by By the M&C Staff | November 11, 2009

Thirty-nine percent of international association executives anticipate higher attendance at their major events in 2010 vs. 2009 figures, according to a joint study by the International Congress and Convention Association and IMEX. Forty-four percent expect no change and 16 percent expect a decline. One hundred association executives participated in the online poll, which was conducted in October. The research was released Monday during ICCA's annual Congress & Exhibition in Florence, Italy, which ends today; the event attracted 996 attendees, a record high. In a release, ICCA CEO Martin Sirk said, "These latest quantitative results match up to the numerous anecdotal stories we are hearing from our members and from other international association executives. The economic downturn has had an impact, of course, but it has been far less serious than for other market sectors of the meetings industry." Download the Excel file with the full results here.

Labor Unrest in San Francisco Leads to Strikes
Failed contract negotiations between union hotel workers and several San Francisco hotels have resulted in work stoppages, two weeks after Unite Here Local 2 voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike at 31 properties in the city. Last Thursday, union members began a three-day strike at the Grand Hyatt Union Square in San Francisco; they returned to work on Sunday but have called for customers to boycott the hotel. Approximately 350 workers at the Palace Hotel, managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts, began a three-day work stoppage yesterday, which will continue until Friday morning. At the heart of the standoff is affordable health care and retiree coverage, issues on which the union says it is not willing to concede. Union members have been on the job without a contract since mid-August.

South San Francisco Increases Hotel Tax
Last week, voters in South San Francisco approved an increase to the transient occupancy tax, from 9 to 10 percent, effective Jan. 1, while the cities of Burlingame, Brisbane, Millbrae, San Mateo and San Bruno voted to raise the hotel tax from 10 to 12 percent. In addition, San Mateo voters approved a sales tax increase, from 9.25 percent to 9.5 percent. 

CWT and Tata Communications to Offer CWT Telepresence
Carlson Wagonlit Travel has teamed up with Tata Communications, a provider of Cisco Public TelePresence suites, to offer a new service for CWT clients. CWT Telepresence will become part of the travel management company's smart demand management services, designed to help companies balance business travel with business goals and cost restrictions. Tata currently manages several public telepresence rooms on a pay-per-use basis in the U.S., England, India, South Africa and the Philippines, with plans to open several more in Starwood hotels by the end of the year.
PwC Predicts Rise in U.S. Hotel Occupancy for 2010
PricewaterhouseCoopers' updated lodging forecast is calling for demand and occupancy to begin to recover in 2010. That's despite the 2009 fourth quarter drop forecasted by the firm, a 16.4 percent decrease in revenue per available room compared with last year. PwC is predicting a slight rise in occupancy, from 55.2 percent in 2009 to 55.8 percent in 2010. Both average daily rate and RevPAR will continue to slide, albeit more slowly, according to the firm. ADR will decrease 8.8 percent in 2009 and 1.8 percent in 2010. The forecast calls for just a 0.7 percent decrease in RevPAR for 2010.
Disney Gains Approval to Build Theme Park in Shanghai
The Chinese government has approved the Walt Disney Co.'s application to build a theme park in Shanghai's Pudong district. Preliminary development work will now begin. According to a statement from Disney, the project's initial phase will include "a Magic Kingdom-style theme park with characteristics tailored to the Shanghai region and other amenities consistent with Disney's destination resorts worldwide."

Airline Industry
United Airlines to Fly to Africa and the Kingdom of Bahrain
Next May, United Airlines will begin its first service to Africa, flying one daily, same-plane service from Washington, D.C., to Accra, Ghana, and on to Lagos, Nigeria. Also, next April, United will launch the only same-plane service from the Western Hemisphere to Bahrain, by extending an existing flight from Washington, D.C., to Kuwait.

Convention Centers
Rhode Island Convention Center Authority Sues City of Providence
Calling a new city ordinance covering service workers unconstitutional, the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority has filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court against Providence, according to the Providence Journal. The convention center argues that the city is in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, which regulates the collective-bargaining process, and that the city doesn't have the authority to regulate state-owned facilities. The Hospitality Business Protection and Worker Retention ordinance, which went into effect Oct. 26, requires the convention center, the Dunkin' Donuts Center, Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and the Westin, Hilton and Renaissance hotels to retain employees for up to six months following a change in management.

Portland's Oregon Convention Center to Install Solar Panels
Portland's Oregon Convention Center has selected SunEdison to build and install a 1.184-megawatt solar power system on the center's rooftop. When completed next spring, the panels will generate 12 percent of the power needed to run the building. Combined with the facility's ongoing purchase of wind power, more than half of the OCC's total energy needs will come from renewable sources. The center, which has LEED Silver certification, offers 255,000 square feet of exhibit space and 50 meeting rooms.

Illinois Convention Center Expansion Breaks Ground
Construction began Friday on a $32 million expansion to the Sharonville (Ill.) Convention Center, north of Cincinnati. The facility, which currently offers 27,000 square feet of meeting space, will be expanded by 63,000 square feet and will include a 20,330-square-foot exhibit hall, 23,200 square feet of meeting space, an 11,000-square-foot ballroom and an outdoor veranda. The addition will seek LEED Silver certification and should be completed in 2011.

Area Around Colorado Convention Center to be Upgraded
According to the Denver Business Journal, property owners in the city's 14th Street area -- which includes the Colorado Convention Center, the 1,100-room Hyatt Regency Denver and the Denver Performing Arts Complex -- have voted to create the Denver 14th Street General Improvement District. The owners will contribute about $4 million of the $14 million that will be spent on improvements such as sidewalk expansions, flowers, trees, better signage and better lighting. The work should be finished by fall 2011.

Pinnacle Chief Daniel Lee Resigns
Daniel R. Lee resigned on Monday as chairman, CEO and director of casino company Pinnacle Entertainment, citing the desire to pursue other business interests. Richard J. Goeglein has been named interim nonexecutive chairman, and John V. Giovenco is serving as interim CEO. Goeglein and Giovenco, both Pinnacle board members, will oversee the company's operations while the board seeks a new president and CEO. Pinnacle owns and operates casinos in Nevada, Louisiana, Indiana, Missouri and Argentina. The company was forced to shelve plans for a multibillion-dollar casino project on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, citing the credit markets and the economy.

Hyatt Goes Public
Hyatt Hotels completed an initial public offering last Thursday, selling 38 million shares at an opening price of $25 each. By Thursday's closing, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, shares had climbed to $28 and underwriters bought an additional 5.7 million shares. Friday's closing price held steady at $28.
Colorado's Broadmoor Earns Five Stars for the 50th Time
Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Awards (formerly the Mobil Five-Star Award by Mobil Travel Guide) has honored the 744-room Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., for a record 50th consecutive year, the only property to achieve this status. The luxury resort offers 185,000 square feet of meeting space, three championship golf courses and a 43,000-square-foot spa.

First Aloft Hotel Opens in the Middle East
Starwood Hotels & Resorts' first Aloft hotel in the Middle East opened last Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The 408-room hotel is connected to the Abu Dhabi Nation Exhibition Centre, which has 180,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Aloft Abu Dhabi has two boardrooms, free Wi-Fi and a few small event spaces.

Hotel Indigo Debuts in North Carolina
On Monday, a 100-room Hotel Indigo opened in downtown Asheville, N.C. The boutique hotel is decorated with locally inspired artwork and regionally sourced materials. All guest rooms have oversized beds, spa showers, Aveda bath products, 32-inch high-definition flat-screen TVs and iHome MP3 player/alarm clock radios. The property has one 462-square-foot meeting room.

Marriott to Open Two New Hotels in India in 2012

Marriott International signed contracts on Monday to run two hotels in India, bringing its total hotel properties in that country to 36 by the end of 2012. The two will be the 300-room Mumbai Marriott Hotel Kurla and the 165-room Courtyard by Marriott Agra. The former will have 10,760 square feet of meeting space, including a 7,100-square-foot ballroom. The latter will have 6,135 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,875-square-foot ballroom.

Conference Hotel Opens in Bloomington-Normal, Ill.
On Thursday, the 230-room Marriott Bloomington–Normal Hotel & Conference Center in Uptown Normal, Ill., will open with 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a restaurant, a café, and wireless Internet in guest rooms and public spaces.

Doubletree at Cincinnati Airport Opens
The 177-room Doubletree Hotel Cincinnati Airport has opened at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport with 7,000 square feet of event space, including the 5,400-square-foot Concorde Ballroom. The property offers the Bistrot Danielle and Bistrot Lounge, wired and wireless Internet access, and 32-inch flat-screen TVs in guest rooms.

Hilton Launches iPhone Apps
Hilton Worldwide is developing applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch that function across seven brands. Launching first are apps for the Hilton and Doubletree brands, while those for Conrad, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn will be released over the next two months. Touted by Hilton as "the most comprehensive in the lodging industry," the apps will offer features such as "Request Upon Arrival," through which guests can order room service and have a meal waiting for them, and "e-check in," so guests can check-in remotely up to 48 hours in advance.

Expedia Drops Phone Booking Fee has eliminated all phone-based booking fees. Previously, customers were charged $20 per phone transaction. Many airlines charge $15 to $25 for customers who book flights over the phone, as do the other online booking agencies.