March 12, 2008

Meeting Professionals International is partnering with Messe Berlin, a German trade show organizer, to launch the Asian Meetings and Events Conference. The new show will be held in Singapore on Oct. 24-26, immediately following Messe Berlin's inaugural ITB Asia Travel Trade Show and Convention, scheduled for Oct. 22-24. A hosted-buyer program for both conferences aims to bring in 30 meeting professionals from around the world. This is the first event MPI will hold in Singapore since opening an office there last October.

PKF's first-quarter 2008 Hotel Horizons report revises its 2008 projections for the hotel industry. The lodging research and consulting group says the rise in revenue per available room, initially forecast to increase 4.5 percent over 2007's RevPAR, has been trimmed to 3 percent. In addition, of the 50 major cities PKF tracks, only 29 will achieve that 3 percent or higher. Occupancy levels now are predicted to decline 1.6 percent in 2008, with luxury hotels suffering the greatest decline in occupancy, as companies seek to control travel spend in a perceived economic downturn. The average daily rate is expected to increase 4.7 percent this year over 2007.

North Americanæhotel companies continue to pour development and acquisition capital into Asia, particularly into China. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide expects to double its portfolio in China by adding 40 hotels there by the end of 2011, the company announced last week. Ritz-Carlton, which opened a 351-room hotel in Guangzhou yesterday, plans to add properties in Sanya, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau in the next two years. Hyatt Hotels and Resorts will open a Grand Hyatt in Guangzhou next month, Park Hyatt properties in Beijing and Shanghai this summer, and nine others in China by 2010. Fairmont will open a property in Beijing this summer, and Conrad, a Hilton brand, will open an upscale Beijing hotel by the end of 2010. According to Jones Lang Lasalle Hotels, a hotel investment services firm, US$10.8 billion worth of hotel transactions took place in Asia during 2007, more than doubling the previous annual record of US$5 billion set in 2006.

Meetings technology companies Certain Software and Amlink Technologies are merging, subject to the approval of Amlink's shareholders. The companies expect the deal to become official on April 1. Certain, an online registration provider, and Amlink, which offers the meetings-management solution known as "events," will operate under the Certain Software name. The combined company will have more than 1,800 customers in 50 countries. Certain chairman and founder Douglas E. Goldman will be chairman of the board for the combined company, and Certain president and CEO James A. Pappas will continue in that role. Amlink's CEO, Trevor Gardiner, will become COO for the company, with responsibility for Amlink's products and business units.