Major Convention Hotel Changes Brands
Hyatt has taken over the 1,641-room Peabody Orlando; a Hyatt subsidiary bought the property for a hefty $717 million. The hotel, which recently completed a $440 million multiyear expansion and renovation, will be rebranded as Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center.
Taxing News for Hoteliers
The lodging industry consulting firm HVS has released its second annual survey of hotel taxes, detailing trends in the 150 largest cities in the U.S. The study found that lodging tax rates ranged from 7% to 17.5% of total lodging costs. Also, state tax rates have remained stable over the past year, increasing in only one state and declining in three. However, 16 cities increased rates in 2012 and 2013 while only three reduced rates.
China Meetings Go High Tech
A survey by Reed Travel Exhibitions, a major trade show producer, shows that 77% of buyers who attended last year’s China Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) regularly use social media as an events communication tool; and 50% said they would begin implementing virtual meetings technology within the next 12 months. In addition, 41% said they regularly use audience response systems and 30% use mobile apps to provide information for their attendees.
Despite the explosion in meeting technology, a majority of the planning process for the global $565 billion meetings and events industry meetings is done “manually,” rather than with newly available technology. That’s according to a recent survey by consultants Frost & Sullivan.
VFM Leonardo, a technology and online media company for the hospitality industry, is joining with ACTIVE Network to offer online virtual tours on ACTIVE StarCite, the strategic meetings management technology platform. The agreement enables meeting planners to explore hotels and venues by viewing videos and 360-degree tours of GDS-listed hotels in the StarCite supplier marketplace. A VFM Leonardo-powered online tour of Hilton Hotel Atlanta offers a preview of the new tool.
Give Attendees a Workout During Breakouts
The Westin New York Grand Central has introduced WestinWORKOUT breaks – featuring group stretching and exercise accompanied by healthy food and beverage selections. During the breaks, attendees power up with a 30-minute workout, including exercises “designed to rejuvenate muscles and minds.” The option is available for groups of 20 to 50 people, with a fee of $50 per guest.
Teambuilding Gets Physical – and Aerial
Teambuilding has come a long way from the old-fashioned trust exercise in which you fall backwards, trusting a colleague to catch you. Now there are options like the Screaming Eagle zipline event, being offered by Historic Banning Mills, an adventure and retreat center located 45 minutes from the Atlanta airport in Whitesburg, Ga. Groups are broken into small teams for zipline canopy tours. At different points on the course, scenarios are created so that groups must compete on speed and skills. These contests focus on building communications skills, problem solving and working on a team. Each group competes with the others on the course; the group that completes the most scenarios in the shortest time wins.
Everybody’s Getting Into the (Meetings) Act
“There has been an increase in the sheer number of hotels with meetings facilities, and now midsize hotels are more aggressively pursuing small meetings” – Prof. Chekitan Dev, Cornell’s Hotel of School Administration (as quoted in The New York Times)
Vancouver Veteran Valedictory
Rick Antonson is leaving his post as CEO of Tourism Vancouver after 20 years – a long stint in a typically high-stress job. Antonson, who made it his mission to make Vancouver a “world city,” will now focus on his writing career. He has written a travel memoir about Route 66 in the U.S. as well as the book, To Timbuktu for A Haircut: A Journey Through West Africa. His next book with be about Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. That mountain is where Noah’s Ark is said to have ended up after the flood – a long way from British Columbia.