September 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   New Exec in L.A. Faces Challenges
Mark Liberman
Mark Liberman 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’ Figuroa Hotel.

“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 bicker.”


Back to NewslineM&C Home Page
Current Issue | Events Calendar | Newsline | Incentive News | Meetings Market Report
Editorial Libraries | CVB Links | Reader Survey | Hot Dates | Contact M&C