Incentive Newsline: Many Programs Relocate

Katrina Puts a Popular Prize City Off-Limits for a While

Sandi PorterVarious segments of the incentive industry still are scrambling to cope with the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, which took popular New Orleans out of the running for incentive travel programs this quarter and perhaps well beyond.
    Sandi Porter, right, director of industry relations for Maritz Travel, the incentive firm based in Fenton, Mo., said no clients had trips scheduled in New Orleans when Katrina hit on Aug. 29, but several combination incentive/meetings were to be held through the end of 2005.
    At press time, one program had been moved to Orlando and another to the Phoenix area, while a group set to hold its program in the Big Easy next  March had not yet decided whether to switch to another destination, said Porter.
    USA Hosts, one of the New Orleans’ largest destination management companies, had some clients move their programs to other destinations that have USA Host offices, according to Jim Germain, president, corporate, for the DMC. 
    All business booked at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, has been canceled through March 2006. A spokesperson for the chain said many of those events have been moved to other Ritz-Carlton properties, mainly in Florida, where the chain has nine hotels.
    The Chicago-based Society of Incentive & Travel Executives will donate half of the charity funds collected during its annual conference, to be held next month in Toronto, to the relief effort (last year, the organization collected $10,000). At press time, SITE was planning a special fund-raising event during The Motivation Show, Sept. 27-29 in Chicago.
    SITE also is waiving its annual membership dues for industry professionals from areas affected by the storm.
    For other industry initiatives, including job banks and fund-raising efforts, go to the Breaking News page at M&C Online (