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by By Loren G. Edelstein and Michael J. Shapiro | June 27, 2011
The inaugural AIBTM, The Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition, concluded June 23 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Attendance (yet to be audited)was reported at about 2,400, including 789 exhibitors and 740 hosted buyers. Many also attended the co-located Professional Convention Management Association's Education Conference, which drew more than 600 total registrants.

Highlights included the CIC Hall of Leaders Gala on June 21 and the opportunity for 1,000 attendees to see the U2 concert at the M&T Stadium on June 22 (including M&C staff and key clients).

Educational sessions stressed emerging technologies such as hybrid meetings and other marketplace trends. Among standing-room-only seminars was an overview of "Changing Times, Emerging Trends," led by two executives from BCD Meetings & Incentives, Mary MacGregor, vice president of business development, Americas, and Matthew Wall, vice president, meetings and incentives.

MacGregor stressed that the venue availability and steep discounts planners have enjoyed over the past two years "are waning, and should not be a part of your expectations" in current and future negotiations. She suggested that organizations plan now for a 10 to 15 percent increase in air costs as a part of overall budgets for 2012 to allow for increasing oil prices. The presenters also stressed the growing importance of security and risk management, emerging markets and more in reshaping the meetings marketplace.

The show will return to the Baltimore Convention Center next year, June 19-21, 2012.

Among other news from the event:

U.S. DESTINATIONS
Atlantic City
Revel Entertainment, which succeeded early this year in raising the required funds for its Atlantic City project, announced that its 1,090-room resort will open on the Boardwalk on May 15, 2012. The resort will offer "everything you'd expect to find at a beachfront resort," said senior vice president of sales Bob Franklin. With an emphasis on luxury beach amenities and activities, the property will be an entertainment destination offering much more than gaming, he said. The resort plan places a premium on group business, Franklin noted, and is shooting for 25 percent of its volume from meetings and events -- a number that could climb to as high as 50 or 60 percent midweek.

The property will open with 160,000 square feet of meeting space, with the capacity to expand to 190,000 square feet. A 15,000-square-foot amphitheater and a 30,000-square-foot meeting center will constitute part of that space. "We have designed the resort specifically to accommodate meetings business," said Franklin, with special consideration given to accessibility and convenience for planners and delegates. Meeting spaces are contiguous, with separate access from the casino.
 
Honolulu
Following the recent disasters in Japan, projections for Hawaii's tourism market looked dire. But business has far exceeded expectations, reported a spokesperson for the Hawaii Convention Center. For the first months of 2011, in fact, the state's conventions, meetings and incentives market experienced a 40 percent increase in business over 2010. May totals are expected to add to that increase. By year's end, convention center officials expect they will have welcomed 85,000 delegates, accounting for nearly $403 million in total spending.

The largest intergovernmental gathering in Hawaii's history is planned for November, when the convention center will host the 19th APEC Leaders' Meeting. It will mark the first time since 1993 that the U.S. has played host to the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Heads of state from Australia, Canada, China, Chile and other destinations are expected to attend the global gathering.

INTERNATIONAL DESTINATIONS
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau announced several infrastructure developments for Kuala Lumpur:

• A new low-cost carrier terminal is slated to open in April 2012 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

• Development of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and extension of the Light Rapid Transit in the city should be completed by 2020.

• A series of air-conditioned pedestrian walkways leading to Kuala Lumpur City Centre are in the works; one linked to the Impiana Hotel has been completed.

• An expansion of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre should be completed by year-end 2013.

Scotland
The Riverside Museum, designed by internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid, opened in Glasgow on June 21. The venue celebrates the role of transport and travel in Scotland's rich industrial heritage.

• Stirling Castle's Royal Palace was recently restored and reopened for groups. New as of this month are six "royal apartments," available for VIP events.

• The Scottish Hydro Arena, referred to as "The Hydro," is due to open in spring 2013. The 12,000-seat venue will host concerts, entertainment and sporting events.

• Donald Trump is building a luxury golf resort with two courses on the northeast coast of Aberdeenshire.

London
London will host the 2012 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the city is getting ready with a burst of hotel development. Currently, 8,394 rooms are in the active pipeline, with 3,682 already under construction. Among recent debuts are the 192-room W London, Leicester Square; 245-room St. Pancras Renaissance; and 300-room Corinthia Hotel London, near Trafalgar Square.

Rome
A new convention center, The Cloud, is scheduled to open in Rome in 2013. The property is under construction in the city's EUR business district, amid upscale shopping, museums and restaurants. Plans call for a new 439-room hotel at the site.

Dubai
The two-year-old Dubai Bid Alliance, founded by Dubai Convention Bureau, Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, Emirates Airline and other suppliers, has increased its member hotel rooms by 100 percent over the past year. The alliance, which has streamlined the bid process for 30 conventions to date, now offers 20,000 rooms across a range of hotel segments.

PEOPLE

Aileen Crawford was promoted to head of conventions for the Glasgow City Marketing Bureau this month. The previous deputy head of conventions, Crawford replaces Molly Doheny, who took an early retirement from the position.

Casandra Matej has been named executive director of the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau. A Texas native, her industry experience includes stints at bureaus across the country, most recently as senior deputy president of sales and services for the Dallas CVB.

• Industry vet Steve Mackenzie joined event management and registration technology provider Etouches this week as vice president of global sales. Mackenzie, who has worked with ASP Events and Ungerboeck Systems International, will be charged with expanding the company's global reach.

TECHNOLOGY

MeetingMetrics, an online platform that measures meeting-effectiveness results, released Version 3.1 on Monday. The update, which is being used by both AIBTM and the PCMA Education Conference, expands the software's continuing-education capabilities in the form of "self-serve" certificates that participants can download and submit for professional development requirements. The new version also will produce and deliver different types of CE certificates for the same education session, for attendees earning multiple certifications. Also new to the update is a Link-Enable feature, which integrates with registration systems to send session survey links to all event registrants. The latest version of MeetingMetrics also will be used for the Financial and Insurance Conference Planners's Education Conference and Meeting Professionals International's World Education Conference.

RESEARCH
Meeting Professionals International presented the Business Value of Meetings study, which explores how organizations measure the worth of their events. The findings include the percentage of businesses that measure the value of meetings, the barriers to implementation of measurement processes, programming elements for organizational success and the key skills needed for personal success. The study was conducted by Association Insights and was funded by an investment from AIBTM to the MPI Foundation's Thought Leadership program. Using the information, MPI will develop a set of business tools that industry professionals can use to introduce meeting-value measures to their events and communicate the value in relevant business terms. The Business Value of Meetings is available free to MPI members; the cost is $99 for nonmembers.