by By the M&C Staff | September 23, 2009

Hilton Hotels Corp. changed its name to Hilton Worldwide and unveiled a new corporate logo on Wednesday. The new name signifies the company's global breadth and reach, according to a press release. The changes follow the recent relocation of Hilton's corporate headquarters from Beverly Hills, Calif., to McLean, Va. Hilton regained ownership of its international properties in 2006, and these changes also reflect an intent to unify the brand. Interestingly, competitor Hyatt changed its name in July, from Global Hyatt Corp. to Hyatt Hotels Corp., in part to better reflect the hotel company's relationship with local communities.

Patent Issued for Virtual Meetings and Registration Software
Last week, the U.S. patent office issued a patent granting Software Management Inc. of Pittsburgh the monopoly rights to "a method and system for conducting multiple Internet-based conventions, events, conferences, trade shows and meetings including a plurality of meeting planner clients, exhibitor/sponsor clients and attendee clients, all using web browser computers and a central website server on the Internet." SMI originally filed for the patent in 2001, sending out letters claiming infringement of its patent-pending intellectual property and asking online users for $1,250 or more in payment per event that did not have a license. "The importance of this patent and possible challenges to it will be an issue for the meetings, trade show and convention industry in the months to come," said M&C legal expert Jonathan Howe. SMI has yet to indicate how it will enforce the patent.

NBTA Launches Strategic Meetings Management Certification Program
The Strategic Meetings Management Certification Program (SMMC) offered by the National Business Travel Association is accepting applicants for Core Week 1 of the educational program, to be held Nov. 2-6 at Emory University in Atlanta. An NBTA task force spent a year developing the program and ran a successful beta test at the association's annual convention last month. The SMMC program will consist of two core weeks and elective classes. The program's goals will be to drive strategic meetings management best practices and enhance communication and leadership skills in the development and implementation of meeting policies, workflows and technology. For more information, see

IAEE Unveils Flu Plan for Show Organizers
The International Association of Exhibitions and Events has created a flu crisis plan for show organizers. The Model Pandemic Crisis Management/Communications Plan can be downloaded from IAEE's Center for Exhibition Safety & Security here.

Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels Releases Five-Year RevPAR Forecast
Hotel investment firm Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels released its five-year RevPAR forecast on Friday, in which the company predicts that revenue per available room will begin to grow again in 2011. The 17.4 percent decline in RevPAR the company projects for this year will likely be the most drastic, according to the report. The firm foresees another decline in 2010, by an additional 2.4 percent. A 7.3 percent increase is projected for 2011. Stalled hotel development will be a key factor in the recovery of RevPAR, the report noted.
American Airlines to Shift Flight Capacity to Four Hub Airports
American Airlines announced last Thursday that next summer it will reallocate flight capacity from airports in St. Louis and Raleigh/Durham, N.C., to its hub airports in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Miami and New York City. American will reduce daily departures from St. Louis by 46 flights and discontinue service to 20 destinations; in Raleigh/Durham, nine daily departures and three destinations will be eliminated. The airline will add 57 new daily flights from Chicago's O'Hare, 89 from New York City's JFK, 19 from Dallas/Fort Worth's DFW and 23 from Miami.

Kauai Debuts First St. Regis
Following a one-year closure for renovations and rebranding, the Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, will reopen this weekend as the St. Regis Princeville Resort. The remodeled hotel, the state's first St. Regis property, will feature the new 10,000-square-foot Halele'a Spa; the Kaua'i Grill, a restaurant by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten; 252 renovated guest rooms; a new lobby; 12,000 square feet of meeting space; an outdoor event lawn, and the Robert Trent Jones, Jr.-designed Prince and Makai 18-hole golf courses (the Makai course will finish a major renovation later this year).

Airline Industry

United Airlines Launches Bundled Travel Option Packages
United Airlines has announced a new pair of travel option packages, called Premier Travel and Premier Travel Plus. The former, which starts at $47 for each direction of a trip, will allow customers to check two standard bags, use the Premier Line to speed access through security and boarding, secure a seat with more legroom and a 25 percent frequent-flyer mile bonus. The Premier Travel Plus option, starting at $84 each way, adds double frequent-flyer bonus miles and access to United's Red Carpet Clubs. Package prices increase for longer trips. For more information, click here.

PCMA Announces Speakers, Offers Early Registration Discount
Last week, the Professional Convention Management Association announced its annual meeting keynote, general session and plenary speakers. The meeting, which will be held Jan. 10-13, 2010, in Dallas, will feature Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point; Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder of the breast cancer activist group Susan G. Komen for the Cure; and the CEOs of American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Fairmont, FedEx, Loews, Starwood and more. PCMA also is offering a break to those who register for the conference by Nov. 2 -- a 10 percent per-night discount on any room within the hotel block. For more on the registration savings options, click here.

Scott Solombrino Reappointed as President of NBTA Allied Leadership Council
Scott Solombrino, president and CEO of Dav El Chauffered Transportation Network, was reappointed Monday to another two-year term as president of the National Business Travel Association's Allied Leadership Council. NBTA president and CEO Craig Banikowski appointed Solombrino to lead the council, which represents the supplier members of the association. Banikowski named Joseph Carino, Jr., president of Carino Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, as the council's new vice president.

Convention and Visitor Bureaus
Orlando CVB Restructures Sales Approach
The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau has restructured its meetings and conventions sales strategy in order to reach new markets and enhance value for customers. Dubbed "Roadmap 2010," the initiative entails the following: the promotion of Tammi Runzler from vice president of convention sales and services to senior vice president of convention sales and services; the creation of a senior vice president of convention industry relations and strategic sales, in order to enhance citywide business; a partnership with the Orange County Convention Center to streamline client interaction, and the addition of a corporate accounts position.

Convention Centers
Oklahoma City Announces Expansion Plan, Including New Convention Center
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and city council members last week announced a $777 million, eight-part infrastructure expansion plan called MAPS 3 (short for Metropolitan Area Projects). The proposal calls for a new downtown convention center and a rail-based streetcar system, as well as a new 70-acre central park that will link downtown with the Oklahoma River. The plan would be funded by a one-cent surcharge on the current 3.875 percent sales tax, which would remain in effect for nearly eight years. Oklahoma City residents will vote on the measure on Dec. 8. If approved, the sales tax surcharge will go into effect on April 1, 2010. For more on MAPS 3, click here.

Vancouver Convention Centre Completes Renovation
The Vancouver Convention Centre has completed the renovation of its East building, the final phase of an $883,000 expansion and facelift. In April, the facility opened the new West building; the center now has a total of 473,5000 square feet of meeting, exhibit and function space.


Plans for Portland, Ore., Convention Center HQ Hotel Shelved
According to a joint statement issued last Friday by the mayor and city council president of Portland, Ore., and the county chair of Multnomah County, plans for a convention center headquarters hotel have been shelved indefinitely due to the economic climate. The proposed property was a 600-room Westin.

Manhattan's Milford Plaza to Close in December
The 1,301-room Milford Plaza hotel near New York City's Times Square has announced that it will close on Dec. 12 for 18 to 21 months to undergo extensive renovations. Though full details of the makeover have not been revealed, part of the work will entail a mechanical overhaul, an interior redesign and a soft goods upgrade in all guest rooms.

Hilton Names Head of Luxury Brands
Hilton Hotels Corp. announced Tuesday that John T. A. Vanderslice has been named Hilton's new global head of luxury and lifestyle brands. Vanderslice was most recently the CEO of Miraval Spa in Tuscon, Ariz. He replaces Ross Klein, who held the same title before being placed on administrative leave last spring. Klein and Amar Lalvani, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brand development, were placed on leave after being accused of stealing trade secrets in a lawsuit filed by their previous employer, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

New Hotel Planned for Austin
Woodbine Development has filed plans with the city to develop a 250-room, 20-story downtown hotel. Starwood Capital Group is the owner of the land.

Project Completed at JW Marriott Denver
More than $2 million in renovations have been completed at the 196-room JW Marriott Denver at Cherry Creek. Among the enhancements is a new lobby with multiple seating zones, including a fireplace and library. Guest rooms have been fitted with new 37-inch flat screen TVs and iHome alarm clocks with iPod docking stations. The on-site restaurant is now called Second Home Kitchen + Bar, serving modern American home cooking. This winter, renovations to the meeting space will begin, bringing in new carpet, window treatments and furniture. The property offers 8,400 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,120-square-foot ballroom.

Groups International to Release iGroupPlanner
Groups International, which provides technology and services to meeting planners, has announced iGroupPlanner, a web-based platform designed for small, midsize and large meetings and events. The platform, slated for a first-quarter 2010 release, is designed to act as a communication hub for planners, promoters, hotel sales staff, national sales offices, convention and visitors bureaus, venues and other suppliers. The system also is designed to facilitate the integration of group air travel, as well as car and bus service, group tickets and attractions.