March 09, 2005

The board of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus unanimously approved the proposed new moniker for the organization, Destination Marketing Association International, and a new tagline, "Representing CVBs and Tourism Boards Worldwide." Now, IACVB members will receive a ballot to cast their votes for the name; two-thirds of members must approve the name change before it takes effect. The mailing is slated for May or June, according to a spokesperson.

Opposition is mounting to the planned conversion of New York City's famed 805-room Plaza hotel into a 150-room property with 200 condominiums and a retail component, slated to begin in May. Local 6 of Unite Here has allocated $3 million to fight the conversion, claiming the jobs of about 1,100 employees are at stake. The union is petitioning to have the building's interior named a New York City landmark and to reduce the condo portion to just the top few floors. Even a citywide moratorium on hotel-to-condo conversions is a possibility. Elad Properties, the new owner of the hotel, has proposed building another property to replace any jobs the union might lose. The fight could be a long one. "Hundreds of people are joining the coalition to save the Plaza," said a Local 6 spokesperson. "I don't see anyone joining Elad."

At its annual general managers meeting this week in Orlando, where 800 GMs from the chain have gathered, Marriott International announced two enhancements: a new guest room look in its Marriott and Renaissance branded properties and a new wine list for its Marriott full-service properties. As renovations are slated, all properties will follow the new prototypes, which feature upscale bedding, furniture, bathroom fixtures and amenities. The new wine list, which features 150 wines from 88 vintners, culled from a blind taste test of 650 wines, will be introduced immediately at all of the chain's full-service properties around the world.

Leadership from the American Society of Association Executives and Meeting Professionals International met on March 3 with Labor Department officials to discuss boosting the image of the meetings profession. "Although the global business of meetings is a multibillion-dollar industry that has existed for decades, there is still a lack of external awareness that meeting planning is a solid professional career option," said MPI president and CEO Colin Rorrie Jr., Ph.D., CAE. According to Labor Department officials, the hospitality industry (including meetings and conventions) is one of 12 sectors identified in the Bush administration's "High Growth Job Training Initiative," which aims to prepare workers for high-demand sectors of the U.S. economy.

The Trade Show Exhibitors Association has asked its president, Michael Bandy, to stay with the organization until July 2005. Bandy announced his resignation last year -- effective as of March 31, 2005 -- saying he intended to start an association management firm with his wife, Dee Dee. "We felt we needed more time to evaluate all opportunities," said TSEA chairman Sal Cavallaro, CME. "Therefore, we asked Michael if he would be willing to extend the date of his planned resignation. We're pleased that he has agreed to provide continuity through our TS2 event."

Unite Here's Los Angeles branch earned an emblematic victory last week in its boycott of eight area hotels when former president Bill Clinton refused to attend a luncheon at the Century Plaza Hotel out of respect for workers still waiting for a contract. "We applaud [his] courage and support," said Rocksand Ramirez, a Century Plaza employee, of Clinton's influence in relocating that day's lunch to another venue. According to the Los Angeles Hotel Employers Council, however, the two-day Association of Southern California Defense Counsel convention that hosted the lunch was otherwise held at the Century Plaza and suffered no significant attendance shortage.