by By the M&C Staff | August 19, 2009

The American Society for Association Executives and The Center for Association Leadership's annual meeting wrapped up yesterday in Toronto with a total attendance of 4,742, comprising 2,121 association executives, 1,702 suppliers and 991 others. The figure, though lower than the 6,138 people at last year's conference in San Diego, was "better than expected," according to ASAE president and CEO John H. Graham IV. At a press conference on Monday, Graham announced the launch of a new event, the Social Networking Workshop, which will take place Nov. 5-6 in Washington, D.C. He also announced that a second phase of ASAE's economic impact study was completed in July (M&C will post the link as soon as it is available online). Next year's annual meeting for ASAE and The Center will be held Aug. 21-24 in Los Angeles.

D.C. Mayor Signs Legislation for Headquarters Hotel Financing
On Aug. 13, Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty signed legislation that will pay for the city's new $537 million, 1,160-room Marriott Marquis hotel, which will be built next to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The act provides for $206 million in public financing for the hotel project, stipulating that the remaining $331 million will be provided by private developers. Construction could begin as early as this fall, with a target opening date of late 2012.

Delta Air Lines Launches New Delta Meeting Network

Delta Air Lines has launched the Delta Meeting Network, its new discount airfare program for meeting planners and attendees. Airline specialty sales executives told M&C that the new program is a combination of the meetings discount program run by Northwest Airlines and Delta's former program, which ended in January 2005. The biggest difference, according to Norma Dean, Delta's general manager of specialty sales, is that the new program has "online meeting contract technology," allowing a planner fill out an online template to start the process. The program can be found on the web here or by calling 800-328-2216.

Omni to Manage Storied New Hampshire Resort
Omni Hotels is taking over the management of the 356-room Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H., which will change its name to the Omni Mount Washington Resort on Sept. 1. The property offers a 25,000-square-foot spa, a 20,000-square-foot conference center and a Donald Ross golf course.

Hotel Tax Increases in Indianapolis
Last week, the City-County Council of Indianapolis and Marion County passed a measure that will raise the county's hotel tax from 9 to 10 percent. The increase, which will go into effect in September, will generate $4 million in revenue per year for the Capital Improvements Board of Marion County, which operates the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium and other sport stadiums. The measure also allows the CIB to borrow up to $9 million from the state, part of which will alleviate some of the organization's $47 million deficit.

PKF Projects Increased Lodging Demand at Reduced Prices for 2010

PKF Hospitality Research predicted last week that after nine consecutive quarters of falling lodging demand, the numbers will make a turnaround in the second quarter of 2010. Due to steep discounting practices, however, PKF expects room rates to drop again in 2010. Because the highest-priced hotels have suffered the greatest erosion to rates, the research firm reports in its September Hotel Horizons study, those properties will offer a strong value proposition and will be the first to significantly gain business as the demand improves next year.

CIC Releases Green Meeting Standards
Following two years of planning and discussion, the Convention Industry Council's Accepted Practices Exchange, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has released the final draft of its green meeting and event standards for consideration by the meetings industry and approval by ASTM International, an organization that develops market-relevant technical standards. The draft covers the following nine topic areas: accommodations, audiovisual, communications, exhibits, food and beverage, on-site offices, destinations, meeting venues and transportation. Over the next few weeks, APEX City Discussion Groups will take place in major cities across the country as a forum for discussion and comment on the standards. Approval of the draft is anticipated by the end of the year. To view and/or comment on the standards, go here.

NBTA Responds to ACTE Proposal
National Business Travel Association president and CEO Kevin Maguire responded Thursday to the merger proposal published by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives the previous week. Maguire responded via a post on NBTA's "At the Gate" blog. "NBTA is always open to constructive discussions with any organization about jointly advancing the industry, so I applaud the ACTE Board for its change of heart and its new apparent willingness to consider a merger," wrote Maguire. He went on to assert that "in the two months since the NBTA Board voted unanimously to support the previous merger proposal, new developments have raised important questions about ACTE's financial viability and about how the organization does business. Most notably, the Professional Convention Management Association pulled out of a previously announced strategic alliance with ACTE, and did so in the midst of PCMA's own due diligence process. NBTA's support of a merger with ACTE has always been contingent upon the completion of due diligence, and this latest development reinforces the need for NBTA to ensure we do not take on major liabilities that would ultimately burden our constituents around the globe." An ACTE spokesperson said the organization has not received any direct response from NBTA regarding the proposal. "We're rather perplexed about it," he said. "They said the door would always be open to a merger. We showed up with a cake, but they wouldn't let us in." PCMA's decision to pull out of the alliance, he added, was based on ACTE's decision to reopen merger talks with NBTA. "Due diligence would occur when both organizations agree to pursue the merger and work through the initial sticking points," he added.

Trondent Launches GroupFARE Analyzer
Trondent Development Corp., a travel-technology provider, on Monday launched GroupFARE Analyzer, a web-based application that uses airfare to calculate cost-effective meetings destinations. The tool allows for a maximum of 50 origins and five destinations per query. Using that information, together with the number of travelers and date ranges, GroupFARE Analyzer collects multiple fares, across various categories, and compiles a weighted airfare report in either PDF or XLS file format. The application currently is available only for subscribers to the Sabre global distribution system; support for Abacus, Amadeus, Apollo, Galileo and Worldspan is planned.

Airline Industry

Hawaiian Airlines Pilots Mull Strike
After two and a half years of unresolved contract negotiations, Hawaiian Airlines pilots and their union, the Air Line Pilots Association, opened a new Strategic Preparedness Center at Honolulu International Airport on Tuesday, in the event that conversations between the pilots and the National Mediation Board come to an impasse this week. The center will allow the pilots to call a strike authorization vote, though such action is seen as a last resort. According to a statement released by the ALPA, the pilots have not gotten raises since 2007 and are seeking cost-of-living increases along with an increase in company contribution to the pilots' retirement fund.

Southwest Begins Service Out of Boston
On Monday, Southwest Airlines started flying out of Boston's Logan International Airport with 10 daily nonstop flights -- five to Chicago Midway and five to Baltimore/Washington International.

CIC Extends CMP Application Deadline

The Convention Industry Council has postponed the deadline to apply to take the next Certified Meeting Professional exam to Sept. 1, to accommodate a high number of requests for an extension. The original deadline to apply for the exam, scheduled take place on Jan. 9, 2010, was Aug. 14. The final deadline to register for the exam, once an application has been accepted, remains Oct. 22, 2009.

Convention Centers
Broadcast Capabilities Upgraded at Sydney Center
The Sydney (Australia) Convention and Exhibition Centre has plugged into the Digital Video Network, allowing live TV broadcasts to take place there without satellite links or outside broadcast vans. The project upgraded the fiber-optics system at the facility.

Corporate Travel Management

AirPlus Survey Shows Focus on Meetings
Eighty-five percent of corporate travel managers have a hand in managing meetings, according to the results of a survey conducted by AirPlus International, a provider of travel-payment solutions. The survey, which queried 148 travel management professionals in North America and Europe last month, found that 52 percent of respondents were either involved or very involved in planning and sourcing meetings. An additional 33 percent said they assist in the process. Fifty-eight percent reported they have a meetings policy, but only half of those respondents actually enforce it. For more results, see

Bonds Sold for Dallas HQ Hotel
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert announced yesterday that the city has completed the first major step in the sale of bonds for the convention center hotel. On Aug. 17 and 18, the city received buyer commitments for all $479.8 million in revenue bonds offered to investors. The average interest rate was finalized at 4.69 percent, well below the 5.5 percent cap set by the Dallas City Council and included in early financial projections. The sale will close in about two weeks and construction would begin a week later. The revenue bonds will cover the purchase of the property, the development and construction of the hotel and provide several contingency funds to protect Dallas taxpayers. The bonds will be repaid by the guest revenue generated by the 1,016-room hotel. The 1,000-room Omni property will open by early 2012 with 100,000 square feet of its own meeting space.

Work on W Hotel in Austin, Texas, Might Stop
Stratus Properties told the Austin Business Journal last week it is trying to line up new financing for its partially built W Austin Hotel & Residences. Otherwise, Stratus and its joint-venture partner, Canyon-Johnson, might be "required to delay further construction of the project until additional financing is available." The 250-room property currently is scheduled to open Dec. 9, 2010.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Wraps Up Renovations
The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Kona, on Hawaii's Big Island, has completed a 15-month, $40 million expansion and renovation. Highlights include the expansion of the Hualalai Spa to 28,000 square feet; an upgrade of the hotel's beachfront bar, lounge and restaurant; and the addition of 20 new suites and two upscale boutiques. The property offers about 40,000 square feet of meeting space.

STR Expects RevPAR to Continue to Slide
The latest lodging-industry forecast from Smith Travel Research is calling for an 8.4 percent decrease in occupancy for 2009, to 55.4 percent, and a 9.7 percent drop in average daily rate, to $96.43. STR predicts a 17.1 percent drop in revenue per available room, to $53.41. The projected 3 percent increase in supply, in tandem with a 5.5 percent decrease in demand, should contribute to continued RevPAR sluggishness in 2010. Year-end estimates for 2010 foresee a 0.6 percent decrease in occupancy, a 3.4 percent drop in average daily rate and a 4 percent decrease in RevPAR.

Buffalo Hotel to Undergo a $100 Million Renovation
The Associated Press reports that Statler Towers, a hotel and office building in Buffalo, N.Y., will undergo a $100 million renovation, to include the addition of more hotel rooms, apartments, retail stores and restaurants. The 800,000-square-foot structure was sold in a bankruptcy auction last week to William Koessler, owner of Park Lane Catering, the business that occupies the building.

Marriott to Manage Nashville HQ Hotel
Last week, Nashville's Tennessean newspaper reported that the city's Metro Development and Housing Agency has chosen Marriott International to manage the headquarters hotel that will be built alongside the new downtown convention center. The hotel will be a $300 million, 1,000-room Marriott Marquis. The convention center will open by 2013; there is no opening date for the hotel as of yet. 

Caribbean Hotels Fared Badly in 2008, Worse in 2009

According to a PKF Hospitality Research Report published on Aug. 10, Caribbean hotels experienced an average profit drop of 16 percent in 2008, with "further profit deterioration" in 2009. In addition, the report noted that about 50 hotel projects might be put on hold due to difficulties with financing.

New Hyatt Regency Opens Second Tower in Bellevue, Wash.
Last week, the new Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, Wash., which opened in July, completed its second tower. The $185 million, 351-room Olympic Tower brings the hotel to 733 guest rooms and more than 60,000 square feet of event space, including the 17,745-square-foot Grand Ballroom. Bellevue is on Seattle's east side, nine miles from downtown Seattle.

Trade Shows
Canon Communications to  Launch Two Orthopaedic Shows in 2010
Canon Communications will launch two new events in 2010: OrthoTec Conference & Exhibition (, May 12-13 at the Orthopaedic Capital Center in Warsaw, Ind.; and OrthoTec Europe (, Sept. 29-30 at the Mövenpick Hotel Zürich-Regensdorf in Switzerland.

Amex Rolls Out Virtual Meetings eXpert
American Express Business Travel introduced Virtual Meetings eXpert yesterday, a point-of-sale telepresence booking solution for its clients. The tool will aggregate both public telepresence venues and private-network options already in place for the client. Based on certain criteria -- such as price, duration of the trip, purpose and environmental impact -- the booking system can help travelers learn what virtual solutions are available and whether it makes sense to meet virtually instead of face to face. To promote the tool, American Express will host a press conference in September using international telepresence platforms.