June 25, 2008

Michael J. Dimond, a mainstay in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years, died Monday at age 67 after suffering a heart attack last week. In 2006, Dimond retired from his post as senior vice president of sales and marketing at the 700-room Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo. Throughout his career, he had served in top management and marketing positions with Hyatt Regency Hotels; the Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in Nashville; the Doral in Miami; the Boca Raton Hotel & Club in Boca Raton, Fla., and Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He also spent time as senior vice president of marketing for Gaylord Entertainment. In 2002, Dimond was inducted into the Convention Industry Council's Hall of Leaders. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International Scholarship Fund (1760 Old Meadow Rd., Suite 500, McLean, Va. 22102).

Last Friday, United Airlines filed with ATPCO, the Airline Tariff Publishing Co., detailing changes to its domestic fare structure that include minimum-night stay requirements to take effect Oct. 6. A United spokesperson told M&C that "most United fares... will require a one- to three-night or weekend-night minimum stay, depending on three factors: the market, the fare and the flight length." Also as of Oct. 6, United will raise all its one-way fares by an average of $25.

The Greenbrier and the Greenbrier Council of Labor Unions have signed a no-strike, no-lockout agreement. The arrangement will remain in place until Jan. 4, 2009, or until new contracts are signed, whichever comes first. The hotel and the council, which represents nine union contracts, have been in negotiations since last January, when agreements for the resort's union employees expired and a walkout was authorized. The resort had lost some meetings business as several groups canceled or relocated their events, fearing a disruption of service. The new agreement allows both sides to move forward in negotiations without the threat of a walkout.

Last week, contracts were approved by the Nashville Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency to start work on a new, 1.2 million-square-foot convention center, called Music City Center. A groundbreaking date has been set for early 2009, with a completion date in 2012. The facility will offer 375,000 square feet of exhibit space and is expected to cost around $600 million. A 1,000-room headquarters hotel also is in the plan, but a timeline for construction has not been set.

Ahmeenah Young was appointed president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority on June 18. Young was most recently executive vice president and general manager at the authority. She first worked for the PCCA from 1987 to 2000 and returned to the facility in 2004 as executive vice president of external affairs. Al Mezzaroba, who has been president and CEO since 2003, will remain on staff through August to ease the transition. Young takes the helm as the Philadelphia facility is in the midst of a $700 million expansion, scheduled to wrap up in January 2011.

Last week, economic pressures forced at least three trade shows to cancel for next year. Show organizer George Little Management announced on Friday that its Global Home Textiles and Global Home Decor shows, scheduled for May 2009 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, have been canceled. The decision came just two weeks after the company reported that the 2008 shows saw a 40 percent increase in attendance compared with last year and "are clearly gaining momentum with U.S.-based wholesalers." GLM also announced 31 jobs at its White Plains, N.Y., office would be eliminated. In addition, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade axed its Spring Fancy Food Show, scheduled for next April at McCormick Place in Chicago. The association plans to proceed with its summer show, which begins this Sunday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, and its winter show in San Francisco in January. NASFT president Ann Daw said the spring show "is no longer providing the majority of our members with the most effective means by which to grow their businesses in the Midwest."

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research has released seven reports analyzing trade show attendance, based on data collected by Exhibit Surveys. Among the findings: Thirty-five percent of attendees register for only one exhibition; attendees spend an average of 8.3 hours viewing exhibits over 2.3 days; and the average traffic density at trade shows is 2.3 people per 100 square feet, with high-tech industry shows enjoying above-average density and health-care industry shows producing below-average density. The reports are available for purchase at CEIR's website (www.ceir.org).

Striking food-service workers at Boston's two convention centers returned to work yesterday after staging a three-day protest against their employer, Aramark, the catering provider at the centers. No meetings have been scheduled between Unite HERE Local 26, representing the workers, and Aramark. The union accuses Aramark of unfair labor practices; workers have been on the job without a contract since October. Brian Lang, vice president and chief negotiator for Local 26, said further stoppages are possible but are not scheduled.

Don Welsh, president and CEO of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, will become president and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association on Aug. 1, following the retirement of current ICVA president and CEO Bob Bedell. Welsh told M&C he is excited about the move, as there are "lots of new things under development in Indianapolis -- new hotels, a new stadium, airport and a major new convention center." Welsh hopes Tom Norwalk, the Seattle CVB's senior vice president of sales and marketing, will be named his successor.