According to a report from Smith Travel Research, hotel
occupancies are down compared to the same period last year, but the
average daily rate has increased. The average occupancy for January
through April 2008 fell 2.1 percent to 59.2 percent compared with
the same period in 2007. The average daily rate, however, increased
4.7 percent to $108.01.
Marriott International has launched several environmental
initiatives to help meeting planners offset their meetings' carbon
footprint, including a menu of eco-friendly products and a
commitment to make cash contributions to protect the Amazon
rainforest. According to Marriott's estimates, the average
three-day meeting for 1,000 people produces 12 tons of trash, uses
200,000 kilowatts of power and consumes 100,000 gallons of water.
To assist planners in reducing these numbers, meeting room options
at several Marriott brands now include biodegradable pens and
notepads made from recycled materials, specially designed linenless
tables, name-tag reuse programs and options to use organic flowers.
Also, for qualified "green" meetings booked between July 1, 2008,
and Dec. 31, 2009, and held by Dec. 31, 2011, Marriott will make a
cash donation equal to 5 percent of the total cost of the group's
guest rooms to the Brazilian state of Amazonas to fund an
environmental management plan. Groups of 10 sleeping rooms or more,
booked directly through the hotel's sales associate, qualify. The
brands taking part in the green initiatives include JW Marriott
Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, and Renaissance Hotels and
Starting June 15, American Airlines passengers who purchase
economy tickets for domestic travel (including Canada, Puerto Rico
and the U.S. Virgin Islands) will be charged $15 each way for their
first checked bag, and $25 each way for their second. Passengers
still can bring one personal item (briefcase, laptop bag, purse)
plus one carry-on bag onto the plane for free. Frontier Airlines
also has announced baggage fee changes, effective for tickets
purchased on or after June 10. The first checked bag still will be
free, but the second checked bag will cost $25 each way. Frontier
also increased other fees, including those for paper tickets (from
$25 to $35), checked scuba equipment (from $0 to $100) and, believe
it or not, checked antlers (from $75 to $100).
Asian Coast Development, a Canadian developer, announced plans
last week for a multibillion-dollar, 9,000-room luxury beachfront
casino resort destination in southern Vietnam, about 50 miles
southwest of Ho Chi Minh City. Dubbed the Ho Tram Strip, the
415-acre project will become Vietnam's largest tourism development.
Plans call for a 1,100-room hotel with a casino and a Greg
Norman-designed golf course, both to debut in 2010. The following
year, another 1,300 rooms and a second casino will open in a
separate resort. In all, the Ho Tram Strip will comprise five
integrated resorts, a convention center, a marina, a spa, a
"holistic wellness center," a tennis academy, restaurants and
retail stores, all to be built over the next decade.
The International Association of Exhibitions and Events is
warning its members about a Mexican company it says is trying to
scam exhibitors out of thousands of dollars under the guise of
collecting information for a "free listing" in an exhibitor
directory for IAEE's annual meeting. Expo-Guide has sent letters to
exhibitors requesting companies to "confirm the accuracy" of their
directory listing, but the form's fine print reveals that anyone
who signs and returns the paperwork agrees to pay more than
US$1,500 per year for three years for an advertisement in the
directory. Although the Expo-Guide letter states it is not
affiliated with IAEE, Steven Hacker, the association's president,
believes the company's conduct constitutes "an unfair infringement
and improper intrusion into the business affairs" of IAEE and is
designed to mislead exhibitors who do not read the form carefully.
Hacker suspects that Expo-Guide is affiliated with Austria-based
Construct Data Verlag, a company that has used similar methods on
IAEE exhibitors in the past. Expo-Guide could not be reached by
phone and did not immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.
IAEE has sent a letter to Expo-Guide demanding that it cease
solicitation of information from IAEE exhibitors.
The Glorypark development in Arlington, Texas, is on hold, as
financing was not secured in time for a recent deadline. The $600
million project, next to the Texas Rangers' ballpark and near the
new Dallas Cowboys stadium, was going to feature a 300-room Westin
property and a 140-room Aloft hotel, as well as restaurants and
retail outlets. According to a source at the Arlington Convention
and Visitors Bureau, it looks like the Westin still will be built.
As reported in the Dallas Business Journal, developer Tom Hicks
said, "We have put an enormous amount of time and money into
Glorypark. We will pursue alternative funding options."