September 28, 2005

The meetings industry has been quick to organize help for colleagues affected by Hurricane Katrina. Following is a list of news, initiatives and relevant links.

The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans will reopen on Nov. 1. Long regarded as one of the city's finest hotels, the Orient-Express Hotels property has 324 guest rooms. "Eighty percent of the rooms were undamaged," according to management, and the hotel was not affected by flooding.

Hilton Hotels Corp. is waiving group cancellation damages for meetings booked through Dec. 31 at its New Orleans and Gulf Coast hotels. Groups can call the hotel's Group Hotline, (866) 973-8030, for assistance. Of Hilton's 27 properties in the hurricane-affected regions, 24 remain closed, with the remainder housing relief workers.

American Gaming Association
The AGA has set up a relief fund for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. The website also has a link to its Katrina Relief Fund Tool Kit, practical information on how companies can help out.

American Hotel & Lodging Association
The AHLA’s home page ( has a wealth of information on post-Hurricane Katrina initiatives. Click on to access "Opportunities for Employees Affected by Katrina."

American Society of Association Executives
The ASAE has extensive information at Included is a lengthy list of how industry associations are aiding relief efforts.

Convention Industry Council
The CIC has created the Hurricane Katrina Information for Event Professionals site, including a link to an Excel spreadsheet listing hotel contacts for rebooking and rescheduling events originally scheduled for the affected areas. Click on

Destination Marketing Association International
The DMAI has lists information at Included are updates from the convention and visitor bureaus affected by the hurricane.

Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
HSMAI has set up an information source, the Disaster Recovery Resource Center, for members (nonmembers can register for a 60-day free trial); the association, via its Foundation Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, also will match all member contributions to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, up to $25,000. Membership to all HSMAI chapters in the affected areas is free for the next 90 days. For all the relevant information, click on

International Association for Exhibition Management
IAEM has teamed up with several industry organizations the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Destination Marketing Association International, International Association of Assembly Managers, Meeting Professionals International, American Society of Association Executives and Professional Convention Management Association to create the Special Task Force of the Associations. The main focus of the group will be to assist members needing to relocate upcoming events scheduled for the affected areas. Click on for more details.

Jekyll Island (Ga.) CVB
Jekyll Island officials have developed a program to accommodate meetings and conventions displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Jekyll Island ( will match the terms of existing agreements between affected convention business and affected CVBs/convention centers in affected areas (including lodging, convention space, food & beverage and airport transportation). In addition, Jekyll Island will offer any displaced business, CVB or convention center 50 percent of its collected lodging tax (5 percent per room night) to help offset their lost revenue. For more information, call (888) 413-9127.

Meetings & Conventions and BiZBash
To raise funds for disaster relief, 25 percent of all two-day-pass registration fees to the Meeting & Event Style Show (Oct. 20-21 at New York City's Pier 94) will be donated to the American Red Cross. To register, go to and use the registration code "relief."

Meeting Professionals International
MPI offers thorough coverage on post-hurricane aid. One link offers help from planners, another help from suppliers; a message board also is available. Planners from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast looking for work can post a free 60-day listing on the organization's job board. Click on

National Business Travel Association
NBTA has set up a Hurricane Katrina Resource Page, with information on relief efforts, affected hotels, airline access to affected cities and ways to donate. Members can click on a link listing the area’s meetings-related housing possibilities. For more information, click on

Northstar Travel Media
NTM, the parent company of Meetings & Conventions, Travel Weekly, TravelAge West, Hotel & Travel Index, Official Hotel Guide International and Official Meeting Facilities Guide, is offering free office space in its northern New Jersey headquarters to members of the travel and meetings industry displaced by Hurricane Katrina. For more information, please contact Leena Clausell at (201) 902-1784 or

Professional Convention Management Association
PCMA has set up the Hospitality Industry Relief Fund at From the same page, the Managing Meetings in a Crisis link has offers of help and expertise from planners. PCMA also has teamed up with Gifts In Kind International, where people can donate exhibit products and equipment to charity. For more information, contact Virginia Rhedmon, Gifts In Kind International, at (703) 299-7550 or

Society of Incentive & Travel Executives
SITE’s home page ( has a link to a Katrina resource page. The association also joined up with PCMA to set up the Hospitality Industry Relief Fund (see PCMA’s entry, above). SITE is donating half of the proceeds from its 2005 silent auction, which is being held both online and at its International Conference in Toronto, Nov. 3-6. The organization also is planning a special fundraising event at the Motivation Show in Chicago, Sept. 27-29. Complimentary registration and hotel accommodations for the Toronto conference, as well as free 2006 SITE memberships, are available to all SITE members from affected areas.

Trade Show Exhibitors Association
TSEA has organized a Katrina Relief Fund. Contact 312-842-8732 or, or click on for more details.

Travel Industry Association of America
A free job bank for those affected by the hurricane went online Sept. 15. The initiative was set up by the TIA in cooperation with the Travel & Tourism Coalition and the Travel Business Roundtable. For more details, click on

Visit Florida
The state’s official tourism board is working with eBay to offer Getaways for Gulf Aid, an online auction of Florida vacations. All proceeds go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Click on

The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau has kept its website updated daily with pertinent information (, including the new annoucement that all citywide conventions (those requiring convention center space and three or more hotels) are canceled through March 31, 2006. Small and midsize meetings scheduled after Jan. 1, 2006, that do not use the center and are self-contained in hotels are not canceled. The bureau also has created three relief funds to assist its staff, as well as area hospitality and tourism employees. The three tax-deductible funds are: the NOMCVB Employee Relief Fund, the New Orleans Tourism Workers Relief Fund, and the New Orleans Tourism Rebirth Fund. Donations can be sent to: Steve Moeller, (Fund Name), New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1051  North Third St., Capitol Annex, 5th Floor, Baton Rouge, La. 70802.

The NOMCVB has a temporary office in Baton Rouge: 1515 N. Federal Hwy., Suite 204, Boca Raton, La. 33432; (561) 314-3249; fax: (561) 750-6795. Meeting planners also can call these other key NOMCVB staff for advice and information: Donna Karl in Chicago: (630) 357-3480; Peggy Hagaman in Chicago: (847) 236-0200; Kitty Ratcliffe in Dallas: (972) 687-9211; JoAnne Hunsicker in Washington, D.C.: (703) 379-2233, and Sallee Pavlovich in Washington, D.C.: (202) 835-4082.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau's site ( has a link to a local charity, the Gulf Coast Foundation. Note that connecting to can be slow due to infrastructure problems resulting from the hurricane.