March 10, 2004

A new report issued by lodging analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts that lodging demand will increase 4.5 percent in 2004, while RevPar will increase by 5.3 percent. According to PWC, the three top performing hotel segments to see gains in demand in 2004 will be upper upscale, by 5.4 percent; upscale, by 7.9 percent; and midscale (long-term stays), without food and beverage service, with a 7.5 percent increase. However, because the bulk of new room supply has been in these market segments, gains in overall occupancy levels will be tempered. Upper upscale properties are projected to show an overall occupancy level of 69 percent in 2004; upscale, 68 percent; and midscale, without F&B, 64.3 percent.

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, whose 7,000 members represent hotel chains and lodging industry professionals around the globe, has launched eConnect, a one-stop online portal for hospitality, marketing and sales information. Included on the site will be the latest industry research and trends, e-commerce sources, a professional development bookstore and a database of leading travel companies and organizations.

A Chinese life insurance convention to be held in Hawaii this August has been canceled after the group encountered difficulties obtaining U.S. visas. The event was expected to bring 3,200 attendees and generate more than $17 million in visitor spending; however, organizers canceled after their China-based attendees failed to secure approval for travel to the United States, despite talks between the convention center and U.S. embassy officials in China. A spokesperson for the convention center said this was their first time experiencing a cancellation of this kind, and that the insurance group was not charged a penalty for halting the event.

The newly updated Ultimate Technology Guide for Meeting Professionals, published by Meeting Professionals International, is available for free to the association's members at Authored by meetings-technology expert Corbin Ball, CMP, the book describes 1,200 meeting industry-related software packages, from site selection to post-meeting analysis, in 27 categories.

The Convention Industry Council last week unveiled a three-month-long redesign of its website (, making navigation a simpler and more pleasant experience. "We got so many calls from users asking where on the website they could find what they're looking for," said Juli Jones, the council's Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) project director and the site's designer. "The new site will make it so much easier to find things." New additions include a list of the website's 10 most popular pages, information on the CMP process and a section devoted to the CIC's initiative regarding green meetings.

After months of delays, the 500-room Paradisus Puerto Rico is expected to open Friday on the northeast shore of the island. A member of Sol Melia's luxury all-inclusive Paradisus brand, the suite resort will be the first all-inclusive in Puerto Rico. On site are two golf courses, 10 restaurants and bars and 33,000 square feet of meeting space.

The Historic Conference Centres of Europe, a 21-member alliance of conference centers in historic buildings, plans to become an independent association this year and will move its headquarters, currently in the Grazer Congress convention center in Graz, Austria, to Amsterdam.