According to the Miami Herald, real estate mogul Donald Trump has told hotel developer SB Hotel Associates LLC that he is removing his name from a 298-unit property to open later this year in Fort Lauderdale, known to condominium buyers as Trump International Hotel & Tower Fort Lauderdale. Moreover, last week the developer warned buyers that unless at least half of the units are sold, the hotel and condo portion may not open. Thirty buyers have filed suit against SB Hotel Associates LLC and Trump himself, for marketing the property as a signature Trump project. The hotel was to feature a 5,000-square-foot Spa at Trump, a fitness center, a restaurant, a roof deck, a pool with private cabanas and meeting space (specifications to be determined). The Trump Organization provided this statement to M&C; efforts to reach SB Hotel Associates LLC were unsuccessful.
Omni Extends Zero Attrition
Omni Hotels is extending its Zero Attrition program, which waives attrition fees for new contracts booked and completed in 2009, through Sept. 30. The company also has announced two new meetings initiatives. Instituted systemwide, the RapidResponse program guarantees that leads will be answered within two business hours, no matter whether the queries arrive by phone, e-mail, from online services or through third-party firms. Omni then promises to follow up with a formal response, such as a proposal or a contract, no later than the end of the next business day. If Omni does not respond within two hours, that customer will receive a 5 percent discount off the master account. Also new is the ReSELL Clause, which places a standard rooms-resell clause in all group contracts. The clause entitles groups to a refund for any paid cancellation or attrition charges if Omni resells some portion of the group's unused guest rooms. For every room resold, the meeting host will receive credit for the rate at which the room was resold. The company will spread the word about the programs with "Here Comes Omni" day on Friday, when meetings will be held with more than 2,500 customers throughout the United States. Omni Hotels owns and operates 36 luxury hotels and operates seven others in North America.
Hyatt Regency O'Hare Wraps Up $64M Renovation
The Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, Ill., has completed a renovation of all 1,100-room guest rooms, wrapping up a two-phase $64 million upgrade of the property. The first phase, completed in 2007, focused on public spaces, restaurants and the hotel's 20,000-square-foot conference center. In all, the property has 110,000 square feet of meeting space and is connected to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
Disney Purchases Land for Resort Hotel Near Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced it had purchased a 15-acre plot in the National Harbor, Md., waterfront resort development near Washington, D.C., for $11 million. Disney is considering building a stand-alone resort hotel on the site. In a statement, Jay Rasula, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said, "As we began identifying possible locations to grow our business, the Washington, D.C., area immediately jumped to the top of the list." National Harbor currently has six hotels totalling 3,000 rooms, including the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
U.S. Number One for International Association Meetings
The United States was the top country for international association meetings in 2008, according to the International Congress & Convention Association, which released its annual city and country top-20 rankings this week. The ICCA rankings, based on meetings that take place on a regular basis and rotate between a minimum of three countries, also showed Vienna and Paris were the top cities for international association gatherings. ICCA's full rankings will be released later this year; to see the top 20 countries and cities, visit iccaworld.com.
Maritz and InXpo Form Strategic Partnership
Meetings and incentives giant Maritz announced a partnership today with technology company InXpo, provider of a virtual-events platform. InXpo will be the preferred provider for the "totally virtual environments" Maritz is now offering clients as part of the company's new LIVE suite of technology services. The LIVE suite also includes satellite broadcast events, with live HD television technology provided by partner Velocity Broadcasting network; web collaboration; and telepresence, or high-quality, real-time video conferencing.
CEIR Index: Trade Shows Contracted, but Attendance Held Strong
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research Index reports that the trade show industry declined 11.6 percent overall in the first quarter, compared with the same quarter a year ago. Attendance remained strong, however, dropping only 1.5 percent. Other metrics were down by double digits, including number of exhibiting companies (10.4 percent), net square feet (14.6 percent) and revenue (19.7 percent).
United and US Airways Increase Baggage Fees
Last week, both United Airlines and US Airways posted changes to their baggage policies. Starting June 10, United will increase by $5 the fees for a passenger's first and second checked bags on domestic flights, to $20 for the first checked bag and $30 for the second. US Airways will match that fee increase beginning July 9. However, each airline will waive the $5 increase for passengers who check in and pay for the checked baggage online.
Hyatt Offers Concierge Services Through Twitter
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts this week launched the Hyatt Concierge, a Twitter-based concierge service. By tweeting to @HyattConcierge, any Hyatt guest can get 24/7 concierge services -- "before, during and after your stay," according to the company's Twitter page.
AirTran Going Fleetwide With Inflight Wi-Fi
Low-cost carrier AirTran Airways announced last week it is installing Aircell's Gogo Inflight Internet Wi-Fi service on all 136 planes in its fleet. Installation is scheduled for completion by midsummer. AirTran will charge passengers $12.95 for access on flights of three hours or longer, $9.95 on shorter flights and $7.95 for access via a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device, such as an iPhone or a BlackBerry. These are the same prices that will be charged by other airlines installing Gogo Wi-Fi service, including Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Virgin America.
IRF Releases Two Industry Surveys
The Incentive Research Foundation has released two studies on incentive programs. The first, the 2009 Vertical Markets Study, assessed and compared six incentive programs conducted by six companies in different industries -- electronics, automotive, banking, insurance, telecommunications and pharmaceutical -- analyzing data from 926 respondents. One finding was common to all six programs: There was a disconnect between the programs' goals and how their success was measured. Across all industries, respondents cited building customer loyalty/trust and starting new relationships as the "most valuable goals when designing an incentive program." However, when asked how respondents measure the success of their programs, 79 percent indicated they use the incremental improvement of sales and profits over program objectives. "There is an opportunity here for incentive program providers to help clients better define goals and measures that can then help justify budgets going forward," said Rodger Stotz, the IRF's chief research officer. The second survey, Incentive Industry Trends Outlook 2009, queried 102 incentive planners and suppliers in January and February on the state of their programs. Among the findings: Nearly all elements of incentive programs were expected to face deep budget cuts; hardest hit, according to 64 percent of those surveyed, will be incentive company management fees. Respondents also expected reductions in incentive company involvement, on-site gifts, the number of total qualifiers, communications budgets and overall awards budgets.
Medical Trade Center Planned for Nashville
Market Center Management is developing an international medical trade center in Nashville. To open possibly sometime in 2010, the facility would have a 1.5 million-square-foot floor plan featuring permanent manufacturer showrooms, temporary trade show space and conference facilities.
Convention and Visitor Bureaus
Hornby Leaves Visit London
David Hornby, commercial director of Visit London, has resigned after six years with the city's tourism and meetings arm. He will be a consultant for AEG Europe, which owns London's O2 venue, among other projects.
Starwood Teams with Pepsi on Meetings Promotion
Starwood Hotels & Resorts announced a meetings promotion on Tuesday in partnership with PepsiCo. Through Aug. 31, anyone booking a meeting with 10 or more room nights at a North American Westin, Sheraton, Le Méridien, W, Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton, Element or Aloft will receive 4 percent of the master bill and a complimentary morning or afternoon refreshment break from PepsiCo, as well as a Starwood Preferred Planner 100,000-Starpoint signing bonus. Meetings must be held by March 31, 2010. All groups will have a chance to win a PepsiCo-sponsored private concert with pop star Natasha Bedingfield, which will benefit charity and be performed in November or December 2009.
Four Seasons Resort on Exuma to Close
The Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay in the Bahamas will close on May 26. PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has been responsible for the property since it was placed into receivership in June 2007, announced last week that, after being unable to find a new owner, it will close the resort.
New Greenbrier Owner Reaches Agreement With Marriott
The Associated Press has reported that Jim Justice, new owner of the 721-room Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., has reached a settlement with Marriott International, which had planned to buy the property. Over the next 30 days, Justice and Marriott will work out a deal to allow the hotel firm to market the Greenbrier in exchange for commissions. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement, Justice will pay Marriott $7.5 million to sever Marriott from the deal. Justice is seeking to remove the Greenbrier from bankruptcy proceedings.
Hotel Hershey Unveils Grand Expansion
On Friday, the Hotel Hershey will debut the first phase of a $67 million "Grand Expansion" project announced last year. The historic Pennsylvania hotel has completed a facelift to its exterior, 10 premium cottages, and a recreation complex that includes swimming pools and an ice-skating rink. A new restaurant, Harvest, will open this summer. Seven boutique shops, known as The Shops at Hotel Hershey, will open throughout the year and be complete by December.
Renaissance Hotel Opens at Patriots' Football Stadium
The 150-room Renaissance Boston Hotel & Spa at Patriot Place opened on Monday adjacent to Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL's New England Patriots, in Foxborough, Mass., which is halfway between Boston and Providence, R.I. The hotel has a 1,730-square-foot ballroom, an executive boardroom and a private dining room. A spa with 14 treatment rooms will open in June. Gillette Stadium offers additional meeting space for planners, including an 80,000-square-foot indoor field house suitable for trade shows or other special events, a 47,000-square-foot atrium and lounge, and 200 acres of outdoor parking lots. The stadium hosts 500 non-game-day events per year.
Radisson Boutique Property Opens in Paris
The 48-room Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan, Paris Eiffel, has opened. The property has a meeting room that seats 12, a restaurant and a fitness center.
Crowne Plaza Opens Near Philadelphia
The 214-room Crowne Plaza Philadelphia - Bucks County wrapped up its conversion from a Holiday Inn on May 5, following a $4 million renovation. Just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Interstate 95 and Route 1 in Feasterville Trevose, the property is near many local businesses and is a short drive from downtown Philadelphia. The hotel has nine meeting rooms for a total of 5,500 square feet of meeting space.
Workers at NYC Hotel Jumeirah Essex House Stage Protest
More than 100 hotel workers at the Jumeirah Essex House in New York City organized a work stoppage last Tuesday, in protest of the hotel's alleged failure to pay banquet staff an estimated $2 million in tips. John Turchiano, a spokesperson for the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, said the formula the hotel used to calculate the tips resulted in lower tips for employees, despite an arbitrator's ruling in 2007 that required New York hotels to revise their formulas for allocating gratuities. Several city hotels have remitted tips to employees following the ruling, but more than 40 hotels still owe employees a total of $15 million in tips. A panel of arbitrators at the state's Office of the Impartial Chairman will consider the case later this week.
Strategic Meetings Management Consultancy Opened
Industry veteran Mike Malinchok, formerly of StarCite, GetThere and BCD Meetings & Incentives, has launched S2K On Purpose, a consulting firm specializing in strategic meetings management. Malinchok, a Certified Professional Life Coach, combines his experience in meetings technology with a focus on training and executive coaching to help clients develop strategic programs.
Freeman to Move Philadelphia Operations to New York Area
Freeman, the exhibition management company, will close its Philadelphia office and manage Philadelphia events out of its New York-area branch office in Kearny, N.J. The company says the branch office essentially has been running events in Philadelphia for the past year and now will pick up all sales operations. Bill Smith, former general manager of the Philadelphia branch, has been named national sales manager and will continue to be based in Philadelphia. Jeff Price, COO of Freeman, said in a statement that the company might reopen an office in Philadelphia when the city's convention center expansion is complete.
Vote Open for the Face of Travel
The U.S. Travel Association's competition to choose a hospitality worker to represent the industry in ads is open for voting. To view the six finalists' minute-long videos and vote, go here.
Big Winners in American Customer Satisfaction Index
In the first quarter of 2009, Hilton Hotels was the highest rated hotel chain, according to the University of Michigan's quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index, which was released Tuesday. The index surveys customer satisfaction with a wide variety of companies in a wide variety of industries; about 2,500 people were surveyed for the hotel results and 2,000 for the airline results. Hilton had a score of 79 (out of 100), rising 1.3 percent from the year before. The largest positive changes were claimed by budget options Choice Hotels and Best Western. Both jumped more than 7 percentage points over their 2008 customer-satisfaction scores. Average overall satisfaction with hotels scored a 75, unchanged from last year. Customer satisfaction with airlines, however, increased by 3 percent, to an industrywide score of 64. It was the first overall customer satisfaction increase for the industry since 2003. Last year, the airline industry brought up the rear in terms of industrywide customer satisfaction; thus far in 2009, airlines have come out ahead of newspapers and cable and satellite TV. Southwest Airlines continued its 16-year winning streak with an ACSI score of 81. American was the only carrier that lost ground, dropping 3.2 percentage points to a score of 60. United Airlines was at the bottom of list, scoring a 56.
New Mexico History Museum Opens This Weekend
The New Mexico History Museum will open Sunday in Santa Fe. The venue feature galleries and interactive exhibits highlighting the state's indigenous people, its 400 years as a Spanish colony, the Santa Fe Trail and statehood.
i-Meet Launches e-RFI Tool for Members
Meetings-industry networking site i-Meet.com launched an electronic request-for-information tool Tuesday. The e-RFI tool, called "Ask the World," allows planners to gather basic information and pricing before sending out a formal request for proposal. The tool connects planners with a database of more than 40,000 suppliers and is available to all i-Meet members. Planners can register for free at i-meet.com.