July 21, 2004

Michael Hollander, who stepped down in June as president of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, is under the gun for allegedly misspending public funds. An audit released July 14 by the Suffolk County Comptroller's Office found that in 2002 and 2003, promotional money was spent on gifts, meals and other expenses for employees and executives at the bureau. Specifically, Hollander did not document more than $11,000 in spending, including $661 at a local strip club and $1,600 for political contributions. Jerry Kremer, Hollander's attorney, said the CVB president had been asked to go to the strip club and was willing to pay out of his own pocket for it. "This report is full of vague statements that show they don't understand how a bureau operates," said Kremer. The Suffolk County District Attorney is currently reviewing the audit before deciding how to proceed.

During the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus' annual convention last week in Boston, the organization released its ExPact study, which tracks the monetary impact of the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. Among the findings: Delegates spend an average of $945 per event (averaging 3.6 days) or $266 per day; and 77 percent of all delegate spending goes towards lodging (48 percent) and food and beverage (29 percent). The study also showed that meeting planners spend an average of $96 per event per delegate. On average, delegates stayed within the designated room block 81 percent of the time; of that group, 85 percent took advantage of the negotiated conference rate. This is the first time the ExPact study has been conducted since 1998 (it was previously known as the Convention Income Survey Report). Since then, delegate expenditures increased 36 percent; delegate per diem spending increased 15 percent, and the average length of stay expanded from 3.1 days to 3.6. The study, conducted by Reston, Va.-based VERIS Consulting, LLC, took place over 17 months. Participants included CVBs (86), delegates (12,920), exhibiting companies (1,286) and event organizers (77). It was funded by the IACVB Foundation.

The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has named Nicholas DeBenedictis, CEO of Aqua America Inc., a water utility company, chairman of the board July 15. The same day, Stephanie L. Frankil-Suber, a partner in the Business and Finance department of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll LLP, was named first vice chair, the first woman to be in that position. The move comes three months after A. Bruce Crawley resigned as chairman, following a dispute with Mayor John Street over an appointment to the city's Minority Business Enterprise Council.