by Jennifer Nicole Dienst | November 01, 2007

Danielle Courtenay


Danielle Courtenay

As of Oct. 1, 49 Orlando-area hotels no longer are receiving convention sales leads from the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau because of a provision in the bureau’s new contract with the county that prevents such leads going to non-Orange County member properties.

Sharon Donoghue, Orange County’s deputy county administrator, said the decision was made because Orange County’s hotel taxes go to the bureau, and therefore tax dollars should only benefit hotels within the county.

In response, the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, a Kissimmee property with 1,406 rooms and almost half a million square feet of meeting space, has canceled its membership with the bureau, worth about $100,000.

“Our biggest concern is for meeting planners who have grown to trust the Orlando CVB as the regionwide resource for their Central Florida planning needs,” said Gaylord Palms’ general manager, Kemp Gallineau. “This matter of local politics will cause additional work for planners, who will need to contact up to three CVBs with an RFP.”

“I think it’s short-sighted,” Donoghue said of the hotel’s move. “They’ll be back.”

Danielle Courtenay, senior vice president of global publicity and public affairs at the O/OCCVB, said there are exceptions to the new policy: All members, regardless of county, will receive leads for conventions of 50,000 people or more, and the bureau can ask the county for leeway in reaching out to non-county hotels if deemed necessary. Courtenay said leads will be sent only to hotels that meet the planner’s specifications.

Courtenay also noted that non-county member hotels still will be able to participate in ads, listings and events. “The county and the CVB have a great relationship,” she said. “We’re prepared to be flexible so we can provide a high level of service.”