HOT TOPICS 2-16-2005
The rumors were true: The Professional Convention Management
Association has not renewed the contract of its current president
and CEO, David Kushner; he will leave the organization as of Feb.
25. The PCMA board made the announcement yesterday, at the same
time naming Deborah Long Sexton as the new president and CEO,
following what was a very quiet executive search. On identifying
Sexton as the right candidate for the job, board chairman Gregg H.
Talley, president of the Talley Management Group, said: "I don't
know that it was an issue of getting the word out [that the board
was searching for a new association president] as it was
recognizing the leadership qualities we were looking for and then
identifying matches. We didn't know Deborah would be willing to
listen to our approach." Sexton brings 30 years' experience in the
industry to PCMA, leaving her current position as president of the
Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau to join the association. PCMA
is based in Chicago. Sexton expects to begin her new job no earlier
than March 15.
Robert F. Cotter, president and COO of Starwood Hotels &
Resorts Worldwide, announced Feb. 14 he will retire at the end of
the year. Cotter, who joined Starwood in 1973 and is only 53, was
named president of the company in November 2003, just two weeks
after Barry S. Sternlich announced he was stepping down as chairman
and CEO. Cotter has been COO since 2000. The hotel company has not
yet named a replacement.
A new study conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer Council
identified some conflicting results concerning how CMOs view
events. The online survey of 190 CMOs and 230 event marketing
managers found that CMOs rank events as the third most important
marketing function, behind direct response and interactive efforts.
Only about a third (36 percent) of the CMO respondents said events
were "tightly integrated" with other marketing functions; 46
percent said they consistently measure the effectiveness of their
events against their organizations' overall marketing objectives.
The majority of the CMO and event-manager respondents reported they
see events as expensive and time consuming; their top challenges
are identifying and following up with leads and analyzing ROI. Just
33 percent of the event managers surveyed believe their CMOs are
"very committed" to events.
Orient-Express Hotels announced yesterday it has acquired a
majority interest in the 301-room Grand Hotel Europe in St.
Petersburg, Russia. Dating from 1824 and restored in 1991, the
upscale hotel on Nevsky Prospekt sits across from the Shostakovich
Philharmonic and is within walking distance of the Hermitage Museum
and the city's other major tourist sites. The hotel has more than
8,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom for 250
people. Orient-Express claims the $100 million deal is the largest
ever for a Russian hotel.
Released yesterday, the 2005 American Express Survey of
International Business Traveler Expense Practices confirms that a
crackdown on expenses is being felt by business travelers in the
United States and Europe. Of the 500 U.S. and European travelers
polled, 45 percent said their firms' policies governing
reimbursable expenses have become either "somewhat" or "a lot'
tougher over the past two or three years. Other findings:
* Nearly half (48 percent) of French respondents said their firms
are questioning them more frequently on specific T&E expenses.
Just 15 percent of British, 12 percent of German and 7 percent of
U.S. travelers noted a similar uptick in scrutiny of their expense
* Business meals are the most abused T&E expense category,
cited by 70 percent of French, 59 percent of German, 53 percent of
American and 48 percent of British respondents.