May 19, 2004

IMEX, the exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events, held in Frankfurt, Germany, last week, hosted more than 2,800 meeting and incentive buyers from 130 countries. Additionally, 3,000 German planners attended the show. According to IMEX chairman Ray Bloom, the two-year-old exhibition will move to a larger hall within Messe Frankfurt, the exhibition facility, in 2005 to accommodate all exhibitors on a single floor. This year's show, which had 2,500 exhibiting organizations, was spread over two floors in Hall 3.

South Africa will launch a national convention bureau in July. The new organization, a branch of South Africa Tourism, will be based in Sandton, a suburb of Johannesburg. It will be headed by Rick Taylor, CEO of the Cape Town Convention Bureau.

The San Jose Convention Center is expected to come under new management this summer. Team San Jose, a group of local hospitality, arts and labor leaders, is negotiating a five-year contract with the city to manage and operate the center and five other local facilities. "By focusing on meeting the needs of our customers, we are confident we can achieve our revenue goals and enhance San Jose's competitiveness as a destination for meetings and conventions," said Dan Fenton, president and CEO of the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau and chairman of the board for Team San Jose. News of the contract, which is expected to take effect July 1, comes six months after the city found it could save more than $3.2 million by reorganizing the center's management structure.

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino opened in Hollywood, Fla., on May 12, the first of two Hard Rock casinos coming to the Sunshine State (the other opens later this year in Tampa). The $200 million, 500-room hotel has a spa and 130,000 square feet of casino space. For meetings and events, the 25,000 square feet of indoor meeting space includes a 16,000-square-foot ballroom, and there is an 80,000-square-foot outdoor event space.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based Peabody Hotel Group has proposed building a $135 million, 500-room Peabody Hotel adjacent to a new minor-league baseball stadium in Nashville. "We thought the baseball stadium was a great project for downtown as it brings locals into the area more frequently than other projects might," said Marty Belz, president and chairman of the Peabody Hotel Group. "We developed a proposal that allowed both the stadium and the Peabody on that site. We think the hotel is the best component for the ballpark because we'll generate sales tax revenues, which they need to pay off the ballpark." The Peabody will compete with plans for a new 400,000-square-foot convention center on the same 11-acre site, put forth by the Greater Nashville Hotel & Lodging Association. "A new convention center will open up a significant part of the meetings industry that we can't currently compete for," said a spokesman for the GNH&LA. "A baseball stadium will sit empty for 295 days a year." A Nashville Metro Council task force, created in March, will weigh these two leading proposals, along with others, and make a recommendation for the site by August.

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives announced Monday the formation of an educational alliance with the International Association of Privacy Professionals, a 1,000-member organization headquartered in Philadelphia. According to a statement by ACTE president Garth Jopling, "The ongoing evolution of the CAPPS II program -- and now the accelerated development of a registered traveler program -- have exposed a lot of philosophical and operational questions regarding privacy, questions travel managers ultimately will have to answer in making their evaluations and recommendations to upper management." The first item on the agenda for the new alliance will be an audioconference on May 26 titled, "Travel and Tourism Since 9/11." Details are available at