According to an article in The Tennessean, last week the Nashville Metro Council voted 33 to 3 in favor borrowing $75 million to purchase nearly 16 acres of land for a new convention center. The vote was the second of three votes needed to approve the purchase; the third vote will be held on June 2. The new Music City Center, as the 1.2-million-square-foot facility will be known, will cost $595 million to build. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau announced on May 18 that the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association has booked the as-yet-unbuilt center for its annual expo in 2013, bringing more than 13,100 room nights to the city.
Headquarters Hotel Under Consideration in Kansas City
Officials in Kansas City, Mo., are mulling a 1,000-room headquarters hotel project in the downtown convention district. If approved, construction would begin in 2011 and the property would open two years later. The city council is reviewing a feasibility study it received last week, which projects the hotel to stabilize at 66 percent occupancy in 2015 with an average rate of approximately $165. Rick Hughes, president of the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, says the project has strong support from the city council, although Mayor Mark Funkhouser “has expressed healthy skepticism" about funding models. “The one possible chink in our armor for [attracting] certain-sized conventions is our lack of ability to aggregate a certain number of hotel rooms," Hughes said.
Delta Air Lines to Launch New Meetings Discount Program
According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Delta Air Lines will once again offer discounted airfares to meeting attendees. Delta's previous meetings discount program, the Delta Meeting Network, was ended in January 2005, following the airline's rollout of its SimpliFares, which cut fares and fees and eliminated the Saturday-stay requirement. But when Delta purchased Northwest Airlines in 2008, it acquired a company with a meetings discount program that still was going strong, providing discounts of between 5 to 7 percent to attendees of meetings that met certain requirements. Delta did not decide to eliminate Northwest's program, as many industry observers had expected. In a statement, the airline said: “With the merger of Delta and NWA, Delta is focused on delivering a comprehensive, global meeting product to associations, conventions, corporations and incentive customers. As we work through the integration process, we are benchmarking best practices from the current Northwest meeting product offering, as well as programs offered by Delta in the past. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive, global product that aligns with our expanded network and our customer's needs." A spokesperson for the airline said the program would be launched soon, but would not give a specific date.
CIC Chooses Official CMP Online Prep Course
The Convention Industry Council has endorsed the Professional Convention Management Association's Certified Meeting Professional Online Prep Course as the official study course for the exam. Highlights of the 23-module course include a self-assessment feature identifying strengths and weaknesses, reading assignments from recommended texts, a PowerPoint study guide and two practice exams. The course can be found online at pcma.org/CMP.
Travel Document Changes for U.S., Canadian Travelers
The new requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative go into effect on June 1 and apply to all U.S. and Canadian travelers entering the U.S. by land or sea. WHTI-compliant documents include U.S. or Canadian passports, a Trusted Traveler Card, a U.S. Passport Card, or state- or province-issued Enhanced Driver's Licenses (when and where they become available). According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. and Canadian citizens who lack the proper documents but are “otherwise admissible" will not be denied entry on June 1, but are encouraged to obtain the proper documentation as soon as possible. More details are available at getyouhome.gov.
Amtrak Extends Discounts for Northeast Routes
Amtrak has extended its promotional fares on Acela Express trains in the Northeast corridor (from Boston to Washington, D.C.) through Sept. 3. In February, the company said discounts of up to 25 percent off select Acela trains would be valid only through June 26. The rail company also has reduced some summer fares on regular coach tickets in the Northeast corridor by 25 percent. Passengers can travel between Boston and New York or New York and Washington for $49, down from the previous lowest fares of $62 and $72, respectively.
Convention and Visitor Bureaus
Asian CVBs Join Forces
After a period of inactivity, the Asian Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus is relaunching as a cooperative effort of CVBs in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Chairperson Suprabha Moleeratanond, international conventions director for the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, told an audience at IMEX in Frankfurt, Germany, that the coalition will “enhance standards in the convention industry by developing and promoting sound professional practices," institute training programs and drive more meetings business to Asia. The association originally was created in 1983.
Hawaii VCA Offers Free Services to Groups
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has introduced Booking Advantage, a new program for meeting planners that allows groups with a minimum of 10 peak hotel room nights to choose a free service from a bureau member. More than 100 members are participating in the project. Services and products to choose from include Hawaiian-made cultural goods and destination management services.
Orlando County Convention Center Installs Solar Panels
The Orlando County Convention Center has completed an $8.8 million solar project, consisting of 200,000 square feet of solar panels installed on the roof of the facility's north and south buildings. Visitors can monitor and learn about the system's technology at an on-site education center.
Global Cases of H1N1 Near 13,000, WHO Reports
The World Health Organization reported that as of Tuesday, May 26, a total of 46 countries have officially reported 12,954 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 92 deaths. For a breakdown of the number of laboratory-confirmed cases by country, go to here.
Galveston Hotel Finally Reopens
The Tremont House, a Wyndham Historic Hotel in Galveston, Texas, will reopen on June 1. The first floor of the 119-room property has been fully restored after being flooded by Hurricane Ike last September. The hotel is in the 130-year-old Leon & H. Blum Building in downtown, and offers 17,000 square feet of meeting space. The new Tremont Café will open in July.
Sands Bethlehem Opens Doors
Las Vegas Sands opened its first East Coast property on Friday, a 3,000-slot facility in Eastern Pennsylvania in the former Bethlehem Steel plant. Final approval from the state's Gaming Control Board allowed the Sands Bethlehem to open in time for Memorial Day Weekend. The casino and entertainment facility, which is about an hour's drive from Philadelphia and less than two hours from New York City, offers a number of dining options, among them Emeril's Chop House from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. A 300-room hotel is slated to open at an unspecified future date, in a later phase of construction.
Langham Waives Attrition Fees, Cancellation Terms
Langham Hotels International introduced its No Strings Attached program last week, a pledge for all meetings booked between now and March 2010. Langham is waiving attrition fees and will require no food-and-beverage minimums for groups that host at least one meal in the hotel. Cancellations that occur at least 60 days prior to the event will incur no penalties; those made within 60 days will be able to apply 50 percent of the penalty to another 2010 meeting. Additionally, there will be no Internet-access fees for meeting delegates staying at participating hotels.
New Leadership Program Offered at Vail Cascade
The 292-room Vail Cascade in Vail, Colo., is launching an executive leadership program. Created with executive leadership coach and consultant Gayle Magee of Global Reach – Coaching and Leadership Development Worldwide, the program lasts two to four days and can be customized to include individual/team assessments, outdoor experiential work, coaching-skills training, 360-degree feedback, one-on-one executive coaching and the opportunity for ongoing work. The resort, managed by Destination Hotels & Resorts, offers about 45,000 square feet of meeting space.
InterContinental Bangkok Finishes Renovation
The 381-room InterContinental Bangkok has completed a US$26 million renovation of its guest rooms, meeting space, public spaces, restaurants and spa. The hotel has 17 meeting rooms that total 36,300 square feet; the largest is a 13,240-square-foot ballroom suitable for receptions of up to 1,500 people.
Golden Tulip to File for Bankruptcy for Netherlands Hotels
Hotel company Golden Tulip will file for bankruptcy for the 13 hotels in the Netherlands that it owns and operates, according to Reuters. The filing will not affect any of the 720 properties around the world that are franchised or affiliated with Golden Tulip, according to the report.
Fairmont Provides Details on Eco-Initiatives
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is now providing lists of environmental initiatives for all 56 of its properties, accessible at fairmontmeetings.com. The so-called Green Sheets offer specific information about how each property is working within the company's Green Partnership Program.
ITAGroup Introduces PerformanceSource SMM Platform
ITAGroup, a performance-improvement company that provides incentive and recognition programs, launched a new software platform to be used in conjunction with a strategic meetings management program. PerformanceSource is self-service software that captures and stores all data for enterprisewide meetings and offers automated reporting capabilities. Additional templates and tools aid with budgeting, supplier sourcing and meeting registration.