The Brookings Institution, a prominent think tank, has issued a
report critical of the ongoing "arms race" between competing cities
to build convention infrastructure at a time when convention
business is actually shrinking. The study, "Space Available: The
Realities of Convention Centers as Economic Development Strategy,"
says its conclusions "should give local leaders pause as they
consider calls for ever more public investment into the convention
business." Among the report's findings: Attendance at the top 200
trade shows has sunk to 1993 levels. Despite the decline,
localities are investing massive resources in facilities intended
to lure such events. Over the last decade, public capital spending
on convention centers has doubled to $2.4 billion annually, with a
50 percent increase in exhibition space, the report finds.
Furthermore, 44 new convention centers are now being planned or are
under construction. "The overall convention marketplace is
declining in a manner that suggests that a recovery or turnaround
is unlikely to yield much increased business for any given
community, contrary to repeated industry projections," the report
In San Jose, Calif., convention center-area hotels are considering
forming a district of their own, hoping to impose a tax hike on
their own rooms to fund expansions of the San Jose McEnery
Convention Center. Although a ballot measure for higher room taxes
failed to pass when it was proposed three years ago, the new plan
might saddle convention center hotel guests with the same increase
(4 percent) that was denied initially. "We got 65.3 percent of the
voters on our side last time we rallied for a tax increase," just
shy of the two-thirds majority needed, said Dan Fenton, president
and CEO of the San Jose Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We're
not concerned with going against the political will of the people.
This is a popular item."
Meeting Professionals International's annual survey compiled with
American Express, titled FutureWatch 2005, predicts planners will
see an average budget increase of 5 percent this year, following a
3 percent rise in 2004. Suppliers are expected to increase revenues
by 13 percent in 2005; their revenues rose by an average of 10
percent last year. Looking at planners' sourcing practices, 57
percent of the respondents said they have in place or are planning
to implement purchasing policies; 50 percent already have or are
creating preferred-supplier programs; and 48 percent recently have
installed or are installing new technology solutions for meeting
planning. For the full report, visit www.mpiweb.org.
Rental-car company Hertz has announced a new meetings program. The
features include site-inspection discounts; a meeting services
coordinator to take care of attendees' rental needs; a reward
program for meeting planners; and free customized flyers to send to
attendees. Guaranteed event rates can apply for a week before
through one week after a meeting.
In New York City, a long-term lease has been signed for a cruise
terminal on the Brooklyn waterfront. The Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey will construct a $30 million terminal, to open at
the end of this year. According to the New York City mayor's
office, Norwegian and Carnival cruise lines have committed to use
New York City cruise ports exclusively as their northeastern U.S.
port of call until 2017.
The 2,000-room Orlando World Center Marriott Resort &
Convention Center Marriott's largest property has begun a major
expansion of its function space. The 214,000 square feet of space
will be doubled to more than 400,000 square feet, including the
new, pillarless 105,000-square-foot Cypress Ballroom. When work is
finished (no date has been announced), the hotel will have 73
Last week, Southwest Airlines and bankrupt ATA Airlines announced a
code-sharing agreement on routes connecting through Chicago's
Midway Airport. Under the plan, the first code-share deal between
two low-cost carriers, the airlines will sell seats on each other's
flights and split the proceeds; passengers will be able to connect
between ATA and Southwest flights in Chicago with one ticket and
seamless baggage handling. "Our new code-share partnership allows
us to offer our reputation for friendly customer service and the
kind of everyday low fares both companies are known for to many
more markets across the country," said J. George Mikelsons, ATA's
chairman, president and CEO.
The 196-room Kapalua Bay Hotel in Maui, Hawaii, will be demolished
and replaced by a new, larger resort, according to parent company
Kapalua Bay LLC, a partnership between the Maui Land &
Pineapple Company, Marriott International and Exclusive Resorts.
The $300 million project, to open in spring 2008, will include
condominiums, approximately 150 hotel rooms, a spa and a beach
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. plans to open a 300-room hotel in Hong
Kong. The property, to open in 2009, claims it will be the highest
hotel in the world, occupying the top 13 floors of a 100-story
tower in the city's Kowloon Station redevelopment. Plans call for
300 guest rooms, approximately 12,000 square feet of function space
including a 6,400-square-foot ballroom, an indoor pool and a