December 12, 2007

According to a study released by PKF Hospitality Research, there will be a slight 0.7 percent decrease in occupancy levels next year. However, the average daily room rate will grow another 5.3 percent over 2007's ADR. While the number of hotel rooms in the pipeline is at an all-time high, the number of projects actually breaking ground is quite small. As a result, PKF is forecasting just a 2.6 percent increase in supply in 2008, or approximately 115,000 new hotel rooms. Most of that supply will be in the upscale and midscale-without-F&B segments. Of note: In the third quarter of 2007, the largest number of properties in the pipeline was in the luxury segment; however, most of those projects will not be open until 2009 and beyond.

Robert F. Bedell, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, will retire at the end of June. Bedell has held the top spot at the bureau since 2002. A successor is expected to be in place before August, when the new home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, opens. At that point, the Colt's existing home, the RCA Dome, will be transformed into an expansion of the adjacent Indiana Convention Center.

Reed Travel Exhibitions has decided to postpone the China Incentive Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition until 2009, to avoid conflicting with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, to be held Aug. 8-24. CIBTM will next take place on Sept. 8-10, 2009, at the new China National Convention Centre. "Whilst the world is focused on one of its greatest sporting events, we have decided it was best for exhibitors and visitors alike to focus on 2009 in order not to compromise CIBTM in any way," said Paul Kennedy, group exhibition director for Reed, in a statement. "RTE is strategically committed to China and the whole of Asia and sees Beijing as a growing hub for the meetings industry."

The Transportation Security Administration and Continental Airlines have begun testing a paperless boarding-pass system, sending boarding-pass bar codes to travelers' cell phones or PDAs that can be scanned at security checkpoints. The three-month pilot program is being run at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, after which the TSA will evaluate its success and determine whether the program will be rolled out throughout the country.

The 440-room Woodlands Resort & Conference Center in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands will undergo a $50 million renovation and expansion that will add 158 guest rooms. Also in the plans, however, is the conversion of parts of the property into residences, so when construction is completed in 2010, the Woodlands will offer only 380 guest rooms. In the meantime, all current rooms will be renovated, as will the 60,000 square feet of IACC-approved conference space and the two dining outlets. A new registration and lobby area will be built, along with a new steak house and a lazy river.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. will build a 269-room hotel in Tampa, Fla. The waterfront Ritz-Carlton, Tampa Bay, is scheduled to open in 2011 and will include a 15,000-square-foot spa, retail space and at least two restaurants. In addition, there will be a private club lounge, a beach club, a boardwalk and a marina. About 30,000 square feet of meeting space will be available, including a 12,000-square-foot ballroom.

InterContinental Hotels Group is building a $77 million, 264-room Crowne Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel, to open in mid-2009, will be part of a 26-acre mixed-use development that will incorporate both a shopping mall and office space. The property will have a casino, a fitness center, a day spa and 15,000 square feet of meeting space.