July 28, 2004

In 2005, Meeting Professionals International will launch a career pathways program called MyCareer@MPI on its website (www.mpiweb.org). Members will be able to take assessment tests and receive career development guidance. Partnered with the online service will be a call center, a mentoring program, professional coaching services and portfolio reviews. Announced during MPI's World Education Congress, which concluded yesterday in Denver, the program will define standard levels of planning competencies and provide tools and resources for meeting professionals to reach their career goals. The organization's annual meeting welcomed 3,151 delegates, the second-largest gathering in MPI's history.

For the second year in a row, face-to-face events were second only to direct-mail programs for delivering a high return on investment, according to a survey of 200 U.S.-based corporate marketing executives at organizations whose sales exceed $250 million. Conducted by the George P. Johnson Co. and the Meeting Professionals International Foundation, the study also found 82 percent of respondents plan to include event marketing as part of their overall marketing mix, an increase of 6 percent over 2003. Participants in the survey came from four industries: automotive, health care, high-tech and financial.

A long-standing proposal to build a $52 million headquarters hotel for the Rhode Island Convention Center - with the help of $20 million in state-donated tax credits - has reached its final impasse. Although Governor Carcieri had vetoed the bill months ago, state legislators were hoping to overturn the governor's decision in a house meeting this past Friday. All such attempts were abandoned last week, however, when three private developers offered to build area hotels without public funding, as long as they could be assured of no state-subsidized competition.

Opening tomorrow is the highly anticipated Raffles Resort Canouan Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (West Indies). The 156-room resort is set on 1,200 acres and features seven restaurants, an 18-hole golf course by Jim Fazio, a 10,000-square-foot Raffles Amrita Spa, a Trump casino and 4,500 square feet of meeting space, including a 3,000-square-foot ballroom.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts yesterday announced plans to open a W Hotel in Hong Kong, the first of its kind in the People's Republic of China. The 383-room W Hong Kong, slated for construction on the West Kowloon waterfront, will feature extensive meeting facilities, a rooftop bar and a spa. Completion is set for early 2008.

SmithBucklin Corp., the Chicago-based association-management company, announced that the company's founder and chairman emeritus William Erby Smith died on July 24 following a brief illness. He was 90 years old. In 1949, Smith co-founded the company, known originally as SmithBucklin & Associates Inc., and was chairman until 1998.