December 01, 2004

The Convention Industry Council has launched its Requests for Proposals Demonstration Team, a group of technology gurus who will make it possible to send standardized RFPs (created by the CIC's Accepted Practices Exchange initiative) across different computer operating systems. Already the Housing & Registration and Event Specifications segments of APEX are being translated into computer formats that anyone can download and run. Planners interested in hearing more about the technology arising from APEX should send an e-mail to E.J. Siwek, CMP (, with the subject line "ADD" and their name, title, employer and mailing address in the body. Siwek is the president of FLASHpoint Technologies and chair of the APEX Technology Advisory Council.

Last week, the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association forged a preliminary agreement with the Aruba Ministry of Tourism and Transportation to start a new convention bureau, with a $1.5 million budget contributed equally by AHATA and the government. The bureau tentatively will be called the Aruba Meetings and Incentives Partnership, which formerly was a segment of the Aruba Convention Bureau, an entity that currently is operating with a stripped-down staff. By the first quarter of 2005, Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of AHATA, said he hopes to have seated a seven-person board, with members from the Aruba Hotel Association and AHATA, and to have hired a three- to four-person staff. After that, he said AHATA hopes to divert some of the island's hotel tax to fund the new bureau.

On Friday, the Association of Flight Attendants mailed out more than 5,000 strike-authorization ballots to members who work for US Airways. The union fears the airline could get permission from a federal bankruptcy court to void previously negotiated labor contracts. "Flight attendants will not passively stand by while their employers manipulate the courts to destroy our livelihoods. Enough is enough," said Patricia Friend, AFA international president. The union says a strike would mean surprise work stoppages on random flights, a tactic the AFA has termed "CHAOS," for "Create Havoc Around Our System." Strike ballots likewise are being prepared for bankrupt carriers United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and ATA.

A feasibility study performed by hospitality consultants C.H. Johnson for the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association says the city needs a 1,200-room hotel next to the Minneapolis Convention Center. In addition, the study recommends expanding current hotels downtown. "We did this study to see where Minneapolis stacks up against competitors so we can plan for the future," said Greg Ortale, GMCVA president and CEO. "Going into it, we felt adding a hotel was necessary, but the results of the study were stunning." A second phase of the study will examine ways of funding a new property.

Eduardo Chaillo, executive director of the Mexico Tourism Board, has been named chair of the North American chapter for the Amsterdam-based International Congress & Convention Association.

WestCoast Hospitality Corp. announced yesterday at its investor conference that it will invest $40 million over the next 18 months to revitalize its Red Lion Hotels brand. Improvements at the chain's 31 hotels will include technology enhancements, facility modernization and in-room amenities.