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by M&C Staff | November 05, 2008
The Trade Show Exhibitors Association is overhauling its educational programming and marketing identity to become more relevant to its members and attract younger professionals to the organization. "We're revamping everything we do," said Margit Weisgal, president and CEO of TSEA, who took over for Stephen Schuldenfrei in May. On Oct. 23, a new TSEA chapter was formed in Georgia, and six others --  Baltimore/Washington, Boston, Dallas, New York, and Northern and Southern California --  will launch over the next few months. One of the major new initiatives at TSEA is an online learning center with downloadable recordings of seminars and exclusive podcasts, which will be available beginning early next year. TSEA also has redesigned its website with a decidedly youthful and conversational tone. In February, the association plans to hold its first Emerging Leaders Program for people who have been working in the industry fewer than five years, and there will be a dedicated education track for industry suppliers. For more information, visit tsea.org.

MGM Mirage announced in an earnings call on Oct. 29 that the company has postponed development of the MGM Grand Atlantic City until economic conditions and the credit market improve. The company had been planning a groundbreaking for the property no later than September 2009. The resort will be built on a 72-acre plot next to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Development also has been suspended by MGM Mirage and joint-venture partners Kerzner International and Istithmar on a resort complex slated for a site at the corner of the Las Vegas Strip and Sahara Avenue. That project, which was to be Kerzner's first casino resort in the United States, also is on hold until economic conditions improve.

A Hyatt Regency planned for a plot next to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando has been put on hold. "Hyatt is taking the time to seek out the best possible partners for a  project of this magnitude," says Ty Helms, Hyatt's senior vice president of revenue. "We do own the land and have every intention to develop it into a world-class convention hotel. However, in these current economic times, we have made a decision to slow down our development and customer engagement for this property." Fred Shea, vice president of pre-opening sales for the property and a former vice president of Hyatt Hotels Corp., is leaving the company, reportedly to join ConferenceDirect. His last day at Hyatt is today.

Hall-Erickson, the organizer of The Motivation Show, the annual meeting and incentive trade event, will reduce its exhibit hall hours next year. The show, which will take place in Chicago Sept. 29-Oct. 1, will open at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. "to provide a two-hour networking time slot in the morning for exhibitors to schedule a sales meeting or host a customer breakfast (from 8 a.m.-10 a.m.)." Also, morning education sessions will begin at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m., and afternoon sessions will begin an hour later than usual, at 2:30 p.m. In other news, the 2008 Exhibition Attendance Certification Report for The Motivation Show reveals that despite an increase of 12 percent in advance registration over 2007, final verified attendance was down 6.5 percent.

The Scottish government has given its OK to the development of Donald Trump's $175 billion golf resort in Aberdeenshire. The project --  which includes two championship golf courses, a 450-room hotel, 1,000 time-share apartments, 36 golf villas and 500 homes --  is on an ecologically sensitive section of the North Sea Coast and has been opposed by the local council and environmentalists. Among the reasons the government ministers have backed the development is the estimated 6,000 jobs it will create.

Eden Roc, A Renaissance Beach Resort & Spa, celebrated its soft opening in Miami Beach last week. The historic property was closed for 18 months for a $200 million makeover that includes the addition of the new 21-story Ocean Tower with 282 rooms, for a total of 631 guest rooms. The property also offers 70,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, a 21,000-square-foot spa, six pools, and six restaurants and bars. Eden Roc now has an in-house DMC, Eden Roc Destination Services, as well as a kosher kitchen for meetings and events. The hotel's grand reopening will take place in early 2009.

The 147-room Four Seasons Hotel Seattle opened on Monday. The 21-story condo-hotel has a rooftop terrace with a heated infinity pool, a spa with Pacific Northwest-inspired treatments, and the ART Restaurant and Lounge. The hotel's 10,560 square feet of meeting space includes a two-story ballroom.

Airline Industry
The Transportation Security Administration is working toward loosening restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols and hopes to remove the size limits by next fall, according to a blog entry by TSA administrator Kip Hawley. According to the post, by next fall most airports will be using the more advanced AT X-Ray units and software, with which TSA agents will be able to differentiate liquid threats vs. nonthreats. Liquids still will need to be placed in a separate bin, however. By the end of 2010, noted Hawley, updated AT X-Ray software will allow the TSA to lift that requirement as well.

Last week, Continental Airlines expanded its paperless boarding-pass pilot program to New York City's LaGuardia Airport. (Delta has offered paperless boarding at LaGuardia since mid-June.) The program allows travelers to receive electronic boarding passes on their cell phones or PDAs, which are then scanned by bar code readers. Paperless boarding already is available elsewhere in the country: Continental also is testing the program in Boston, Cleveland, Newark, Washington, D.C., and at three Texas airports: Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Northwest Airlines offers it in Indianapolis and soon will do so in Detroit. Alaska Airlines provides paperless boarding in Seattle.

Bloomberg News reported on Monday that US Airways will join JetBlue in charging passengers for a blanket and pillow. The price is likely to be $7, the same as on JetBlue. A start date has not been set.

Convention and Visitor Bureaus
Char Beltran yesterday began her new position as president and CEO of the Lake Havasu Convention and Visitors Bureau in Arizona. Beltran has 28 years of experience in tourism, including travel industry sales for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau and most recently as CEO of the Sedona (Ariz.) Chamber of Commerce.

Cruise Lines
Fuel surcharges will be eliminated on all Norwegian Cruise Line bookings made on or after Nov. 10 for sailings departing on or after Jan. 1, 2010. Refunds for surcharges paid on 2010 sailings booked prior to Nov. 10 will be given according to certain guidelines: If the closing price on the New York Mercantile Exchange of West Texas Intermediate fuel falls below $65 per barrel two weeks prior to the start of the calendar quarter of which the sailing departs, an onboard credit will be issued. The same guidelines will apply to refunds given for surcharges paid on sailings in 2009, regardless of when the cruise was booked.

Hotels
The 278-room Sheraton Fiji Resort has reopened following a six-month, US$22 million renovation, which updated the property's guest rooms, restaurants and bars, lobby and recreational facilities. Of particular note: The resort added a 13,000-square-foot lagoon-style swimming pool. The property has a 2,000-square-foot ballroom and a boardroom that seats 20.

Development of the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel and Residences Philadelphia was announced last week, with a projected opening in 2012. The 175-room property will be housed with 136 residences in a 58-story tower. Two on-site restaurants will be connected by a promenade. A 5,600-square-foot column-free ballroom on the 10th floor will offer 3,500 square feet of prefunction space overlooking City Hall. A smaller, 2,500-square-foot ballroom will offer additional function space. A parking garage and retail space also are planned.

On Oct. 30, John Q. Hammons opened the new 283-unit Embassy Suites San Marcos -- Hotel, Spa and Conference Center in San Marcos, Texas. The $50 million property offers 78,800 square feet of meeting space, the Rocky River Grill and a full-service Spa Botanica.

Hilton Hotels Corp. will open the 384-room Dalaman Golf Resort & Spa in Dalaman, Turkey in mid-2009. The property will have a spa, an 18-hole championship golf course, a golf academy and meeting facilities.

Marriott Hotels & Resorts will expand its Courtyard by Marriott brand in France with the opening of two suburban Paris properties: the 150-room Courtyard by Marriott St. Denis Pleyel, opening in 2009, and the 170-room Courtyard by Marriott Arcueil, opening in 2010. Elsewhere in France, the 210-room Courtyard by Marriott Marseille will open in 2010 and the 187-room Courtyard by Marriott Toulouse-Blagnac International Airport in 2009. The property in Marseille is the only one that will have meeting space; details are not yet available.

Technology
WingateWeb released Conference 5.0 last week, the latest version of its web-based event-management platform. New features include a redesigned administrative interface, customizable dashboards, setup wizards for registration and custom fields, and streamlined reporting and survey functionality. Pricing is on a per-event basis, and starts at approximately $30,000.

Trade Shows
The Congrex Group, which provides planning, production, and execution services for meetings and conventions, will rebrand its subsidiaries to reflect a more cohesive global presence. Association Global Services, an association management and consulting provider that became a part of the Congrex Group in 2007, will change its name to Congrex as of Jan. 1. AGS Brussels will become Congrex Belgium, and AGS Washington D.C., along with other global locations, will become part of Congrex USA.
 
Transportation
Last week the Hawaii Superferry, an interisland ferry service between the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Maui, postponed the introduction of a second ship that would have taken passengers from Oahu to the Big Island. "Given today's economic uncertainties, this decision is both prudent and provides us with additional time to develop this market, while continuing to grow our successful Oahu and Maui service," said company president and CEO Tom Fargo in a statement.

Travel Management Companies
American Express announced last week that it will cut approximately 10 percent of its work force as part of a re-engineering plan designed to save the company $1.8 billion in 2009. About 7,000 employees will be laid off across different business units, primarily in management positions. Management-level salary increases will be suspended in 2009, and a hiring freeze will go into effect. Furthermore, operating expenses will be significantly reduced, as will investments in technology, marketing and business development. Those reductions, combined with streamlining some rewards-program costs, are estimated to save the company more than $1 billion in the coming year.