by By the M&C Staff | November 25, 2009

The U.S. hotel industry should get some good news in 2011, according to Smith Travel Research. The hotel-industry benchmarking company is forecasting declines in all three major performance metrics for 2009 and 2010 but looks for a rebound in 2011. The 2011 forecast calls for a 2.4 percent increase in occupancy, to 56.2 percent; a 3.0 percent increase in average daily rate, to $96.81; and a 5.5 percent lift in revenue per available room, to $54.41. The increased occupancy should allow hoteliers to raise room rates, according to STR president Mark Lomanno. "It won't nearly come close to getting back to 2007 levels," he said in a statement, "but will at least be the beginning stages of improvement." For this year, STR is calling for an 8.8 percent decrease in occupancy, an 8.9 percent dip in average daily rate and a 17 percent drop in revenue per available room. The prospects for 2010 are slightly better: a 0.2 percent decrease in occupancy, a 3.4 percent decline in ADR and a 3.5 percent RevPAR drop.

Plans Unveiled to Expand Boston Convention Center

The five-year-old Boston Convention & Exhibition Center already is looking to expand. The plan, announced Monday by Gov. Deval L. Patrick, Boston's Mayor Thomas M. Menino and James E. Rooney of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, is the start of a long-term initiative to increase the city's share of the meetings market. "We are trying to build a consensus before going forward," said a spokesperson for the MCCA. A "convention partnership" committee of 25 public officials and private individuals will study the proposal, including whether to build a new hotel; their report is due Dec. 31, 2010. To pay for the project, the city might raise the hotel tax again, according to the Boston Globe. Boston's occupancy tax rose 2 percentage points in September, to 14.45 percent.

Luxury Resort Debuts in Utah

The 181-room St. Regis Deer Crest, near Park City, Utah, opened yesterday. The ski-in, ski-out luxury property, which is reached by a small funicular train, offers more than 30,000 square feet of meeting space, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's J&G Grill and a 14,000-square-foot Remède Spa. Guests ski at the Deer Valley Resort.

MPI Business Barometer Shows Some Good News
The October 2009 Business Barometer from Meeting Professionals International, released yesterday, shows senior-level meeting professionals continue to feel good about the near future of their businesses. When asked which trend will most affect meetings over the next six months, 12 percent of the 300 respondents said optimism regarding the future economy and business, up from 3 percent just three months ago. Another 10 percent, however, cited the poor economy, compared with 6 percent in August, and 10 percent also cited indecision due to economic worries, up one percentage point. Those surveyed continue to show attendance and spending are down significantly since 2008. To see the full report, click here.

Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island Adds Ballroom

The 444-room Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (Fla.) hotel has completed a $22 million ballroom expansion. The facility adds 11,000 square feet of meeting space to the property, bringing the total space to 35,000 square feet. Additional amenities include a 27,500-square-foot full-service spa and the restaurant Salt, both of which opened in 2006.

CEIR Reports Continued Decline in Exhibition Industry Performance

The exhibition industry experienced an overall decline of 13.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009 vs. the same quarter in 2008, according to preliminary data collected for The CEIR Index by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The results also show a 2.6 percent decrease in performance compared with the second quarter of 2009 and represent the sixth consecutive quarter of negative numbers. While declines were found in all four metrics of measurement analyzed, attendance continued to fare relatively well, with only a 2.5 percent year-over-year drop in reported figures. Other metrics reported were net square feet (-16.2 percent), revenue (-22 percent) and number of exhibiting companies (-13.4 percent).

Call for Nominations for MPI Award

Meeting Professionals International is accepting nominations for its Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence (RISE) awards. Descriptions, criteria and applications are available at

Convention Centers
Chicago Forms Task Force to Lure Conventions
In response to last week's news that two major trade shows will move from McCormick Place in 2012 to Orlando and Las Vegas, representatives of Chicago's labor unions, the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, and local hotels and restaurants have formed a convention task force. The group's goal is to enact changes to current business practices and to develop a plan to attract conventions to the city. Following the announcement, Jim Grillo, CMP, founder and CEO of, an online resource for the meetings and conventions industry, issued a press release encouraging the group to appoint meetings industry owners and customers to the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority board in an effort to find long-term business solutions.

Updated Albany Convention Center Plans Revealed
Last week, project architects and construction managers presented to the Albany (N.Y.) Convention Center Authority an updated plan for the city's proposed 300,000-square-foot convention center. The revised design reduces construction costs from $240 million to $220 million. Features include 60,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 25,000-square-foot ballroom, a 10,000-square-foot junior ballroom and 22,000 square feet of meeting rooms. According to executive director Duncan Stewart, a groundbreaking date is subject to approval from the state government, but officials are hoping to begin construction in late 2010 and complete the project by 2012.

Corporate Travel Management
Corporate Travel and Meetings Managers See Lower Compensation
Total compensation declined by 5.6 percent in 2009 among corporate travel and meetings managers, according to the 2009 Travel Management Compensation and Benefits Survey conducted by the NBTA Foundation. The foundation, which is the education and research wing of the National Business Travel Association, surveyed 274 corporate travel and meetings managers working in the U.S. and Canada. While the average base salary actually increased by 2.1 percent this year, the total compensation, including salaries and bonuses, dropped to $91,954. Respondents with the title of vice president actually realized a year-over-year compensation increase, an average 8.7 percent, to $121,900. Most other job titles, however, saw a decrease in compensation; coordinators/specialists were hit the hardest, with a 14.2 percent average decrease, to $51,348. In addition to travel management responsibilities, nearly half (49 percent) of respondents are involved in meeting planning. NBTA members can access the full report at

Strikes Continue at San Francisco Hotels
Last Wednesday, approximately 650 union hotel workers at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco initiated a three-day strike, the third hotel strike to take place in the city this month. Unite Here Local 2, the union representing the workers, alleges the Westin's management has proposed unfair reductions to employees' health and retirement benefits. The following day, approximately 300 hotel workers and community members rallied outside the Grand Hyatt hotel in support of Hyatt workers across the country. In response, the Hotel Council of San Francisco issued a statement this week urging Local 2 to end the strikes and instead focus on the negotiating table. Workers and hotel management have been negotiating since late August.

New Bobby Flay Restaurant Unveiled at Mohegan Sun
Chef Bobby Flay has opened Bar Americain at Mohegan Sun, the casino resort in Uncasville, Conn. The 276-seat establishment is Flay's 10th, and the second Bar Americain (the original is in New York City). Mohegan Sun offers a 1,200-room hotel and more than 100,000 square feet of meeting space.

New Resort Unveiled in Snowmass, Colo.
The 173-room Viceroy Snowmass opens today in time for the Aspen/Snowmass ski season in Colorado. The ski-in, ski-out resort at the base of the Assay Hill lift is the hotel anchor of the new Base Village. The property, which is applying for LEED Silver certification, features an 87-foot-long glass-topped après-ski bar, a full-service spa and 9,000 square feet of meeting space.

Resort North of Boston Rebranded

Following a renovation, the 366-room Sheraton Ferncroft Resort has been reflagged the Crowne Plaza Hotel Boston North Shore. The property offers 30,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot ballroom. Among the amenities are the TradeWinds Restaurant and Lounge, a Starbucks, the Atlantis Sport Club, the Spa de Mar and the CoCo Key Water Resort, a 65,000-square-foot indoor water park.

Cambria Suites Breaks Ground in Pittsburgh
Joint development and ownership partners Horizon Hospitality and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins have broken ground on a 142-room Cambria Suites in downtown Pittsburgh. The hotel will be adjacent to the Consol Energy Center, the Penguins' future home arena, and will open in fall 2010. An on-site restaurant and a fitness center with indoor pool and a spa also are in the plans.

Plan Details Emerge for Columbus Convention Hotel

According to Business First of Columbus (Ohio), last week plans were unveiled for the $175 million Hilton convention center hotel project in the city. Ground might be broken on the 532-room property as early as next July, with plans to open in fall 2012. Details include 23,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom; a 300- to 400-seat restaurant; a lounge seating 100, and a coffee shop.

New Museum Opens in Fort Worth
The new home of the Fort Worth (Texas) Museum of Science and History, which celebrates the life and landscape of Texas and the Southwest, is now open in the city's cultural district. Designed by Legorreta + Legorreta, the 166,000-square-foot facility is the area's largest, and it joins structures created by Tadeo Ando, Buckminster Fuller, Philip Johnson and Louis Kahn. The museum can host 4,100 for a reception, giving attendees access to the exhibits during the event.