. Worcester, who said his hotel’s bookings from
citywide groups dropped by 50 percent this year over 2002, added,
“This is the time for all of us to move forward as one and not
• BRUCE MYINT
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