Renewed FAA Authorization Boosts Air Safety, Passenger Rights

May 20, 2024—A five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Authority signed into law by President Joe Biden mandates the hiring of more air-traffic controllers and safety inspectors at aircraft factories, increasing collision-avoidance technology at airports and enhancing access for passengers with disabilities.

It also reaffirms recent Department of Transportation rules that require airlines to issue automatic refunds when flights are delayed or canceled. Cash refunds will be given for domestic flights delayed more than three hours and international flights delayed more than six hours.

President Biden called the reauthorization “a big win for travelers, the aviation workforce, and our economy. It will expand critical protections for air travelers, strengthen safety standards, and support pilots, flight attendants, and air traffic controllers.”

The bill also prohibits airlines from charging extra fees for families to sit together.

New Orleans & Company Launches New Brand Campaign with Local Ad Agency Brand Society

May 20, 2024—New Orleans & Company, the official destination sales and marketing organization for the city of New Orleans, today launched a new multi-media campaign through collaboration with local ad agency, Brand Society. The campaign partners with several local entertainers and industry stars, and it is designed to attract visitors, create jobs in the area and overall propel New Orleans and Louisiana’s economy through its travel industry.

Brand Society Associate Creative Director/Copy Chief Lori Archer Smith wrote, in the brand manifesto, “She’s a place where you don’t just sight-see, you sight-feel. Although she’s filled with history, New Orleans never gets old…Once you visit New Orleans, you’re a part of New Orleans.”

The campaign also introduces a new loco, featuring a crescent moon in the city’s name to represent positive energy, optimism and abundance. The campaign will be made up of TV commercials, digital, radio and print advertising and a full identity kit. A list of iconic local talent is featured throughout the campaign. The full video playlist is available here.

New Orleans & Company President and CEO Walt Leger III says, “Our partners have done a tremendous job showcasing the things that makes New Orleans one of the most remarkable cities in the world…We believe that travel is essential, that it brings people together and changes people for the better, and that when people travel to New Orleans, they become a part of us and we become a part of them.”

Soundings Launches Career Coaching Services for Female Leaders

May 20, 2024—Talent acquisition platform Soundings has launched Soundings Elevate, a program that offers three career coaching services designed to help female event professionals advance their careers.

“I am deeply passionate about advancing the careers of women, not only as a female founder and business owner who has navigated these challenges but also as a leader who believes in the transformative power of diversity and inclusion for driving equity, innovation, and collective business success,” said Tracy Judge, founder and CEO of Soundings.

Soundings Elevate offers three coaching services:

  • Strengths assessment and coaching: Participants gain access to Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment to identify their top five strengths. A professional coach will review the results and link the professional’s strengths to their career paths.
  • Career accelerator: This three-month, cohort-based career development journey includes bi-weekly coach-led sessions. In addition to skill development, there’s also opportunity network and build lasting industry relationships.
  • 1:1 coaching: A team of professional, certified coaches with industry knowledge are chosen to help individuals leverage their strengths and navigate any obstacles impeding their career goals.

San Francisco Travel President and CEO Resigns Abruptly

May 16, 2024—After holding the role for only seven months, Scott Beck has resigned at president and CEO of San Francisco Travel. According to SF Travel, Beck has stepped down for personal reasons.

Anna Marie Presutti, vice president and general manager of Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, is taking over as interim president and CEO. Presutti also was previously board chair for SF Travel; this role will be filled by John Anderson, general manager for San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel.

“San Francisco Travel will continue to be the champion of hospitality for all those who want to visit, enjoy, dine and work in one of the world’s best cities,” Presutti said. “Our board will conduct a search for a new CEO who embodies the spirt of San Francisco, is a skillful manager of a great team, and is experienced in attracting conventions, business travelers and tourists to great cities.”

ASAE Honors Susan Sarfati with Visionary Award at IMEX Frankfurt

May 16, 2024—In ASAE‘s ongoing efforts to increase awareness around the Power of Associations, ASAE’s President and CEO Michelle Mason presented Susan Sarfati, FASAE, CAE (Ret.) with the Visionary Award during the IMEX Gala Dinner on May 15th in Frankfurt Germany.

“ASAE and the association community owe Susan Sarfati a debt of gratitude for her visionary leadership and innovative thinking over her decades-long career,” says Mason, “Susan’s passion for associations and her driving commitment to advancing this vital sector around the world made her the obvious choice for ASAE’s inaugural Global Association Visionary Award.”

In her current work, Sarfati consults with associations around the world such as India, Uganda, Thailand, Malaysia and more!

“I am thrilled to be the inaugural recipient of the Global Association Visionary Award, and I couldn’t be more proud of ASAE’s expanding global presence,” Sarfati says. “Receiving this honor at IMEX is truly unforgettable – it’s a gathering where everyone is welcomed into a vibrant, innovative and socially conscious global community. What I’ve discovered [in my career] is that learning is a two-way street. Despite our differences in culture and background, people are fundamentally similar. Now, more than ever, the world needs us to bridge divides and reach out globally. Together, we can make a difference on a scale we’ve never imagined.”

Fontainebleau Miami Beach Unveils Coastal Convention Center

May 15, 2024—Fontainebleau Miami Beach is celebrating its new expansion with the opening of the Coastal Convention Center in Q4 of 2024. The five-story, 45,000 sq. ft. convention center will be able to accommodate events of any size.

In a collaboration between Fontainebleau Development, Nichols Architects and interior design firm Jeffrey Beers International, the modern design of the Coastal Convention Center does not neglect the spirit of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. According to the press release, the new addition incorporates the “architectural legacy” of the historical luxury resort.

“The Coastal Convention Center will be a jewel in the crown of Fontainebleau Miami Beach…a new magnificent home for business and leisure events along the oceanfront,” says Jeffrey Soffer, chairman and CEO of Fontainebleau Development. “This is the next evolution of our brand, further solidifying our role as a global hospitality leader.”

Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa Announces Hospitality Internship

instructor talking to students in class

May 14, 2024— Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa in Palm Coast, Florida, has announced its summer internship program in partnership with Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality.

The program consists of a 13-week, paid internship with on-the-job experience in F&B and catering sales, as well as a project to complete throughout their internship. The internship begun in October 2022, and seeing major success since, the two collaborators are making it more widely known.

“Our goal is to provide a summer internship program that is rich in experiences in a positive and productive environment, with the ultimate goal to bring seasoned interns into full-time positions at our resort after the conclusion of their senior year at Florida State University,” says Managing Director Carlton Grant.

Convene and City Cruises Announce Partnership

May 14, 2024—Convene and City Cruises, operator of dining, sightseeing and private event cruises, announced a cross-referral partnership in select U.S. cities. This partnership will let Convene clients add experiential outings to their corporate events, as provided by City Cruises, and City Cruises to help clients source additional meeting or conference venues for their events.

“We’re in an experience-driven economy and are witnessing significant investment in experiences being prioritized over things,” said Phoenix Porcelli, CMP, head of sales at Convene. “Our relationship with a like-minded, highly experiential company like City Cruises allows us to provide Convene clients with an even greater comprehensive offering to curate an exceptional meeting or conference experience for all attendees.”

Clients from either Convene or City Cruises will receive preferred rates when adding additional experiences from the partnering company.

Convene and City Cruises are co-located in six U.S. cities: New York City; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Boston; and San Francisco.

Cvent Ranks Top Meeting Destinations and Hotels for 2024

May 14, 2024—Cvent published its 2024 lists of Top Meeting Destinations and Top Meeting Hotels, highlighting cities, hotels and venues taking steps to be leaders in event technology.

Cvent’s Top 10 Meeting Destinations are as follows:

  1. Orlando
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Nashville
  4. Dallas
  5. San Diego
  6. Chicago
  7. Atlanta
  8. Denver
  9. Phoenix
  10. Austin

It’s worth noting that Orlando was No. 1 in 2023, as well as 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Nashville dominated the Top Meeting Hotels list in North America, accounting for four of five:

  1. Grand Hyatt Nashville
  2. Omni Nashville Hotel
  3. JW Marriott Austin
  4. JW Marriott Nashville
  5. Renaissance Nashville Hotel

See the Cvent’s full list of Top Meeting Destinations here and Top Meeting Hotels here.

New Jersey Franchise Bill Moves Forward, Despite Concerns

May 13, 2024—Today, a committee in the New Jersey Assembly approved bill A3495, legislation that would decouple the connect and brand standards between hotel franchisor and franchisee. This bill is still being considered in the state Assembly and similar legislation, bill S2336 is pending in the state Senate.

American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Interim President and CEO Kevin Carey, as well hoteliers, expressed concerns regarding the two bills. Many believing the two will result in lower brand standards across the board.

“If A3495 and S2336 become law, they will lower hotels’ quality, service, and safety standards and drive many brand-name hotels out of the state. On behalf of New Jersey’s more than 45,000 hotel employees, we urge lawmakers to rethink this flawed legislation and have a transparent debate about the extreme negative effects it would have on the state’s economy and its hoteliers,” Carey said.

 “We applaud the committee members who today rightly acknowledged that the bill must be amended before full Assembly consideration and before they will consider supporting it. Franchising is too critical to the success of the hotel industry for this to be rushed through the legislative process, and we will be working closely with state legislators to ensure they understand the dangers this bill poses to New Jersey’s tourism industry.”

Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, the bill’s sponsor, said AHLA and lawmakers are working on amendments to the bill to address hoteliers’ concerns.

The bills being introduced to New Jersey’s hospitality industry include the following:

  • Require brand improvements such as Wi-Fi, mobile check-in, breakfast, etc., to be negotiated property by property, which will weaken brand standards.
  • Allow hotel owners to use “comparable” products to those required by brands, which will weaken brand standards and lead to increased litigation as both parties try to determine what is comparable.
  • Force hotels to allow their federally registered trademarks to be used on “comparable products,” undermining the value and destroying the trust in these trademarks.
  • Undercut the loyalty points system that many brands use to reward loyal customers, which could force many brands to terminate these loyalty programs in New Jersey.

Association Forum Names Award to Honor Chris Mahaffey

May 7, 2024—Association Forum announced that its Inspiring Leader Award will now be named the Chris Mahaffey Inspiring Leader Award. This award is presented to an individual who has established a culture leading to employee satisfaction, motivation, engagement, and achievement. Chris Mahaffey, MS, CAE, FASAE, had a rich impact on the association community during his 45- year career. He was the CEO of Association Forum for 22 years and was responsible for many of the programs still thriving today. Under his leadership, the organization changed its name from the Chicago Society of Association Executives to Association Forum. Mahaffey also created Holiday Showcase, a signature event in its 36th year of success. Mahaffey died last year at the age of 69.

BCD M&E Uses AI Tool to Enhance Productivity

May 6, 2024—BCD Meetings & Events (BCD M&E) is introducing a new technology innovation, Assist. The goal of this new technology is to increase team productivity.

In a press release from BCD M&E, the company says “Assist has been developed to enhance productivity, streamline processes and provide valuable assistance in day-to-day tasks. At the same time, it prioritizes responsible AI and the security and privacy of data and intellectual property.”

Bruce Morgan, global president of BCD M&E, has high hopes for this technological venture.

“We firmly believe that Assist has the potential to significantly enhance our efficiency and effectiveness, and we are excited to explore its possibilities,” says Morgan. “As we continue to invest in technology to empower our teams around the world, our focus will be on ensuring compliance and data security.”

AHLA Report: Hotels Add 1,200 Jobs in April

May 3, 2024—Hotels in the United States added 1,200 jobs in April, according to the latest data by the U.S. Department of Labor. While numbers are increasing, this reflects hospitality employment numbers that are still far from pre-pandemic levels, which stood at 193,600 more employees in February 2020.

“Hotels are doing all they can to attract and retain workers, but the nationwide workforce shortage is preventing our industry from reaching its full potential,” said Kevin Carey, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Interim President and CEO.

“AHLA members need help filling open jobs so they can maintain and expand operations. The Department of Homeland Security can provide vital assistance by making available nearly 65,000 additional H-2B visas. Meanwhile, we are urging Congress to pass three important bills to help grow our nation’s workforce: the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act, and the Closing the Workforce Gap Act.”

The bills Carey is referring to are designed to expand the hospitality workforce. Under the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Department of Homeland Security has been given the power to to make available 65,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas; a power which the AHLA is urging the DHS to take advantage of.

Total hotel employment stands at roughly 1.92 million.

The Ritz-Carlton, Portland Achieves LEED Gold Certification

April 30, 2024The Ritz-Carlton, Portland has achieved LEED Gold Certification as a result of its efforts to build a sustainably-conscious building and enact environmentally-friendly operations.

The hotel’s biophilic design showcases the abundant natural beauty of Oregon with strategically-chosen design features that pay tribute to the region’s natural surroundings. Select floors of the 35-story build feature outdoor terraces with an eco-roof, which is planted with low-water-requirement native and adaptive plant species that capture and store rainwater within the soil, helping reduce the urban heat island effect.

The hotel is also committed to water use reduction and a sustainable storm water systems through smart weather-based controllers to irrigate. From the onset of its construction, 75% of construction waste was recycled and diverted from landfills, and construction utilized low-emitting building materials in paint, insulation, and composite wood and flooring.

It’s LEED Gold Certification can be attributed to its energy efficiency measures derived from a building envelope and mechanical system. Proximity to local transportation and ample bike storage further achieve lower carbon emissions. Further sustainable updates include the anticipated addition of energy-efficient LED lighting and low-flow hot water heater fixtures.

Visit Lauderdale Announces Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program at Convention Center

April 29, 2024Visit Lauderdale has announced the expansion its partnership with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program. The Broward County Convention Center recently signed on as the first convention center in North America to adopt the program. The ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Monday, April 29.

“Visit Lauderdale is committed to providing everyone a safe and supportive environment and has long championed inclusion and accessibility tourism by removing barriers in the travel experience for everyone,” says Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of Visit Lauderdale.

All convention center employees will receive Hidden Disabilities Sunflower training. The center will also have a Zen Room dedicated to individuals with a hidden disability.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a simple tool for individuals with non-visible disabilities to share that they need extra assistance while traveling.

For more information on the Hidden Disabilities Program visit: https://hdsunflower.com/us/

Disney World Resort Restaurant is the First Theme-Park Dining Establishment to Win a Michelin Star

April 29, 2024Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is home to Victoria & Albert’s, which was recently awarded a Michelin star. This award makes it the first dining establishment at any theme park to join the Michelin Guide. It joins 26 other restaurants in the state of Florida. The upscale restaurant offers prix-fixe menus start at $295 a person. Diners enjoy their meals among Victorian-theme murals and wallcoverings and under a ceiling adorned with flowers and butterflies. They must adhere to semi-formal or formal attire, and children under 10 are not allowed.

LVXP Announces Plans to Deliver Experiential Mixed-Use Development on Las Vegas Strip

April 29, 2024—Experiential-focused real estate development company LVXP has announced plans to transform a 27-acre site on the Las Vegas Strip located at 2601 South Las Vegas Boulevard. The site will be an immersive, technology-driven environment that will serve as an entertainment and sports arena complete with a retail plaza, convention space, a destination casino and several luxury hotels and residences. It will be strategically located across from the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center and will be adjacent to Fontainebleau Las Vegas and right by Resorts World Las Vegas.

The team spearheading the development is made up of experts in real estate, finance, marketing, technology, sports and entertainment. Chief Construction Officer Nick Tomasino most recently managed the construction of The Sphere as senior vice president of construction as Madison Square Garden Entertainment. Steelman Partners, Las Vegas-based entertainment and architecture firm, will design the architectural plans.

“We are honored to be stewards of this significant milestone in the city’s legacy, says CEO of LVXP, James R. Frasure, Jr.  “Our commitment is to create a destination that captures the essence of Las Vegas and provides lasting benefits for the community. For me, this endeavor is more than a project—it’s a promise to uphold the spirit of innovation and enthusiasm that defines our local culture.

Hard Rock International and Royal Caribbean Group Announce Partnership

two cruise ships and guitar-shaped building

April 26, 2024—Hard Rock International, Seminole Gaming, and Royal Caribbean Group brands Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have announced their global partnership that will allow travelers to take advantage of the combined amenities and discounts offered across the brands’ properties and cruise ships.

Through the rewards programs offered by the brands, Unity by Hard Rock, Royal Caribbean’s Club Royale and Celebrity Cruises’ Blue Chip Club, members will receive reciprocal benefits when they visit any Hard Rock location or set sail on any Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ship.

“Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming are thrilled to help our valued guests and team members bring their love of entertainment, traveling, dining and gaming to the high seas through this incredible ‘no limits’ partnership with our South Florida neighbors at Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises,” said Jeff Hook, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Seminole Hard Rock Support Services.

According to a press release by Hard Rock International, this partnership includes the following:

  • Unity by Hard Rock loyalty members will receive discounts on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity vacations and can qualify for invite-only cruise giveaways. Top-tier loyalty members will also receive an annual complimentary cruise on select ships and itineraries.
  • Club Royale and Blue Chip Club members receive exclusive discounts and perks at participating Hard Rock locations, including annual complimentary trips at select Hard Rock hotels and casinos worldwide for premium tier Club Royale and Blue Chip members.

GBTA joins Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative

April 24, 2024—Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the business travel and meetings trade organization, has joined Net Zero Carbon Events (NZCE), the worldwide event industry initiative to address climate change as a supporter of the campaign.

Since its launch at Cop 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2021, NZCE has developed a comprehensive portfolio of resources to support events industry organizations toward achieving net zero carbon emissions. These include a Roadmap and advisory reports on Venue Energy; Smart Production and Waste Management; Logistics; Travel and Accommodation; Food and Food Waste; Offsetting and Measurement.

With the campaign now focused on implementation in each of these areas, GBTA and NZCE will be working together with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) on implementing the Travel and Accommodation element.

“GBTA has unparallelled expertise and experience in the technical aspects of business travel and sustainability, especially through the Sustainability Initiative of the GBTA Foundation,” said James Rees, president of the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), which is driving the NZCE initiative for the industry. “It is also a tremendous testimonial to the framework that NZCE has developed that GBTA will be using this for their own events in future.”

Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA, commented, “We are pleased to be part of the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative and working with the JMIC and other key organizations to bring the power of our collective efforts to ensure more net zero-focused approaches to the very significant sector of meetings and events.”

Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA, said: “It’s crucial that the meetings and events community as a whole joins forces to advance sustainable practices and policies around the globe, and as more organizations come on board, we get closer to our goal of net zero by the year 2050.”

NZCE is open to all organizations involved in events. Registration is free of charge, but financial contributions are sought to develop the campaign.

California Senator Promotes Bill Against Clear (YOU)

April 23, 2024—California Senator Josh Newman is sponsoring a bill to ban Clear (YOU), a yearly subscription membership for airline passengers to skip lengthy security lines. In Newman’s opinion, this is a “basic equity issue” that will cause customer dissatisfaction amongst travelers.

“It’s about dignity in the travel experience of people who don’t have money to pay for upsell services,” says Newman. “The least you can expect when you have to go through the security line at the airport is that you don’t suffer the indignity of somebody pushing you out of the way to let the rich person pass you.”

While the bill has support from both democratic and republican representatives in California, airlines are mostly opposed. Major airlines including United, Alaska and Delta argue that the dissolvement of their partnership with Clear (YOU) will hinder the way in which airports handle security lines and cause loss of revenue.

FFAIR Expands Into North America

April 23, 2024—Multiple award-winning event technology platform FFAIR today announced its official expansion into North America. Just recently, it entered into its first transatlantic partnership with event registration company EventsPass.

FFAIR provides a centralized, multi-supplier shop and exhibitor manual that aims to simplify the exhibiting experience by providing access to pre-, onsite and post-event operational and marketing essentials, streamlining time-consuming tasks, promoting sustainable event choices and boosting revenue for event organizers. Its headquarters will remain in the UK while the company opens a new office location in Seattle.

FFAIR will be exhibiting at Event Tech Live Las Vegas May 1-2, 2024.

Brightline West Breaks Ground on High-speed Rail Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California

people posing for image behind yellow sign

April 22, 2024—Brightline West officially broke ground on a high-speed train station that will connect Las Vegas to Southern California.

The project, which was awarded $3 billion from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, will create transportation that will run on zero emission, electric trains that can travel at up to 200 miles per hour.

More than 600 people attended the event, including union representatives, project supporters and other state and local officials from California and Nevada. The ceremony included comments from U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Brightline Founder Wes Edens, Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, Nevada Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto.

“People have been dreaming of high-speed rail in America for decades—and now, with billions of dollars of support made possible by President Biden’s historic infrastructure law, it’s finally happening,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “Partnering with state leaders and Brightline West, we’re writing a new chapter in our country’s transportation story that includes thousands of union jobs, new connections to better economic opportunity, less congestion on the roads, and less pollution in the air.”

In addition to the Las Vegas stop, there will also be stops in Victor Valley, Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga in California. The project is set for completion in 2028.

Raleigh Convention Center Drives Forward Expansion Project

April 22, 2024Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, has announced two new partnerships to complete the team working on its expansion project. With this team in place, the project is now estimated to be completed in 2028.

Clancy & Theys, Shanska, D.A. Everett Joint Venture will act as construction manager. It will be joined by architecture firm TVS and local partner RATIO Design to design and build the project. Cumming Group and their MWBE partner Cate Services will act as owner’s representative.

This expansion will grow the convention center by a full city block, adding 80,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and 30 additional breakout rooms. Sister venue Red Hat Amphitheater will shift slightly southward, and this shift is anticipated to be completed in 2026.

April 17, 2024—Created after two years of research, surveys and interviews, Visit Milwaukee has its first new brand and logo since 2005. It’s anchored to messaging themes about the Wisconsin city of “fresh, flavor and forward.”

“This new brand captures so much of what makes Milwaukee unique—our fresh coast and big ideas, our cultures that create the local flavor that makes us interesting, and the energy and celebration that are giving us so much forward momentum right now,” says Josh Albrecht, Visit Milwaukee’s Vice President of Marketing & Communications.

The new logo is a stacking of three iterations of the letter M. The top line stands for the city’s heartbeat and energy. The middle celebrates its Lake Michigan coastline, rivers and wind. The third represents the area’s diversity and the “combined strength of every person and culture represented here.”

Visit Milwaukee President & CEO Peggy Williams-Smith credits “all of the thoughtful feedback and ideas that local leaders, businesses, frontline staff, and thousands of residents contributed to the research phase of this work.”

Oakland International Airport to Change Name, SFO Promises to Sue 

April 16, 2024—Oakland International Airport (OAK)‘s Board of Commissioners have voted this week to rename the airport San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) officials have expressed in no uncertain terms they will be pursuing legal action should this decision be approved in a second vote on May 9th.

In a press release from Danny Wan, executive director of the Port of Oakland, he states “I’m very pleased with today’s unanimous board approval, especially as a proud Oaklander myself who wants to enhance economic activity and local jobs for Oakland.” Kaley Skantz, a spokeswoman for Oakland International Airport, is also in support of the name change to improve awareness of the airport and improve “the lack of geographic awareness among inbound travelers.”

“SFO cannot lay claim to the geographically descriptive term ‘San Francisco,’ let alone claim exclusive rights to the San Francisco Bay,” says Mary Richardson, an attorney for the Port of Oakland. However, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu disagrees.

“The names ‘San Francisco Airport’ and ‘San Francisco “International Airport’ are famous and highly recognizable among consumers in connection with the airport services that only SFO provides,” says Chiu. “While the proposed new name is very likely to cause confusion and mistakes broadly, the problem will be particularly acute for an audience of international travelers who may not speak or read English. Those international travelers comprise an essential part of SFO’s consumer base.”

UPDATE April 18, 2024—This afternoon, the city of San Francisco pursued legal action against the City of Oakland for its plan to include “San Francisco” in its airport name. San Francisco City attorney David Chiu has filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit, alleging that the proposed name change would infringe on San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) trademark.

MPI Announces Aloe Blacc Performance at WEC President’s Dinner

April 16, 2024Meeting Professionals International (MPI) announced that the entertainment for its annual President’s Dinner at World Education Congress will be Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Aloe Blacc. The event will be May 21 at Mellwood Art Center in Louisville, Kentucky and will honor MPI Volunteer Chapter Leaders and MPI’s Industry Leader Award winner Steve O’Malley. The event will also recognize the 2024 RISE Award winners.

Blacc, who is known for the songs “I Need  Dollar,” “The Man” and “Wake Me Up,” which has been streamed over 2 billion times, uses his platform for positive social transformation. He describes his music as A.I.M. to represent affirmation, inspiration and motivation.

EIC and Oak View Group Announce Strategic Partnership

April 15, 2024Events Industry Council (EIC) announced a partnership with Oak View Group to further its commitment to sustainability and support its clients and partners to achieve their green meetings goals.

The EIC Sustainable Event Standards are a collection of eight specific standards that assess events and industry suppliers on a wide range of sustainability criteria. This partnership will provide the platform for further EIC initiatives through OVG event venues, including Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) training, Sustainable Event Professional Certification (SEPC) training and further learning and development programs. Through collaboration with the GOAL platform (Green Operations & Advanced Leadership), which supports continuous data collection and analysis across the convention center portfolio, properties can reach their sustainability objectives through best practice sharing, measurement tools and on-site consulting.

The partnership with EIC provides high-profile strategic recognition and thought leadership opportunities to collaborate with EIC on its CMP, CMP Fellows and sustainability programs. OVG plans to certify its entire convention portfolio of 60+ venues in phases.

“This partnership is grounded in our shared goals of promoting event industry excellence, advancing uniform standards of practice and setting the highest standards for professional and personal growth for those in our industry,” says EIC CEO Amy Calvert. “We are thrilled to work with Oak View Group to certify their convention centers to EIC’s Sustainable Event Standards.”

Beverly Wilshire Brings Holograms into Suites in New Partnership

April 15, 2024—Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel in California has brought hologram technology into its penthouse and presidential suites, in partnership with Proto, a holographic communications platform.

The M, the device found in Beverly Wilshire’s suites, will be able to live beam a guest experience team member into the room at the guest’s discretion. Both the guest and staff will be able to see each other and communicate in real-time.

“We are elated to provide our guests with yet another way to communicate with us. Based on the guest preference, we can communicate in person, through the Four Seasons Chat, text, a call and now by beaming via hologram into their room” says Director of Guest Experience Serge Sturbois.

The Breakers Palm Beach Named by Fortune Magazine One of 100 Best Companies to Work for in US

April 15, 2024The Breakers Palm Beach was included among Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work for® in the U.S. in 2024, announced by Fortune Media® and Great Place to Work®. It rises to No. 59 in its second consecutive year on the list, and the only independent hotel to rank.

As a family-owned resort in 1896, The Breakers’ is recognized for its purpose driven culture and investment in employee-wellbeing through meaningful programs and initiatives to team members.

L.A. Hotel Strike: 34 Down, 30 to Go

April 12, 2024—Southern California hospitality workers represented by Unite Here Local 11 have given an overwhelming thumbs up to a new contract with 34 hotels. Another 30 properties without agreements with the union are still strike targets.

Under the new deal, which runs until Jan. 15, 2028, workers will get more pay, better employer contributions to their pensions and more favorable workload guarantees, according to the union.

The union said room attendants, cooks and other nontipped workers will get stepped wage hikes totaling $10 an hour, to $35 an hour by July 2027. Cooks will be paid as much as $41 an hour. Automatic 20 percent gratuities at full-service hotel restaurants will be shared with all restaurant staff.

The new contract keeps health insurance for workers that caps the employee contribution at $20 a month for full family coverage.

“We have won a life-changing contract that transforms hotel jobs from low-wage service work to middle-class professional positions,” said Kurt Petersen, copresident of Local 11.

A spokesperson for California Hotel & Lodging Association told the Associated Press, “The ratification votes are a long time coming. We’re glad that hotel employees who have been waiting months now can enjoy the benefits of new contracts, including increased compensation, and continue the great work they do for our guests and our communities.”

More than 10,000 employees in greater Los Angeles began rolling strikes at 52 hotels in July 2023.

Orlando’s Poet Laureate Composes Poem for GMID

April 11, 2024—In honor of GMID, Visit Orlando partnered with Orlando’s poet Laureate, Shawn Welcome, to create a poem to highlight the importance of in-person meetings and the positive impact the industry has on destination’s community, local businesses and the economy.

Click here to hear the poem.

ALTOUR Merges Four MICE Businesses Under YES Brand

 April 11, 2024ALTOUR, the corporate travel division of Internova Travel Group, a major global travel services company, today announced the merger of all its meetings, incentives, conference and exhibitions businesses under the YES (Your Event Solutions) brand. 

The new entity will include YES, an event planning agency founded in the United Kingdom; the MICE divisions of ALTOUR and Travel Leaders Corporate in the United States; and On Tempo, the event planning division of Corporate Travel Services, based in Mexico City.

As a single unified brand, YES will enable ALTOUR to offer enhanced services, greater buying power and increased global service offerings for MICE programs, the company says.

“The merging of these four powerhouse MICE businesses is the culmination of many months of hard work and planning by dozens of team members all around the world,” said Sue Gill, founder of YES. “Since starting this incredible business from my bedroom back in 2001, I’m amazed at what our passionate team has accomplished. I couldn’t be prouder to finally say that YES is truly better together!”

The combined businesses of YES have already delivered experiences to 226,200 attendees at more than 7,675 events across 66 countries in the last 12 months.

Satisfi Labs, Merges with Live Entertainment and Attractions AI Provider

April 11, 2024—Satisfi Labs, a leading AI powered Conversational Experience Platform, has announced it is mering with the leading provider of AI-powered concierge services focused in live entertainment and attractions.

Satisfi Labs will also be naming a new Head of Entertainment during this time. Satisfi Labs works with over 500 clients around sports, tourism and entertainment. Last year, Satisfi Labs launched Context LLM Repsponse Team, merging patent-pending contextual repsonse technology with larger language model capabilities to strength the Answer Engine system.

April 10, 2024—Cookie Smoak, president of ATL Airport District Convention & Visitors, announced her plan to retire Sept. 30, 2024, after spending 11 years with the organization and 46 years within the hospitality and tourism industries.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce I will retire as president of the ATL Airport District (CVB), Smoak says. “I assure you that this decision was a well-thought-out and difficult one to make. The last 10 and a half years with this organization and team have been the most rewarding in my 46-year career, and I consider it my greatest professional accomplishment,” said Smoak in a message to her team. “Together, we have created a collaborative, high-performing and successful team with a culture based on trust and respect for each other. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this team!”

Smoak has received several noteworthy accolades and achievement throughout her tenure in the industry. Most recently, she was awarded the Georgie Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus’ Larry Allen Tourism Leadership Awards. She was also the first woman in the tourism industry to be granted one of Atlanta Magazine’s Women Making a Mark Awards. In 2023, she was recognized as an influential leaders in Georgia Trend’s Georgia 500 list.

Smoak says she plans to work with the executive committee to find the right replacement to step into She adds: “The great news is that my replacement will inherit the most incredible team I have ever had the privilege of leading, and will have the opportunity to work with some of the most outstanding businesses, entrepreneurs, attractions and facilities the state of Georgia has to offer.”

Cox Announces New Contract with Las Vegas Convention Center

April 9, 2024—Cox Business/Hospitality Network has announced a new five-year contract with an optional five-year extension that will offer wireless and wired telecommunications and Distributed Antenna System (DAS) services to the Las Vegas Convention Center Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

“Cox provides advanced telecom services to iconic world-class convention centers and resort properties throughout Las Vegas and around the country,” says Mark Greatrex, president of Cox Communications. “We look forward to continuing to deliver an elevated customer experience for Las Vegas Convention Center and millions of guests.”

In the new contract, Cox will provide service to 4.6 million sq. ft. of convention space and meeting rooms space at Las Vegas Convention Center.

IAEE, MPI and SITE Re-Launch Global MICE Collaborative

April 9, 2024—IAEE, MPI and SITE have announced the re-launch of The Global MICE Collaborative, a joint imitative aiming to advance global meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

“The Global MICE Collaborative brings three of the industry’s best-known associations—IAEE, MPI and SITE—together to provide the global community of business events’ professionals with a ‘best of’ collaboration, initially focused on education. MPI brings networking, thought leadership and education for Meetings, SITE for Incentives and IAEE for Conventions and Exhibitions. We bring indispensable connections to our combined communities of over 110,000 MICE professionals located all over the world,” says IAEE President and CEO Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed., CEM.

The Collaborative will re-launch with a keynote on Business & Event Trends for MICE Professionals at The Meeting Show, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, April 17-18, 2024.

Destinations International Announces Partnership with Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

April 4, 2024—Destination International (DI) has announced a new partnership with Indigenous tourism Association of Canada (ITAC). The goal of the partnership is to deepen understanding and appreciation of Indigenous tourism through means of education and authentic engagement.

“Through our partnership with Destinations International, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous tourism and its cultural significance within the global travel industry,” says Keith Henry, President & CEO of ITAC.  “Through education and raising awareness of The Original Original mark of excellence, we empower destinations to authentically engage with Indigenous tourism business owners, thereby enriching the travel experience for visitors while promoting economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples. Further, Destinations International’s strategic priorities for destination organizations in 2024 align with ITAC’s vision to help make Canada become the global leader in Indigenous tourism by 2030.”

The partnership is a big step towards encouraging destinations to work with Indigenous tourism businesses in an authentic way.

ALHI Acquires 62ABOVE to Expand Global Services

April 3, 2024—Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) announced today in a press release that it will be acquiring 62ABOVE, a San Diego based marketing agency providing clients with services such as strategy, media and public relations. The acquisition is designed to broaden and build ALHI’s global sales organization and utilize the expertise of 62ABOVE to grow its clientele and provide the best services possible.

“We are excited that we can now offer 62ABOVE’s expertise and its full range of marketing,” says President and CEO of ALHI, Michael Dominguez. “62ABOVE completes a critical segment of our comprehensive service portfolio.”

62ABOVE president and COO Greg Carson shares similar excitement about the acquisition. “The transition will be seamless for our clients. And we’re thrilled to work with ALHI to bring its research and insights to new and existing clients.”

Destinations International Names ‘30 Under 30’ Class

April 3, 2024—Destinations International Foundation and Destinations International, the global trade association for CVBs and tourism boards, has announced its “30 Under 30” class of young professionals in the destinations industry. This year’s honorees are primarily from U.S.-based organizations, but they also include representatives from Puerto Rico, Canada, Ireland and Switzerland.

“The ‘30 Under 30’ program remains critical to our organization’s vision and mission,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “As our industry moves toward recovery, we are especially excited to announce these young professionals as they are the future of the travel and tourism industry.”

“We are thrilled to see the ‘30 Under 30’ Program enter its 14th year, and we are thankful for the foundation investors who make programs like these possible for our industry through their contributions,” said Ellie Westman Chin, CDME, president and CEO of Destination Madison and chair of the Destinations International Foundation. “We look forward to engaging with this group of emerging leaders through professional development, educational opportunities and networking with industry peers and leaders throughout the year and in the years to come.”

The 2024 “30 Under 30” Class:

  • Alexandria Eady, Content Manager, Richmond Region Tourism
  • America Segura, Public Relations Manager, Visit Corpus Christi
  • Andrew Lawrence, Assistant Director, Arlington Sports Commission, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Brittany Jones, Marketing Project Manager, Discover Durham
  • Caitlin Neal, Marketing Director, Gilmer Chamber/Pick Ellijay
  • Catherine Streater, Senior Coordinator, Brand USA
  • Cristina Fernandes, Leisure Sales Coordinator, Discover Puerto Rico
  • Fallon Tullier, Research and Technology Manager, Visit Baton Rouge
  • Hailey Post, Destination Data Manager, Visit Raleigh
  • Ian Wallis, Sales & Marketing Manager, Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism
  • Jessica VanDeMar, Marketing Manager, Visit Finger Lakes
  • Kasmara Freiderich, National Sales Manager, Experience Rochester, MN
  • Katie Clarke, People and Culture Coordinator, Destination Vancouver
  • Lee Prutsman, Senior Marketing Manager, Visit KC
  • Luke Alexopoulos, Senior Public Relations Manager, Visit Eau Claire
  • Macy Dolton, Content Marketing Specialist, Destination DC
  • Maggie Carter, Creative Marketing Manager, Visit Baltimore
  • Martin Garneau, Senior Manager, Systems Architecture and Application Development, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism
  • Mary Coryell, Manager, Partner Relations, Discover Lehigh Valley
  • Megan Myers, Digital Media Director, Hocking Hills Tourism Association
  • Megane Simone, Bid & Communication Manager, Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation
  • Millie Stewart, Director of Sales, Visit Ogden
  • Nathaniel Sweetman, Sports Marketing Coordinator, Visit Sarasota County
  • Orla Moule, Business Events Assistants, Fáilte Ireland
  • Samantha Green Ewald, Destination Services Manager, Visit Charlotte/Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Authority
  • Sheridan Powell, Communications Specialist, Visit Colorado Springs
  • Sydney Macapagal, Digital Content Strategist, Visit Galveston
  • Sydney Patterson, Marketing Manager, Visit Fort Worth
  • Wayne Stewart, Director of Marketing & Communications, Visit Casper
  • Wesley Sosa, Graphic Designer and Brand Manager, Visit Stockton

To learn more about each honoree, click here.

The “30 Under 30” program is supported by founding program partner SearchWide Global and sponsored by Fired Up! Culture and IMEX.

Air Line Pilots Association Requests Voluntary Leave from United

April 2, 2024—Due to several incidents with Boeing carriers issued to United Airlines, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced yesterday that pilots should consider unpaid voluntary leave.

Several cracked windshields and toilet overflows have happened within the last week, following very recent issues that have led federal regulations increasing the oversight of United’s Boeing carriers, such as outer fuselage falling off jets, engine fires and lost tires on the tarmac.

“Due to recent changes to our Boeing deliveries, the remaining 2024 forecast block hours for United have been significantly reduced,” the Air Line Pilots Association wrote, according to CNBC. “While the delivery issues surround our 787 and 737 fleets, the impact will affect other fleets as well.”

Norse Atlantic Adds Las Vegas-London Gatwick Flight

March 28, 2024—Norse Atlantic Airways has announced the launch of their first flight from Las Vegas (LAS) to London Gatwick (LGW). The first flight will commence on September 12, 2024.

“We are hugely excited to celebrate the launch of our new service from Las Vegas to London Gatwick, offering travelers from America yet more choice to fly in comfort and style—at amazing, affordable prices,” says Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO and Founder of Norse Atlantic Airways. “London Gatwick is a fantastic commercial hub for travelers who need to reach London quickly or are flying off to other European destinations and it’s a fantastic addition to our portfolio.”

Once arriving at London Gatwick, passengers can take a 30-minute train ride to London to enjoy the wide selection of galleries, museums, bars and restaurants.

ConferenceDirect partners with Sessionboard

March 27, 2024—ConferenceDirect, the Folsom, Calif.-based provider of conference and event planning services has formed a strategic partnership with Sessionboard, the speaker and content management company headquartered in San Diego, to offer Sessionboard’s technology platform to its clientele of conference planners and event marketing teams.

The partnership reflects “a shared vision of leveraging technology to simplify complexities in event management and content delivery,” according to a press release.

ConferenceDirect customers will now have access to Sessionboard’s tools designed to optimize the planning and execution of events, including streamlining the call for papers process, abstract evaluation, agenda management, speaker and sponsor communication, asset collection and content integration.

Bellagio Fountain Club Returns to Vegas Strip for F1 2024

March 26, 2024—MGM Resorts International has announced in a press release that Bellagio Fountain Club at Bellagio Hotel and Casino will return for the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix 2024, occurring from November 21st through Nov. 23rd, 2024. Tickets are now on sale for one of the most prestigious racing events operating in America. With views of the track and the fountain, the Bellagio Fountain Club promises to be a luxurious front row seat to the F1 festivities.

“Bellagio Fountain Club’s debut at last year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix event surpassed all expectations,” said Andrew Lanzino, MGM Resorts International’s vice president of citywide events strategy. “Following the incredible reception from our guests last year, the team is hard at work crafting plans for an even more exceptional experience when racing’s most exciting event returns to Las Vegas.”

AMEX GBT Will Acquire CWT

March 25, 2024American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) announces that it has entered an agreement to acquire global business travel and meeting solutions provider, CWT, for an approximately $570 million cash-free, debt-free transaction value. The transaction will be funded by a combination of stock and cash. Subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2024.

Following the acquisition, CWT’s 4,000 customers would have access to Amex GBT’s software and services for travel and expense, including to the broadest portfolio of professional services, including meetings and events, consulting and sustainability solutions. CWT CEO Patrick Anderson says, “Joining forces with Amex GBT helps accelerate our vision of a tech-enabled future for business travel, where people and technology combine to deliver an exceptional customer experience.” Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott added, “Bringing CWT onto the proven Amex GBT software and services model will create more choice for customers, more opportunities for people and more value for shareholders.”

The acquisition is expected to deliver significant shareholder value. Approximately $155 million of annual run-rate synergies within three years is predicted, 35% of which is expected to be realized in 2024, and a dedicated integration team will execute the synergy plan. In the first year of transaction close, it is expected to break even in earnings per share, and become accretive thereafter.

Hawaii Visitors May Soon Pay Fee to Fight Climate Change

March 25, 2024—A new tourist fee in Hawaii got closer to becoming reality in recent weeks. Two committees in the state’s House of Representatives have voiced strong support for imposing a $25 fee for visitors, which would be used to address climate change-related issues like flooding, coral erosion, wildfires and other environmental problems, according to news reports.

Separately, the Hawaii Senate has been considering a different bill, SB304, variously referred to a “green fee” or “conservation fee,” that would require visitors who use the islands’ public beaches, trails, parks and other natural resources to pay an annual tourist impact fee of $50. That body took up the measure last year, but shelved it until reviving it in January.

Gov. Josh Green has also campaigned in favor of such an idea.

At a recent session of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee last month, a representative from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) raised concerns about how such funds would be collected.

“It’s important to note that if we’re going to honor the intent of this bill, which is to capture the impact of guests … to our islands, then we need to make sure that we’re not ignoring everyone who’s visiting us here,” the AHLA spokesperson testified. “If we’re collecting only at our hotels, because effectively we know that it will be the hotels that will follow up on collecting any additional tax, we’re ignoring the tens of thousands of illegal short-term rentals that are really driving the public’s concern around the impacts of overtourism.”

Opponents of such a fee worried that the islands’ economy has yet to bounce all the way back from pandemic levels, and that the added cost could negatively impact visitor numbers.

For any such tax to be levied, the enabling bill must pass in both legislative chambers and be signed by the governor.

The White House Recognizes The Venetian and The Just One Project’s ‘Food Rescue Alliance’

March 25, 2024—During a White House briefing in late February, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff named “Food Rescue Alliance” as one of the 141 initiatives that are a part of the White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities by 2030.

Since being set in 2022 by President Biden the project has received $1.7 billion in new commitments from partnerships.

“The Venetian Resort Las Vegas is committed to helping its community members in need and to underscore our dedication to social responsibility, we’re honored to partner with The Just One Project to further eliminate hunger in our community,” said Patrick Nichols, president and CEO of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas.

“Our team members saw an opportunity to increase our food donation efforts after large conventions and tradeshows, and we knew it was something we had to do. The Food Rescue Alliance collaboration will more than double the number of our healthy meals that are accessible to individuals and families in our community. It is a program that makes us all very proud to be Venetians.”

The Venetian Resort has been at the helm of food rescue since 2014, but this new program, launched in late 2023, is designed to better serve the community by increasing the number of meals rescued on property from trade shows, conventions and meetings.

JetBlue Shrinks Routes After Failed Spirit Merger

March 20, 2024—JetBlue will no longer fly to and from Kansas City and is reducing South American routes originating from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). JetBlue also announced it will not be resuming service to Newburgh, NY, which it suspended during the pandemic.

The reshuffling of its schedule comes in the wake of a federal judge’s rejection of its proposed merger with Spirit Airlines. In a statement, the airline said it is “constantly evaluating our routes to best serve our customers, return our airline to profitability, and find ways to improve our reliability.” In an internal memo leaked to the press, JetBlue said it was refocusing on what it called “bread and butter” routes on the East Coast, the Caribbean and cross-country flights. The airline posted a decline in revenues and a net loss in its most recent quarter.

Sphere Announces First Keynote Event With Hewlett Packard

March 20, 2024—Las Vegas’ Sphere is set to have its first non-entertainment event. On June 18, a keynote address by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) President and CEO Antonio Neri will take place, as part of HPE Discover 2024 at The Venetian Convention and Expo Center June 17-21.

“Sphere is where the world’s biggest artists, and now the biggest brands, go when they want to create an experience unlike any other,” said Jennifer Koester, president, Sphere Business Operations at Sphere Entertainment. “Sphere is a next-generation medium and a powerful platform for companies to educate and demonstrate—connecting with their audiences in a way they can only do at Sphere. The HPE keynote will leverage the venue’s cutting-edge technologies to deliver a bespoke experience that sets a new bar for brand storytelling and corporate events.”

Qatar Airways Announces World’s First AI Cabin Crew

March 19, 2024—Qatar Airways presented Sama 2.0, the second generation of its virtual holographic cabin crew at the world’s leading travel trade show, ITB Berlin 2024. Sama, meaning “sky” in Arabic, caused ripples throughout the trade show with its ability to interact with both visitors and media according to a press release from Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways has partnered with UneeQ, an innovator of AI digital human technology, to make this vision come to life.

“Sama embodies UneeQ’s commitment to blending technology with empathy and personalization, providing an innovative solution that aligns with Qatar Airways’ reputation for world-class service,” says Danny Tomsett, CEO for UneeQ. “She’s a testament to the endless possibilities of AI, capable of delivering personalized and engaging interactions that mirror human conversation.”

March 18, 2024—The Event Technology Awards (ETA), has announced the finalists for the US and Canada awards here. According to ETA, the finalists “put forward outstanding submissions, representing a diverse range of companies and solutions that demonstrate excellence, creativity and impact within the event tech sector.”

The winners will be revealed at Event Tech Live Las Vegas on May 1st, 2024 to celebrate the event techs at the top of their field from US and Canada. Co-founder of ETA Adam Parry expresses excitement for the event.

“The caliber of entries for the Event Technology Awards US & Canada is truly exceptional,” says Parry. “Congratulations to all the finalists and we look forward to crowning the winners at Event Tech Live Las Vegas.”

Southwest Admits to Issues and Announces Hiring Freeze for 2024

March 18, 2024—After the breakdown of Southwest Airlines operations during the 2022 holiday season where thousands of people were left stranded, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) has made it clear with the union’s dissatisfaction with the organization and efficiency of the airline. Although the airline has invested $1.3 billion for improving infrastructure and IT, Captain Casey Murray, union president of SWAPA, says this won’t fix everything.

“None of that is going to solve the process problems of connecting pilots and airplanes,” says Murray. “There has to be a refocusing on efficiency.”

Chief Executive of Southwest Airlines Bob Jordan says the airline is improving and regaining the trust of its customers as well as coming to agreements with the pilot’s union. “We also made significant progress on our labor agreements, including the ratification earlier this week of an agreement that secures industry-leading pay for our best-in-class pilots,” says Jordan.

While Southwest is regaining its footing, it does not expect to receive all the planes from Boeing and therefore has cut overall hiring by 50% in 2024. “This is not business as usual,” says Jordan. “We are being very aggressive in controlling what we can control.”

Visit Boise Celebrates the Life of Bobbie Patterson

March 15, 2024—Bobbie Patterson, a longtime leader in the tourism, meetings and conventions industry and executive director of the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau for over 30 years, passed away on March 2, 2024. In addition to serving for over three decades as executive director of the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau, she became the first female chair of IACVB (now Destinations International) in 1998. She was inducted into the Destinations International Hall of Fame in 2015. Visit Boise and the entire Boise hospitality community remembers her avid dedication to the industry and enthusiastic membership and advocacy for the destination.

ECEP Will Hold 3rd Annual Symposium in Charleston This March

March 14, 2024—From March 17-24, 2024, members of Elite Catering + Event Professionals (ECEP) will gather in Charleston, South Carolina for the third annual symposium to explore a wide range of issues the industry is facing in the present day.

There, top leaders in hospitality will attend education sessions strategically designed to support, encourage and inform attendees on future advocacy actions to benefit the industry, from succession planning to mastering media recognition to collaborative creativity. There will also be a robust lineup of business sessions on sales, marketing, operations and beyond.

Charleston is a strategic destination choice, having inspired the event’s educational and culinary themes. “Charleston has a rich and diverse culinary heritage,” says ECEP President, Michael Stavros. “We’ll be celebrating this in many ways during our time here, from keynote speakers such as Jessica Harris, author of ‘Same Boat, Different Stops,’ to events hosted at historic venues like the Thomas Bennett House with cuisine by local notable, Cru Catering who will be showcasing custom menus and station builds.”

Destination DC Hosts Sustainability Summit

Mar. 13, 2024—Destination DC (DDC) is hosting their inaugural Sustainability Summit that highlights the importance of federal and local partnerships. In partnership with the US. Environmental Protection Agency, the DC Department of Energy and Environment as well as local hospitality community the DDC is looking to make the tourism and events industry more sustainable.

“We recognize our need to do more when it comes to sustainability, so the summit is a step in the right direction as we focus on what we can do collectively as destination stewards,” says Elliott L. Ferguson, II president and CEO. “Destination DC’s Sustainability District is an opportunity for collaborative learning, fostering economic and social opportunities for small businesses and the local community, reinforcing our collective responsibility to build a sustainable and vibrant future for our nation’s capital.”

ASM Global Enters Partnership with Playeasy

March 13, 2024—ASM Global has announced its partnership with Playeasy, a digital network focused on sporting events and sports tourism. The partnership with allow ASM access to more than 600 sports event operators in 100+ sports and activities.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with Playeasy as its leading sports events and sports tourism platform complements ASM Global’s expertise in producing live event experiences,” says Anna Nash, vice president, market development, ASM Global, “This collaboration enhances our ability to drive content to our extensive portfolio of venues, facilitating easier access for sports-event organizers to our convention centers. By leveraging our network, we aim to empower organizers to expand their events across our diverse venues, boosting economic impact from out-of-state visitors.”

The partnership will allow for elevated awareness for the ASM Global convention centers as well as convention specific products and comprehensive real-time analytics for marketing strategies.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa Raises Awareness for Colon Cancer with Bum Run

March 11, 2024—The seventh annual Bum Run sponsored by Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in partnership with American Cancer Society (ACS) and their program Relay for Life Kauai is a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) effort to bring awareness and raise funds for colon cancer. Created in 2015, the Bum Run has personally impacted several members of the Grand Hyatt Kauai team and is an important event to highlight during the month of March, Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

“As a colon cancer survivor nearing my 10-year anniversary of diagnosis, the Bum Run holds a special significance for me,” says Diann Hartman, director of marketing communications with Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. “I am honored to welcome our guests and community for such a meaningful event.” The Bum Run will take place on March 16th, with online registration on active.com.

Corinthian Events Announces Succession Plan

March  7, 2024—Boston-based event company Corinthian Events announces a succession plan for three longtime employees to assume control of the company by 2027. Co-CEOs Courtney Church and Jill Tate will sell the 24-year-old company to Jennifer Logan, Tamara O’Malley and Jamie Hellesen, the three of whom possess over 35 years of combined experience.

“Jamie, Tamara and I have been working together for more than 10 years and have built a strong relationship grounded in hard work, mutual respect, and trust,” said Jennifer Logan, Managing Partner at Corinthian Events. “We’re so lucky and honored to be able to shepherd Corinthian Events into the future. I speak for us all when I say that with Jill and Courtney’s guidance over the next few years, we’re fully confident that our company will continue to grow and thrive.”  

Freeman Launches Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative Roadmap

March 7, 2024—Trade show, exhibit and event company Freeman today shared its Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative (NZCE) roadmap, providing a clear action plan to reduce its environmental impact while upholding and amplifying the event industry’s strength of building communities around a common purpose.

The roadmap, based on the company’s existing initiatives and investments, focuses on three key areas where it can accelerate progress and innovation. These areas are reduction/replacement, expansion of rental and reuse programs, and expansion of end-of-event options in donation and recycling programs.

Freeman is a founding signatory of the Net Zero Carbon Events Pledge as of 2021, which now sees over 600 supporting organizations across 60 countries wThe orking towards a net zero goal in events.

Freeman CEO Bob Priest-Heck says, “We know how to take on big challenges. It requires a clear strategy and a detailed tactical plan to solve a lot of smaller challenges over time, with each one taking us closer to the goal of Net Zero. We won’t get there overnight. But we’ll get there.”

Destination Arabia Joins Hosts Global Alliance

March 6, 2024—Hosts Global has announced that Destination Arabia has joined the DMC.

“We are thrilled to welcome Destination Arabia to our Alliance. With their deep-rooted knowledge and expertise in the UAE market, they enhance our ability to deliver exceptional experiences to our clients. This addition to our exclusive Alliance increases our global reach and solidifies our position as the industry leader as a one stop solution for best-in-class DMCs worldwide,” says Robert Lee, VP of Global Sales & Alliance Engagement at Hosts Global.

The range of offerings of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ras Al Khaimah, Destination Al Khaimah, Destination Arbia offer access to many vibrant destinations within the United Arab Emirates.

Egypt is Emerging as a Top Tourism Destination with Cairo City Break

March 6, 2024—Last year showed a groundbreaking 14,906 million number of visitors to Egypt and Egypt is eager to continue that momentum. The Cairo City Break program, presented by Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa, is promising potential visitors and tourists an amalgam of luxury, history, ancient heritage and vibrant modernity.

Egypt is increasing the ease of travel to tourist destinations to improve traveler experience, such as building an environmentally friendly and high-speed train connecting Hurghada and Luxor, projected to be completed by 2026.

“There is no other city that offers visitors a journey through the epochs of every great civilization, starting from 3500 B.C. Our commitment is to make Cairo a destination that invites exploration over multiple visits or an extended weekend,says Issa.

MGM and Marriott Launch MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy

March 6, 2024MGM Resorts International and Marriott International have officially launched their new MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy. Now, Marriott Bonvoy members can earn and redeem points and make reservations at 16 MGM Collection resorts comprising MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy via Marriott.com and the Marriott Bonvoy app. Members of MGM Resort’s loyalty program can link accounts with Marriott Bonvoy to directly tier match and receive member benefits.

In addition, Marriott Bonvoy Moments inspired by MGM Collection launch today, where Marriott Bonvoy members can win an opportunity to choreograph the world-famous Bellagio Fountain Show along with the existing creative team, to enjoy a golf weekend at Shadow Creek or to venture behind the scenes at four Cirque du Soleil shows: KÀ, Michael Jackson ONE, Mad Apple and “O.”

Holiday Inn El Paso West Completes $3.5 Million Renovation

March 6, 2024—Holiday Inn El Paso West-Sunland Park announced today the $3.5 million renovation of the property has been completed. The renovation included upgrades to meeting spaces, the restaurant and bar areas, the lobby and guest bathrooms.

The press release states that the “meeting spaces have been redesigned to offer versatility and functionality, catering to a variety of events and gatherings. Whether for business meetings or social occasions, guests will find the updated facilities conducive to productivity and enjoyment.”

Get Ready for CMP Advance!

March 5, 2024CMP Advance 2024 will take place Mar. 11-13 at Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Canada. This year, the event will open with a Mentor & Me breakfast, where new CMPs and CMP Fellows can engage face to face, making powerful professional connections right from the start.

Participants will then gather for the opening keynote from Shawn Kanungo, author and innovation strategist, who will discuss the enormous impact of AI and its relation to infinite leverage. Following two days of networking and learning, the event will close out with a keynote from Dr. Lisa Bélanger, CEO of ConsciousWorks and author. She will explore the influence of community and connection both within a person’s professional life as well as outside it.

All participants at CMP Advance will receive a $75 USD discount to put towards their Sustainable Event Professional Certification, in addition to the 10 CEs they earn by attending CMP Advance. The event will follow the EIC Sustainable Event Standards and hopes to achieve certification; attendees will walk away with a refreshed understanding of what goes in to working towards these standards. In addition, designated quiet rooms will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day for attendees to use in need of a break, anytime.

Scottsdale Resort Partners with Chef Richard Blais

March 5, 2024—Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa is elevating its culinary scene with six new restaurant concepts and a partnership with Celebrity Chef Richard Blaise. The culinary makeover is another addition to the resort’s $110 million renovation and branding to a Grand Hyatt property.

The James Beard-nominated cookbook author and first ever winner of the hit show Top Chef continues to be a member of the Food Network’s galaxy of superstar chefs, currently co-starring on the popular program Next Level Chef alongside Gordon Ramsay.

“We are thrilled to announce a partnership with Celebrity Chef Richard Blais to debut elevated dining and bar experiences at our beautiful Sonoran Desert resort,” said Lance Marrin, General Manager of Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa. “The new and exciting concepts will provide a wide variety of global and local flavors that our guests and local residents will love. All of our restaurant and bar venues are expected to debut this fall as we finalize our extensive renovation project.”

Noble House Hotels & Resorts Returns to Northeast

March 4, 2024—Noble House Hotels & Resorts announced in a press release today that Chatham Inn Relais & Chateaux will be added to its portfolio of properties, a return to the Northeast for the brand in the seaside town of Chatham, Massachusetts. As the oldest inn on Cape Cod, Chatham Inn Relais & Chateaux is a luxury boutique built in 1830 with 18 guest rooms that have been renovated with high-end furnishings and textiles.

“The addition of the Chatham Inn Relais & Châteaux to the Noble House Hotels & Resorts portfolio reinforces our commitment to grow with on-brand, award-winning, luxury boutique properties. We are also excited to welcome the team members of the Chatham Inn Relais & Châteaux to the Noble House family,” said James Colee, CEO for Noble House Hotels & Resorts.

Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau Launch New Branding

March 1, 2024—Bloomington Minnesota Convention Center and Visitors Bureau have announced a new brand for the city’s destination marketing organization — Bloomington, Minnesota Travel & Tourism.

“With our revamped look and feel, we now feel more empowered than ever to pursue our mission of inspiring travelers to visit Bloomington so that they may experience our world-class experiences and trademark Minnesota hospitality first-hand,” says Bonnie Carlson, President & CEO of Bloomington, Minnesota Travel and Tourism.

The new visual identity, created in partnership with Minneapolis based firm Duffy, encompasses the city’s energy as well as their grounded approach to customer service.

Hosts Global Announces REALM to Join Global Alliance

Feb. 29, 2024—Hosts Global has announced the addition of REALM, an Asian Pacific event destination management expert, to Global Alliance.

“We are delighted to welcome REALM to Hosts Global. This partnership aligns seamlessly with our commitment to offering unparalleled access to extraordinary destinations. REALM’s expertise in the Asia Pacific region adds a new layer of possibilities for our clients, and we’re eager to embark on this exciting journey together,” says Tina Gaccetta, SVP of Global Sales & Marketing for Hosts Global.

The collaboration will expand Hosts Global’s reach around the world, allowing them to offer clients continued extraordinary event experiences across nine destinations.

IAEE Gains EIC Sustainability Certification for Second Year

Feb. 28, 2024—The Events Industry Council announced IAEE‘s Annual Meeting & Exhibition has gained the EIC Silver Level Certification in its Sustainable Event Standards.

The certification was performed by a non-for-profit auditing organization, The Alliance for Audited Media.

“The independent certification process is a rigorous review of the company’s compliance to the EIC standards. We applaud IAEE on this achievement because it demonstrates their commitment to sustainable business practices and optimizing their performance year after year,” says Alliance for Audited Media President Richard Murphy.

IAEE previously received a Bronze Level Certification in 2022.

Four Seasons Taking Reservations for New Destination in Mexico

Feb. 28, 2024—Four Seasons Resort and Residences Cabo San Lucas at Cabo Del Sol is now taking reservations in its preparation to open on May 1st, 2024. Inspired by the “pueblos mágicos”—”magic towns”—the resort is an amalgam of Mexican culture, music, art and lifestyle in one of the most luxurious destinations for incentives and executive retreats.

“As we expand our portfolio in the most sought-after vacation destinations around the world, Cabo San Lucas has long been on our list, and we are thrilled to be opening a brand new Four Seasons experience that beautifully complements our existing resort on the more remote East Cape of Los Cabos,”— Antoine Chahwan, President, Four Seasons Hotel Operations Americas

Palm Springs Convention Center Designated as Certified Autism Center, First in California

Feb. 27, 2024—The Palm Springs Convention Center, managed by ASM Global, announced it is the first convention center in California to be designated as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) by the Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

Convention staff attended autistic and sensory-sensitive training aimed to better support the experience of attendees on the spectrum.

“We are honored and proud to become a Certified Autism Center™, reflecting our unwavering commitment to inclusivity and our dedication to providing a welcoming environment for autistic individuals. By completing this training, we aim to ensure everyone can fully enjoy the experiences and events at our convention center,” says Rob Hampton, General Manager of the Palm Springs Convention Center.

AHLA and Procure Impact Launch Program to Create 100,000 Hours for Overlooked Populations

Feb. 27, 2024—The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Procure Impact has launched Dignity of Work Pledge, an initiative focused to create 100,000 hours of paid employment for overlooked populations. Results of the imitative will be shared on the AHLA Responsible Stay website.

“We believe the hospitality sector is uniquely positioned to harness its purchasing power to create unique and meaningful guest experiences and change millions of lives in the process. We are excited to partner with so many pioneers in hospitality who are building spaces and places grounded in belonging and purpose through the products that they feature and purchase,” says Procure Impact Founder & CEO Lauren McCann.

Partners who have also agreed to sign the Dignity of Work pledge also include Davidson Hospitality Group, Pyramid Global Hospitality, Sage Hospitality Group, CoralTree Hospitality, Atrium Hospitality, Pacific Hospitality Group, Modus Hotels and 21c Museum Hotels.

Events Industry Council Announces Keynote Speakers for CMP Advance

Feb. 23, 2024—Events Industry Council recently announced their keynote speakers for the CMP Advance taking place on March 11th- 13th in Toronto, Canada.

The opening keynote speaker, Shawn Kanungo, globally recognized innovation strategist and bestselling author will speak on how AI will impact society, business and culture. The closing keynote speaker, Dr. Lisa Bélanger will speak on the importance of community and connection. 

CMP Advance will also be featuring a mentor breakfast for new CMPs and CMP Fellows.

Frenchman’s Reef Celebrates Grand Opening With Charitable Work

Feb. 22, 2024—Frenchman’s Reef in St. Thomas recently hosted a grand opening, commemorating the opening of The Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef and Morningstar Buoy Haus Beach Resort at Frenchman’s Reef, Autograph Collection, which followed a $425 million rebuild.

U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Commissioner of Tourism Hon. Joseph Boschulte were in attendance, along with the owners of Fortress Investment Group, who acquired the properties in 2021.

“We are bringing Frenchman’s Reef into a new era, with a renewed focus on an immersive guest experience,” said Joe Gould, managing director of Fortress Investment Group. “With these two world-class resorts officially open to guests, we are ready to welcome the world to Frenchman’s Reef. This is a destination unlike any other, and we are committed to creating memorable moments for our guests to explore and unwind through outstanding service, exceptional amenities, and new restaurant and bar concepts that offer a true taste of the destination.”

The evening featured live music and entertainment, culinary activations at the property’s on-site restaurants and a “Taste of Frenchman’s Reef” experience at the outdoor spa pool. Beyond that, Frenchman’s Reef donated $20,000 to the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education, in support of the island’s youth.

Senate Commerce Committee Passes FAA Reauthorization Bill

Feb. 22, 2024—The Senate Commerce Committee has passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill.

The bill will help with long-term safety and the modernization of the U.S. air travel system. The bill must pass both chambers of Congress before heading to President Biden’s desk for a final approval.

Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants Strike

Feb. 20, 2024 —Alaska Airlines flight attendants are authorized by three different union organizations to potentially pose a strike for the first time in 30 years. Employees in the cabin crew are threatening to picket outside airports in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Guam for higher pay.

“We agree with our flight attendants that we need a new contract, which is why we’ve been working hard to get an agreement,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement to FOX Business. ” We’ve been offering industry leading top-of-scale pay for months with an immediate 15% raise to the entire pay scale and additional raises every year. we’ve closed more than 50 tentative agreements—representing dozens of topics where we’ve found common ground.

SEARCH Foundation Raises Record Contributions

Feb. 16, 2024—The Search Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that focuses on helping out meeting and catering professionals in crisis, raised $104,000 during their Annual Signature Event.

“The support our foundation provides to individuals in crisis is only possible with the generosity of the industry members that give so selflessly. I’m pleased to report that at the Annual Signature Event at Skybox on 6th, followed by an after party hosted by Wilkinson-Rhodes, we surpassed our goal for this event ,” says board chairperson, Kate Patay of Terramar, a DMC Network Company. “I am so proud of the event team and the sponsors for helping us to achieve this and welcome you to join us at all of our upcoming events in 2024 to keep the momentum going and assist more industry professionals when they need it most.”

Shortly after SEARCH was honored with the Steve Kemble Leadership Award, dedicated to the person or group who and shown an excellence in leadership through skills through service to the event and meeting industry.

WTTC Issues Call to Action to EU to Support Hospitality Industry

Feb. 14, 2024—Today, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) issued a Call to Action, urging European Union (EU) stakeholders to support the hospitality industry. The industry employs over 22 million people and contributes €1.4 trillion ($1.5 trillion) to the EU economy.

The global tourism body places emphasis on three key areas, which it explains modernize and enhance the sector, and expects would support the sector to reach a €1.9 trillion ($2 trillion) contribution to the EU economy by 2033.

“The Travel & Tourism sector is a key driver of economic growth in the EU and the measures within our Call to Action will ensure the sector continues to grow sustainably, attract new talent and prosper,” says WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson. “We urge the EU to adopt these recommendations for the benefit of business and travelers globally. As the sector modernizes and unlocks the digital transformation of travel, together with the European Union we can achieve unprecedented growth.”

These areas are as follows:

1. A more sustainable future

As the EU carries out policy impact assessments on legislation implementation within hospitality, EU leaders have an opportunity to encourage more sustainable practices and help the sector to achieve net zero emission targets. In addition, the Call to Action urges EU leaders to be methodical and ensure future environmental legislation does not hinder, but rather complements, existing commitments and work already undertaken by the travel and tourism sector.

2. Supporting ease of travel across borders

When policies facilitate hassle-free travel, the hospitality industry sees growth and expanded job opportunities. Most critically, WTTC calls for simplified visa processes, and urges the EU to continue its work towards visa-free travel and removal of existing barriers, such as the already delayed Entry-Exist System.

3. Boosting the digitalization of the sector

WTTC sees the digitalization of hospitality as vital to its growth, efficiency, cost-reduction and economic growth, and calls on the EU to accelerate the adoption of cutting-edge technologies by pursing policies that allow for contactless travel and implement AI across the sector. WTTC expresses it will support the EU in efforts to enable the digitalization of passports, streamlining of visa applications and digitalization across the entire traveler experience.

Walt Disney World to Open ‘Tiana’s Bayou Adventure’ This Summer

Feb. 13, 2024—This summer, Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort will debut Tiana’s Bayou Adventure at Magic Kingdom Park. The attraction “digs a little deeper” into Princess Tiana’s story following the events of the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ film, “The Princess and the Frog.”

Once guests enter the bayou, they will float through cypress trees and Spanish moss within a Louisiana bayou, where they will be greeted by the first-ever Tiana Audio-Animatronics figure along with numerous other characters and musical critters, including an otter, a rabbit and a turtle among many others. Along the way, music celebrates the heart of New Orleans sound, with a zydeco and other types of authentic music, alongside favorite songs from the film. Voice actors from the film reprise their roles, including Bruno Campos as Prince Naveen and Anika Noni Rose as Princess Tiana.

Throughout the attraction, guests can see authentic NOLA artistry created by Louisiana artists, such as an original metalwork weathervane. To round out the immersive experience, guests will catch whiffs of the scent of frying beignets. Following its summer 2024 opening at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will open later in 2024 at Disneyland Park in California.

Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia Invite Media

Feb. 12, 2024—The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia (BHMVA) is celebrating Black History Month with new exhibitions including Holsinger Studio portraits, figurative sculptures and others to honor black history and culture. The exhibits are open for a press-only meet and greet to present sponsors and offer members of the media the opportunity to photograph the pop-up exhibitions on Wednesday, February 14th from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. EST. The new exhibitions will be open to the public through Black History Month, ending Thursday, February 29th.

The exhibition is presented by Tourism Cares with support from C&F Bank.

Visit Austin SVP and CMO Julie Chase Passes Away

Visit Austin SVP and CMP Julie Chase
Julie Chase

It is with a heavy heart we share that Visit Austin Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Julie Chase passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 4th surrounded by her family.

Julie was a proud 4th generation Texan and has called Austin “home” for more than 25 years. As Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Visit Austin, Julie led the marketing, tourism, film and music departments. Among marketing campaigns, event activations, and various other projects, Julie was also instrumental in working closely with Austin Bergstrom International Airport and helping to secure new flight service for Austin. Previously, she served as Director of Texas Tourism from 2003-2012. 

Julie loved spending time with her family and traveling the world. She was passionate about tourism marketing and much of Visit Austin and the Austin and Texas tourism community’s success can be attributed to her efforts and dedication.

Julie will be greatly, greatly missed.

More information regarding a Celebration of Life will be provided at a later time. 

Maritz Hosts Event for Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Feb. 7, 2024—January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. As part of its efforts in the fight against human trafficking, Maritz hosted an event on its St. Louis campus on Jan. 30 in partnership with The Covering House, a St. Louis-based organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking. The event, “The Role of the Internet in Trafficking & Tips to Keeping Kids Safe Online” saw attendance from 170 people both in-person and virtually.

Maritz CEO David Peckinpaugh welcomed Givonni Orr, training manager at The Covering House; Keaton Strong, retired police caption, human trafficking specialist and crisis intervention specialist for Ritenour School district; Sarah Sharpe, cyber-security at Maritz; and Laura Baker, administrator of community engagement at The Covering House for a panel, moderated by Mary Clare Darland, director of sourcing at Martiz.

The panel discussed how parents can monitor their childrens’ safety on social media and signs of human trafficking to look for when traveling, as well as how everyone can be proactive to fight human trafficking. Maritz team members collected donations for the covering house.

Those who are interested can view the event here.

Visit Anaheim Announces Local Workforce Development Initiative

Feb. 6, 2024Visit Anaheim has announced the new workforce initiative aimed at inspiring high school students to look at careers in tourism and hospitality. Careers will range from hotel management to transportation, maintenance, and event planning.

“By fostering connections and providing guidance, Workforce Development is bridging the gap between our industry and our community,” said Christina Dawson, Senior Vice President, Operations, Visit Anaheim. “This program will inspire students to pursue careers within the tourism and hospitality field while cultivating a skilled and diverse future workforce.”

High schoolers will be able to participate in career fairs, access educational resources, internships and job opportunities.

Visit Newport Beach Will Hold a Drone Show at Allegiant Stadium Following Super Bowl

Feb. 5, 2024Visit Newport Beach announces that it will hold the first ever 1,000-drone show at Allegiant Stadium, in Las Vegas, on February 11, following the Super Bowl. The show, titled, “Touch Down in Newport Beach,” will take place one hour after the conclusion of the major football event. Those who can’t make it in person can view a live-stream of the show thanks to a partnership with COX, the official telecommunications provider of Allegiant Stadium.

It will be powered by SkyWorx, a team of world-class engineers, pilots and artists, that operates drone light shows. A partner of Smart Meetings since 2022, SkyWorx just recently put on the first drone show in downtown Monterey during the Smart Meetings Extraordinary Experience at Portola Hotel and Spa in November 2023.

Not only will Newport Beach’s drone show wow audiences with its scale and artistry; when the drones form a QR code in the sky, viewers will be able to scan it for the chance to win a Newport Beach vacation package. Additionally, throughout game week and beyond, geo-fencing technology will allow Visit Newport Beach to air a new football-themed commercial in 60,000 Las Vegas Strip hotel rooms.

127 Professionals Have Earned CAE Credential, ASAE Announces

Feb. 2, 2024ASAE, the membership organization of over 48,000 association executives and industry partners representing over 7,400 organizations, has announced that 127 association executives have successfully completed its Certified Association Executive (CAE) program and earned the credential.

They join over 4,500 credentialed industry leaders around the world. The CAE Program, accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCAA), elevates professional standards, enhances individual performance and designates the professionals who have acquired and demonstrated the knowledge essential to be a leading player in association management.

These newly credentialed professionals will be honored during the 2024 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition in Cleveland Aug. 10-12, along with the upcoming May 2024 class.

ESPA Announces 2024 Award Winners

Jan. 30, 2024—The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) today honored the recipients of a number of prestigious awards, which spotlight outstanding leaders in the event services sector, association leadership and engagement, at its 2024 Annual Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis.

See the awardees listed below:

Executive Excellence Award

Diane DiAntonio, CMP, CEM, general manager at Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Event Service Professional of the Year Award

DeShawn Fitzpatrick, CMP, senior client services manager at Visit Houston

Leadership in Event Service Award

Jarrica Guzman, event services manager at Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB

2024 Meeting Professional of the Year

Bridget Robinson, CMP, CMM, director of national conventions & meetings at American Legion

ESPA Member Awards

William H. Just Memorial Award

Patrick Coit, CMP, destination services manager at Meet Boston

ESPA Members of the Year

DeShawn Fitzpatrick, CMP, senior client services manager at Visit Houston and Amber Brewer, Event Service Specialist at Visit Rochester

ESPA President’s Award

Esther Walker-Young, senior services manager at Visit KC

In addition, ESPA presented the first-ever 2024 Appreciation Award to its longtime executive director, Lynn McCullough.

UK-Based Company DRPG Acquires American-Based TSEC

Jan. 24, 2024—The global creative communications agency DRPG has announced its newest expansion with its acquisition of The Special Event Company (TSEC) in its latest press release. TSEC has been a leading force in the industry for over 35 years and the acquisition will help both DRPG and TSEC expand their global reach and boost the events industry. Matt Franks, group director of events for DRPG, explains how the acquisition is mutually beneficial to both companies.

“We recognized there are great synergies between the two companies and culturally the teams are very similar,” says Franks. “These mirrored attributes and core values gave us the confidence this partnership and fit would succeed in delivering the very best experiences for our clients.”

Conference Pro Aims to Revolutionize Conference Experience

Jan. 23, 2024—Conference Pro is looking to shake up the conference and trade show landscape. The groundbreaking company is looking to offer comprehensive reviews of conferences and trade shows done by event marketers and expert conference planning services.

The ability to glimpse reviews of conferences will allow meeting professionals to under the dynamics of a successful conference.

“We were having all these behind-the-scenes conversations with each other and recognized a gap in the market. Why is there Yelp for everything else, but not Trade Shows!? So, we created a platform that combines firsthand experience at conferences and Trade Shows with strategic planning. Conference Pro is the result of our collective expertise, aiming to elevate the conference and trade show experience for both organizers and participants,” said David T Stevens, Co-Founder.

InteleTravel Acquires MGME

Jan. 23, 2024—Less than a year after aligning with Hickory Global Partners, InteleTravel has announced its acquisition of global events agency McVeigh Global Meetings and Events (MGME.) The three companies are planning to work together to provide high-end leisure and business travel. According to the press release from MGME, the brand will continue to operate on its own but will be owned by InteleTravel and, working with Hickory Global Partners, “clients will benefit from InteleTravel’s resources and scale, as the three companies join in business development, purchasing power, cross-utilizing capabilities, and finding economies and efficiencies.

“I am incredibly excited to ally MGME’s professional storytellers and experienced designers with InteleTravel and Hickory’s travel professionals and clients,” says MGME COE Carvie Gillikin. “I know how much MGME can offer their agencies, and we are creating the next 30 years of leadership for MGME by being able to expand our travel and accommodations offerings for our global programs, and having access to all the other InteleTravel assets, technology and management.”

Visit Anaheim Hosting Nearly 150 Meetings and Conventions in 2024

Jan. 22, 2024—Visit Anaheim has announced 142 conventions, meetings events scheduled to happen in 2024. The plan is projected to bring in more than $1.5 billion in economic impact to the Anaheim community and will generate $15 million in tourism occupancy tax (TOT).

National Assocation of Music Merchants (NAMM) will be kicking off their event with nearly 75,000 attendees and nearly 25,000 room nights.

“We are thrilled that NAMM has called Anaheim home for nearly 50 years,” said Ronnie Collins, Senior Vice President, Sales & Services, Visit Anaheim, “Now that they’re back to their regular programming in January for the first time since 202, we anticipate a high impact event, building on the rich history and vibrant musical community that they’ve nurtured here in Anaheim.”

AHLA Foundation Hosts 6th-Annual Hotel Workforce Celebration

Jan. 22, 2024—On Jan. 21, AHLA Foundation hosted its 6th-annual Night of a Thousand Stars gala that honors leaders in the hotel industry. The event raised nearly $1 million to support AHLA Foundation initiatives designed to strengthen the hotel industry’s workforce. The event also held the Stars of the Industry Awards, which celebrates winners for their industry service.

AHLA Foundation also introduced the Scholar of the Year Award, recognizing the achievements to a select hospitality student and demonstrating its commitment to the next generation of hospitality professionals. The third-annual Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award was granted to Hyatt Hotels President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian.

“The Night of a Thousand Stars Gala brings our entire industry together to celebrate the work and dedication of the unsung heroes of hospitality – the ones at the heart of our industry,” said Anna Blue, president of the AHLA Foundation.

AHLA’s 2024 Stars of the Industry winners:

North Star Award Winner

  • Colby Bracy, Director of Human Resources, The Nonantum Resort

North Star Award Finalists

  • Alfonso Rauda-Serrano, Chief Engineer, Valley River Inn Eugene
  • Bonnie Sager, General Manager, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Hazelton

AHLA Foundation ForWard: Paving the Way Award

  • Lina Patel, Director, Strategic Franchise Initiative, Red Roof Franchising

Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year

  • Adrian Adriano III, Director, Premium Brands, Marriott International

Foundation Scholar of the Year

  • Olivia Cannella, Hospitality Senior, Michigan State University

CEMA Advisory Board Announced

Jan. 22, 2024—PCMA and Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) announced the 2024 CEMA Advisory Board consisted of senior event marketing executives. The CEMA Advisory Board is partnered with PCMA to strengthen their goals of education and networking opportunities in the industry. Learn more about the 2024 CEMA Advisory Board members in the press release from PCMA announced by CEMA president and CEO Sherrif Karamat, CAE here.

Visit Anaheim Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters

Jan. 17, 2024—Visit Anaheim has announced it will be partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire Workplace Mentoring Program. Focusing on encouraging and preparing the youth in Anaheim for college and/or the professional world, Christina Dawson, senior vice president of operations, Visit Anaheim, comments on the exciting new partnership.

“With over 63,000 tourism jobs in Anaheim across the convention center, theme parks, restaurants, shops and hotels, Visit Anaheim is enthusiastic about getting young professionals interested in career opportunities within our industry.”

Cvent Acquires Jifflenow and iCapture

Jan. 16, 2024—Hospitality technology provider Cvent announced that it has acquired Jifflenow, a B2B meeting scheduling platform and iCapture, a lead capture solution, to expand its trade show and conference offerings. Enhanced capabilities will enable sales and marketing teams to improve trade show performance and ROI through utomated appointment scheduling and universal lead capture, according to Reggie Aggarwal, CEO and founder of Cvent.

Benefits to meeting professionals include:

  • Maximize trade show impact by facilitating meetings with the highest-value customers and prospects
  • Increase the number of event leads
  • Better qualify and convert trade show leads

Destination DC Celebrates Sustainable Credentials

Jan. 13, 2024—As the first city in the world to achieve the Platinum level LEED for Cities certification, Destination DC announced Carbon Free DC, a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. Major city upgrades include modernized LED streetlights as part of DC’s Smart Cities initiative. The city’s first electric buses have been activated and Metrorail Silver Line connects Washington Dulles International Airport to downtown DC. 

DDC launched the Sustainability District so meeting and event planners and attendees can easily find sustainability initiatives at local hotels, restaurants and convention services.  

      Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center Pilots Shift Robotics’ Moonwalkers

      Jan. 11, 2024Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Florida is the first public entity to recognize Shift Robotics‘ AI-informed Moonwalkers as OPDMDs (Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices) as it pilots the robotic shoes for use in all its facilities and becomes a customer. Shift Robotics’ product, Moonwalkers, are nano-empowered mobility devices that allow users to walk up to three times faster, with a top speed of seven miles per hour. They use AI software to measure a user’s stride, then enable each shoe to adjust to that user’s Gait Cycle. Last year, they were named by TIME as one of the Best Inventions of 2023.

      OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester says, “We are eager to be the first convention center to pilot this impressive technology and see how its numerous uses can benefit our event staff and the efficiency of our shows…Through the pilot testing of the Moonwalkers, we can create a more efficient and less taxing method of travel for our team members who often walk miles around our large campus.”

      Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming Promote New Strategies to Fight Human Trafficking

      Jan. 10th, 2024—The commitment towards fighting human trafficking has been important to Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming for years. They are announcing their “new support tools for victims and those at risk, a youth education program, new trainings to help Team Members combat and prevent human trafficking, and work with new community partners to create a greater impact.” Through organizations and innovations like Twentyfour-Seven Inc, Hard Rock Social Identity Quest and other programs launching in 2024, Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming are demonstrating corporate social responsibility (CSR). Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and CEO of Seminole gaining, expresses how important it is to commit to CSR.

      “We are deeply committed to the work our community partners provide for those at risk, victims and survivors of human trafficking in the United Stats and around the world as we work together to combat human trafficking,” says Allen.

      Pechanga Partners with the LA Rams for Those in Need

      Jan. 9th, 2024—Pechanga Resort and Casino partnered with the LA Rams and the LA Regional Food Bank in December, 2023, to launch the 4th annual Drive Thru Food Distribution at SoFi Stadium, resulting in an estimated 60,000 meals distributed to families in need. These acts of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are inspirational as we enter into a new year.

      “We are thankful for the opportunity to help our neighbors in need in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California,” said Ken Perez, president of the Pechanga Development Corporation. “We appreciate our partners and their generosity in supporting our community.”

      The Venetian Resort Las Vegas launches Venetian Rewards

      Jan. 9th, 2024—The new Venetian Rewards is launching in March from The Venetian Resort Las Vegas to promote their loyalty program for both gaming and non-gaming visitors. This means even if visitors aren’t gamers, there are other ways to earn Rewards Points.

      “Venetian Rewards marks yet another milestone in the ongoing evolution of The Venetian Resort,” says Patrick Nichols, president and chief executive officer of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas. “This all-new program continues to provide the best access for our gaming customers and enhances earnings on experiences including gaming, dining, entertainment, our world-class spa and more, for all of our guests.”

      ConferenceDirect Partners with Reposite

      Jan. 9, 2024− ConferenceDirect has announced its partnership with Reposite, which functions as a tool for Travel and Event planners, allowing for a streamline of communication, supplier discovery, creating RFPs, and building proposals.

      “We’re thrilled to welcome ConferenceDirect into the Reposite community!” says Alexa Berube, Co-Founder of Reposite, “By integrating our robust platform and planning tools with ConferenceDirect’s extensive service offerings, we are setting a new standard for excellence and efficiency. We look forward to seeing how this collaboration elevates the meetings & events industry as a whole.”

      ConferenceDirect is based out of Folsom, California and is a full-service meetings solution company.

      Mexico Cuts the Ribbon on El Tren Maya

      Jan. 8, 2024−Mexico has unveiled El Tren Maya (The Maya Train) which will run on a 290-mile track across the Yucatán peninsula. This will be the first installation of the project with future plans of adding 600 miles to the track.

      El Tren Maya will serve as a literal vehicle to increase tourism as it connects some of the most scenic and visited attractions in Mexico, yet the possibilities of the 600-mile track expansion can have a much larger impact. Transportation to less accessible regions can broaden the opportunities for less visible communities on the Yucatán peninsula to boost their economy with tourism and hospitality and provide resources for the region’s expansion and growth.

      “There is a large section of the interior of the peninsula that doesn’t have highways or roads,” says Marilyn Masson, professor of anthropology at the University at Albany SUNY. “In the more remote sections, the train could potentially help these communities be better connected to the outside world.”

      AHLA Foundation Launches New Scholarship Application Portal for Hospitality Students

      Jan. 8, 2024—American Hotel and Lodging Association’s charitable partner AHLA Foundation recently launched a new platform to ease its scholarship application process. In addition to improving the user experience, the new portal features a built-in eligibility assessment that lets students access every Foundation-hosted opportunity for which they’ve met the qualifications.

      The Foundation’s new system also lets students apply for multiple scholarship opportunities in one application. In addition to the management of the Incoming Freshman Scholarship and the Opening Doors to Opportunity Scholarship, eight other scholarships have been added to the new portal as well:

      • Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students
      • Rama Scholarship for the American Dream Program
      • American Express Scholarship Program
      • Ecolab Scholarship Program
      • Karl Mehlmann Scholarship
      • Banks Brown Graduate Scholarship Program
      • Arthur J. Packard Memorial Scholarship Program
      • Stephen P. Holmes Scholarship

      You can learn more here: ahlafoundation.org/scholarships

      Seattle Convention Center Summit Building Earns LEED Platinum Certification

      Jan. 4, 2023—The Seattle Convention Center (SCC) Summit building, which opened in January 2023, becomes one of the few convention centers in North America to earn LEED Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) under its New Construction (v3) rating system. SCC has been consistently committed to environmental sustainability in its facility operations, and this certification affirms its continued efforts.

      Summit’s LEED certification marks SCC’s third—Arch at 705 Pike achieved LEED Silver certification for Operations and Maintenance, and Arch at 800 Pike earned LEED Silver certification for Sustainable Construction Practices, Furnishings and Equipment.

      We are honored to be awarded LEED Platinum for the Summit building,” says SCC President & CEO Jeff Blosser. “The Center holds itself to high standards across its campus, and this certification recognizes the incredible measures we’ve undertaken to ensure our energy efficiency, water saving, transportation options, and broader systems in Summit operate in accordance with our environmental stewardship goals and provide our guests with a healthy, comfortable place to meet.”

      VisitLEX debuts Interstellar Tourism Campaign

      Jan. 3, 2023VisitLEX, the Lexington, Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau, teamed up with a team of Lexington scientists and scholars to use an infrared laser to beam an FAA-approved coded message pointed at a solar system 40 light years away reading, “Hey, Aliens! Look at Lexington.” The message was created by tourism officials along with experts in linguistics, engineering, astrobiology and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). It included a coded bitmap image with clues to the message’s origin and intent, as well as photos of Lexington and an audio recording from blues musician Tee Dee Young.

      The solar system receiving the message is 235 million miles away, so if aliens there were to receive it and choose to travel to Lexington, they would arrive in 2103. At the Lexington Visitor Center, people can leave a postcard in a time capsule, and the VisitLEX website also includes a space to leave digital greetings.

      Visit Anaheim Will Host IPW 2030

      Dec. 22, 2023Visit Anaheim has announced in a press release that the city has been chosen by the U.S. Travel Association to host the 2030 IPW, the nation’s leading international inbound travel trade show. Plan ahead and mark your calendars to attend IPW in the Southern California city of Anaheim from June 1-5, 2030.

      ” At IPW, nearly 100,000 appointments take place. It is a proven, cost-effective means to grow your international leisure travel business—no other trade show can offer the quality, contacts and access of IPW.” – IPW website

      Hospitality Network Invests in Upgrades to Fort Worth Convention Center’s Wi-Fi and Expansion

      Dec. 21, 2023Hospitality Network (HN), a Cox Business company and the telecommunications provider for Fort Worth Convention Center (FWCC), has announced its $895,000 investment that will be put towards upgrading FWCC’s Wi-Fi networks just as construction begins on the convention center’s expansion. HN and FWCC have been partnered since 2022. The partnership has aimed to elevate the guest experience through providing reliable connectivity and flexible technology pricing, aided by the City of Fort Worth’s investment of $317,000 in optical fiber. HN has led upgrades to 100 existing Wi-Fi access points across FWCC.

      HN will now add 120 new access points and lead the effort to increase bandwidth from 500 Mbps to 2 Gbps to provide faster, more reliable internet access that will support livestreams, remote presentations and event-specific apps.

      AREA15 Begins 20-Acre Expansion

      Dec. 21, 2023—Immersive art and entertainment district, AREA15, only moments from the Las Vegas Strip, has announced that it has begun construction to add 20 acres to the site’s north, along Interstate 15. AREA15’s main building complex is known for its immersive experiences, such as Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart and Five Iron Golf.

      The district expansion will offer a new year-round horror entertainment experience, Horror Unleashed, as well as indoor skydiving, spearheaded by Universal Destinations & Experiences. Alongside these experiences will be 450,000 sq. ft. of retail  and food and beverage space. Over 85,000 sq. ft. will be dedicated to pop-ups and outdoor experiences. In the coming year, AREA15 will announce additional partnerships and tenants.

      “Consumers continue to gravitate toward artful new forms of entertainment providing immersive experiences, authentic connections and real emotions,” says CEO of AREA15 Winston Fisher. “The demand continues to grow, and we are ready to dive in to this substantial expansion and find more partnerships that will have a lasting impact on the AREA15 District and the City of Las Vegas.”

      IACC and Kampfire Partner to Reshape Audience Engagement

      Dec. 21, 2023—The International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) and Kampfire, an attendee engagement web app based on AI-generated personalized event content, have announced a strategic partnership to implement Kampfire’s system to reinvent audience engagement and the conference attendee experience. Kampfire’s system matches personalized content to attendees while keeping attendee privacy intact, and IACC is committed to using it to enhance the conference and event experience.

      Kampfire CEO Asaf Shuster says, “Our innovative AI-driven platform, designed to curate personalized experiences, perfectly complements IACC’s vision of delivering exceptional meeting experiences.”

      Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, says, “We are thrilled to join forces with Kampfire to bring a new level of engagement to our conferences. This collaboration aligns with our mission to continually enhance the value we provide to our members and the entire business event community.”

      Jamaica Tourism Industry Sees Record-Breaking Recovery and Growth

      Dec. 18, 2023—The Honorable Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica‘s Minister of Tourism, has announced that the island is set to record 4.1 million visitors and USD $4.265 billion in earnings for 2023, during an update on the sector in the House of Representatives on Dec. 12, 2023. Jamaica’s tourism industry has experienced a robust growth trajectory in visitor arrivals and tourism earnings throughout the past year, and the Bartlett expressed that these trends seem set to continue throughout 2024. “This continues the spectacular growth pattern of tourism, with 10 consecutive quarters of substantial growth since the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says. “Based on arrival figures to date, all indications are that we will be having an 11th quarter of significant expansion.”

      The expected generation of USD $4.265 billion for 2023 is an increase of 17.8% from 2022, and an increase of 17.2% from 2019 pre-pandemic levels. These earnings come from a combination of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) fees, Departure Tax, Airport Improvement Fee, Airline Passenger Levy, Passenger fees and charges and the Guest Accommodation Room Tax (GART). Bartlett also expressed gratitude for the contributions of all tourism stakeholders for their success, including tourism workers, the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and other local and international partners. The Ministry, its public bodies and all tourism partners, he expressed, are committed to fostering sustainable growth and resilience for Jamaica in order to maintain its position as a premier travel destination.

      PCMA Announces 2024 PCMA Visionary Awards Lifetime Achievement Honorees and Professional Excellence Finalists

      Dec. 18, 2023PCMA‘s annual Visionary Awards were established to honor outstanding professionals in the business events industry. The company has announced the recipients of the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Professional Excellence finalists. This years ceremony to celebrate the 2024 recipients will be held Thurs. April 11,  2024, during Business Events Industry Week at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C.

      The 2024 Lifetime Achievement Honorees are:

      • Stuart Levy, Associate Professor of Management, George Washington University
      • Greg O’Dell, President, Venue Management, OVG360
      • Elizabeth Tovar, President, Turenlaces
      • Butch Spyridon, Former CEO, Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp (NCVC)

      At the ceremony, 21 Professional Excellence finalists across seven categories will also be recognized and honored, and the recipient for each award category will be announced. The categories and finalists are:

      Business Event Strategist of the Year

      • Matthew Wales, CMP, CAE, Vice President, Event Services, American Trucking Associations
      • Stuart Ruff-Lyon, Chief Events and Sales Officer, RIMS
      • Anh Nguyen, Principal, Spark Event Management Inc.

      Community Advocate of the Year

      • Dr. Michael Time, CEO, TIME TALKS
      • Anna Williams, Director, DMC Network
      • Dana Johnston, Director, Corporate Strategic Partnerships, American Gastroenterological Association

      Digital Experience Strategist of the Year

      • Shawn (Yih-Hsiang) Cheng, Co-Founder, #EventProfsBreakShit
      • Emily Stephens, CMP, DES, Meetings & Special Projects Manager, American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians
      • Sara Stehle, CAE, CMP, Owner, Independent Planner, Wow Moments Experience & Event Design

      Event Designer of the Year

      • David Hidalgo Ayala, CEO & Co-Founder, Tree Alliance
      • Jasmine and Tyra Dyson, Founders, The Brand Xperience, Boss Up Girl Co.
      • Kathy Lovato, Director of Scientific Meetings and Events, American Physiological Society

      Groundbreaker

      • Robin Troutman, Interim Executive Director, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
      • Beth Surmont, FASAE, CMP Fellow, CAE, Vice President of Business Event Strategy & design, 360 Live Media
      • Rory Archibald, Senior Business Events Manager, Visit Scotland

      Outstanding Service to a Chapter or Region

      • Marcus Eng, CMP Fellow, DES, Director, Meeting Operations and Technology, American Public Transportation Association (Capital Chapter)
      • Jimmy Le, Event Program Manager, IEEE Communications Society (New York Chapter)
      • Shelby Candrea, CMP, Meetings Manager, ASTM International (Greater Philadelphia Chapter)

      Supplier of the Year

      • Eric Kincaid, Vice President, Sales, Choose Chicago
      • Doug Bennett, Executive Vice President, Louisville Tourism
      • Yurii Land, CMP, Senior Strategic Account Director, Maritz

      ASAE Invests in Research on “The Power of Associations”

      Dec. 18, 2023—The ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Board of Directors recently approved a strategic investment to conduct quantitative research on “The Power of Associations.” Research will include national-, state- and congressional district-specific data on associations’ impact as employers and economic drivers through meetings and events. This research is intended to help ASAE and the broader association community with data that will support the economic impact of associations. Oxford Economics company, Tourism Economics, will be ASAE’s partner in this initiative.

      At the upcoming ASAE Congressional Fly-In, taking place Mar. 5-6, 2024, the company plans to have significant findings to share; it plans to release additional findings during the 2024 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition, Aug. 10-13, 2024. The company plans to release yearly updates to data shared with Capitol Hill and other audiences upon the completion of this research initiative.

      Hot Springs Connection Conference Will Be Held at Newly Opened Murrieta Hot Springs Resort

      Dec. 15, 2023—From Jan. 8-11, 2024, the fifth annual Hot Springs Connection Conference will be held at Murrieta Hot Springs Resort nearly a month prior to its official opening. As the official conference of the Hot Springs Association, it is a space for hot spring resort and spa professionals to come together an elevate one another. Murrieta Hot Springs Resort’s highly-anticipated debut marks the reopening of a historic hospitality space formerly closed to the public. It will offer 23,536 sq. ft. of meeting space.

      Destinations International Announces Milestone Global Expansion

      Dec. 14, 2023—As the year comes to a close, Destinations International (DI) celebrates its considerable global expansion over 2023, with the addition of 107 new member organizations. The company’s global reach now spans 30 countries and territories and totals 720 destination members around the world.

      “The roles of destination organizations have never been more vital for their communities and our global community of over 7,500 industry professionals are able to utilize a dynamic platform for destination member teams to connect and promote best practices,” says DI President and CEO Don Welsh.

      DI board chair and President and CEO of New York City Tourism + Conventions Fred Dixon says, “Our global membership base allows destination leaders to collaborate, share insights and collectively enrich the lives of those who live, work and travel within their destinations. The power of travel unites us.”

      The news was announced during DI’s board meeting on Dec. 13, 2023, in Tampa, Florida.

      Cathay Pacific Brings First-Class Service Back to New York

      Dec. 14, 2023Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s home airline, a division of travel lifestyle brand Cathay, has announced that it will recommence first-class service in flights between Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) beginning on Mar. 31, 2024. The first-class experience will include a range of upgraded amenities such as spacious and comfortable private suites, a reimagined dining service, complimentary Wi-Fi and enhanced in-flight entertainment system. A partnership with organic brand Bamford provides sleep amenity kits, natural skincare products, sustainably-sourced luxury bedding and a selection of pillows, and flights will also offer a turndown service.

      Flights depart from JFK at 2:55pm and arrive at HKG at 6:55pm the following day; flights departing HKG will leave at 9:05am and arrive in JFK at 1:15pm on the same day. This upgraded first-class experience aims to further the airline’s commitment to the North American market and offer an exceptional long-haul flight experience for those traveling between the two major destinations.

      Fontainebleau Las Vegas Finally Opens Its Doors

      people walking through hotel lobby
      Fontainebleau Las Vegas’ grand opening celebration on Dec. 13, 2023. Photo: David Becker/Getty Images

      Dec. 14, 2023—After nearly 20 years of anticipation, Fontainebleau Las Vegas has become a reality, kicking off a ribbon cutting Dec. 13 followed by a day of celebration on the property attended by Las Vegas executives, local government officials, community dignitaries, and A-list celebrities, from musicians to actors.

      Fontainebleau Development Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Soffer joined Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on stage to receive the Key to The Strip, declaring Dec. 13 “Fontainebleau Las Vegas Day.”

      “Welcome to the Fontainebleau Las Vegas era,” Soffer said. “Today, we open our doors to the world, and welcome our first guests to experience the pinnacle of luxury hospitality. It’s fitting that Las Vegas is a city of dreams and possibilities, as this resort stands as a symbol of perseverance, our unwavering commitment to excellence, and our belief in the transformative power of genuine, world-class hospitality.”

      The 3,644-room property opened to the public just before midnight on Dec. 13.

      Cypress Planning Group Acquires Vicki Johnson & Associates and Johnson’s Retirement

      Dec. 12, 2023—Leading independent meeting services and hospitality group Cypress Planning Group has announced its acquisition of D.C.-based national conference and event planning firm Vicki Johnson & Associates. Vicki Johnson celebrates her retirement, saying, “I look forward to this next stage in my life, knowing that the level of care for our clients and team will be sustained.” Johnson’s career has spanned over four decades, and throughout she has developed a reputation of professionalism, loyalty and excellence.

      Both Cypress Planning Group and Vicki Johnson & Associates are woman-owned firms known for their client-centric philosophy and esteemed industry knowledge. Cypress Planning Group’s acquisition of Vicki Johnson & Associates expands their geographical footprint, talented team and ability to deliver incredible experiences for its clients around the country. Johnson has committed to remain involved with the integration of the team at Cypress Planning Group throughout the next year to operate a seamless transition.

      Freeman Announces CEO Succession Plan

      Dec. 11, 2023—Global event leader Freeman has announced that upon its current CEO, Bob Priest-Heck’s, retirement in 2024, he will be succeeded by the company’s president, Janet Dell. Priest-Heck has served the company for 15 years, and upon his retirement, will continue to sit on the Board of Directors. Dell joined Freeman in 2018 and has been instrumental in reshaping the company’s workforce and amplifying productivity coming out of the pandemic.

      Priest-Heck says, “[Dell] has instilled a data-driven approach to decision-making, cultivated an integrated operating model to drive better cross-team collaboration and customer experience and made meaningful strides to expand and diversify our workforce. Janet’s leadership and compassion are unmatched, and I look forward to seeing her lead Freeman in this exciting and dynamic time for the company and the events industry at large.”

      Biden Administration Approves $6 billion for Two California Rail Projects

      Dec. 6, 2023—The Biden Administration has awarded $6 billion in funding via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to the California High-Speed Rail Authority for the state’s high-speed rail project in the Central Valley and to create a connection between California and Southern Nevada. This is the largest grant the Authority has ever received.

      Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a $3.07 investment for a 171-mile route connecting Merced to Bakersfield, expected to be in operation between 2030 and 2033 and will be the world’s first solar-powered high-speed rail line. The project’s end goal is to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles via high-speed rail.

      Additionally, $3 billion has been granted to the 218-mile Brightline West project from Las Vegas to Southern California, scheduled to begin operation by the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

      “The dream of American high-speed rail is about to become reality,” said U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition Co-Chair Ray LaHood. “We greatly appreciate the commitment of the Biden Administration, our Coalition members and many others who have worked hard to spark America’s high-speed rail revolution.”

      Omni Hotels & Resorts and Groups360 Expand Instant Group Booking

      Dec. 5, 2023—Today, Omni Hotels & Resorts and Groups360, a company that offers planners simple group booking with their integrated technology solution GroupSync, announced the expansion of GroupSync Instant booking at all Omni properties across the U.S. and Canada. With this expansion, event organizers can book 10-25 guest rooms for groups directly online in a single transaction. Automation and direct data integration provide real-time group rates and room availability, simplifying a formerly complex and time-consuming process. Group travel organizers and planners can sign up for a free Groups360 account on groupsync.com.

      Alaska Airlines Plans to Buy Hawaiian Airlines in a $1.9 Billion Deal

      Dec. 4, 2023—On Sunday, Dec. 3, Alaska Airlines announced an agreement to buy Hawaiian Airlines in a $1.9 billion deal, in cash and stock. The companies agreed that Alaska will pay $18 per each share of Hawaiian Airlines, after the latter company’s stock closed the Friday prior at $4.36, and had earlier lost over half its value throughout the year.

      The deal is still subject to approval by federal regulators, but officials from both companies maintain that it would create a stronger company, as Alaska and Hawaiian Airlines have few overlapping routes.

      Notably, this merger would maintain each airline’s individual brands, unusual for a merger of this kind. Though the brands of each airline would remain the same, both would be integrated into one operating platform. The merger would also expand flights between Honolulu and a number of continental U.S. as well as international locations.

      VISIT DENVER Achieves EIC’s Sustainability Event Standards Certification

      Nov. 28, 2023VISIT DENVER is the first destination to achieve PLATINUM Level certification to the Events Industry Council (EIC) Sustainable Event Standards.

      The EIC Sustainable Event Standards are a collection of eight specific standards for advancing environmental and social responsibility in the events industry, with four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Destination is one of the eight standards. They were created by the EIC Sustainability Committee in partnership with industry professionals and sustainability leaders. The standards assess performance criteria in the areas of organizational management, marketing, communications and engagement, climate action, water management, materials and circularity, supply chain management, diversity, equity and inclusion, accessibility and social impact.

      Incentive Research Foundation Elects Officers for 2024

      Nov. 28, 2023The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), which funds and promotes scientific research, awareness and application of motivation and incentives in global business and industries, has announced appointments to its 2024 Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. The term will begin Jan. 1, 2024. The Board of Trustees represents a cross section of the incentives, rewards and recognition industry, and works to further IRF’s mission to advance research and education that illuminate the power of incentive and motivational programs.

      Appointments to the IRF Executive Committee are:

      • ChairSusan Adams, Vice President, Engagement Strategy & Corporate Services, Next Level Performance
      • Chair ElectMorgan Crain, Senior Program Manager, Reward and Recognition, Rubrik
      • Treasurer & SecretaryChris Johnson, Director – Global Travel, Enterprise Events, and Sports Partnerships, Land O’Lakes
      • Member at LargeKelsey Nicol, Director of Business Development, North America, Mutika, an Experience Management Company
      • Immediate Past ChairMark Alt, Vice President, Maritz

      Appointments to The Board of Trustees are:

      • Cosimo Bruzzese, Vice President of Business Development, Global Sales, PRA
      • Min Choi, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Germania Insurance
      • Karen Devine, CEO & Founder, 3D Cruise Partners
      • Rudy Garza, Vice President of Operations, Brightspot Incentives & Events 
      • David Gould, Managing Director, Europe, 360 Insights
      • Sarah Haines, Senior Vice President Event Management, ITA Group
      • Rutger Hoorn, Vice President, Global Sales & Strategic Partnerships, Ovation Global DMC
      • Patricia Kerr, AVP, Meeting & Event Management, Nationwide
      • Jennifer O’Mara, Account Director, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
      • Lynn Randall, Randall Insights
      • Amy Rippelmeyer, Global Luxury Account Executive, Marriott International Luxury Brands
      • Richelle (Taylor) Suver, Chief Revenue Officer, One10
      • Bich-Lien Kaldahl will continue to serve as Airline Advisor to the Board of Trustees

      President Bill Clinton and 67th Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Will Speak at PCMA Convening Leaders 2024

        Nov. 20, 2023—At PCMA‘s flagship education and networking event Convening Leaders 2024, which will take place at the San Diego Convention Center from January 7-10, 2024, President Bill Clinton and 67th Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will open day two, January 9, in a morning session conversation. They will deliver an exploration of leadership, international relations, the global economy and the important role meetings and events play in supporting the free exchange of ideas and democracy.

        PCMA and CEMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat, CAE, says, “Over the years, PCMA has had the pleasure to welcome many incredible speakers for convening leaders. I am absolutely delighted to welcome President Clinton and Secretary Clinton with a platform to share their reflections on pivotal moments in history, discuss pressing global challenges and illustrate the path towards an inclusive, sustainable future for all.”

        EIC Opens Registration for CMP Advance 2024

        Nov. 20, 2023—The Events Industry Council (EIC) has opened registration for the CMP Advance 2024, a two-day networking and learning event that will be held at Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Canada from March 11-13.

        The event, centered around the CMP Domains organized within EIC’s pillars of People, Planet and Purpose, is open exclusively to CMPs. There, attendees will take part in peer-to-peer learning, impactful learning sessions on how to deliver tangible take-home value at events and see keynote speeches from industry innovators. By attending CMP Advance, attendees can earn CE credits towards their recertification.

        “CMP Advance brings together visionary leaders and professionals who are passionate about our industry, our future and the economic and social impact spurred by events worldwide,” says EIC CEO Amy Calvert. “This is an important annual opportunity for the CMP community to meet, connect and continue their professional growth journey.”

        Omni Hotels & Resorts Enhances Select Guest Loyalty Program

        Nov. 16, 2023Omni Hotels & Resorts has announced a 2024 relaunch of their Select Guest Loyalty Program with numerous enhancements aimed to help guests achieve and retain Select Guest Status more quickly and easily. Select Guests already earn rewards, or Omni Credits for each night of their stay, and earn a free night at any Omni property for 100 Omni Credits. In addition to earning rewards for each night of their stay, loyalty members will now also earn rewards every time they dine at an on-site restaurant, play a round of golf, visit the spa, or charge select items to their room.

        The relaunch also introduces a redesigned tier system, progressing from Member, to Insider, to Champion, to Icon Status. Each subsequent tier offers increasing levels of recognition, benefits and free nights. Select guest status will be determined by a member’s on-property spend accumulated each calendar year. The Status tier a member achieves by the end of 2023 will be honored for 2024.

        AHLA Survey Shows Positive Trends for Hotels, and Fuels Calls for Congressional Measures to Help Hire More Workers

        Nov. 16, 2023—In September, a survey of 4,006 U.S. adults, commissioned by AHLA and conducted by Morning Consult, showed numerous conclusions that hotels are seeing business on the rise. 81% of those surveyed say that hotels are their top lodging choice. 55% of respondents who expect to travel for leisure during the last three months of 2023 plan to say in a hotel, and 68% of respondents whose jobs involve travel say that they are likely to travel overnight for business during the last three months of 2023—a 9% rise from 2022. 45% of those surveyed say they are more likely to stay in a hotel this year in comparison to last year.

        All of these responses show rising business for hotels, following some years of pandemic turmoil. 71% of respondents say that their likelihood of staying in a hotel today is the same as prior to the pandemic.

        As hotel business returns to, and in some cases surpasses, pre-pandemic levels, the industry’s labor levels do not match this rise. Indeed shows there are nearly 85,000 open hotel jobs across the nation. In September, the national average hotel wages were $23.60/hour, and since the pandemic, hotel wages have increased at a rate of +24.6%, in comparison to a rise of +18.8% for average wages throughout the general economy.

        AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers says that there are a number of steps Congress can take to address workforce challenges, including establishing an H-2B returning worker exemption, passing the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act and passing the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act. “Hotels are going above and beyond to take excellent care of guests as travel approaches pre-COVID levels, and this survey underscores that,” he says. “To continue growing, [U.S. hotels] need to hire more people, but a national shortage of workers is preventing hotels from regaining all the jobs we lost to the pandemic.”

        Walt Disney World Resort Fiscal Year 2022 Shows Major Economic Impact

        Nov. 14, 2023—According to a new study recently announced by Oxford Economics, Walt Disney World Resort generated $40 billion in economic impact across its home state of Florida and over 25 million jobs in fiscal year 2022.

        As one of the world’s most visited vacation destinations, its not shocking that Disney makes a massive contribution to Florida’s overall economy and tourism and small business sectors. When the numbers are broken down, the real impact comes to light. Walt Disney World Resort’s workforce holds one out of every 32 jobs in the state. It also generated $6.6 billion in tax revenue, including $3.1 billion in annual state and local tax revenue. This revenue benefits local schools, public safety, law enforcement, parks, roadways and more throughout Central Florida. And over 8,500 small businesses across the country are contracted by The Walt Disney Company to supply products and services to Walt Disney World, including 2,500 based in Florida.

        President of Walt Disney World Resort Jeff Vahle says, “The numbers speak for themselves on why Disney is so important to fueling jobs, the economy and tourism throughout our region, and the future investments we’re looking to make will continue to provide even more opportunities for Floridians.”

         

        AIME 2024 Knowledge Program Theme Addresses “The 4Ps of GLOCALISATION”

        Nov. 14, 2023—The Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) gears up for its 2024 event, which will be hosted at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Center (MCEC) in Australia from Feb. 19 to 21, 2024. AIME has announced details of its Knowledge Program, based on this year’s theme of “The 4Ps of GLOCALISATION,” which is inspired by the AIME global community’s goal of increasing harmony between global insights and local nuances. These 4 P’s are People, Planet, Purpose and Profit.

        Attendees will attend breakout sessions throughout the event to learn about aligning a “glocalisation” mindset with the 4 P’s to achieve deeper brand engagement and sustainable business success. At the event, The Ideas Academy will serve as an intimate space for short, thought-provoking panel discussions and sessions, and will run continuously on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and Wednesday, Feb. 21.

        The Knowledge Program will launch on the first day of the event and will be hosted by BEAM Founder and Chief Engager and 2024 AIMEbassador El Kwang. AIME’s speaker bureau partners Saxton Speakers Bureau and ICMI Speakers and Entertainers will be joined by two keynote speakers: Lisa Ronson, an award-winning marketing executive well-versed in building strong consumer brands, leading high-performance teams and growing retail sales and market share; and Sebastian Terry, bestselling author, TV host and founder of the 100 Things movement, who will share how people can integrate individual evolution with professional development.

        Terry says, “To me, Glocalisation is the idea that the foundation to create a thriving and connected community is ensuring that we empower individuals and local teams to become the best version of themselves within a like-minded network.”

        Brightline’s “Bright Friday” Offers Ease Amidst High AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

        Nov. 14, 2023—On Monday, AAA released their annual Thanksgiving Travel Forecast which showed that Florida highways and airports will be the busiest in the nation. In metro areas, travel time is expected to take 80% longer than normal.

        However, the new intercity rail servicing Florida cities, Brightline, offers a “Bright Friday” package that can make Thanksgiving travel far easier for those who choose to travel around the holiday. The report’s top three domestic holiday travel destinations, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, are all connected by Brightline.

        The “Bright Friday” deals offer one-way adult fares between Orlando and South Florida starting at $59, and child fares starting at $29 with the purchase of an adult ticket. On Thanksgiving day, travel fares between Orlando and South Florida will remain at a flat rate of $39 for adults and starting at $19 for children. Customers can book round trip travel under this deal by booking each trip separately. The “Bright Friday” deal is available for booking from now until Nov. 27, for travel from now until Feb. 29, 2024.

        One10 and Cedara Partner to Support Sustainability and a Path to Net Zero

        Nov. 14, 2023—Leader in enterprise-level performance improvement solutions through travel, events experiential and marketing services, One10 has announced a strategic partnership with carbon intelligence platform Cedara. This collaboration aims to power One10’s path to net zero through addressing accurate carbon measurement and implementing reduction strategies. Cedara supports the industry initiative Ad Net Zero, which places reducing emissions from events as one of its key actions.

        The partnership with Cedara allows One10 to comprehensively map its corporate carbon footprint and verify its GHG (greenhouse gas) inventory with KERAMIDA, a CDP Gold Accredited Solutions Provider.

        CEO of One10 Bob Miller says, “This partnership will enable us to provide our clients with a comprehensive understanding of the carbon footprint associated with their event, empowering them to take meaningful steps towards a greener future.”

        CEO and Co-Founder of Cedara David Shaw says, “One10 has a large presence in travel and events management, and we are delighted that they chose Cedara to help reduce their emissions and make their events more environmentally friendly.

        “This partnership exemplifies One10’s commitment towards sustainability not only across travel and events, but also their incentives & recognition and marketing services solutions. We look forward to working with One10 to make a positive impact on the planet.”

        With the help of Cedara’s carbon measurement and reduction solutions, One10 clients will have the ability to reduce their environmental impact, enhance their corporate social responsibility profiles and engage with sustainability-minded stakeholders.

        Concord Hospitality joins Feed the Children to Deliver Meals Across North America

        Nov. 13, 2023 — Employees from Concord Hospitality hotels all over the country joined together on their 15th annual “Share Day” to donate 6,000 volunteer hours and 235,800 meals to those in need through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program and its partnership with Feed the Children. In addition, NBA hall of famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson was also a contributor. This collaboration resulted in 3,200 families receiving meals by the end of last weekend.

        “With a culture built on quality, integrity, community, profitability and fun, Concord strives to exercise its core values through our annual share Dar providing our team members with the opportunity to give back in the communities where they live and work,” says Debra Punke, chief human resources officer.

        Culinary and Bartenders Union Reach Tentative Deal with MGM Resorts International

        Nov. 9, 2023—After nearly seven months of negotiations, the Culinary Union and Bartenders Unions have announced a tentative agreement for a new five-year contract with MGM International just 24 hours before the strike deadline. Culinary and Bartenders Union members will now no longer be striking on Nov. 10, 2023, as previously announced.

        Over 24,000 of MGM Resorts International employees in Las Vegas, at eight MGM International Resorts casino resorts, including Aria, Bellagio, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, New York-New York and Park MGM, would receive the largest wage increases ever negotiated in the history of the Culinary Union. In addition, guest room attendants would receive workload reductions and mandated daily room cleaning. Other negotiated benefits include increased safety protections for workers on the job, expanded technology contract language, extended recall rights and the right for unionized workers to support non-unionized restaurant workers seeking to unionize.

        Further details are not yet available to allow unionized workers to first vote on whether or not to accept the contract. The membership will soon hold a ratification vote, the exact date of which is yet to be determined.

        EIC Announces CMP Scholarships

        Nov. 8, 2023—The Events Industry Council (EIC) just last week announced a new scholarship program to support industry professionals seeking to earn the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation. This designation is globally recognized as a badge of excellence for leading event professionals. Come January 2024, EIC will award five scholarships. Four types of scholarships will be offered: the CMP Scholarship, the CMP-HC Scholarship, the CMP Recertification Scholarship and the CMP-HC Recertification Scholarship.

        Applications will be accepted until Dec. 1, 2023. Applicants are required to have received confirmation of eligibility to sit for the CMP or be recertified before applying. Each applicant must fill out an online application and submit a 1,000 word essay and one letter of recommendation. Applicants must also submit proof of eligibility, details of which are included on the scholarship information page under the FAQs, separated by the different scholarships offered for the CMP, the CMP-HC and recertification. Three CMP Governance Commission members will then grade applications through a blind review.

        The CMP scholarship award will cover the application fee, exam fee and study books, and the CMP-HC scholarship will cover the CMP-HC application fee and exam fee. Awardees must take the exam within one year of approval notification.

        Albany Convention Center Authority Releases Economic Impact Report

        Nov. 8, 2023—The Albany Convention Center Authority (ACCA) releases the latest statistical findings in the economic impact of events hosted at the Albany Capital Center (ACC). The report showed a track record of achievement and a successful rise in attendee numbers, volume of events, revenue generation and more following the COVID-19 pandemic.

        Since its opening in March 2017, the Albany Capital Center has hostel 928 events, which together generated spending over $77 million, with $8 million sales tax generated between New York State and Albany County. The organization also made clear its commitment to equal opportunity employment, reporting a combined 58% participation of women and people of minority groups in its workforce.

        General Manager of the Albany Capital Center, Shannon Licygiewicz, says, “Since we opened our doors, it has become clear that the ACC fills a pivotal role in our community and makes critical contributions to Albany’s economic development…It is a great privilege for me to lead this talented team into a new era, where we will continue to deliver events that captivate our attendees and provide high-quality facility management services from ASM Global that consistently surpass expectations.”

        ACVB Organizes Thanksgiving Food Drive to Support Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency

        Nov. 8, 2023—The staff at the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) recently organized a Thanksgiving food drive to support Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency (ACSS). The ACSS empowers men and women who have experience homelessness and financial vulnerability through workforce readiness training, job placement and life stabilization services.

        New Orleans & Company Musician Database Officially Launches

        Nov. 8, 2023—The official tourism and hospitality destination sales, marketing and trade organization for the city of New Orleans, New Orleans & Company, has partnered with globally-acclaimed music platform WWOZ to officially launch the New Orleans & Company Musician Database. The database debuted on Nov. 7, 2023, and provides an online compendium of over 200 New Orleans musicians.

        Event organizers seeking live music and talented musicians for their New Orleans events now have access to a comprehensive resource where they can see bios, images, Spotify playlists, live performance schedules and personal URLs of these local musicians. The database will continue to evolve, welcoming new artists as they enter the New Orleans music scene. Planners can stay up-to-date with information about local artists as they organize events and feature these musicians.

        Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta Announces Partnership with CorePower Yoga

        Nov. 6, 2023Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta has announced a new partnership with CorePower Yoga in order to improve the wellness experience for guests at small meetings and events. Beginning in November and running through March, Hyatt Centric Buckhead with offer “Mindful Meditation” as an exclusive add-on.

        “This collaboration with CorePower Yoga perfectly aligns with the mindfulness ethos that defines Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta. We are thrilled to expand our partnership with CorePower Yoga, providing guests a rejuvenating and relaxing experience during their meetings, even during the winter,” said Devraj Gorsia, General Manager of Hyatt Centric Buckhead Atlanta.

        The guided sessions, that last between 15 and 30 minutes, offer guests postures for stretching and controlled breathing.

        Frontier Airlines Releases 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance Report

        Oct. 31, 2023Frontier Airlines released its Environmental, Social and Governance Report for 2022 today, which demonstrates their continued commitment to environmental stewardship, team-member diversity and well-being, community engagement and governance.

        The report showed that they conserved an estimate of 135 million gallons of fuel in 2022 by operating the youngest, most fuel-efficient fleet in North America, offering 102 available seat miles per gallon, installing 30% lighter Recaro seats and employing the latest engine technology in their Airbus A320neo family aircraft. They also are committed to purchasing millions of gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and transitioning to biodegradable in-flight products.

        The report also shows their commitment creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for employees and for customers. They have worked to provide an à la carte pricing model so customers can access affordable flights. They also are partnered with aviation industry employee advocacy groups, operate a management trainee program—which sees 80% female participation—alongside a pilot cadet program for young pilots, establish business resource groups to support their company’s diversity and support crew members’ choice to participate in unions or collective bargaining.

        “We strive to be the most environmentally sustainable airline in North America, which has led us to our current position as ‘America’s Greenest Airline,'” says CEO of Frontier Airlines Barry Biffle. “Furthermore, at Frontier, we believe ‘The Sky is for Everyone,’ a philosophy that extends to both our customers and our team members. Throughout this inaugural report, we aim to capture many of the initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to the pillars of ESG.”

        GMCVB Annual Meeting Shows Strong Trend in Securing Meetings and Events

        Oct. 30, 2023—At Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau‘s (GMCVB) annual meeting on Oct. 26, they shared how 2022/2023 fiscal year showed impressive success in securing meetings and conventions. From Oct. 2022 to Sept. 2023, the GMCVB sales team generated 3,280 leads for its hotel partners and a 56% surge in confirmed bookings. In the upcoming fiscal year, this trend is projected to continue with 446,000 room nights, which would be a 48% jump.

        GMCVB President and CEO David Whitaker says, “We saw a resurgence of Greater Miami and Miami Beach as a top destination for conventions, securing an impressive 14 new major event bookings to convene at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Our marketing teams helped fuel substantial successes, including the launch of Find Your Miami and Miami Beach – Find Your Wave campaigns.”

        The annual meeting saw attendance of over 750 people who learned about these trends and more of GMCVB’s many initiatives, including their continued commitment to a sustainable tourism industry.

        Moscone Center Awarded LEED Platinum Certification

        Oct. 27, 2023Moscone Center in San Francisco, the city’s convention center, has achieved LEED Platinum certification for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance. This is the highest level of LEED certification developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. This award also makes San Francisco the only city to have the most advanced LEED Platinum certification for both its convention center and airport.

        San Francisco Airport achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2022. Moscone Center is managed by ASM Global and has long demonstrated a commitment to sustainable practices and reduction of its carbon emissions per visitor.

        “We have always centered sustainability in our operations and business practices, and LEED Platinum certification is a milestone achievement that demonstrates the success of these efforts,” said Ken Bukowski, Director of Convention Facilities for the City & County of San Francisco. “Sustainability is built into the fabric of San Francisco’s infrastructure and psyche, and with this certification we’re proud to carry on this commitment as we continue to lead the way toward a greener future.”

        Next Phases of Maui Re-Opening Will Take Place November 1

        Oct. 27, 2023—Mayor Richard Bissen announced on Monday that the phased re-opening of West Maui following the wildfires will resume on November 1 with a combination of phases two and three. This space will extend from Kahana to Ka’anapali. The first reopening phase began on October 8, extending from The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua to Kahana Villa. This phase system of re-opening was implemented to allow Maui residents time to return to work, reestablish needed childcare, provide for a deliberate housing needs project for the thousands in temporary shelter and more.

        This decision arrives following extended discussions between the mayor’s Lāhainā Advisory Team, the American Red Cross and other partners as well as feedback from the local community. The announcement signals a moment for businesses and workers to prepare for a return to business.

        MC&A Celebrates 40th Anniversary

        Oct. 26, 2023—MC&A is a world-renowned destination and event management company in the Hawaiian islands specializing in English-speaking MICE markets. Founded in 1983, the company celebrated its 40th anniversary this past September.

        President and CEO Edward Kina says, our sense of purpose and unity grounds us, advancing together as a cohesive ‘Ohana.'”

        Over the past four decades, MC&A has established a reputation as a trusted expert destination management and event planning partner for everything from intimate corporate retreats to large conventions. In 2001, they expanded operations into the cruise business and remains the only company in Hawaii with a dedicated cruise ship department providing cruise ground services to major cruise lines and their partners. After 36 years of success in solely inbound Hawaii programming, in 2019, MC&A expanded to the U.S. mainland through a merger with DMC – Kuoni Destination Management USA.

        MC&A plans to recognize this special anniversary by organizing a series of special events and community outreach throughout the year.

        “With more than four decades in business, we firmly believe our roots are as significant as the path forward,” says Kina. “Our continuous evolution is intrinsic to our corporate DNA, bound to our heritage as caretakers of the environment and our culture.”

        Resorts World Las Vegas Is Now Powered by 100% Renewable Energy

        Oct. 25, 2023—Resorts World Las Vegas, in partnership with Nevada-based NV Energy, is now powered by 100% renewable energy sources, as part of its ongoing sustainability efforts.

        Resorts World Las Vegas has implemented several sustainable practices to this point that has led to its achieving the LEED Gold and GBAC certifications. The property also houses the largest amount of EV chargers on The Strip.

        “We are thrilled to have reached such an incredible milestone in our sustainability efforts after only two years of operation,” said Peter LaVoie, president of Resorts World Las Vegas. “The partnership with NV Energy has been integral in our efforts thus far and we look forward to continuing our commitment to our community and environment as we work to further implement impactful changes across the resort.”

        Alaska Airlines Announces New Nonstops for Summer 2024

        Oct. 2023 — Alaska Airlines has made the decision to add nonstop flights weekly to San Diego and daily to New York starting in May, 2024 and June 2024 respectively. They are now available for purchase at alaskaair.com. Jillian Simpson, president and CEO of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, encourages New Yorkers and Southern Californians to take advantage of the incredible summer activities Alaska has to offer.

        “Summer is an incredible time to visit Alaska with our warm, long days,” says Simpson. “There’s so much to do in Anchorage and in the smaller towns nearby.”

        According to the news release from Alaska Airlines, by mid-June they will be serving the following cities from Anchorage: Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York JFK, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

        ATL Airport District Celebrates Record-Breaking Success

        Oct. 23, 2023 — The ATL Airport District is the destination marketing organization for the cities of College Park, Hapeville and Union City, Georgia. After three years, their annual meeting at the Georgia International Convention Center was one of triumph and success. The them was “Standing the Test of Time,” and celebrated the District’s milestones, especially their 10th anniversary as a functioning CVB. President of the ATL Airport District Cookie Smoak enthusiastically comments on the success and promising future.

        “Through the highs, lows and unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic, we have not only survived but have thrived, putting the ATL Airport District on the map as a prime destination for both business and leisure travelers,” says Smoak. “Our partners and stakeholders have helped us shape the past decade and will undoubtedly pave the way for an even brighter future in the years ahead!”

        GES Becomes Official Partner of Event Sustainability Live

        Oct. 20, 2023 — With a shared focus on green events, Global Experience Specialists (GES) and Event Sustainability Live will be teaming up to implement sustainable business practices within the infrastructure of events. GES says they are focused on collaboration with other industry leaders and are excited about the partnership to continue their work in sustainability among the meetings and events industry.

        “We are excited to align ourselves with an event that meets with so many of our sustainability credentials. The shows will provide us with a unique platform to not only share best practices, but learn from other industry experts. Sustainability has become such a crucial part of what we do, we’re delighted to be able to support an event that is dedicated to making advancements and educating our industry,” said David Langrish, Vice President Marketing, GTES EMEA.

        Pendry Hotels & Resorts Creates New Holiday

        Oct. 19, 2023 — With locations across the country, Pendry Hotels and Resorts is showing appreciation for their culinary programs by establishing the first annual Chefsgiving. The most renowned chefs will come together from cities such as San Diego, West Hollywood, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and more to create a multi-course family style dinner. The proceeds from tickets will be donated to local charities in the true spirit of Chefsgiving.

        The Venetian Resort Las Vegas Plans for Convention Center Renovation

        Oct. 19, 2023 — Already one of the largest convention centers in the world, The Venetian Resort Las Vegas is undergoing a $118 million renovation to continue their reputation of being one of the top venues for meetings and events in Las Vegas.

        “Since inception, The Venetian Resort Las Vegas has led the landscape of meetings and conventions and remains at the forefront of this industry, so we’re thrilled to have this renovation elevate the property to yet another level to better serve our guests.” said Tony Yousfi, chief sales officer at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas.

        The renovation is expected to be completed by 2026 and will include a speak-easy invitation only style bar for a modern take on an old school Venetian classic aesthetic. Patrick Nichols, president and chief executive officer of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, explains the vision behind the renovation of The Venetian.

        “The finishes and amenities planned were thoughtfully curated based on feedback from our customers and will usher in a new era of Venetian Meetings and maintain our position at the forefront of the industry.”

        Japan Imposes Visitor Tax for Sustainable Tourism and Preservation

        Oct. 18, 2023 — While Japan’s hotels have already implemented taxes in their major tourism cities like Kyoto, taxes have extended to sight-seeing destinations such as Hatsukaichi. Home to the Itsukushima Shrine, one of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, tourists will now be charged a tax in an effort to support local tourism, preserve the sanctity of the shrine and protect the region from over-tourism that has exploded once Covid-restrictions became more lenient.

        “We are responsible for preserving nature, history and culture and passing them on to the next generations,” said Shunji Mukai, an official of the city’s planning and coordination division for Miyajima. “Without stable financial resources, we would face difficulties in surviving as a tourist destination.”

        Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Announces 2023 Give Back Holiday Program

        Oct. 17, 2023Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront has announced a give back program for the 2023 holiday season that includes donating food to those in need. The food will then be donated to the non-profit organization Clara White Mission in Jacksonville.

        “As the holiday season is right around the corner, we’re thrilled to offer a specialty promotion, allowing planners to get a jumpstart on their holiday event planning while benefitting a great cause here in Jacksonville,” said Brittany Doyle, Regional Marketing Manager at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

        The donations will be based on every carving station ordered for holiday events in 2023.

        Virginia Beach Launches “Happiness is a Real Place” Campaign

        Oct. 13, 2023—The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (VBCVB) has launched a new brand platform and marketing campaign, “Happiness is a Real Place.” This new campaign aims to connect travelers with their own perfect version of happiness when they visit Virginia Beach.

        Virginia Beach is already known for being home to the “world’s longest pleasure beach,” surf culture, natural amenities and an overall family-friendly destination. This campaign puts forward images and videos of visitors enjoying all of the destination’s top amenities, from dining out, to exploring the beach, to taking in the cities natural sites and local art.

        The campaign will debut this week in print and digital advertising, social media placements and 30- and 60-second broadcast segments. It will be accompanied by a pair of themed mini-campaigns on social channels: the “ViBe series, spotlighting art and culture with a vintage feel, and the “Cheat Meals” YouTube series, showing off Virginia Beach’s local chefs, restauranteurs and culinary range.

        Mesa, AZ is the First City in the World to Receive Wheel the World’s Destination Verified Seal

        Oct. 12, 2023Wheel the World, an inclusive online booking platform for travelers with disabilities, makes Mesa, Arizona the first city worldwide to receive its Destination Verified Seal. This seal affirms a destination’s accessibility through a comprehensive evaluation of all their local partners and the overall destination’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity.

        Wheel the World sends trained mappers to assess destinations through data gathered via WebApp, Wheel the World’s accessibility mapping system that amasses over 200 data points of accessibility-related information. That data then supplies travel service providers recommendations to enhance their infrastructure and access Wheel the World’s e-learning platform to expand learners’ knowledge of accessibility and disabilities.

        Wheel the World Co-Founder and COO Camilo Navarro says, “This milestone not only demonstrates Mesa’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity but also marks a significant step forward in our collective mission to make travel accessible to all.”

        Visit Mesa is dedicated to ensuring their location remains a leading inclusive and accessible travel destination. They have now partnered with Wheel the World to provide travelers to Mesa with advanced information on accessible experiences and itineraries personalized for their needs which can be accessed on both AccessibleMesa.com and WheeltheWorld.com

        “For Mesa to achieve the Destination Verified Seal shows that we are dedicated to promoting inclusive travel and showcasing practices that embrace accessibility,” says Alison Brooks, Vice President of Destination Experience and Advocacy at Visit Mesa. “Partnering with Wheel the World has provided us with education, resources and guidance that will ultimately help us with our mission towards becoming one of the most accessible destinations in the country. We look forward to adding more Mesa businesses to the Wheel the World marketplace thus providing more options to visitors of all abilities.”

        Greater Palm Springs Launches New Meetings Campaign

        Oct. 11, 2023Visit Greater Palm Springs (VGPS) has announced the launch of its new meetings campaign, “The Oasis is Real,” to highlight their position as a unique, vibrant meetings destination. Ahead of IMEX America, they will deploy the new campaign across the VGPS e-newsletter, print ads, digital advertising, engaging content pieces and e-blasts.

        The campaign aims to highlight the many diverse experiences available to a wide bracket of meetings and events. In Greater Palm Springs, attendees can enjoy a special blend of relaxation and productivity in a space that champions inclusion and welcoming hospitality.

        “Greater Palm Springs is more than just a beautiful place to visit—it’s a world-class destination with unforgettable experiences for every type of group,” says Colleen Pace, VGPS Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “From top-tier meeting facilities, award-winning hotels and resorts and exquisite dining options to endless outdoor event spaces like break-out sessions on a beach or an evening event with Coachella vibes—Greater Palm Springs isn’t a meetings mirage…the oasis is real.”

        Coastal Alabama Will Host Parrot Heads in Paradise’s 31st Annual Meeting of the Minds Convention

        Oct. 11, 2023—From Oct 24-29, Jimmy Buffett music lovers and lifestyle loyalists (known as parrotheads) will flock to the Alabama Gulf Coast for Parrot Heads in Paradise‘s 31st Annual Meeting of the Minds convention. For 30 years, the convention has been hosted in Key West. Following Buffett’s passing in September 2023, the convention will take on a special tone of remembrance in Buffett’s own home region.

        Along with a variety of concerts and social gatherings, the convention will offer breakout sessions, leadership growth opportunities and philanthropic efforts. The Skippin & Sippin 5k and 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk will take place at Lucy Buffett’s Lulu’s on Saturday, Oct 28 to benefit show and toy drive Bras Across the Causeway. Lulu’s will also host bloodmobiles for a blood drive.

        Michelle Russ, Vice President of Sales, Sports and Events for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports & Events, says, “This group knows how to throw a party with purpose, working to leave the destination better than when they arrived. Between the philanthropic events they are planning and the number of restaurants and venues they will be using, the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will feel the economic life during an otherwise slower time in the destination.”

        Las Vegas Launches New Business Ad Campaign

        Oct. 11, 2023—Las Vegas’s newest business ad campaign, titled, “Not Invited,” positions it as a location leading in creativity, optimism and ambition. The campaign features playful “un-invitations” to express the importance of innovation and visionary thinking in the meeting and events hub for corporate offsites and gatherings. Chief Sales Officer for the LVCVA Lisa Messina says, “This campaign captures how the unique energy of Las Vegas acts as the catalyst that drives innovation, change and engagement.”

        In addition to digital banners and a radio spot, the campaign has released two 30-second ads, “Not Invited” and “Offsite.”

        Messina says, “We regularly hear from leaders, planners and attendees that the opportunities to connect and inspire through the shared experiences that only Vegas can provide continues to drive their business forward and ultimately affects the bottom line.”

        InterContinental Hotels & Resorts Announces Global Brand Evolution

        Oct. 11, 2023IHG Hotels & Resorts is the world’s largest international luxury hotel brand boasting a unique portfolio of 479 properties in over 70 countries, with 93 new hotels and resorts in the works. As part of their luxury and lifestyle portfolio, InterContinental Hotel & Resorts embarks on a global brand evolution. InterContinental maintains a brand dedicated to luxurious yet familiar stays in major destinations that expand travelers’ minds and connect cultures.

        This holistic evolution includes a wealth of new offerings and experiences, a fresh brand culture, unique brand differentiators and an invigorating food and beverage and hotel design strategy. “This isn’t a rebrand or repositioning,” says Vice President of Luxury Brands at IHG Hotels and Resorts Tom Rowntree. “Rather, it’s a comprehensive transformation from start to finish of InterContinental, ensuring we stay at the forefront of crafting a luxury experience for the modern luxury traveler,” .

        Scientifically-backed food and beverage programs will help guests reduce travel fatigue and will reflect guests’ changing needs throughout the day. Guests will also receive access to Timeshifter, a jet-lag app that helps familiarize them with the latest circadian science to quickly adjust to new time zones. Neuroscience-based designer Isabelle Sjövall is collaborating with their resorts to enhance physical spaces to include restorative processes to combat travel fatigue.

        Their hotel lobbies will introduce Concierge Galleries which will bring interactive displays, library spaces, art installations and designer pop-ups to create natural and engaging interactions between the concierge and guests.

        The Incredible Occasions program will introduce intimate bookable spaces around the hotels where guests can celebrate special moments privately, with an array of programming and packages, amenities, beautiful tablescapes and private masterclasses. It will also offer guests the opportunity to book reimagined, highly curated Celebration Suites.

        Overall, this brand evolution aims to elevate InterContinental’s quality design and style with the idea of Cultivated Elegance at its center. “At its core, this brand evolution revolves around our exceptional team members globally,” says Rowntree. “Our colleague brand culture is grounded in InterContinental’s core belief that travel expands the mind. We unite in diversity and wherever you are in the world, you belong at InterContinental.”

        Harrah’s Las Vegas Celebrates 50th Anniversary

        Oct. 5, 2023—Harrah’s Las Vegas is celebrating its 50th year, and with this comes plenty of special prizes and offerings.

        Since its creation in 1992, the Harrah’s brand now includes 18 resorts in the Caesars Entertainment portfolio. The property recently underwent renovations to its guest rooms and areas throughout its casino floor. This will be followed up by a multimillion revamp of its main entrance and porte-cochere, scheduled for completion later this year.

        “For half a century, Harrah’s has provided visitors with a true Las Vegas experience featuring iconic names in entertainment and hospitality in the heart of The Strip,” said Dan Walsh, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Las Vegas. “The 50th anniversary wouldn’t be possible without the loyalty of our guests, support from the community and dedicated service from our Team Members. We look forward to celebrating with our guests as Harrah’s continues to be a must-visit destination with renovated hotel rooms, a modernized casino floor and new food and beverage offerings such as Ramsay’s Kitchen and The Lounge.”

        The anniversary specials include a social media sweepstakes, spa specials, entertainment and attractions specials, and F&B specials. Click here to for more information on these special offerings in celebration of Harrah’s 50th anniversary.

        Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, NV, Announces $1 Billion Private Capital Investment

        Oct. 2, 2023Grand Sierra Resort, in Reno, Nevada, will receive the largest private capital investment in the city’s history at $1 billion. Over the next decade, the 14-acre property will infuse the funding into a 300,000 sq. ft. arena with a capacity of over 10,000 seats to host events from concerts to basketball games and more. The resort will also invest in contemporary amenities including suites and premium hospitality clubs, as well as a comprehensive beautification of Grand Bay, where they will create a golf facility, entertainment destination, a scenic water path and a water show. Plans are also in the works for an 800-room hotel tower and one or more parking garages to accommodate the influx of guests these changes will bring. They will also construct approximately 300 affordable riverfront residences to support the growing workforce to support these new projects.

        Owner of Grand Sierra Resort Alex Merulo also announced an exploration of a partnership with University of Nevada, Reno’s president, Brian Sandoval, to potentially make the arena the university’s men’s basketball team home arena upon completion.

        Reno Mayer Hillary Schieve says, “This is an incredible and historic investment by Mr. Merulo and a true game-changer for our community. It’s a massive win for our citizens, a win for the University of Nevada and a win for tourism. Thank you, Mr. Merulo, for your vision and faith in our great community.”

        Tripleseat Acquires Attendease for Optimized Event Management Solutions

        Oct. 2, 2023Tripleseat, a leading innovator in cloud-based event management software for the hospitality industry, has acquired Attendease, a meeting and event software for enterprise and corporate event planners. This acquisition connects social and corporate event planners with event managers at restaurants and hotels to create a smooth planning process. The combined company will operate under the Tripleseat brand and will be managed by Tripleseat co-founder and CEO Jonathan Morse.

        Event planners now have access to a one-of-a-kind integration and a seamless experience to find and book venues and plan their events.

        “With this acquisition, we will expand our offerings with specialized and flexible event planning and management tools—for social and corporate event planners. Tripleseat will now be the one-stop shop for people to locate the perfect venue and manage and market their event,” says Morse.

        WTTC and Saudi Arabia Sign an MoU to Extend Partnership

        Sept. 28, 2023—The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to extend their partnership at Saudi Arabia’s World Tourism Day event in Riyadh, demonstrating Saudi Arabia‘s commitment to enhance its travel and tourism sector.

        This agreement follow the success of last year’s Global Summit in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia now commits $800 billion to put forward the opportunities their country offers to travelers around the world. The MoU, uniting private and public sectors in the effort to create growth, will help to advance the key objectives of job creation, talent development and global business opportunities in the travel and tourism industry. It will community empowerment and inclusion, elevate crisis preparedness and expand innovation, investment and the transition to a more sustainable travel and tourism sector.

        Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al Saud, Vice Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia said, “This collaboration highlights our commitment to fostering global business opportunities and talent development whilst underlining the vital role of public-private partnerships in shaping the future of Travel & Tourism.”

        Freeman and 42Chat Collaborate to Launch AI Customer Service for Events

        Sept. 28, 2023Freeman, a global events organization, has partnered with conversational AI provider 42Chat. Together, they have introduced conversational AI chatbots that will support attendee engagement at trade shows and conferences. Freeman customers can access these chatbots online or through SMS before, during and after shows to get help in real time, for instances such as finding registration, locating an exhibit and more.

        Executive Vice President of Audio Visual & Event Technology Operations at Freeman, Paul Fletcher, says, “42Chat’s AI technology is scalable, privacy compliant, accurate and easy to deploy, which makes it a perfect partnership for us and our clients.”

        Meet Boston Launches Workforce Development and Supplier Diversity Initiatives

        Sept. 27, 2023Meet Boston, the CVB for the Boston area, has announced a partnership with management consulting firm Conan Harris and Associates (CHA) to launch a workforce development initiative and supplier diversity initiative. It aims to increase diversity, bolster employee retention and enhance procurement processes. The initiatives will be continually informed and guided by The Black Economic Council of MA (BECMA), Urban League, Amplify Latinx and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

        The workforce development initiative will provide individuals with training opportunities to help them refine their skillsets and bridge the skills gap through local educational institutions, community organizations and industry partners. The supplier diversity initiative will expand Meet Boston’s suppliers and work to include businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans and other marginalized groups. With this group of suppliers, Meet Boston aims to drive economic growth particularly in communities that have been historically underrepresented in the tourism and hospitality industries.

        Executive Vice President of Meet Boston Hilina D. Ajakaiye says, “These initiatives are not just goals; they’re a commitment to enhancing Boston’s hospitality and tourism industry…[they] not only ensure exceptional experiences for visitors but also empower our diverse communities, promoting inclusivity, economic growth and a brighter future for every corner of our city.”

        Salt Lake City Will Host IITA Summit 2025

        Sept. 27, 2023—The International Inbound Travel Association (IITA) Board of Directors has chosen Salt Lake City out of seven bidding destinations to host its 2025 Summit, taking place February 9-12. The Summit will bring together hundreds of travel organizations to organize US itineraries and travel services for international visitors.

        Visit Salt Lake President and CEO Kaitlin Eskelson says, “Visit Salt Lake is honored to host IITA in 2025 and showcase Salt Lake and Utah to tour operators specializing in international markets as well as to our industry guests.”

        Hilton Salt Lake City Center submitted the winning big. Bids are evaluated based on the level of city and state support available, destination location and appeal, meeting staff and hotel rates along with numerous other variables. The Utah Office of Tourism, an active IITA member, has pledged its support.

        CEO and Executive Director of IITA Lisa Simon says, “Salt Lake City is an attractive destination for international visitors, particularly outdoor enthusiasts, and Utah is one of the most beautiful places in the country with all of the national parks.

        “We are thrilled to bring our group to Salt Lake in 2025 for our members—the leading U.S. inbound operators—to experience all the city and state have to offer.”

        Las Vegas Hospitality Workers Vote to Authorize a Strike Against Major Strip Resorts

        Sept. 27, 2023—On Tuesday, September 26, members of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165, which together represent 60,000 Nevada workers and are affiliated with the union Unite Here, voted to authorize a strike against 22 casino resorts. The vote saw a 95% approval rate. This closely follows September 15, when contracts for around 40,000 Nevada hospitality workers, including housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and servers, expired after a June extension; others face continuing contracts that can be terminated at any time.

        Since April, these workers have held negotiations with the resorts, demanding higher wages, more safety protections and stronger recall rates. The Nevada hospitality industry still waits to meet pre-pandemic employment and economic levels.

        MGM Resorts released a statement that expressed positivity they could come to an agreement, saying, “We continue to have productive meetings with the union and believe both parties are committed to negotiating a contract that is good for everyone.” Wynn Resorts and Caesars Entertainment have not released comments.

        This vote does not mean a strike will take place; first come the contract negotiations.

        It arrives on the eve of major upcoming sporting events, including Formula 1 with the Las Vegas Grand Prix in November, and the Super Bowl in February. The Las Vegas hospitality industry has long anticipated these events to provide a much-needed boost in their tourism economy.

        Choose Chicago, PCMA and United Airlines Announce Apprenticeship in Partnership with Tourism Diversity Matters

        Sept. 26, 2023—In an effort to lower barriers to a career in the hospitality industry, Choose Chicago has collaborated with PCMA and United Airlines, in partnership with Tourism Diversity Matters, to create the first Events Track apprenticeship for the 2023-2024.

        United will provide funding for the program and PCMA will provide the recipient with full-time employment in a coordinator-level position. During with apprenticeship, the selected applicant will be given an overview of Choose Chicago’s operation and the impact of tourism in its local economy, as well as career tracks focused on event planning and operations with PCMA and United.

        “The future of Chicago’s tourism and hospitality industry depends on connecting promising young talent to fulfilling careers,” Choose Chicago President and CEO Lynn Osmond said. “This apprenticeship program is one of the ways that we are working to establish a pipeline of talented young people who want to work in events, hotels, restaurants or other tourism-adjacent businesses. I encourage all of our partners to invest in workforce development, and lead by example by committing resources to career exploration and internship opportunities.”

        Learn more here.

        GeoEx Announces Top Travel Destinations for 2024

        Sept. 26, 2023—Travel company Geographic Expeditions (GeoEx) has announced their top recommendations on where to travel in 2024. This year’s focus is off-the-beaten-path treasures in countries that see less tourism than many, or little-explored regions of popular destinations. Read on for their 2024 top destinations and why:

        • Visit Algeria for rich artistic traditions and an eclectic culinary landscape. Visit UNESCO-listed Roman ruins, the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean coastline.
        • Visit Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom for mountain scenery, temples, festivals and a country committed to sustainable tourism development. Over 70% of the country is pristine forested landscape.
        • Visit Cambodia for luxury stays in a destination brimming with rainforest and jungle landscapes and ancient ruins.
        • Visit India to see the famous Himalayan landscapes, cliff-hanging monasteries and wildlife—including Bengal tigers, rhinoceros and water buffalo.
        • Visit Iraq to explore the ancient ruins of Mesopotamia, the architecture of Ur, Uruk and Ctesiphon, and the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.
        • Visit Japan, a major tourist destination, and explore the less-trekked areas of the Shikoku Island, cedar and pine forests, coastal beaches and crags and the isolated Iya Valley.
        • Visit Saudi Arabia to see the historic Al Balad quarter of Jeddah, the ancient sandstone monuments of Hegra and UNESCO-listed palaces at At-Turaif and neolithic rock art in the cliffs near Jubbah.
        • Visit Sri Lanka, now majorly recovered from a period of internal conflict, to enjoy innovative cuisine, dynamic history and incredible museums and monuments.

        Black Travel Summit Launches National Black Travel Day

        Sept. 25, 2023—Black Travel Summit (BTS) has introduced National Black Travel Day, a day dedicated to celebrate and honor global travel among Black travelers. The day is to be observed Nov. 11.

        “Black Travel Summit was founded with the aim of elevating and strengthening the presence of the Black travel community each and every day. With National Black Travel Day, we’re thrilled about this new call-to-action to recognize the importance of the global Black diaspora and culture in travel,” said BTS Founder and CEO Anita Francois.

        Francois chose Nov. 11 as the date to honor the birthdate of Jamaican American pilot Captain Barrington Irving, who, in 2007, became the first and only Black person to fly around the world on his own.

        BTS’ annual conference will take place Oct. 20-22 at Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami.

        Brightline Opens Between Orlando and Miami

        people celebrating on train station platform

        Sept. 22, 2023—Brightline’s newest route between Miami and Orlando opened today with a grand opening at its Orlando stop that included more than 500 elected officials, business leaders and community partners across Florida.

        Brightline launched in 2018 in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with its Boca Raton and Aventura stations opening last year. Between Miami and Orlando, the route will cover 235 miles over between three and 3.5 hours.

        The Brightline Orlando Station, the only intercity passenger rail station of its kind in the United States, is located inside Orlando International Airport (MCO) train station next to its new Terminal C. Economy fares from Orlando to Miami will begin at $79, offering 16 round-trips daily between the Orlando and Miami with hourly departures.

        Following this expansion, the company plans on taking operations to the West Coast with Brightline West, connecting travelers via high-speed fully electric trains between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The project is schedule to begin by the end of 2023.

        Salamander Collection Marks Debut of Virginia Resort Rebrand

        Sept. 21, 2023—Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, will now be called Salamander Middleburg under the newly rebranded Salamander Collection name. Last year, the company added another branded property in the nation’s capital: Salamander Washington DC, bringing the total number of properties in the U.S. and Caribbean to seven.

        “Salamander represents much more than hotels and resorts; for the past decade, our unique culture of inclusion, kindness and warmth, has created a genuine sense of belonging, which is why Salamander Collection is an even more fitting name for our company,” said CEO Sheila Johnson, who recently released her memoir: “Walk Through Fire.” 

        Omni Hotels & Resorts to Build Raleigh Convention Hotel

        Sept. 21, 2023—Based on a vote by the Raleigh, North Carolina City Council, the City of Raleigh staff will enter negotiations with Omni Hotels & Resorts to develop a convention hotel in downtown. The property will be built on an over one-acre lot across from the Raleigh Convention Center and Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts. With plans for 550 guest rooms and 55,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, the property is expected to open in 2027. It will add to Omni’s existing portfolio of over 50 luxury hotels, the third in the state of North Carolina and the first in the state’s capital city.

        Visit Salt Lake Becomes a Certified Autism Center

        Sept. 20, 2023—The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) has accredited Visit Salt Lake as a Certified Autism Center (CAC). In order to earn this certification, at least 80% of an organization’s staff must undergo specialized training and certification to gain the skills and knowledge necessary for understanding and catering to autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors and their families.

        For over 20 years, IBCCES had led the way in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education and corporate professionals around the world. It is the only organization to offer this type of certification, grounded in evidence-based training, the perspectives of autistic individuals, onsite reviews, customized recommendations and renewal requirements. Visit AustismTravel.com for a free list of Certified Autism Centers and other resources.

        This accreditation propels Visit Salt Lake’s efforts to create an inclusive community. A recent CDC report indicated that the autism diagnosis rate stands at one in 36 children, and that one in six people have a sensory need. Hospitality and entertainment options that have worked to become certified in catering to these guests are helping provide people with an incredible experience anywhere they travel.

        Brightline Partners with Mears Transportation and Avis Car Rental

        Sept. 20, 2023—Brightline and Mears Transportation have partnered to connect travelers between Brightline Orlando Station and destinations within the region. Mears’ transportation offering will be incorporated into Brightline’s booking service Brightline+, available on its app and website. Brightline users may also receive special rates when booking through Brightline’s new partner Avis Car Rental.

        Beginning Oct. 4, guests will be able to use Brightline+ Shared Connect Shuttle, which connects Orlando International Airport (MCO) to more than 25 resorts, and Luxury Private Ride to reserve transportation to and from MCO.

        “Last mile connectivity is an integral piece of the travel experience for our guests, Mears is the respected transportation leader in Central Florida and will be a valuable partner delivering our  Brightline+  service  in Orlando,” said Michael Lefevre, vice president of operations for Brightline. “Mears Transportation is familiar to Orlando travelers and a brand that aligns seamlessly with the level of hospitality our guests know and love.”

        Bizzabo Launches Bizzabo Studios in Partnership with Smyle

        Sept. 20, 2023Bizzabo, an event software for B2B conferences, has announced that they are partnering with award-winning creative agency Smyle to launch Bizzabo Studios. The new premium service will continue Bizzabo’s work of enabling incredible events through best-in-class technology, coupled with creative and operational expertise. The two companies have already successfully executed over 250 events for clients including Amazon, Salesforce, Financial Times and Lululemon.

        Modern event organizers face an uncertain economy that brings budget fluctuations and requires continuing shifts in marketing strategy. On a mission to deliver immersive experiences that put forward valuable content, facilitate relationships and meet business targets, these event organizers can access the creative and operational expertise of Bizzabo Studios and Bizzabo’s veteran team’s long track record of operating successful events around the globe.

        Visit Anaheim Launches New “Here We Go” Marketing Campaign

        Sept. 20, 2023Visit Anaheim, the official destination organization for Anaheim, launches a new marketing campaign, “Here We Go,” to showcase the destination in a post-pandemic environment, welcome old and new visitors and encourage travel. The campaign is directed to people traveling for both leisure and meetings and conventions.

        View the promotional video that kicked off this new campaign here.

        Events Industry Council Announces Recipients of 2023 Global Awards

        Sept. 20, 2023—Events Industry Council (EIC) has announced the annual Global Awards recipients for 2023. The awards recognize outstanding achievements and leadership at all levels and areas within the global business events industry.

        The award celebration will take place at Bellagio Resort & Casino Las Vegas on Monday, October 16 from 5:00-8:00 pm PDT.  Register here.

        The 2023 Global Awards Recipients are as follows:

        EIC Hall of Leaders 

        • Carina Bauer, CEO at Regent Exhibitions Ltd/IMEX Group
        • Barbara Connell, CMP Fellow, President and CEO at Solutions by Connell, LLC
        • Wanda Johnson, CAE, CEO at American Society for Parenteral & Enteral Nutrition
        • Steve O’Malley, Enterprise Vice President, Maritz Global Events
        • Amelia Roziman, CIS, CEO at Business Events Sarawak (BESarawak)
        • Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, CDME, CMP, Managing Director at 2Synergize, LLC
        • Dr. Deborah Breiter-Terry, CEM, Retired from University of Central Florida Rosen College of Hospitality Management

        EIC Pacesetter Award

        • Dale Hudson, CED, Event Specialist – Exhibitions & Conferences at Enhance Events

        EIC Social Impact Award

        • Geneviève Leclerc, Co-Founder and CEO at #Meet4Impact
        • Zoe Moore, CDP, CEO at Grow with Zomo

        EIC Adaption and Innovation Award

        • Megan Henshall, CMP, DES, Strategic Lead of Global Events Solutions at Google

        Meet Minneapolis Records Highest Weekly Demand for Hotel Rooms Since Fall 2019

        Sept. 19, 2023—From Memorial Day to Labor Day 2023, Meet Minneapolis reports, Minneapolis hotel room demand rose 11% since summer 2022. From Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, over 56,000 hotel rooms were occupied, and the weekend of June 23-24 set an all-time record for occupied hotel rooms at 19,531. This resulted in an increase of over 10% from summer 2022, at $107 million.

        This is due in part to large events in the city, such as the Taylor Swift concerts, Twin Cities Pride Festival and Kiwanis International Convention on the record weekend of June 23-24. Other events, such as USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships and Twins-Brewers saw a 96.3% occupancy rate on June 13. The Gay Softball World Series and Minnesota State Fair saw a 91.8% occupancy rate on Sept. 2.

        Meet Minneapolis is still at work to bring business travel back to pre-pandemic levels. Today, they launched a fall leisure tourism campaign directed at communities 15 to 300 miles from the city. Earlier this year, they launched another leisure tourism campaign, See What All the Fuss Is About. In late August, over 2,500 people, including about 900 meeting and event planners, attended the major events industry convention Connect Marketplace at Minneapolis Convention Center. Meet Minneapolis anticipates increasing requests for proposals for future events that will bring positive economic impact to the city.

        AHLA Expands Initiatives to Elevate Women in Hospitality with ForWard

        Sept. 19, 2023AHLA Foundation of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) announced a new initiative aimed at elevating women in hotel industry leadership and ownership. Upon a merger with Castell Project, under the name ForWard, which began as an AHLA event, the initiative forms one brand to offer resources, events, professional development opportunities and community-building forums that will help develop women leaders in the hospitality industry.

        Anna Blue, president of AHLA Foundation, says, “There is tremendous opportunity for us to do more to celebrate, champion and create community for women. AHLA Foundation is uniquely positioned to collaborate across industry and invest in women who are advancing hospitality.”

        The initiative will include:

        • ForWard BUILD & ELEVATE: a year-long curriculum of skills-based workshops, career coaching and leadership coursework (formerly Castell BUILD & ELEVATE)
        • ForWard Thinking: a speaker series for hospitality students to help them envision career opportunities (formerly Castell@College)
        • The ForWard Network: a community of woman leaders that brings together ForWard Ambassadors, friends of Castell and Castell Luminaries
        • The ForWard Conference: a continuation of the original AHLA Foundation event
        • The Peggy Berg Castell Award: an award to celebrate woman leaders in the hotel industry, named to honor the Castell Project’s founder (formerly the Castell Award)

        Register for the upcoming ForWard 2024 conference at AHLA ForWard’s site.

        AHLA and HAC Partner to Expand Green Key Global Sustainability Certification Program in the US and Canada

        Sept. 19, 2023—The American Hotel and Lodging Association (ALHA) and Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) today, at the Lodging Conference in Phoenix, announced that they have signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture company under the name Green Key Global, which will own and operate a sustainability certification program for the U.S. and Canadian hotel and lodging industry.

        The environmental certification will be based on an assessment and audit process that measures hotel performance in areas including, but not limited to, energy and water conservation, land use, hazardous and solid waste management and air quality. The certification criteria is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and aligned with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

        Green Key Global will begin operating in early 2024 as ALHA’s and HAC’s joint-venture company. President and CEO of HAC, Susie Grynol, says, “Through this partnership, Green Key Global will unite the hotel industry behind a North American standard of sustainable certification. Our best-in-class program will allow hotels to exceed the expectations of their eco-conscious travelers through a third-party validation of their sustainable practices.”

        Walter E. Washington Convention Center Awarded LEED Gold Certification

        Sept. 18, 2023—Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, D.C., announced that it has been awarded LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings Gold Certification for its variety of sustainable practices and programs, including water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) and provides an international symbol of excellence as a building rating system in the realm of design, construction and operational practices that improve environmental and human health.

        The Walter E. Washington Convention center uses low-emission glass to minimize temperature fluctuations, sensor-controlled high-efficiency lighting, bathroom fixtures that reduce the demand for water supply and waste systems and paints, adhesives and sealants with little to no volatile organic compounds. They also possess an extensive waste diversion program that emphasizes education, and recently conducted a waste audit to identify where they could further reduce waste and increase recycling and composting.

        In all 50 states and more that 185 countries, over 105,000 commercial and institutional projects, comprising over 12 billion sq. ft. of construction space, currently participate in LEED.

        Maritz Partners with EIC to Launch Sustainability Event Professional Certificate Course

        Sept. 18, 2023—Sales and marketing services company Maritz has partnered with Events Industry Council (EIC) to launch the Sustainable Event Professional Certificate (SEPC) introductory course for 48 members of their team at their recent brand event, Activate. They brought in Chief Sustainability Officer for the EIC Center for Sustainability and Social Impact, Mariela Bazán. 

        EIC launched this online certificate program in 2022 to help provide standardized training for event professionals interested in creating and accelerating sustainability and social impact in their organizations and events. Participants earn 12 hours of Continuing Education credits (CEs) towards their CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) application or recertification and 12 CAE credits.

        Posadas and Grupo Xtra Announces Two Resorts in Cancun

        Sept. 15, 2023—In a ceremony held in Quintana Roo, Posadas subsidiary Fiesta Americana Travelty and Grupo Xtra, began the construction of two properties on the Mayan Riviera: Live Aqua Riviera Cancun and Grand Fiesta Americana Riviera Cancun All Inclusive Resort & Spa.

        “At Posadas, we are deeply committed to Quintana Roo and sustainable economic growth,” said Posadas CEO Jose Carlos Azcarraga. “Our operations adhere to the most stringent sustainability standards, and we have implemented numerous environmental conservation initiatives. We will generate 2,000 new jobs in the region.”

        Posadas has 13 hotels in the Quintana Roo region under several of its brands, including Live Aqua , Curamoria Collection, one and more.

        The new hotels are anticipated to open between Q1 2025 and early 2026.

        Tennessee’s Davidson County Generated a Record $9.97 Billion in Travel Spend in 2022

        Sept. 15, 2023—Research from Tennessee’s 2022 Economic Impact of Travel revealed a visitor spend of $9.97 billion, a 35% increase from 2021.

        Visitor spend in Nashville, an average of $27 million per day, makes hospitality one of the city’s largest industries. According to the report, Davidson country saw an 30% increase—47,046 jobs—in tourism-related employment compared to 2021.

        “With nearly $10 billion in visitor spending last year, Nashville leads the way as the highest contributor to tourism spending across Tennessee, accounting for over one-third of visitor spending statewide and providing vital revenue to fund essential local and state government operations,” said Deana Ivey, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Our success is built on Nashville’s authenticity, the wealth of our remarkable assets, the power of the Music City brand and being a welcoming city.”

        Statewide, tourism in Tennessee generated nearly $29 billion in visitor spending and received 141 million visitors in 2022.

        Association Forum Announces Annual Flagship Event Theme

        Sept. 14, 2023—Chicagoland’s Association Forum has announced the theme of its annual flagship event, Holiday Showcase, marking its 35th anniversary.

        This year’s theme, Incubate, is meant to represent moving forward and is an invitation to attendees to play a part in creating an environment that promotes growth in the events industry.

        “Holiday Showcase has long been a pivotal event in the association community, and its 35th anniversary provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on its successes and embrace innovative changes,” says Callan Stapleton, CAE, executive vice president and president of business and education services for the Illinois Bankers Association and chair of the Holiday Showcase Program Advisory Group. “The new approach promises to revolutionize the way attendees engage with the event, as well as foster collaboration and inspire fresh thinking.”

        The event begins Nov. 29 and will consist of two days of keynotes, breakout session and a reception. Registration is now open at holidayshowcase.org.

        Visit Carlsbad Launches Free Transportation Service in Partnership with Circuit

        Sept. 14, 2023Visit Carlsbad, in partnership with on-demand electric car service Circuit, today announced the launch of Carlsbad Good Ride. This will be a free transportation program providing rides from lodging properties to key attractions to make travel through Carlsbad easier than ever. Visitors can book rides through the Circuit app.

        The pilot program will run through September 1, 2023 through April 1, 2024, on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 8:00pm. They plan to extend operation to every day from 10:00am to 10:00pm April 1 through August 31, 2024.

        Incentive Solutions Rebrands as Extu

        Sept. 13, 2023—Incentive Solutions today announced it has rebranded as Extu. The company is a provider of channel marketing and sales solutions that helps manufacturers and dealers increase sales, build customer loyalty and improve data collection. They help to provide a more complete view of the marketing channel. Extu plans to add additional product lines and services in the future.

        Steve Prebble, CEO of Extu, says, “Our rebranding reflects our new shared identity and the continued evolution of our company since the combination of Incentive Solutions and OneAffiniti. We are proud to provide our clients with more comprehensive solutions that we believe will help accelerate their growth.”

        NCBMP Announces 11th Annual State of Black Tourism Event

        Sept. 13, 2023—The National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP) announces that its 11th annual “State of Black Tourism” landmark event will take place on Thursday, September 21st, 2023, at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. The event will bring together industry professionals to participate in engaging discussion and networking centered around the topic of Black tourism. The event’s targeted learning outcomes include the impact of Black tourism on local economies, the preservation of cultural heritage and strategies to promote diversity and inclusion.

        The NCBMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to training African American meeting planners. It has advocated and promoted diversity and inclusivity within the tourism and hospitality industry for the past 40 years.

        NCBMP Executive Director Jason Dunn says, “We understand the power and influence of tourism to any economy, especially destinations, communities and partners that we consider friends. It is my aim to have a thoughtful conversation with President [Derrick] Johnson [President and CEO of the NAACP] and gain insight on how Black culture intersects with Black tourism.”

        MMGY Acquires Lieb Management

        Sept. 13, 2023—Industry Leader MMGY Global announced today that it has acquired Germany-based PR and marketing firm Lieb Management. The firm will now be known as MMGY Lieb. With MMGY Lieb’s comprehensive, customized services for marketing, sales and public and influencer relations for the tourism and MICE industries in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland markets, this acquisition poses MMGY Global to expand its international public relations practice.

        MMGY Global CEO Katie Briscoe says, “MMGY Global as thrilled to partner with Lieb Management as we continue to expand our operations at a time of continued growth for both international and domestic travel activity. This is a significant move as we strengthen global services for our client portfolio, bolstering our expertise with the investment in this team of experts specializing in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland markets.”

        Together, they will continue to offer innovative, data-driven strategies to empower travel and hospitality businesses in the global landscape. This is MMGY Global’s 11th acquisition.

        Informa Markets Introduces Age Inclusive Accreditation

        Sept. 13, 2023—As part of its DEI strategy, London-based exhibitions organizer Informa Markets has partnered with age diversity advocates 55/Redefined, has gained an age accreditation.

        “In this competitive landscape, creating an inclusive environment where colleagues can thrive is essential to attract and retain top talent,” said Mike Sealy, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Informa Markets. “We recognize that one of the keys to success is harnessing the unique perspectives and experiences of colleagues from all age groups. Age diversity is not about putting up with each other’s differences, it’s about embracing them and learning from them.”

        To become an age-inclusive accredited employer, the company has committed to the following:

        • Ensuring recruitment practices are accessible to workers over 50
        • Communicating and promoting vacancies fairly
        • Reviewing HR handbooks and policies relating to retirement
        • Investing in technical training and reskilling of colleagues over 50

        Baha Mar Reveals Full Event Lineup for The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival

        Sept. 11, 2023—The Caribbean’s leading luxury resort, Baha Mar, in Nassau, The Bahamas, will be holding their annual The Bahamas Culinary & Arts Festival on Oct. 27th-29th, 2023. This year’s programming will include interactive celebrity chef demos, master classes, live performances and a first-time art showcase FUZE—where attendees can explore Caribbean art culture through panel discussions, guided tours, live printmaking demonstrations and a film series, facilitated by The Current Gallery & Art Center at Baha Mar. This year’s event will open with a live performance by Sting at the Welcome Beach Party Powered by SLS Baha Bar, at the award-winning Baha Bay Waterpark.

        Tickets are on sale at Baha Mar’s Bahamas Culinary & Arts website and are priced by experience, ranging from $35 to $1,000 per-person, per-event.

        French Startup Alltheway, Powered by SITA Technology, Innovates with Doorstep Baggage Delivery Service

        Sept. 11, 2023—French start-up Alltheway is a new baggage service that enables passengers traveling from Paris to check in to their flights and then have their bags picked up from their home or city center hotel, from where their luggage will be delivered directly to their destination. The company soon plans on releasing an airport carousel bag pick-up and city delivery service as well.

        The company will be powered by SITA, the air transport industry’s IT provider, with their Bag Journey, technology, which integrates with an airline tracking systems to share live baggage-tracking information, so customers can keep an eye their bags in real-time from when it is picked up to when it is delivered. SITA also provides information on customer flight check-in and departure times so agents can plan strategic luggage pick-up times and ensure baggage is at the airport on time.

        Anticipating a surge of visitors to Paris with the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France September 2023, and the Paris Olympics in 2024, Alltheway has partnered with AirFrance/KLM and hospitality group Accor. This is an effort towards meeting customer demands for seamless air travel and off-airport services. It will help customers avoid the stressful experience of losing their luggage in busy airports.

        Of course, nobody wants to lose their luggage, and services like this will help to prevent it. This unfortunate event does still happen, though. Smart Meetings recently published an in-depth story on one of the incredible ways unclaimed baggage is being repurposed in Unclaimed Baggage Becomes Hidden Treasure.

        Bill Hansen Launches Full-Service Hospitality Company Hansen Group

        Sept. 11, 2023—Bill Hansen expanded his extraordinary event brand in South Florida today with the launch of Hansen Group, now a comprehensive company offering catering, venue support, concierge services and more.

        Hansen Group now serves as the parent company of Bill Hansen Catering, Lovables Catering + Kitchen, Eten Catering and Alexander Event Catering to help groups choose the best catering service for their event’s needs and budget. Hansen Group also includes Bill Hansen Miami Venues, which helps event professionals find the best venue for their South Florida functions.

        “We are in the business of establishing thoughtful relationships, which can only be built by extraordinary service. By visiting Hansen Group’s website, planners and clients will immediately be connected with someone who truly understands their needs, wants and vision for their event. From there, our concierge team can connect them with the right venue, caterer or vendor.”

        Corsica Partners Acquires Alora Search Partners

        Sept. 11, 2023—Global executive search and growth advisory firm Corsica Partners announced the acquisition of boutique talent acquisition firm Alora Search Partners. They have appointed Alora Search Partner’s founding partner Mary Langan as managing director and cybersecurity practice lead.

        Dan Veitkus, CEO and managing partner of Corisca Partners says, “Alora Search Partners has developed a respected reputation serving public, VC and PE backed software, robotics and cybersecurity firms…With this acquisition, we extend our capacity to deliver exceptional C-Suite talent across every major function of the enterprise.”

        Langan says, “Dan and I have been collaborating on executive talent acquisition for many years. We also share a set of core values that made the decision to join forces quite compelling. The combined resources and experience of our firms will provide our clients with greater depth and breadth of capabilities to call upon when they require trusted search partners.”

        Iberostar Group Partners with Planeterra to Launch an Ambitious Community Tourism Initiative

        Sept. 8, 2023Iberostar Group, a family-owned Spanish multinational tourism company and hotel group promoting a responsible tourism business model, has partnered with Planeterra, an impact-driven non-profit using tourism to uplift local communities. Under this partnership, they are launching a program promoting community tourism initiatives in destinations where Iberostar Foundation hotels are present.

        The program’s community tourism initiatives aims to protect the ecosystems and boost the social and economic development of the communities where they operate. They have set goals to provide over 95,000 travelers with community tourism experiences, involve 35 communities and implement 36 projects over the next decade, improving the lives of over 13,000 people.

        The initiative has already been piloted at 18 of Iberostar’s hotels and resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Alejandro Borrás, head of the Iberostar Foundation, says, “It is essential to support and involve local communities, making them active participants and thus contribute to improving the living conditions of the people who are part of them. In this way, the alliance with Planeterra allows us to contribute to their empowerment and integrate them into the value chain of the tourism sector.”

        HSMAI Launches Latin American Conference Series: HSMAI Latam

        Sept. 7, 2023—The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) announces a new conference series taking place in Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile, beginning this month. The conference series, called HSMAI Latam, will be led by a new Latin American advisory board formed in 2022, and headed by Gabriela Otto, managing director of HSMAI Brazil, which was chartered in 2014. This board is made up of a diverse group of representatives from different segments of the hotel industry in each country.

        This newest conference series aims to support sales, marketing and revenue management professionals in the hospitality industry in these countries by offering strategic development opportunities and driving tourism. Otto says, “I’m proud to be spearheading the expansion of HSMAI throughout Latin America, offering immeasurable opportunities for industry growth through shared insights, conversations and best practices to increase profit.”

        First Annual Power of Partnership Stewardship

        Sept. 7, 2023—Tourism Cares has partnered with Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance Inc., the Travel Foundation and the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Marketing Council to announce the launch of the Power of Partnership Stewardship Summit (POPS) in Richmond, VA on October 15-18, 2023. With a focus on DEI progress and inclusion from global industry professionals, the summit will be an innovative and collaborative event.

        Stephanie M. Jones, founder and CEO of Cultural Heritage Economic Alliance, Inc., and Blacks in Travel & Tourism emphasizes the need for change. “As travel and tourism continue to take shape post-pandemic, there’s a need to radically change how the industry manages its stewardship of destinations and better engage the residents who live there,” says Jones. “The primary goal of POPS is to generate action and partnerships, calling for industry transformation.”

        Delta Airlines Completes Delta Sky Way at LAX 18 Months Ahead of Schedule

        Sept. 7, 2023—Delta Airlines and Los Angeles World Airports have announced that the final phase of the $2.3 billion Delta Sky Way at LAX project is complete. Moving airside walkways now connect Delta’s Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Bussing between the terminals is no longer necessary. This renovation makes it easier than ever for travelers to move directly between the terminals.

        Vice President of Global Sales Scott Santoro says, “This modern, state-of-the-art facility has been at the center of Delta’s efforts to become the premier airline of Los Angeles, and now, as we celebrate this years-long project being finished much earlier than expected, we are better equipped than ever to provide Angelenos and all of our customers traveling through LA with the truly seamless and elevated experience that they deserve.”

        Just this past June, the Delta One check-in area opened to provide customers with more of this seamless experience. This includes self-service kiosks for printing boarding passes and dropping bags. Delta One customers are offered a private TSA screening lane, access to the Delta Sky Club and light food and beverages along with onsite service assistance. Delta completed renovations to Terminal 3 this past April.

        W South Beach Implements Innovative 360-degree Immersive Mapping Tech

        Sept. 6, 2023—W South Beach is the first hotel in North America to implement 360-degree immersive mapping technology. This is part of its ongoing $6 million meeting space renovation. In their new ballroom, they have installed a built-in projection system that can transform the 4,300 sq. ft. blank canvas into any setting desired. The only requirement is light. The projection system has pre-set color schemes and a digital library of stills and video displays. Energy-efficient customizable LED lighting is built into 12 ceiling coves and six wall arches.

        Norse Atlantic Airways Debuts New Direct Flight Between LA and Paris

        Sept. 6, 2023Norse Atlantic Airways, a leader in low-cost long-haul airlines, has announced that it will now be offering a new direct route between Los Angeles and Paris, taking place six days a week. The flight will cost as low as $279 one-way and will last about 11 hours, departing from LAX at 9:10 PM PDT and arriving in CDG at 5:00 PM CEST (+1); they will depart from CDG at 4:15 PM CEST and arrive in LAX at 7:05 PM PDT (same-day). Flights are available for purchase now, and will commence on May 1st, 2024.

        Norse Atlantic Airways launched in 2021 and since then has offered affordable long-haul flights mainly between the U.S. and Europe. They operate a fleet of 15 modern, fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly Boing 737 Dreamliners serving destinations including but not limited to San Francisco, New York, Orlando, Oslo, London and Berlin.

        IEG Chairman of the Board of Directors Passes Away

        Sept. 5, 2023—Leading international trade fair company, Italian Exhibition Group S.p.A. (IEG) announced on September 5, 2023, that Mr. Lorenzo Cagnoni, Chairman of the Board of Directors with power of attorney, has passed away. At the time of his passing, he holds 13,000 shares of IEG.

        The Board of Directors will integrate the board and appoint the new chairman in accordance with the Articles of Association and current law.

        Smart Meetings extends their deepest condolences to Mr. Cagnoni’s family and loved ones for this immense loss.

        Monterey Country CVB Rebrands as See Monterey

        Aug. 31, 2023—As park of an ongoing an effort to advance an innovative, sustainable era of responsible tourism and establish Monterey County as a global destination, Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced its rebranding as See Monterey. This new name not only is more streamlined and recognizable, but encourages visitors to deeply engage with exploration and diversity of experience during their stay.

        Its new brand platform, “Find Your Way Here,” too, is an invitation to make an active effort to seek connection with Monterey’s incredible natural environment, where the redwoods meet the coastline, and embrace the moments in that space with the people around them and with themselves.

        A new logo, color palette, redesigned advertisements and a digital footprint all accompany these changes and embody their mission.

        Fox World Travel’s Scan for a Cause Initiative Benefits PACT

        Aug. 31, 2023—At it’s 2023 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention in Dallas, Fox World Travel implemented its Scan for a Cause initiative. Under this initiative, participants could simply showed up and had their name badge scanned by a member of the Fox World Travel team, and for each scan, Fox would donate to Protect All Children from Trafficking (PACT).  They raised over $5,000 to donate to the organization.

        This initiative is part of Fox’s commitment to uplifting sustainable practices in the travel industry with a focus on three core priorities: People, Planet and Principles.

        Improvement in US-China Travel on Horizon

        Aug. 30, 2023—U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s official visit to China this week presents a sizable opportunity to restore the Chinese inbound travel market, according to a release by U.S. Travel Association. China was the third largest overseas inbound market to the U.S. (pre-pandemic) and provided $33 billion in annual travel export income for the U.S. economy—more than any other market. Two key focus areas for the government to increase travel from China are lowering visa wait time (now averaging 149 days) and increasing air service capacity. On the second point, U.S. and Chinese officials reached an agreement to increase weekly flights from the U.S. to 24 by October 29, which is still less than 10% (340 weekly flights) of pre-pandemic capacity.

        On the upside, overseas travel to the U.S. experienced a boost last month, increasing from 73% recovered (compared to 2019 levels) in June to 78% in July.

        New Orleans Music Industry Flourishes with the Launch of METRONOME

        Aug. 30, 2023—New Orleans is known as the city that is Built to Host. Its abundant music scene continues to grow with the addition of METRONOME, a program recently launched by Greater New Orleans, Inc and New Orleans and Company in partnership with The Idea Village, Louisiana Entertainment and the City of New Orleans.

        METRONOME puts forth a series of programs designed for entrepreneurs who are solving problems or building new opportunities in the music industry. The full ten-week program will pair participants with a dedicated industry mentor and provide one-on-one coaching sessions, specialized workshops and networking opportunities. This is a fantastic opportunity for planners working in the music industry or with music industry professionals who seek to grow the industry’s business aspect.

        CHLAHF Awards Scholarships to 53 Students Pursuing Hospitality-related Degrees at 12 California Colleges

        Aug. 28, 2023—The California Hotel & Lodging Association Hospitality Foundation (CHLAHF), in conjunction with the CHLA Education Foundation and the Hotel & Restaurant Foundation, has awarded a total of $164,000 in scholarships to 53 students pursing degrees in hospitality, tourism and culinary arts across 12 California Colleges.

        These schools include San Diego State University, San Jose State, Cal Poly Pomona, City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, California State University Long Beach, California State University East Bay and Sacramento State University. The scholarship intends to elevate the California Hospitality Industry by supporting education and research opportunities for industry employees and hospitality students.

        Students at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) and the Sustainable Hospitality Management program at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) received over $25,000 in these scholarships.

        Foundation President and General Manager at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco Michael Pace says, “This year’s scholarship recipients have demonstrated exceptional talent and dedication, and we are thrilled to use these awards to cultivate the next generation of hospitality leaders, ensuring a prosperous future for the entire California hospitality industry.”

        Center for Exhibition Industry Research Announces New Direction

        Aug. 24, 2023—The Center for Exhibition Industry Research has announced a new look for CEIR that will focus on a renewed commitment to delivering modern innovative and exciting reports that will ultimately allow customers to be able to put on better events.

        Click here to get a sneak peak of their new look.

        Black Travel Summit Announces Second Annual Gathering

        Aug. 24, 2023—Black Travel Summit has announced that the second annual conference of the Black travel community will take place from October 20th to 22nd at the Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami.

        In partnership with the Black Travel Alliance (BTA) the three-day celebration will offer a series of speakers and partnerships dedicated to uplifting the Black travel movement.

        “We’re excited about the program for our second annual summit because it illustrates the ever-growing visibility, innovation, and economic power of the Black traveler and travel professional,” said Anita Francois, the visionary founder, and CEO of Black Travel Summit. “We’re honored to elevate our movement this year and highlight the leaders of our community by joining forces with the Black Travel Alliance.”

        For more information on the Black Travel Summit click here.

        Newark Liberty International Airport Completes Terminal A Renovation, And Plans for More

        Aug. 23, 2023—The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is leading a complete renovation of the Newark Liberty International Airport, and as of today announced the completion of the first major effort with the Terminal A renovation.

        Now at 1 million sq. ft., Terminal A includes 33 gates and will be the new home terminal of Delta Air Lines. It includes a new 7,000 sq. ft. Delta passenger lounge with an acoustic sound system designed to absorb the outside sounds of the airport so guests of Delta’s Sky Club can enjoy a peaceful, quiet environment before their flight. The terminal as a whole features a light, airy design, is decorated with local art and was constructed according to LEED silver certification standards from the U.S. Green Building Council. Guests can enjoy retail, food and beverage shops local to Newark, Elizabeth and Jersey City alongside national and global brands.

        The airport is now beginning efforts towards a privately financed Rent-A-Car facility that will consolidate 10 rental car operations in one location, expected to open later in 2024. They are also looking toward updating their AirTrain Newark system with a new 2.5-mile automated train system to more conviniently transfer passengers across terminals, parking lots and car rental facilities.

        Gaylord Rockies Begins Phase Two of an Expansive Renovation

        Aug. 22, 2023—Just five years after its grand opening, Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, the largest combined resort and convention center in Colorado, has announced plans to begin phase two of a multi-year investment plan.

        Phase One saw a redesign of the property’s outdoor lawn spaces and the addition of dining terraces for Old Hickory Steakhouse and Mountain Pass Sports Bar. This upcoming set of re-enhancements will include the addition of a new bar and restaurant concepts in the Grand Lodge: The Embers Lodge Bar and The Fortune Prospecter. This project has an anticipated completion date of spring 2024. They will also re-concept their two existing restaurants, Monte Jade and Vista Montagne, to Garden & Grain and Copper Table.

        The property’s new event pavilion, the Mountain View Pavilion, is set to welcome guests in 2024. It encompasses 12,118 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor pre-function space, over 14,000 sq. ft. of outdoor terraces and patios, 15,000 sq. ft. of turfed lawn areas as well as interior spaces featuring floor to ceiling windows, banquet space, an indoor fireplace and unmatched views of the Rocky Mountains.

        General Manager Suzy Hart says, “You rarely see this amount of growth in a resort property. We just completed a major exterior enhancement in April and now we’re ready to give guests the interior experience of their dreams.”

        Fort Worth Convention Center Begins Renovation Project

        Aug. 18, 2023—The Texas Forth Worth Convention Center has announced plans to begin a $95 million renovation and expansion. This August, they begin Phase 1, during which they will install new F&B facilities, an outdoor terrace, four new docks, renovated exhibit hall restrooms and a lightbox atrium entrance. They will also demolish a 1993 annex and realign Commerce Street to create a site for a new convention center hotel. These projects have an anticipated completion date of 2026, and the center will remain open and operational through construction.

        New Legislation Addressing Visa Delays is a Win for the Meetings Industry

        Aug. 18, 2023—The Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA) today released a statement in support of the bipartisan Visa Processing Improvement Act (Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN and Sen. Jerry Morgan, R-KS). The act intends to improve visa processing in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consumer Affairs by:

        • increasing consular office flexibility and capacity,
        • improving transparency and accountability,
        • revising in-person interview waiver eligibility, and
        • improving the service experience

        In all, this will help to resolve the lengthy visitor visa appointment wait times that harm business events. Vinnie Polito, Society of Independent Show Organizers CEO and ECA co-president, says, “From setting clear goals for interview wait times to introducing new modernized processes, the Visa Processing Improvement Act would improve visa operations at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world and help our international stakeholders get back to business in the U.S.”

        Hervé Sedky, Emerald’s president and CEO and chair of the ECA board of directors says, “The legislation opens the doors to welcome back numerous international exhibitors, attendees, and buyers to U.S. events, revitalizing access to essential customer bases and unlocking opportunities.” 

        More legislation is on the table. In both the Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs legislation also addressed visa concerns. The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations recently held a subcommittee hearing that discussed the impacts of visa delays, with special attention paid to the issue’s effects on the business  events sector. The ECA will continue to engage on Capitol Hill in support of the Visa Processing Improvement Act and other ongoing efforts by Congress to reduce visa delays.

        Tourism Diversity Matters Awards Dinner Honors NAACP

        Aug. 18, 2023—Tourism Diversity Matters, a 501(c)(6) that works to empower tourism organizations to achieve excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will host their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference: The Collective Experience. At their annual Awards Dinner, sponsored by Meet Boston, on October 23, 2023, they will recognize the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with their prestigious award, which honors an organization with demonstrated success and commitment to DEI.

        Executive Director of TDM Greg DeShields says of NAACP, “They pioneered the civil rights movement in the 20th century and continue their extraordinary work today to end race-based discrimination through 21st activism. It is an honor to recognize their achievements in DEI excellence.”

        Solar Eclipse Backpacking Adventure Tour in Death Valley

        Aug. 17, 2023—A rare total solar eclipse on October 14th will coincide with a 5-day backpacking tour put on by Escape Adventures. With low-light pollution and clear skies, spectators will be able to see the solar event.

        Guests will see Death Valley National Park, Red Rock Canyon, Spicer Ranch Trailers, Titus Canyon, Monarch Canyon, Stovepipe Wells and Cottonwood Valley. Prices for the adventure start at $1,699 and include all internal land expenses and services.

        AHLA Releases Statement on GSA FY2024 Per Diem Rates

        Aug. 17, 2023—The General Services Administration (GSA) announced its Fiscal Year 2024 per diem rates, which govern reimbursement for federal employees’ lodging and meal expenses for official government travel, will be rising. The GSA calculates per diems based on the average daily rate (ADR) of lodging properties in the continental U.S. over a trailing 12-month period. The 2024 report calls for  increases across non-standard areas (NSAs) as well as a $9 increase to the continental United States lodging rate. This brings the 2024 per diem rate to $166, including $107 for lodging, up from $98. Meal reimbursement remains unchanged at $59.

        AHLA works with GSA in an effort to maintain a fair agreement on per diem rates for both hoteliers and the government. AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers says, “This is a positive step for many hoteliers across the country, as government travel supports billions in travel spending, and many private sector organizations also base travel reimbursement on federal per diem rates. We thank GSA for working to ensure hotels are fairly compensated for the excellent services they provide government travelers year in and year out.”

        Florida sees its strongest international visitation numbers since 2019

        Aug. 16, 2023—VISIT FLORIDA announces today that Q1 and Q2 of Calendar Year 2023 saw 70.8 million visitors. These numbers mark a 21.8% increase in overseas visitors and an 81.1% increase in Canadian visitors, compared to 2022. Between April and June 2023, Florida recorded a total of 33.1 million visitors. 1.9 million visited from overseas, 846,000 visited from Canada and 30.3 million visited from other states in the US. Florida’s 80% recovery rate compared to 2019 numbers leads the US in the highest post pandemic recovery rate of international travelers.

        VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young says, “VISIT FLORIDA has been laser-focused on building our key international markets and ensuring the return of international visitors to Florida, and that work has paid off.”

        Meet Boston Debuts New Partnership Model

        Aug. 16, 2023—In a thoughtful reworking of its goal to drive tourism-related business to the Boston region, Meet Boston, formerly known as The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GBCVB), announces its shift from a membership model to a partnership model, based on 6 pillars.

        According to Meet Boston Executive Vice President Hilina D. Ajakaiye, the partnership model is intended to “serve as an advocate and ambassador in the travel sector, leading conversations around workforce development, diversity, equity and inclusion, accessibility and sustainability.” The partnership model will more equitably distribute how and where visitors spend money in the greater Boston area. Meet Boston President and CEO Martha J. Sheridan shares that the term “partner” more accurately applies to their value of creating a unified voice for the region.

        Since the spring launch, 75 partners have joined Meet Boston. The partnerships that Meet Boston has established and will continue to establish will expand the options for meeting planners bringing their meeting to Boston in terms of dining, meeting spaces, attractions and more.

        GMCVB Announces New Multi-Media Marketing Campaigns

        Aug. 14, 2023—The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) announced two strategic marketing campaigns to share the vibrant experiences unique to Greater Miami with travelers and meetings planners around the world. Both campaigns will showcase innovative new marketing and advertising strategies, promoted through a blend of print ads, display banners, interactive mobile and desktop display ads, online video (OLV) ads, social media promotion, a dedicated url on MiamiandMiamiBeach.com and dedicated emails.

        GMCVB tailors to audience personas and is founded on the ideas of building from their existing strength, leveraging performance and visitor momentum and leaning into five pillars central to Miami as a destination: Outdoor Oasis, Cultural Capital, Rich Heritage, Health & Wellness and Meetings & Conventions.

        The Find Your Miami campaign seeks to introduce prospective visitors to all that Miami offers to travels through self-defined elements through their creative play on words: Be Artventerous, Celovebration, Deluxious, Fitnescape, Symposium and more.

        The Miami Beach Find Your Wave campaign zones in on the distinctive beach life of Miami and will leverage the distinct luxury of a beach destination, while also promoting the Miami Beach Convention Center.

        DFW Airport Breaks Ground on Sustainable Utility Plant

        Aug. 14, 2023—Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) began the first phase of construction on its new electric Central Utility Plant (eCUP), said to provide heating and cooling to support the growth of DFW. The facility will be mostly fueled by electricity purchased by the airport that comes from 100% renewable sources.

        “DFW Airport is investing in the future of sustainable aviation, and the addition of a fully electric utility plant is a major component of achieving net-zero carbon emissions from airport operations by 2030,” said Sean Donohue, CEO of DFW. “As we prepare to build new gates and other critical infrastructure, we also will ensure that our growth is environmentally responsible and resilient.”

        eCUP is scheduled to begin official construction this summer and open mid-2025.

        Brightspot Incentives and Events Announces Merger with Incentive Team

        Aug. 11, 2023—Brightspot Incentives and Events, in the incentives and channel programs industry, merges with Incentive Team, an incentive company specializing in the kitchen and bath industries. Effective immediately, the merger will help Brightspot expand its reach across industries, build their capabilities and build on Incentive Team’s competitive presence. Their clients can now enjoy broader offerings and an enhanced experience, and Brightspot has the opportunity to expand their relationships with leading showroom professionals.

        Brightspot looks forward to talent and technical expertise Incentive Team’s employees will bring to incentive strategy, client account management and web development. Peter Goldberger, President of Incentive Team, will be take a part-time role as an Account Executive at Brightspot.

        Mike May, CEO of Brightspot, says, “We are thrilled about this merger with Incentive Team as it expands our reach into new industries and reinforces our commitment to providing unparalleled incentives and channel programs to our clients. The combined expertise and experience will enable us to deliver even more comprehensive solutions that drive long-term value for our clients.”

        AEO Launches #ChooseEvents Campaign

        Aug. 10, 2023—The Association of Event Organizers today announced its #ChooseEvents campaign to highlight the events industry and display the enormous talent throughout by sharing inspiring member stories, videos, and ideas. It will run on AEO’s social media channels and emails. They hope to inspire a new generation of bright minds to enter the events industry with enthusiasm, recognizing the ample opportunities, career growth, diverse set of roles and genuine fun that they can have as professionals in events.

        Co-founder of Expocast Mike Frost says, “Thousands of extraordinary people have stumbled into the events industry, and while we will continue to gain talent through chance, now is the moment to push this campaign out and show people the many wonderful reasons they should be choosing the sector more proactively.”

        ASAE Research Foundation Announces Eight 2023 CAE Scholarship Award Recipients

        Aug. 10, 2023—The ASAE Research Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity in support of ASAE, offers grants of $500 for select individuals to put towards application fees or exam preparation, as well as membership rates for the CAE exam registration.

        The 2023 CAE Scholarship recipients are:

        • Kelsey Copeland, MFA Communications and Events Director, Associated Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors of Texas
        • Dr. Ashley Cross, Sr. Director of Education and Content, Association of Technology Leaders in Independent schools
        • Derrick Johnson, CMP, DES, Convention and Events Director, National Medical Association
        • Meda Merritt, Sr. Director of Membership & Chapter Development, American Fire Sprinkler Association
        • Rebecca Morgan, MPA, AP, Executive Director, Nisha Media Leadership Solutions
        • Noelle Parsons, MA, Account Manager, Strategic Association Management
        • Shena Seppanen, Assistant Executive Director, Society For Biomaterials
        • Patricia Woodley, M.Ed, International Membership Director, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International

        Lowell Applebaum, FASAE, CAE, CPF, says “Those three letters after your name, they open the door to a world of opportunity and often are a key piece of the path to leadership in our profession.”

        On behalf of Smart Meetings, congratulations to the 2023 CAE Scholarship recipients.

        AHLA Foundation Announces Over 1 Million Completed Anti-Human Trafficking Trainings

        Aug. 9, 2023—Trainings designed to help hotel employees recognize and report signs of possible on-property human trafficking, developed by Marriott International, distributed by PACT and funded by American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), have now been completed over one million times by hotel employees across the United States.

        This is only one part of AHLA’s anti-trafficking efforts. Last month, AHLA held their 2023 No Room for Trafficking Summit, where they awarded $500,000 in grants from the No Room for Trafficking Survivor Fund to four community-based organizations that serve survivors of human trafficking. Currently, the fund stands at $3.5 million. By the end of 2023, the AHLA Foundation plans to achieve $10 million in contributions.

        This industry-wide initiative recognizes the unique opportunity of hospitality professionals to disrupt and prevent human trafficking, for which trainings like these are essential.

        Freeman Announces Acquisition of Brand Experience Agency Sparks

        Aug. 5, 2023Freeman announced today that it has acquired Sparks, a global brand experience agency. Founded in 1919 and headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sparks is recognized for providing award-winning exhibit and event experiences to a diverse group of Fortune 1000 brands, including Google, Salesforce, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and T-Mobile.

        Sparks will combine with Freeman’s award-winning agency business, which also caters to major corporate clients, including Amazon, Cisco, and Kohler.

        This agency combination will focus on the corporate market and complements Freeman’s industry expertise and operational excellence, positioning the Company to accelerate its growth by meeting the evolving needs of corporate clients and show organizers.

        “Our combination with Sparks creates a unique opportunity to accelerate Freeman’s vision to become a leader in the corporate space,” said Bob Priest-Heck, Freeman CEO. “Sparks, like Freeman, is built by great people, has a long history of success, and is one of the most respected names in the industry. We couldn’t be more excited to have Sparks’ talented team join Freeman at this exciting time for the industry.”

        Discover The Palm Beaches Announces Accessible Tourism Program

        Aug. 4, 2023—Official non-profit accredited tourism marketing organization for the 39 cities and towns collectively known as The Palm Beaches in Florida has earned the Certified Autism Center designation through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), Wheel the World and Travelability.

        IBCCES is the only credentialing organization that provides a certification program developed through evidence-based training, the perspectives of individuals with autism, onsite reviews, customized recommendations and renewal requirements. This credential is the first step in a long-term accessibility program on the part of Discover The Palm Beaches. They aim to become a Certified Autism Destination and to partner with various area attractions, hotels and recreation areas to successfully complete autism and sensory training and certification. Through these efforts, Discover The Palm Beaches demonstrates its commitment to inclusivity and accessibility for all travelers to be understood and receive proper accommodations.

        California Lieutenant Governor Asks Taylor Swift to Postpone LA Concert in Solidarity with Striking Hotel Workers

        Aug. 2, 2023—Thousands of Southern California hotel workers are on strike to call for higher pay to match inflation, more hires to reduce large workloads and better working conditions. The strike began on July 4th and continues today. California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and numerous California senators, assemblymembers and mayors signed a letter requesting that Taylor Swift postpone her 6 days of concerts in Los Angeles to show solidarity with the striking workers represented by Unite Here Local 11. “Your shows make our region’s hotels a lot of money. In Los Angeles, hotels are doubling and tripling what they charge because you are coming,” the letter states. The letter requests of Swift “Stand with hotel workers and postpone your concerts.” Swift so far has not released a response.

        Indianapolis Breaks Ground on Convention Center Expansion

        Aug. 2, 2023—Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Visit Indy President and CEO Leonard Hoops gathered with community leaders to break ground on Indiana Convention Center’s (ICC) sixth expansion.

        “Over the past decades, the Indiana Convention Center has hosted some of the most iconic large events in Indiana and America, while generating billions of dollars in economic impact and supporting a hospitality and service sector with over 80,000 jobs,” said Mayor Hogsett. “This latest expansion and hotel addition will keep Indianapolis at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to the perfect host venue—and city.”

        Along with the expansion, a 40-story Signia by Hilton will also be included, raising the total number of hotels rooms connected via climate-controlled skywalks to more than 5,500 in Indianapolis.

        The expansion is expected to be completed by summer of 2026.

        Virgin Red and Virgin Hotels’ The Know Partner Up

        Aug. 1, 2023—Virgin Red and Virgin Hotels’ The Know members can now link their profiles to earn Virgin Points for their next stay.

        Members of the program will now be able to earn and spend Virgin Points in a wider variety of ways, whether staying at a Virgin hotel or shopping at participating business. When staying at a Virgin property, visitors will earn five Virgin Points for every $1 spent at participating U.S.-based properties and seven Virgin Points for every £1 spent at participating U.K.-based properties.

        “We’re thrilled to partner with Virgin Hotels to make it even easier for our members to earn points on their next stay,” Andrea Burchett, managing director of commercial and loyalty for Virgin Red, says. “With hotels popping up across the U.S. and U.K., we want to reward our members staying at Virgin Hotels with points to spend on everyday treats or extraordinary experiences.”

        Street Love Foundation Organizes Meal Packing at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City on Aug. 2, 2023

        July 31, 2023—If you find yourself in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Aug. 2, make your way to Harrah’s Resort to join Street Love Foundation partnered with Meals of Hope. There, at 9:30 a.m., you can join nearly 150 already-registered volunteers in packing 50,000 nutritious meals over the course of a few hours. These meals will be distributed to local food banks and charitable institutions such as Project HOME and AC Rescue Mission.

        President and Founder of Street Love Foundation Liz Schneider began the organization with her neighbor, Vice President of Street Love Foundation Jill Plotnik, during the Covid-19 pandemic. They began by loading Liz’s car with 20 fresh meals to distribute to those in need around Atlantic City. Today, the foundation’s inspiring growth is visible through this event.

        When: Aug. 2 at 9:30 a.m.

        Where: Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City

        Register to volunteer at streetlovefoundation.com.

        Oak View Group Partners with Tulsa Public Facilities Authority

        July 28, 2023—Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA) has voted unanimously to grant Oak View Group (OVG) a venue management and F&B contract for its music venue, BOK Center, and Cox Business Convention Center.

        “We know the potential of the Tulsa market, and we know BOK Center and Cox Business Convention Center are centerpieces of that forward movement” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group.

        “Oak View Group has a number of leaders—John [Bolton, senior vice president at OVG], Jeff [Nickler, senior vice president at OVG and general manager of Austin’s Moody Center], Casey [Sparks, vice president of OVG Austin] and Joe [Giordano, vice president of OVG’s arena, stadium and theater alliances]—who have deep roots and a profound respect for the market, coupled with long-time relationships with the city’s key stakeholders and among the community. OVG working in Tulsa will feel like coming home, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

        OVG manages more than 60 convention centers across North America. In the last two years, the company has opened several arenas across the United States, including Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center; UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York; Moody Center in Austin, Texas; Acrisure Arena in Greater Palm Springs, California; and CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, its most recent opening.

        Read MoreOak View Group Is Leaving a Trail of Partnerships

        The Allegretto Vineyard Resort Proudly Announces 2023 Ayres Cares Scholarship Awardees

        July 25, 2023—21 local employees and family members of The Allegretto Vineyard Resort have been awarded the 2023 Ayres Cares Scholarship Fund, out of its 57 total scholarships this year. This makes Allegretto team members 36% of the total recipients. The Allegretto management’s brand “We Care About People” rings true, with over 250 employees who have majority been there for an average of five years.

        These scholarships support team members and the children or legal wards of team members who are employed by and in good standing with Ayres Hotels, Ayres Group or affiliated companies and are enrolled in college, community college, trade school or vocational training. There is no age limit to apply.

        Congratulations to Omar Acevedo, Mayzee Armstrong, Christina Ayala, Michael Brown, Alexandria Coggins, Tristan Compton, Mauricio Diego, Dylan Griewank, Finley Hungerford, Samuel Juarez, Joshua Martinez, Amy Mintun, Cynthia Navarro, Ryland Patti, Stefan Pedrazza, Israel Perez Pedrazza, Macie Pinedo, Calvin Seely, Brooke Taylor, Christian Torres, and Alex Wassam at Allegretto!

        UPS Dodges Strike After Reaching Tentative Deal

        July 25, 2023—UPS may have dodged a massive strike involving 340,000 unionized workers after reaching a tentative deal Tuesday, potentially avoiding a work stoppage that threatened to derail logistics across the country, AP reports.

        “Together we reached a win-win-win agreement on the issues that are important to Teamsters leadership, our employees and to UPS and our customers,” said Carol Tomé, UPS chief executive officer, in a written statement. “This agreement continues to reward UPS’s full- and part-time employees with industry-leading pay and benefits while retaining the flexibility we need to stay competitive, serve our customers and keep our business strong.”

        The tentative agreement is seen as both “historic” and “lucrative” by the Teamsters and includes $2.75 more per hour in 2023, $7.50 more per hour over the length of the five-year contract, and an increased starting pay for part-time employees at $21 an hour, up from the current hourly rate of $16.20.

        San Francisco Awarded More Michelin Honors

        July 24, 2023—Last week’s 2023 MICHELIN Guide California awards confirmed that San Francisco remains the culinary capital of the Golden State. The City by the Bay boasts 27 Michelin-starred restaurants and the San Francisco Bay Area is now home to 50 of the 87 California restaurants awarded Michelin stars.

         Two San Francisco restaurantsAphotic, a restaurant specializing in sustainable and dry-aged seafood, and Nari, a Thai restaurantearned their first Michelin stars, and all of the city’s previously awarded two-star and three-star restaurants retained their honors. Aphotic was also honored with a Michelin Green Star, which recognized the establishment for its commitment to sustainability. Altogether, San Francisco is home to half of the state’s three-star Michelin restaurants and five of its 12 two-star establishments, plus three of its 15 Green Star restaurants.

        Michelin also recognized the city’s rising culinary talent for the second year in a row. Chef Harrison Cheney, the executive chef at Sons & Daughters, received the prestigious Michelin Young Chef Award, which was awarded to Chef David Yoshimura of San Francisco’s Nisei last year.

        “For a small city only seven-by-seven square miles, San Francisco is one of the world’s great gastronomic hubs,” said Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. “We are thrilled to see the city’s incredible culinary scene recognized again by Michelin.”

        U.S. Travel Association Urges Completion of FAA Reauthorization Bill

        July 24, 2023—U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman issued the following statement on the urgent need for the U.S. Senate to markup its version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill and correct years of governmental failures:

        “While the Senate may be eager to fly home to start their August recess, millions of Americans have missed trips and lost time with family and friends this summer due to delays and cancellations caused by years of government inattention. The whole of the U.S. economy pays a price when a trip is delayed—or avoided entirely due to air travel hassles. 

        “In fact, over half of Americans say they would travel more if the experience were less of a hassle. 

        “The Senate must markup its FAA reauthorization bill this week. American travelers cannot wait any longer for Congress to fix the numerous, systemic issues that have plagued the U.S. air travel system and constrained economic growth.”


         

        Boeing Announces Pilot Training Scholarships to Diversify, Expand Talent

        July 24, 2023—Boeing today announced $950,000 in scholarships to fund pilot training programs with the goal of adding a diverse pool of talent amid the anticipated long-term demand for commercial airline pilots, according to a press release.

        Boeing will allocate $500,000 to fund 25 scholarships within five educational programs. These organizations include Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Latino Pilots Association, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies and Women in Aviation International.

        The remaining $450,000 will be provided to Fly Compton, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit geared toward introducing minority youth to careers in aerospace. The scholarship funding will increase flight training classes and related career topics for students within the Compton community in the Los Angeles area. Boeing has invested over $8.5 million to fund pilot training programs for underrepresented communities since 2019.

        “The demand for qualified and diverse pilots remains high at airlines worldwide. While becoming a pilot provides a lifelong career, access to training remains a barrier to entry for many,” said Ziad Ojakli, executive vice president of Government Operations at Boeing. “These organizations are helping the next generation of pilots realize their full potential while also showing communities that are historically underrepresented in the industry that a future in aviation is possible.”

        Boeing projects 602,000 new pilots will be needed to pilot and maintain commercial airlines globally over the next 20 years.

        Cvent and Choice Hotels International Announce Cvent Instant Book Product

        July 24, 2023—Event technology provider Cvent announced at Cvent Connect that it will be rolling out a new direct booking integration with Choice Hotels franchised properties in the third quarter of the year. Meeting planners can search, compare real-time rates and availability and book rooms online without submitting an RFP.

        “We’re proud to work with Choice Hotels International to further expand our Cvent Instant Book experience,” said Jim Abramson, Cvent Vice President of Product Management. “This new functionality reflects our shared vision of making booking and managing meetings & events easier – for both planners and hoteliers alike. By embracing innovative technology like Cvent Instant Book, Choice Hotels is prioritizing the customer experience, and now, each of their property owners can easily tap into our extensive global network of 110,000 meeting and event organizers who trust Cvent to find the right venue and power their events.”

        Destinations International and Destinations International Foundation Announce New Board Members

        July 21, 2023—The 2023-2024 association Board of Directors for Destinations International and Destinations International Foundation Board of Trustees will be headed by President and CEO of New York City Tourism and Conventions, Fred Dixon, as Chair of Destinations International, and President and CEO of Destination Madison, Ellie Westman Chin, CDME, as Chair of Destinations International Foundation. Others include the following:

        Association Board Director Slate 2023/2024:
        •    Beth Erickson, CDME, President & CEO, Visit Loudoun
        •    Bethanie DeRose, CDME, Senior Vice President, JLL
        •    Domenic Bravo, CDME, CEO, Visit Cheyenne
        •    Julie Calvert, President & CEO, Visit Cincy
        •    Kristin McGrath, CDME, Executive Director, Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau
        •    Kyle Edmiston, CDME, President and CEO, Visit Lake Charles
        •    Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE, CQIA, President & CEO, ASAE
        •    Victoria Cimino, President & CEO, Visit Williamsburg
        •    Yrjötapio “YT” Kivisaari, CEO, Visit Oulu

        2023/2024 Slate of Officers: 
        •    Chair: Fred Dixon, New York City Tourism + Conventions
        •    Chair-Elect: Scott White, Visit Greater Palm Springs
        •    Immediate Past-Chair: Al Hutchinson, Visit Baltimore
        •    Treasurer: Leslie Bruce, President and CEO, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism Bureau
        •    Secretary: Kyle Edmiston, CDME, President and CEO, Visit Lake Charles

        Foundation Board Trustee Slate 2023/2024:
        •    James Jackson, President & CEO, Tourism Jasper
        •    Jerad Bachar, CDME, President & CEO, VisitPITTSBURGH
        •    Jessica Ireland, Founder, Sunshine & Bourbon
        •    Katherine O’Donnell, CDME, Executive Vice President, Richmond Region Tourism
        •    Martha Sheridan, President & CEO, Meet Boston
        •    Todd O’Leary, CDME, CTIS, VP, Marketing & Communications, Sonoma County Tourism
        •    Victoria Clarke, CDME, CEO, Tourism Mississauga

        2023/2024 Slate of Officers: 
        •    Chair: Ellie Westman Chin, CDME, President & CEO, Destination Madison
        •    Chair-Elect: Amir Eylon, President & CEO, Longwoods International
        •    Immediate Past-Chair: Vail Ross, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development & Marketing, STR
        •    Treasurer/Secretary: Martha Sheridan, President & CEO, Meet Boston
        •    At Large Office: Steven Paganelli, CDME, Head of Destination Marketing, Americas, TripAdvisor

         

        Destinations International Announces 7 New DMAP Accreditations

        July 19, 2023—Destinations International today announced seven newly DMAP-accredited destinations during Destinations International’s Annual Convention in Dallas, Texas, according to a press release. The Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) recognizes a destination organization’s commitment to excellence in the meetings industry and its accountability as a destination marketing organization.

        “Never before has destination organization relevance been so critical to the economy of the destinations that Destinations International members represent,” said Karen Fisher, MBA, CDME, chief financial officer of VisitPITTSBURGH and chair of the DMAP Board of Directors. “Destination organizations are the destination’s brand owners and participation in DMAP demonstrates a destination organization’s commitment to operating within a set of strict standards that sends a strong message to stakeholders that the organization entrusted with the destination brand has the infrastructure and expertise to positively impact the visitor economy for the benefit visitors and residents alike.”

        The seven new destinations to receive the DMAP accreditation include Visit Fort Wayne, Experience Scottsdale, Visit Rapid City, Destin – Fort Walton Beach Florida Tourism, Visit Salt Lake, Port Aransas Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce and Visit Gainesville, Alachua County.

        Bartolotta Restaurants Names New Senior Director of Human Resources

        July 19, 2023—Bartolotta Restaurants has announced Gabriella Bauer, PHR, SHRM-CP, as the organization’s new Senior Director of Human Resources, according to a press release. Bauer joins the restaurant and catering group based in the Greater Milwaukee region with over 20 years of experience and will drive improvements to ensure the seamless integration of HR practices that align with Bartolotta’s goals and values.

        “At its core, the hospitality industry is about genuine, enduring relationships and creating lasting memories,” says The Bartolotta Restaurants Chief Executive Officer Keith Trafton. “Our team members are integral to this. Gabriella is an innovative and adaptable leader that will enable us to continue to grow and develop our talent base, while supporting our team and our culture, centered around our hospitality heart.”

        Destination International Membership Surpasses 700 Across 26 Countries, Territories

        July 19, 2023—Destinations International today announced the expansion of their membership to over 700 members across 26 countries and territories from around the world. The announcement was made by Destinations International President and CEO, Don Welsh during the Destinations International Annual Convention, according to a press release.

        “Destinations International exists for the sole benefit of our members and everything we do is to support their efforts in their communities,” Welsh said. “We all realized both during and post pandemic, that there is much to be gained by a global membership engaging and collaborating with one another. Our organization believes in the power of travel and having a strong member community around the world allows destination leaders to engage with and learn from one another to enrich the lives of the people who live, work and travel within their destinations.”

        The latest addition to Destinations International’s extensive roster of members is Saudi Arabia and is the first member from the Middle East to join.

        United Expands Across the Pacific

        July 18, 2023 – United Airlines has announced in a press release its prolific expansion to offer more flights across the Pacific Ocean. Destinations will include Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo. Already making history earlier this year as achieving the largest South Pacific expansion in history with its increased flights to New Zealand and Australia, United will continue on its international expansion as these new flights to the South Pacific increase their presence in the region.

        “United offers more flights to more destinations across the Pacific than all other U.S. airlines combined,” said Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of global network planning and alliances. “United is the flag carrier of the U.S. and we are excited to bring this new service to Manila while expanding access to Hong KongTaipei and Tokyo.”

        The new expansion will begin in late October with flights from San Francisco to Manila, followed by flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Following flights will begin to fly into Tokyo, Taipei, and flights will increase to Australia and New Zealand.

        Indianapolis Airport Receives $22.58 Million from FAA to Fund Sustainable Innovation

        July 17, 2023—The United States’ largest allotment of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program funding will go to Indianapolis Airport Authority. This funding is part of the $92 million going into the FAA’s efforts to achieve President Joe Biden’s goal of bringing airports to net-zero emissions by 2050.

        The Indianapolis Airport Authority will receive $22.58 million, which they plan to use to construct solar panels and other energy-efficient infrastructure at the Indianapolis International Airport. This is part of a larger effort on the part of the airport to complete a multi-phased program to transition the airport’s electricity consumption to fully onsite-generated renewable energy, including backup battery storage and during disruptions or outages. The FAA funding will cover the first 25% of this program.

        The Indianapolis Airport already boasts one of the largest solar farms on any airport property, internationally, with 87,478 solar panels across 183 acres. IAA Executive Director Mario Rodriguez says, “We’re committed to environmental sustainability, minimizing the impact of airport operations on the environment, and we’re doing that by exploring continuous improvements and opportunities for innovation.”

        Marriott International and MGM Resorts Join Forces

        July 17, 2023—Marriott International and MGM Resorts International have just entered a long-term agreement and created “MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy,” scheduled to launch October 2023.

        This partnership will include 17 MGM properties, including eight Las Vegas properties and other cities in the United States. Through this partnership, MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy properties will be available for booking through Marriott’s website and the Marriott Bonvoy app; they will continue to be available on MGM Resorts’ channels as well.

        “This historic, long-term agreement brings together two of the most trusted and iconic brands in hospitality and entertainment,” said Bill Hornbuckle, President and Chief Executive Officer, MGM Resorts. “We’re thrilled to now scale the relationship and offer Marriott Bonvoy members greater distribution access to our award-winning resorts—as well as exclusive event and entertainment opportunities—in Las Vegas and across the U.S.”

        Of the 17 resorts joining this new venture, three Las Vegas-based MGM properties will now be affiliated with Marriot collection brands: Bellagio Resort & Casino will join The Luxury Collection, Aria Resort & Casino will join Autograph Collection and Park MGM will join Tribute Portfolio. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas will continue to be part of Autograph Collection. Other MGM properties in the U.S. set to join the program are Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi; MGM Grand Detroit; MGM National Harbor in Maryland; and MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.

        CyberDyme and Discover Puerto Rico Partner in New Virtual Reality Technology

        July 14, 2023—CyberDyme and Discover Puerto Rico have partnered to put forth an innovative virtual reality technology, VRtour. With this technology, potential customers can take part in an immersive experience as presenters guide them through Puerto Rico’s state-of-the-art convention center, facilities, culinary landscape, nature and culture, all through a tablet. This will allow customers to experience the allure of the destination from the comfort of their own home.

        Ed Carey, chief sales director officer at Discover Puerto Rico, says, “Through VRtour, we have the capability to offer a captivating glimpse into the distinctive allure of Puerto Rico, enabling meeting planners to establish a profound connection with the destination that surpasses conventional marketing endeavors.” Discover Puerto Rico and CyberDyme hope that, with their partnership in this product, Puerto Rico will be seen as the outstanding destination it is and that their customers will be more engaged than ever.

        Biden-Harris Administration Announce $60M for Coastal Resilience, Small Businesses

        July 11, 2023—The Department of Commerce along with NOAA this week announced the Ocean-based Climate Resilience Accelerators Program with plans to invest $60 million in coastal resilience and small businesses, according to a press release.

        “To tackle the urgent threat that climate change poses, we need all hands on deck—that means the public and private sectors — to develop next generation technologies and innovations that will bolster climate resilience and protect our future,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are ensuring that America’s small businesses — the backbone of our economy—are part of developing climate solutions that make our communities healthier and local economies stronger.”

        The program is funded through the Inflation Reduction Act and involves public and private partnerships to support small businesses that are working to create sustainable technologies and scale their business models for climate impact. Accelerators consist of private entities that offer a wide array of logistical and training support for small businesses with resources, mentorship and seed funding with the goal of bringing products to market.

        Toronto is a Trailblazer in Esport Hospitality

        July 10, 2023—The fourth largest gaming market in North America, Toronto is a gaming-industry leader for their championing of DEI. The Esports Travel Summit will see participants such Femme Gaming, Toronto’s Initiative for Diversity and Excellence and the nonprofit group Esport Canada, which prioritizes increasing diversity and representation within the Canadian gaming industry.

        The Esports Travel Summit focuses not only on gaming, but also on tourism. Their mission with this summit is to provide continual education of stakeholders in both industries, and their intersection. The city is planning to add an esports-specific venue to its booming hospitality sector.

        Joyn Acquires Airnex, Creating The Airnex Group

        July 6, 2023—The leading event technology platform Joyn announced today that it has acquired Airnex, Australian-owned business event management company, to form The Airnex Group. Over its 50-year history, Airnex has led the industry in special events, incentives, and international conferences, and together with Joyn, The Airnex Group will use their combined expertise to create innovative technology-led events around the world.

        Nicole Walker, Airnex CEO, will serve as the CEO and Group Board Member of The Airnex Group, joined by Jordan Walsh, Co-Founder and CEO of Joyn, as Group Executive Chairman. Tony Ward, former Senior Executive of Xero, Microsoft and LinkedIn, will serve as Director.

        Joyn will rebrand as Airnex Live to integrate their technological prowess with the Airnex brand and will relaunch their flagship event technology product as Airnex One. The Airnex Group plans to expand into machine learning and artificial intelligence later this year with a focus on increasing attendee engagement.

        Canada Launches New Federal Tourism Growth Strategy

        July 5, 2023—Today Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance in Canada Randy Boissonnault launched a new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy. President and CEO of Destination Canada Marsha Walden joined tourism stakeholders in Niagara Falls for the announcement of the strategy, after Destination Canada’s meticulous work with stakeholders and the Canadian government to encourage growth in Canada’s tourism economy.

        This strategy targets the parts of the tourism sector with the highest growth potential, prioritizing investment in tourism assets, embracing outdoor recreation, partnering to grow Indigenous tourism, attracting international events, and improving federal coordination.

        First SoCal Hotel Reaches Deal as Workers Prepare to Strike at Dozens More

        July 3, 2023—As thousands of hotel workers at dozens of properties in Southern California prepared to strike over the busy holiday weekend to emphasize their demands for better pay and benefits, The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Los Angeles reached an agreement for its 15,000 hotel workers according to a press release from Unite Here! Local 11.

        Hotel Association of Los Angeles said in a statement to The New York Times that hotels would be able to continue serving visitors.

        Caesar’s Entertainment Announces Plans for Versailles Hotel Tower in Paris Las Vegas

        June 29, 2023—Caesar’s Entertainment today announced plans to embark on an over $100 million renovation to create Versailles Tower, which will integrate Horseshoe’s Jubilee Tower into Paris Las Vegas. The 756 renovated guest rooms will be some of the largest on the Strip starting at 436 square feet, and some will feature a 55 square foot balcony with views of the Strip.

        The renovation is expected to conclude in late 2023, with a pedestrian bridge in early 2024.

        ASAE Announces New Graduating Class of CAE Credentials

        June 29, 2023—97 association executives have graduated from the CAE Commission of ASAE with their Certified Association Executive (CAE) credentials this spring of 2023 after successfully completing the internationally administered CAE examination in early May. They join the ranks of over 4,500 industry leaders around the world. They will be honored for their accomplishment at the 2023 ASAE Annual Meeting and Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia, alongside the Winter 2022 graduates, on August 5-8. See the list of graduates here.

        Diana M.L. Tucker, CAE, Chair of the CAE Commission and Vice President of Membership and Chapter Relations at NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, says, “This achievement reflects not only significant experience and study, but also a return on investment in their pursuit of ongoing learning and career development. We welcome you into a growing community of fellow thought leaders and expert practitioners who are advancing the field of association management.”

        Visit Seattle and Seattle Bank Announce Second Year of Small Businesses for Community Partnership Program

        June 27, 2023—Visit Seattle and Seattle Bank have announced the lineup of 16 BIPOC-owned businesses in and around Seattle’s Capitol Hill and First Hill Neighborhoods for the second year of their Community Partnership Program. The goal of the program is to increase tourism and economic activity in Seattle and to provide support to local BIPOC-owned businesses. They saw increased visits and sales to the businesses included in last year’s group.

        The selected businesses join Visit Seattle’s Partnership base with waived membership dues, receive complimentary financial consulting services, and receive Visit Seattle’s promotional support. Mary Grace Roske, senior vice president of marketing and communications and community relations for Seattle Bank, says “We know the difference it makes when people are intentional about where they shop and look forward to encouraging both locals and visitors to explore the diverse cultural fabric of our neighborhoods.”

        To select this year’s businesses, they partnered with Intentionalist, which produces an online guide on intentional spending. The newly opened Convention Center Summit building is expected to attract increased meeting and event attendees to Seattle this year, and they hope to see an influx of visitors to these outstanding businesses.

        O’Melveny & Myers Ask For $139M in Legal Fees after $1 Win in American Airlines Nominal Damages Case

        June 27, 2023—American Airlines attorneys O’Melveny & Myers have asked a judge to award them over $139 million in legal fees following a $1 trial win over Sabre, the United States’ largest flight search and booking company. Prior to a merger with American Airlines, US Airways had sued Sabre for over $1 billion, accusing them of charging excessive fees and harming their competition in the booking market. The legal fees are intended to cover the decade-long case. Sabre earlier this month lost its bid to block O’Melveny from seeking legal fees, but argued that they should not owe American Airlines millions in fees after their $1 win.

        Internet For All: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Allocation of $42.45B High-Speed Internet Grant Program Funds

        June 27, 2023—The Biden-Harris administration announced the allocation of $42.45 billion in funding to all 50 U.S. states and territories by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), with funding provided by the president’s “Internet for All” initiative, according to a press release.

        “What this announcement means for people across the country is that if you don’t have access to quality, affordable high-speed Internet service now – you will, thanks to President Biden and his commitment to investing in America,” said Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo. “Whether it’s connecting people to the digital economy, manufacturing fiber-optic cable in America, or creating good-paying jobs building Internet infrastructure in the states, the investments we’re announcing will increase our competitiveness and spur economic growth across the country for years to come.”

        The initiative is a key component of President Biden’s “Investing in America” agenda with the goal of deploying affordable, high-speed internet service to everyone in the U.S. known as the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program.

        LaGuardia Airport Workers Strike in Response to Unfair Labor Practices

        June 22, 2023—LaGuardia Airport cabin cleaners and ramp workers are on strike today to protest unfair labor practices, according to a press release from Service Employees International Union. The statement says that their employer, Swissport USA, has responded to collective action with retaliation and interrogation, and that they lack fair wages and affordable healthcare. Their workforce is burdened with staffing shortages and high turnover.  

        Striking workers planned to come to a 24-hour full work stoppage today, beginning with a rally at 1:00 p.m. EDT. State senators Jessica Ramos, Kristen Gonzalez, John Liu, City Council Member Francisco Moya, and Queen Borough President Donovan Richards, all joined the rally in solidarity. 

        The union urged Congress to support the fair wages and benefit standards covered by Airport Workers United’s Good Jobs for Good Airports Act in the coming FAA Reauthorization.

        At this time, it is unclear if this work stoppage has affected flights. 

        Denver Welcomes Record-High Numbers of Visitors in 2022

        June 22, 2023—In 2022, visitors flocked to Denver in record-high numbers. Up 15% over 2021, 36.3 million visitors surpassed pre-pandemic levels and generated $9.4 billion in revenue. This data was put forth by the 2022 Longwoods International annual visitor profile study. Longwoods International’s research also showed the VISIT DENVER’S impressive ROI for their 2022 summer advertising campaign, resulting in $167 in visitor spending and $19 in taxes for every $1 in advertising investment.

        Richard W. Scharf, president and CEO of VISIT DENVER says, “Tourism continues to be a key economic driver for our city, and we are pleased to see travel demand return in such a big way.”

        Global DMC Partners Recognizes Top Destination Management Companies

        June 21, 2023Global DMC Partners recognized five Destination Management Companies (DMCs) for leadership and innovation in a special ceremony at their ninth annual Connection event in Dubai. Global DMC Partners President and CEO Catherine Chaulet says, “it is important to us to be able to recognize [our members’] outstanding efforts and achievements, particularly this past year as we saw our industry rebound and grow like never before.”

        The winners in each category are:

        U.S. DMC Partner of the Year

        Chicago Is LLC

        International DMC Partner of the Year

        Ikebana Events

        DMC Achievement Award

        Destination Concepts, Inc.

        U.S. DMC Stellar Performer

        Kara Adams, INNOVATX Events

        International DMC Stellar Performer

        Andrea Wild, The DMC SA

        DoJ Announces New National Security Cyber Section in Response to Cyber Threats

        June 20, 2023—The U.S. Department of Justice today announced the formation of the new National Security Cyber Section, also known as “NatSec Cyber” for short. The new section is part of the National Security Division and was created in response to the 2022 Comprehensive Cyber Review outlining the challenges of escalating cyber threats, according to a press release.

        “NatSec Cyber will give us the horsepower and organizational structure we need to carry out key roles of the Department in this arena,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This new section will allow NSD to increase the scale and speed of disruption campaigns and prosecutions of nation-state threat actors, state-sponsored cybercriminals, associated money launderers, and other cyber-enabled threats to national security.”

        The National Security Cyber Section will broaden the Justice Department’s ability to better respond to cyber threats while facilitating and promoting department-wide and intragovernmental partnerships to combat malicious cyber activity.

        Norse Atlantic Inaugural Service, JFK to Rome

        June 20, 2023 — Norse Atlantic Airways has announced the first of its now daily flights between New York’s JFK airport and Rome Fiumicino Airport which departed the major airport today. The flights between the two internationally famous destinations will depart from JFK daily at 12:30 p.m. EDT daily and land in Rome at 3:15 p.m. local time. As travelers return back to America, they will receive a similar standardized daily routine — flights will depart Rome at 6:55 p.m. local time daily and passengers can expect to arrive at JFK at 10:30 p.m. EDT that same day.

        This will be the fifth European gateway from JFK for Norse Atlantic Airways, after Oslo, London, Paris and Berlin. According to the press release, flights from JFK to Rome will be starting at $259 for a one-way ticket including taxes and fees.

        MMGY Global Announces Acquisition of TCI Research

        June 20, 2023—Leading travel and hospitality firm MMGY Global today announced its acquisition of TCI Research, a European travel, tourism and hospitality data intelligence organization, to create MMGY TCI Research. This acquisition brings MMGY to over 550 employees and 12 offices around the globe, expanding its European presence and its travel intelligence operations.

        Founder of TCI Research Oliver Henry-Biabaud says, “Through the MMGY Global investment in TCI Research, we bring our clients unrivaled research solutions that can connect the dots for their data-driven decision-making.” Henry-Biabaud will serve as Partner and Managing Director of MMGY TCI Research, and partner Emmanuel Meniuer will serve as Senior Vice President, Europe. Executive Vice President of MMGY Travel Intelligence, Chris Davidson says, “By partnering with TCI Research, we’re aligning with a leading brand that is synonymous with data integrity while also expanding MMGY Global’s presence and capabilities throughout Europe.”

        MPI WEC 2023 in Mexican Caribbean Prioritized Learning and Connections for 1,500 Meeting Professionals

        June 16, 2023Meeting Professionals International (MPI) World Education Congress (WEC) 2023 at the all-inclusive Barcelo resorts in the Mexican Caribbean this week drew 1,4000 attendees live with another 150 attending virtually. Of the in-person attendees, more than 600 were event planners and the Latin American community represented over 100 in total.

        The association’s membership is almost 12,000 members, a surge in new supplier numbers in the past 18 months after a drastic decline during the pandemic. There are nearly 6,000 planner members, composed of corporate, ISBO (independent and small business owners) and associations.

        Incoming board members were announced. 2023 MPI International Board of Directors (IBOD) Chair will be Michelle Allgauer, senior vice president of education and engagement at Financial Services Institute (FSI). Susie Townsend, chief destination experience officer for Visit Indy will be the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees (GBOT) Chair-Elect.

        Future WEC locations were recently announced, including:
        • 2024: WEC Louisville, May 21-23
        • 2025: WEC St. Louis, June 17-19
        • 2026: WEC San Antonio, June 2-4

        Destinations International Announces Award Recipients to be Honored at 2023 Convention in Dallas

        June 16, 2023Destinations International, the world’s largest collaborative community of destination organizations, convention and visitors’ bureaus (CVBs) and tourism boards, this morning announced the honorees of their 2023 awards. These award recipients will be recognized at Destination International’s Annual Convention, this year in Dallas, to acknowledge their outstanding positive impacts on the industry. President and CEO of Destinations International Don Welsh says of this year’s recipients, “These visionaries have been responsible for the evolution of our industry and have had a profound impact on its healthy future.”

        The 2023 Awardees are:

        Spirit of Hospitality Award

        Too Fly Foundation

        Destination Organization Leadership Award

        Less than $1M: Melyssa Reeves, CDME, president and CEO, Visit Vacaville

        $1-3M: Alana Cooper, president and CEO, Discover Monroe-West Monroe

        $3-10M: Kyle Edmiston, CDME, president and CEO, Visit Lake Charles

        $10M and Above: Jorge Pesquera, CDME, president and CEO, Discover the Palm Beaches

        Destination Organization Leadership Award for Global Impact

        Destination Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

        Hall of Fame Inductees

        Industry Contributor:

        Victor Hugo Green and Alma Green, creators and editors of The Green Book

        Development Era:

        Dan Mobley, former president and CEO, Louisiana Travel Promotion Association

        Modern Era:

        Joseph McGrath, CDME, former president and CEO, Visit Pittsburgh

        Steve Moore, former president and CEO, Visit Phoenix

        William “Bill” Hanbury, former president and CEO, Bermuda Tourism Authority

        Read More: 2022 Hall of Fame Inductees

        Cvent Announces Acquisition by Blackstone

        June 15, 2023—Industry leader Cvent Holding Corp. (Cvent) this morning announced that it has been acquired by Blackstone, a leading asset manager, for a total enterprise value of about $4.6 million, at $8.50 per share in cash. The transaction sees also an investment from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and participation from current Cvent stockholder Vista Equity Partners (Vista). Cvent will be delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market and has discontinued trading common stock.

        Founder and CEO of Cvent Reggie Aggarwal says, “We believe this partnership with Blackstone positions Cvent to continue leading the market for best-in-class technology to maximize event ROI and impact.” David Schwartz, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, says that they are “thrilled to support [Cvent’s] continued growth and product advancements, bringing Blackstone’s global resources to bear and leveraging the firm’s deep expertise and thematic focus on hospitality, events and real estate.”

        Destinations International and ADMEI Create Education Partnership

        June 14, 2023—Destinations International has partnered with DMC associations organization ADMEI. The partnership will focus on creating content pieces and education on the role of destination organizations and destination management companies (DMCs). The partnership will work to:

        • Collaborate on event cancelation insurance
        • Educate on the differences between destination organizations and DMCs
        • Educate on how destination organizations and DMCs can work together, and discuss how the planner, destination organization and DMC all benefit
        • Develop webinars for each other’s member groups

        “Collaboration is key in today’s environment,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “Aligning with ADMEI and providing our members with educational programs and collaboration opportunities provides our members with powerful resources and tools that will equip them for the future.”

        MPI Announces 2023 RISE Award Winners

        June 13, 2023—Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has announced the outstanding recipients of its Recognizing Industry Success and Excellence (RISE) Awards to be celebrated at the 2023 World Education Congress (WEC23), hosted this year in the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of MPI, says of this year’s award winners, “Their achievements serve as an example of what can be accomplished with dedication and a love for the industry. Let us celebrate their accomplishments and be inspired to pursue our own passions with the same level of enthusiasm and commitment.”

        Recipients are identified as MPI members who have gone above and beyond in “celebrating the spirit of leadership, impact, and innovation.” They are selected by the RISE Awards Judging Panel, made up of an international community of MPI volunteers. Seven total awards are given between two categories of individual achievement and community achievement.

        The 2023 MPI RISE Award Winners are:

        Individual Achievement

        RISE Award for Meeting Industry Leadership

        Paola Bowman

        RISE Award for Member of the Year

        John Kirby

        RISE Award for Young Professional Achievement

        Caroline Cole

        Community Achievement

        RISE Award for Marketplace Excellence

        New York Chapter

        RISE Award for Educational Programming

        New Jersey Chapter

        RISE Award for Industry Advocate

        Caribe Mexicano Chapter

        RISE Award for Membership Achievement

        Kansas City Chapter

        Fontainebleau Las Vegas Announces Resort President and Executive Leaders

        June 12, 2023—The eagerly awaited luxury resort Fontainebleau Las Vegas, scheduled to open in December 2023, has announced a stunning team of executive leadership, headed first by Mark Tricano as president of the resort. Mr. Tricano holds over 20 years of experience working in leading companies in the hospitality, finance and gaming industries. Michelle Reda will fill the role of Chief Casino Marketing Officer and brings with her 25 years of experience in the Las Vegas luxury hospitality and gaming industries. Kimberly Virtuoso will serve as Senior Vice President of People to lead the resort in its human resources department and build the staff that will make Fontainebleau Las Vegas a premier destination.   

        Fontainebleau Las Vegas is a joint development between Koch Real Estate Investments of Koch Industries and Fontainebleau Development, a leader in the real estate development and hospitality industries.  

        President of Fontainebleau Development, Brett Mufson, says of these executives, “their passion, appreciation for excellence, and entrepreneurial spirit make each one of them a natural fit to complement the leadership team we have built to date. As stewards of our brand, its culture and heritage, we are thrilled to welcome them to Fontainebleau, as we look to establish ourselves as the pinnacle of luxury hospitality to a new generation of guests.”  

        MPI WEC23 Offers Digital Option

        June 12, 2023—Can’t make it to the Mexican Caribbean June 13-15? Meeting Professionals International is offering World Education Congress 23 (WEC23) live streaming access to all five main stage sessions and seven concurrent sessions with on-demand access to captured sessions following the eventa total of 90 clock hoursfor $99. Amani Roberts (DJ AmRo) will act as WEC23 Digital Experience host.

        Global Business Travel Association Announces Education Sessions

        June 9, 2023—Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) this week announced the education lineup for the upcoming GBTA Convention 2023. The convention, slated to take place August 13-15 in Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, will feature 12 education tracks and three professional development levels across over 90 educational sessions.

        The 12 education tracks will cover topics including accommodations, payment solutions, technology and innovation, sustainability and others.

        Southern California Hotel Workers Vote to Authorize Strike

        June 9, 2023—Southern California’s largest hospitality union, UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents more than 32,000 room attendants, cooks, dishwashers, front desk agents, servers and food service workers, have voted to authorize a strike. UNITE HERE Local 11 said in a release that it could call for a strike at dozens of hotels with more than 15,000 workers as early as July 4th weekend.  At the top on the list of concerns for hotel workers is the rising cost of housing.  The groups says that the strike authorization vote comes after more than a month of failed negotiations with hotel employers–including Hyatt, Hilton, Highgate, Accor, IHG, and Marriott. The union’s key demands are an immediate $5 an hour wage increase to keep pace with the cost of housing; affordable family healthcare; a pension that will enable workers to retire with security, and a “safe and humane” workload.

        NYC Air Quality Remains Hazardous: Mayor Halts Outdoor Activity

        June 8, 2023—NYC Mayor Eric Adams has called a halt to all official NYC outdoor activities and has asked private groups to curtail outdoor events as well as the toxic haze coming from Canadian wildfires continues to bedevil a city that was girt in an orange haze most of Wednesday. Some flights into LaGuardia and Newark were delayed up to 90 minutes earlier in the day and if the haze descends again, the delays may worsen. People are being told to stay indoors and if they do venture out to wear NK95 masks, being handed out today at subway stations around the city.

        NYC Issues Air Quality Health Advisory After Canadian Fire Cloud Descends

        June 7, 2023—NYC has issued an air quality health advisory after fires in Quebec, Canada created a smoke and haze event that cancelled all outdoor events and sent city dwellers inside or reaching for NK95 masks once again. The massive forest fires in Canada created a cloud of smoke that covered the Eastern Seaboard but was notably dangerous to health in NYC where pollution and ozone issues have exacerbated the haze.

        As of 2:44 PM on Wednesday, July 7, news outlets were warning that if visibility got lower, flights would potentially be postponed or canceled. The smoke event is predicted to last until this weekend with warnings that forest fire season in Eastern Canada typically worsens in July.

        Benchmark Study Reveals American and Canadian Stance on Tourism Industry

        June 7, 2023—A report examining the attitudes of Americans and Canadians toward the tourism industry was released today by Destinations International and Longwoods International with data compiled in the benchmark study, “2022 National Resident Sentiment Towards Tourism,” according to a press release.

        The survey involved participation from 5,000 adults in the U.S. and Canada and measured feedback on a regional and generational level to provide results and insights for the tourism industry. The national benchmark evaluation is the first of its kind in a post-Covid-19 world and reflects the attitudes of American and Canadian citizens as travel and tourism quickly rebound.

        “We are pleased to continue to track the trends and insights into how United States and Canada residents view the travel and tourism industry with our partnership in research with Longwoods International,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International.  “The study demonstrates the continued need across both borders to continue to educate and inform our residents as to why our industry matters, so they may feel connected and supportive of our work versus being against it.”

        “As we have continued year over year with this research study, it’s clear that it is important that destination organizations not simply demonstrate their work to local residents, but actively keep them engaged and educated on all of your initiatives,” said Amir Eylon, President and CEO of Longwoods International. “The research shows us that a well-informed community is a supportive community of tourism.”

        Tango Gains ISO 27001 Certification for Information Security Excellence

        June 6, 2023—Tango, a rewards and payments company, has been certified according to the ISO 27001:2013 standard, deeming it a trusted partner for security, privacy in digital rewards incentives and payouts.

        “We’re proud to have met and exceeded the rigorous standards set forth by ISO 27001:2013.  Many view teams like security, compliance, regulatory, and legal as cost centers or back-office functions. From day one, we have viewed these as core to the products and services we deliver and this is critical for our customers,” said David Leeds, CEO and founder of Tango.

        Tango currently operates in more than 80 countries and is a leader in the rewards and payments industry.

        Caesars Entertainment Announced as One of 50 Most Community-Minded Companies in the U.S. for 9th Year

        June 5, 2023—Today Points of Light, the world’s largest nonprofit that is determined to support people-powered change, announced that Caesars Entertainment is one of 50 most community-minded companies in the United States. This will be the 9th consecutive year Caesars Entertainment has been included among The Civic 50.

        “At Caesars, we take our CSR initiatives very seriously; it drives how we do business and we strive to continue to improve on our goals year-over-year. To receive this recognition proves that we’re doing just that and we can’t wait to continue making progress,” said Heather Rapp, SVP of Corporate Responsibility.

        The report on the honorees included key trends, benchmarking data and insights from the honorees themselves.

        Caesars formed the PEOPLE PLANET PLAY to provide framework for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives for the community and the environment

        Events Management Firm PRA Acquires Weil & Associates

        June 5, 2023—Business events management company, PRA, announced the acquisition of Weil & Associates—a leader in the destination management sector in the Hawaii market—expanding PRA’s reach in the incentive market, according to a press release.

        Weil & Associates was founded in 2002 and specializes in event design, incentive programs, transportation solutions, excursions, as well as a wide variety of custom and unique experiences. Under the acquisition, Weil & Associates will be rebranded as PRA Hawaii under the direction of Weil & Associates founder, Debbie Weil-Manuma.

        “We welcome Debbie and her incredible team to the PRA family in anticipation of our next exciting chapter ahead. This expansion of our PRA Hawaii team will serve our valued clients well in this key destination,” said PRA CEO Mike Fiber.

        “Hawaii is a highly competitive market and Weil & Associates has always been among the very best in our sector. Now working in conjunction with PRA’s industry-leading creative, production, and global sales team, the team will be able to deliver even stronger solutions in this important market and beyond,” he added.

        ASAE Announces 2023 Gold Circle Award Winners

        June 1, 2023—ASAE today announced the winners of the 2023 Gold Circle Awards following 170 submissions across 16 categories that were evaluated by 200 judges for creativity, execution and success of outstanding marketing, membership and communications campaigns in the association community, according to a press release. ASAE develops and deploys business solutions to businesses within the association community.

        “I am thrilled to extend my congratulations to the winners of the 2023 ASAE Gold Circle Awards,” said Diana Dabdub, CAE, director of admissions & recruitment affairs at the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges and Chair of the ASAE Gold Circle Awards Committee. “The Gold Circle Awards recognize and highlight the significant role that marketing, membership and communications association professionals play in promoting and supporting the growth of associations and their members. This year, the Gold Circle Awards categories have been updated to encourage and promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in campaign development. The winning campaigns showcase innovation, collaboration, creativity and thoughtful incorporation of the diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility perspective in their design and implementation.”

        Winners of the 2023 Gold Circle Awards will be recognized during ASAE’s 2023 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference (MMCC) as well as the winner of the Overall Excellence Award. The MMCC is slated for June 21-22.

        The 2023 Gold Circle Award winners are:

        Overall Excellence Award Winner

        To Be Announced June 22 at MMCC

        Advocacy Campaign

        The Oklahoma State Medical Association

        Oklahoma State Medical Association’s Pro-Science Campaign

        Convention/Meetings Marketing Campaign

        The American Institute of Architects

        Women’s Leadership Summit

        Digital Publications

        American Osteopathic Association

        The DO

        E-Newsletter

        Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits + Arizona Grantmakers Forum

        IDEA(s) in Motion Newsletter

        Media/Public Relations Campaign

        The American Association of Immunologists

        AAI National Immunization Awareness Month Campaign

        Member Retention Campaign

        American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology

        Power in Membership

        Membership Recruitment Campaign

        The American Institute of Architects

        Architects Designing a Better World Campaign

        Member/Volunteer Engagement Campaign

        American Staffing Association

        ASA Women in Leadership Initiative

        New Product/Service Launch

        American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

        AAOS IDEA Grant Program

        Podcasts

        American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

        ASHP Official Podcast

        Print Magazine

        Florida Realtors®

        Florida Realtor®, The Business Magazine of Florida Real Estate

        Rebranding Campaign

        Water Professionals International

        Our Successful Rebrand to Water Professionals International

        Sponsorship/Exhibits/Advertising Promotion

        Society of Women Engineers

        WE22 Conference Prospectus and Partnership Guide: A Better Opportunity for Results

        Video

        School Nutrition Association

        Bring More to the Table

        Website

        School Nutrition Association

        School Nutrition Association Website Redesign

        San Francisco Launches Multi-Million Global Marketing Campaign

        May 30-2023– The San Francisco Travel Association has launched a new, multi-million-dollar global marketing campaign, “Aways San Francisco,” targeting leisure travelers and meeting planners in major domestic markets and key international markets. The destination campaign is targeting the meetings trade, as conventions and meetings are a significant component of San Francisco’s tourism industry.

        The over $6 million campaign features SF Travel’s first TV ad spot, celebrates San Francisco’s “bold inviting, and playful ethos,” and features iconic SF locations and local San Franciscans:

        • It includes cameos by locals, such as Lady Camden (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”), artist Sirron Norris, dancers from the AXIS Dance Company, musicians Mae Powell and Michael O’Konis, Chinatown lion dancers, and chefs from Michelin-starred Angler.
        • SF Travel has collaborated with local and San Francisco-connected musicians to reimagine Judy Garland’s beloved rendition of the classic “San Francisco” song for its campaign video – and recorded at Hyde Street Studios, which has produced recordings for rock icons such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Santana.

        Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Hosts Dell Technologies World

        May 26, 2023 Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino welcomed attendees and exhibitors to Dell Technologies World this week as the resort marks the completion of its North Convention Center. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center remodel includes technology upgrades, digital signage and new design.

        “This remodel exemplifies our commitment to evolve alongside the meetings industry by enhancing the experience from start to finish,” said Ernest Stovall, VP of Hotel Sales for Mandalay Bay. “When attendees walk away, we hope they’re already looking forward to returning next year for a memorable and productive session.”

        The debut of the North Convention Center marks the completion of Phase One in the $100M remodel of the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center which is expected to be fully complete by mid-2024. The Convention Center remodel is part of a new enhancements and experiences coming to Mandalay Bay including the redesign of Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas’ 424 rooms and suites; the recent addition of Retro by Voltaggio; the debut of Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar in June; and the fall opening of the immersive Play Playground at Luxor.

        Cvent Announces New AI Writing Tool

        May 24, 2023 -Cvent has announced the launch of its AI Writing Assistant. The tool, incorporated directly within the Cvent platform, allows generative AI to streamline the content creation process, helping event professionals and marketers produce event content, quickly. Cvent said in a release that the system can be used for event emails, event websites, session descriptions, request for proposal (RFP) responses for sourcing venues, and more.

        The AI Writing Assistant’s intelligent algorithm adapts to user guidelines (which include formal, enthusiastic, or playful, and concise or verbose, among others) to generate content that aligns with their brand tone and voice.  The new innovation will be available to all Cvent users for free within its event marketing & management platform including in solutions such as Attendee Hub, Registration, and Cvent Supplier Network, among others. The AI Writing Assistant is available now.

        Destinations International Advances European Pathfinders Challenge

        May 24, 2023—Destinations International (DI) today announced the launch of the European Pathfinders Journey Global Challenges Call for Global Collaboration industry brief. The brief was launched during IMEX Frankfurt.

        The DI Pathfinders are a forward-thinking group of European destination professionals committed to tackling key issues facing destination organizations today. Since the program’s launch at IMEX Frankfurt 2022, the European Pathfinders have been working with partners and the DI team to bring key trends in European destinations to light and understand how leaders in the industry are stepping up to address these challenges and opportunities.

        Key areas include:

        • Development of best practices​.
        • Support the evolution of digital platforms​.
        • Amplify the need for all sustainable development choices​.
        • Create tools to measure social and environmental impact​.
        • Industry research for data-based, strategic decision making​.

        PCMA Launches Project Spark to Uncover Practical Applications of Generative AI

        May 24, 2023—PCMA and CEMA President and CEO, Sherrif Karamat, CAEand Gevme CEO, Veemal Gungadin today announced Project Spark, a complimentary research and educational initiative to uncover the impact of generative artificial intelligence (AI) on the business events industry. Under this initiative, the AI model will be tested for various practical applications within the scope of business events to understand its impact on workforce productivity.  

        Project Spark, in its first phase, offers business event strategists access to a generative AI platform designed to increase efficiency in achieving event goals and is supported by educational content and engagement sessions to aid in the learning process. This is complemented by an online community to foster collaborative research evolution.  

        Those who wish to be part of this transformational initiative are invited to visit Project Spark to join the community waitlist.    

        New Orleans Sustainability Lead Recognized

        May 24, 2023—New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Linda Baynham was recently recognized as one of five local Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) Champions by New Orleans and Company, the city’s destination marketing organization. Honored during the weeklong celebration, NTTW champions are individuals in the industry who are passionate about their chosen field and create positive impacts in the community. Each of the five champions represents a different sector of the hospitality and tourism industry.

        As Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Baynham establishes company-wide sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals for the Convention Center. She reaches these goals through the Center’s recycling programs and its energy and water reduction initiatives, and she works closely with internal and external partners to implement sustainability programs.

        World of Hyatt Celebrates Launch of Impression by Secrets Isla Mujeres

        May 24, 2023—World of Hyatt on Wednesday announced the launch of the hospitality company’s newest brand, Impression by Secrets, with the opening of Impression by Secrets Isla Mujeres, according to a press release.

        The new all-inclusive, adults-only resort is located on the island of Isla Mujeres northeast of Cancun. The latest addition to World of Hyatt’s portfolio expands the brand’s overall presence to 120 resorts globally. The new brand is anticipated to set the benchmark for personalized service through the “Endless Privileges” concept, which allows guests to personalize the resort’s luxury amenities to create a distinct experience.

        The unique destination also has its sights set on preserving the natural splendor of the island implementing sustainable practices. “The resort already holds an environmental certification from Preserve by Nature, and is part of the Saving our Sharks Foundation, which is headquartered on property and dedicated to protecting the sea life of Isla Mujeres,” the press release read.

        Hilton Announces Project H3

        May 23, 2023 — Hilton announced today in a press release that it will be launching an extended-stay brand for the workforce travel market. These apartment-style units are meant for guests who are staying 20 nights or longer while still benefiting from Hilton’s hospitality.

        Project H3 is the working title for the project, the brand is currently unnamed. According to the press release, Project H3 “delivers an exciting investment option for developers looking to diversify their portfolio under the Hilton name.”

        ExCeL Become First UK Venue to Open Checkout-Free Store

        May 22, 2023—The London event venue ExCeL opened ‘Market Express’ today, the first frictionless, checkout-free store within an events space in the UK.
        Powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out AI technology in partnership with Levy UK + Ireland, the store will further enhance the visitor food and beverage experience. Visitors to ExCeL’s Market Express simply tap their payment card or mobile wallet upon entry and then the Amazon Just Walk Out technology detects what is picked up from or returned to its shelves, creating a virtual shopping session.

        Visit Oakland announced 21% Increase in Visitor Volumes

        May 18, 2023—Visit Oakland hosted IMPACT 510: The Town Tourism Day at Blok 15 near Jack London Square to announce that 2022 visitors spend $590 million last year on lodging (33%), food and beverage, transportation, retail and recreation.

        “We have so much to be proud of in Oakland” said Visit Oakland President and CEO Peter Gamez. “Our visitor volumes increased 21% in 2022. This is so powerful for The Town because travel confidence has continued to build and bolster the recovery in Oakland. It was particularly important to us that IMPACT 510 The Town Tourism Day was both informative and inspiring.  It was a day shared with all who live, work and visit Oakland.”

        “Oakland’s travel and hospitality industry has a lot to celebrate as it makes tremendous strides on the road to recovery, and provides incredible value for the community in many ways,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California, the state’s tourism marketing organization. “As the Town once again welcomes visitors from around the world, hospitality businesses are supporting thousands of jobs and solidifying Oakland as a world-class destination.”

        Washington, DC, Welcomed 20.7 Million Visitors in 2022; Generates Record Number of Jobs

        May 18, 2023—Destination DC announced that domestic visitation in 2022 rebounded to 91% of pre-pandemic levels. Visitors spent $8.1 billion and supported a record 84,111 jobs in 2022. Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO, led a rally for hundreds of hospitality industry professionals to celebrate the importance of tourism to the local economy.

        “As an economic development organization, we are optimistic about the increase in domestic visitation, near pre-pandemic levels of visitor spending and record jobs and tax revenue for Washington, DC last year,” said Ferguson. “But it’s important to be aggressive to grow domestic market share and impact international and business travel. Additional funding through Tourism Recovery District legislation allows us to compete with other top-tier destinations with larger budgets.”

        Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Details about New Area of Park

        May 18, 2023—Universal Orlando Resort shared details about ways attendees can eat, laugh and make mischief with the Minions in the highly anticipated Minion Land on Illumination Ave., an immersive new area created in partnership between Universal’s award-winning creative team and the acclaimed filmmakers from Illumination. Opening this summer at Universal Studios Florida, the new land expands upon the wildly popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction and will debut a new collection of experiences inspired by the beloved Minions franchise for attendees to enjoy during their next in-park event.

        As soon as attendees enter the land, they’ll be greeted by a fun, photo-worthy “Minion Land” marquee featuring 22 Minions before embarking on the mischief that awaits along Illumination Ave. Features include blasting their way to supervillain stardom in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast to savoring tasty dishes at the Minion Cafe to snacking on banana-flavored popcorn at Pop-a-Nana and meeting fan-favorite characters along the way.

        This follows exciting news earlier in the year where the company announced plans to build a one-of-kind, original theme park for families with young children in Frisco, Texas.

        Universal Orlando offers completely customizable meeting space and a variety of unique outdoor event venues to accommodate groups both large and small. 

        United Airlines Pilots Picketing, Flights Not Affected as of 5/12

        May 12, 2023—United Airlines pilots are picketing at the United Flight Training Center in Denver, along with nine other cities. United has struggled, along with other major airlines, with pilot re-hiring, canceled flights, and out-of-date software systems.

        As of Friday, May 12, at 3:00 p.m. EST, there were no flight cancellations due to the picketing. United said on Thursday evening that, “All United flights will operate as planned while our pilots exercise their right to distribute information and picket while off-duty.” Check here for updates.

        CWT Partners with Booking.com for Business

        May 11, 2023—Global business travel and meetings specialist CWT has announced a new partnership with Booking.com for Business, designed to support small business customers. According to a press release, this partnership will includes discounted travel rates, access to membership rewards from third-party loyalty programs, as well as 24/7 travel agent support, to be provided by CWT.

        “We understand everyone has different travel preferences,” said Joshua Wood, director of Booking.com for Business. “For some it’s important to maximize status and loyalty points when they travel, while others are more focused on finding the best deal for their trips. And when disruption happens, everybody values the ability to contact an agent any time of day or night to get support. With this partnership, Booking.com for Business customers will have all of this in one place, along with the tools to manage cost and duty of care with travel expert support wherever they are in the world 24/7.”

        Powered by travel technology company Serko, the Booking.com for Business platform will combine Booking.com room options with CWT’s hotel, flight and car rental content.

        This partnership is expected to go live in Q2 2023.

        Dusit Hotels and Resorts Opens New Hotels in Thailand, Japan

        May 11, 2023—The rapidly expanding Dusit International and its Dusit Hotels and Resorts brand is opening two new hotels in Bangkok, Thailand, including its first dusitD2, and opening its first hotel in Japan. Following the soft opening of dusitD2 on May 12th, Dusit will continue its expansion of its lifestyle brand ASAI Hotels by opening ASAI Bangkok Sathorn in the city’s business district on May 15th. For the third stage of the expansion, ASAI Kyoto Shijo will be opening in June, 2023 as the brand’s first hotel in Japan.

        In a press release from Dusit International, Chief Operating Officer Gilles Cretallaz promoted the hotels and lifestyle brand.

        “As we continue to execute our plan for domestic and global expansion, we are delighted to welcome three new hotels to our portfolio, including our first dusitD2 branded hotel in Bangkok, our second ASAI hotel in Bangkok, and our first hotel in Japan,” said Cretallaz. “These openings represent significant milestones for our company, and we are confident that their unique positioning and distinctive lifestyle and food and beverage experiences will resonate with travellers from around the world. As we gear up for these launches, we are excited about the future and look forward to making our mark in more key international markets.”

        Read More: Luxury, Culture and White Lotus in Thailand

        Jamaica Wins Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Award for Resilience

        May 10, 2023—Jamaica has been awarded the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA’s) Destination Resilience Award for its recovery efforts during the COVID-19 Pandemic and tourism resilience-building initiatives.

        The Caribbean Destination Resilience Award recognizes destinations with a deliberate focus on resilience as indicated by their commitments to address some or all of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO’s) 17 sustainable development goals. Special emphasis is placed on highlighting destinations that subscribe to a collaborative and partnership-focused approach, engaging public and private sector stakeholders in innovative, needs-driven strategies.

        The island, under the stewardship of the Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, created a Covid-19 Recovery Taskforce with public and private sector stakeholders. Based on the innovative initiatives from this Taskforce, Jamaica reopened its borders in June 2020 and never closed since.

        In accepting the award, Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett said, “This award is for my entire tourism team and all our private and public sector partners who immediately saw the need to keep the lifeblood of the country open. From the minds and hard work of the team, Jamaica was first out of the blocks on the road to recovery.”

        Michelin Launches First Philadelphia Guide

        May 10, 2023—This spring, Michelin published its very first Philadelphia destination guide, highlighting the city’s top leisure travel experiences and calling it the “Frenchest American city.” The guide described The City of Brotherly Love as a place that “offers the perfect compromise between American excess and European spirit, not to mention all the appeal of a city packed with art, history, and a cultural effervescence few people expect.”

        The guide editors also list their “top picks” for dining, including classic cheesesteak spots like Campo’s and Ishkabibble’s and new favorites like South Philly Barbacoa and Her Place. Of Philadelphia’s food scene, the guide says, “the city offers many mouthwatering reasons for foodies to make a beeline for Philly.”

        The guide will be available in both French and English language editions.

        Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Begins $600 Million Convention Center Renovation 

        May 9, 2023—Tourism and business leaders joined today at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) to kick off a $600 million renovation of the facility’s legacy campus. The renovation extends the contemporary design, architecture, and customer experience of the 1.4 million square foot West Hall, which debuted in 2021. Work will continue through 2025, with construction designed to accommodate and minimize disruption to scheduled tradeshows.

        “We have been the number one tradeshow destination for nearly three decades, and we are committed to being the number one tradeshow destination for another three decades,” said Steve Hill president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “This renovation will provide our customers with an experience that will make them want to come back year after year.”

        Some key highlights of the renovation include:

        • The continuation of the signature West Hall exterior ribbon roof will create architectural cohesion across the entire campus.
        • An outdoor plaza and indoor lobby at the South Hall will create a sense of arrival and provide direct access to new pre-function space and a second-floor boardroom.
        • A climate-controlled interior concourse between the North Hall and the South Hall will provide interior access across the entire campus.
        • An expansive Grand Lobby between the North and Central halls will offer ample natural light and views of both halls.
        • A newly designed parking lot outside of Central Hall (Silver Lot) will feature a Vegas Loop station to transport guests to/from Wynn and Encore (expected to debut in Spring 2024).
        • Innovative technology, including sleek, digital displays, digital pylon signs, wayfinding, and interactive information kiosks throughout the facility.
        • Technology upgrades will result in upgraded electrical access for tradeshow organizers and exhibitors and increased connectivity for guests.

         

        Health Care Center Opens in Orange County Convention Center

        May 9, 2023—Orlando Health, a non-profit healthcare organization serving southeastern United States, and Visit Orlando, the Official Tourism Association for Orlando, have partnered to launch the Orlando Health Virtual Care Center inside the Orange County Convention Center. At the Virtual Care Center, located in the West Building, near the Visit Orlando Welcome Center in the central lobby, medical providers will be able to evaluate medical conditions for attendees during large conventions.

        “High-quality healthcare is conveniently accessible for conference attendees through the Orlando Health Virtual Care Center,” said Thibaut van Marcke, senior vice president of Orlando Health’s southeast region and president of Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. “A board-certified physician will assess patients with minor conditions so they can resume their activities at the convention center and enjoy the rest of their visit in Orlando.”

        LVE Named Nevada Family-owned Small Business of the Year

        May 9, 2023—The Nevada Small Business Administration presented trade show management company LVE with the 2023 Nevada Family-Owned Small Business of the Year award at their annual luncheon at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas this week.

        Nicholas Cordaro, president of LVE, accepted the award on behalf of his sister, Jennifer, and their father Robert. Together, they lead an exposition company with 96 full-time employees and 145,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space in Las Vegas. In addition to the company’s Las Vegas headquarters, LVE has offices in Nashville, New Jersey, and Orlando.

        San Luis Obispo Tourism Industry Hits Record Travel Revenue

        May 8, 2023—The Destination Marketing and Management Organization for San Luis Obispo County announced Monday that the total revenue for 2022 reached $2.15 billion in direct travel spending, surpassing the previous record of $2.02 billion set in 2019, according to a press release.

        “We are ecstatic to share the news of our record-breaking year for tourism,” said Chuck Davison, President and CEO of Visit SLO CAL. “Tourism is the number two economic driver in the region, second only to agriculture. Travel impacts every sector of business and supports local economies across the globe, including right here in SLO CAL. Visitors support numerous sectors across SLO CAL including accommodations, transportation, food and beverage, attractions, retail and more. Between the taxes tourism generates and the local businesses it supports, tourism plays an important role in positively contributing to the quality of life for our residents.”

        In addition, the total number of visitors to the county in 2022 were just shy of those in 2019, indicating that the travelers spent more in 2022 while generating $116 million in local tax revenue.

        ASAE announces Shape Your Purpose Theme for Atlanta Annual

        May 5, 2023—The theme of ASAE’s 2023 Annual Meeting & Exposition Aug. 5-8 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta will be “Shape Your Purpose,” which recognizes the unique approach that associations take when defining their personal and organizational purpose. Over three days, the ASAE Annual Meeting will provide a unique opportunity to partake in authentic, engaging, thought-provoking, and positive experiences for attendees that support the power of the association community to shape a better future for the industries they serve and for the world we share.

        “As we prepare to welcome the association community to Atlanta this summer, ASAE is focused on creating a transformational experience for our attendees,” said ASAE President and CEO Michelle Mason, FASAE, CAE. “When we look at the changing world in which we operate, associations should be at the forefront of innovation, workforce development, culture-building and influence. The ASAE Annual Meeting is going to deliver an inclusive, immersive environment for association professionals to learn, grow and shape their purpose.”

        Fontainebleau Las Vegas Announces December 2023 Opening

        May 5, 2023 —Fontainebleau Development announced in a recruitment press release that it would be opening the 67-story, integrated luxury resort and casino Fontainebleau Las Vegas in December. Development Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Soffer called the expansion the closing of the circle for the company’s longtime vision of hosting its brand on the Las Vegas Strip. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to finish what we started and finally introduce the iconic Fontainebleau brand into one of the world’s largest hospitality destinations,” he said in an earlier release.

        International Travel Requirements for COVID-19 End May 11th

        May 3, 2023 — The White House announced in a brief this week that COVID-19 related travel bans such as vaccination requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors and international travelers will be ending on May 11th. Citing statistics reflecting COVID-19 related death rates decreased by 95% and hospitalizations decreased by 21%, The White House released a brief announcing the success of the previous health protocols that have been taken and the confidence in lifting the regulations and restrictions for international travelers.

        Today, we are announcing that the Administration will end the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors, and international air travelers at the end of the day on May 11, the same day that the COVID-19 public health emergency ends.

        Caesars Entertainment Announces Plans to Renovate Tower at Paris Las Vegas

        May 2, 2023—Caesars Entertainment on Tuesday announced plans to renovate the Jubilee Tower at Horseshoe Las Vegas, which will include a new interior and exterior, according to a press release.

        The Jubilee Tower will be replaced by the new Versailles Tower, introducing 756 redesigned luxury guestrooms and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Versailles Tower to the existing Paris resort. The renovations will exceed $100 million and will integrate the new tower into Paris Las Vegas, according to a press release.

        “We know our guests, especially our Caesars Rewards members, love Paris Las Vegas. Over the past year we’ve made significant enhancements to elevate the destination, bringing new concepts like Vanderpump à Paris, Nobu, The Bedford by Martha Stewart and most recently, a completely renovated sportsbook,” said Regional President of Caesars Entertainment, Sean McBurney. “The addition of the Versailles Tower makes Paris one of the largest resorts in the heart of The Strip. The interior and exterior will be completely reimagined and transformed into some of the best rooms in Las Vegas. When it opens this fall, our guests will have easy access to the incredible restaurants and gaming options they have grown to love at Paris Las Vegas.”

        The tower renovations are slated for completion in late 2023 with the expected completion of the pedestrian bridge to follow in early 2024.

        MGM Resorts Launches Touring Candlelight Concert Series

        May 1, 2023—MGM Resorts International is launching a Candlelight Concert Series and philanthropic effort to celebrate its meetings and conventions clients throughout the United States. Benefitting Save The Music Foundation, the invite-only events provide clients a one-of-a-kind experience demonstrating MGM Resorts’ position as a leader in live entertainment and its commitment to serving and uplifting communities. The series kicked off at the Wimbish House in Atlanta, Georgia.

        The Candlelight Concert Series will travel to additional markets across the country through July, entertaining MGM Resorts’ clients in, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. Guests can expect an unforgettable night of contemporary music performed by a string quartet, with each concert focusing on the musical portfolio of Beyonce, Coldplay or “From Bach to Beatles.” Presented by leading live-entertainment discovery platform Fever, performances are hosted in intimate, awe-inspiring venues completely illuminated by candlelight.

        “The Candlelight Concert Series reflects MGM Resorts’ dedication to our customers and their communities by creating unparalleled entertainment experiences not just in Las Vegas, but around the country,” said Stephanie Glanzer, senior vice president and chief sales officer for MGM Resorts.

        At the conclusion of the series, a donation will be made on behalf of attendees to Save The Music Foundation, a nonprofit committed to helping students, schools and communities reach their full potential through the power of making music. For 25 years, Save The Music has invested in public schools across the nation to ensure communities receive equitable access to music education resources. MGM Resorts’ donation will be presented during the Candlelight concert in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 22, with proceeds directly supporting an under-resourced music program for a Mississippi-based middle school.

        Kimpton Pittman Hotel Dallas Announces New Director of Sales and Marketing

        May 1, 2023—The Kimpton Pittman Hotel Dallas on Monday announced Bill Jordan, an award-winning sales executive and veteran of the hospitality industry, will take the reins as the new director of sales and marketing for the boutique-brand hotel, according to a press release.

        “Bill is a highly accomplished professional and a true asset to our team, his expertise in sales and marketing, combined with his years of hotel experience will be an invaluable resource to The Kimpton Pittman Hotel Dallas,” said General Manager Rajeev Gopalakrishnan. “We are looking forward to working together and elevating the presence of both the hotel and our acclaimed restaurant, Elm & Good.”

        Jordan formerly served as director of operations, complex director of sales and marketing, and director of sales and marketing at Omni Houston Hotel at Westside. “I am deeply honored to be part of such an iconic and innovative brand at The historic Kimpton Pittman Hotel Dallas,” Jordan said. “Together with our talented team, I look forward to showcasing the unique offerings of our property and creating incredible memories for our guests.

        FAA Activates New Routes Along East Coast

        May 1, 2023—The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday announced 169 new and direct routes along the East Coast ahead of the busy summer travel season with the goal of saving travelers time and money while improving fuel efficiency and safety, according to a press release.

        “These significant improvements to our national airspace system are just in time for summer and will help travelers get to their destinations more efficiently,” according to Tim Arel, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. “The new routes will reduce complexity and redistribute volume across all available airspace. I’m proud of the FAA and industry’s strong collaboration on this project to get it done.”

        The new routes are expected to reduce annual travel time and distance by 6,000 minutes and 40,000 miles while also providing controllers with more flexibility during instances of extreme weather.

        Windham Mountain Announces Upgrades to Historic Catskill Resort

        April 27, 2023—Windham Mountain announced Thursday that the 60-year-old resort will invest in further improvements to enhance the guest experience through the implementation of a multi-year plan, according to a press release.

        The goal of the plan is to provide access to skiing with minimal lift lines, improve the current food and beverage offerings with the redevelopment of all concessions along with the addition of a mid-mountain, Italian Alps-style concept expected by fall 2023. The plan also calls for the creation of additional townhomes and lots for land development and enhanced membership offerings for the existing Members Club while expanding the existing Golf Course as well as other resort amenities and activities.

        “Windham Mountain has remained an independent, multi-generational destination for over six decades and the natural beauty of the town of Windham and surrounding mountains provides a fitting platform to offer great hospitality and memorable experiences, which is our passion,” Sandy Beall, Founder, Beall Investment Partners said. “We are grateful to help support Windham Mountain’s evolution and the integral role it plays in the town and broader Catskills community.”

        Marriott Announces First 19 Projects Under Bridging the Gap Program

        April 26, 2023—Marriott International has announced its first 19 projects that will receive financial support through its Bridging the Gap program.

        The program, which will include Marriott’s Aloft Hotels, Autograph Collection, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suite and Tribute Portfolio brands, was announced in 2022 and aims to build a more diverse Marriott ownership and franchisee community among Black, Native American and women owners, according to a press release.

        “We see hotel ownership as a powerful economic generator—creating good jobs and revenue in the community and an on-ramp to prosperity and intergenerational wealth for hotel owners,” said Anthony Capuano, president and CEO of Marriott International. “Today’s announcement is all about creating  opportunity – and as the name of this program suggests—bridging the gap to hotel ownership that too often exists for underrepresented groups. “I want to congratulate all of these future hotel owners and thank them for working with us to realize their dreams and ours.”

        This initial investment from Marriott is $50 million. In total, the company is expected to reach $1 billion in development projects under the program within three years. To qualify, projects may be new, relicenses or conversion projects in the United States or Canada under any of Marriott’s 30 brands.

        ASAE Research Foundation Announces John H. Graham Fund Scholarships for ReadyMe Program

        April 26, 2023—The ASAE Research Foundation has announced it will utilize the John H. Graham Fund to award 20 scholarships to deserving applicants pursuing professional and personal development through ASAE’s ReadyMe Program. The scholarship application portal is now open through May 21, 2023. Applicants are required to respond to five written DEI topic prompts. Once the application process is closed, a steering and selection committee will select the 20 recipients. All applicants will be informed of selection no later than June 2, 2023.

        FAA Announces Independent Safety Review Board

        April 26, 2023—The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday announced an independent safety review team that will be responsible for the review and reliability of the United State’s air traffic system, according to a press release. The group has been tasked with performing an extensive assessment in order to present concrete recommendations on how the FAA can enhance air traffic safety.

        “We are committed to maintaining the safest period in U.S. aviation history,” said Acting Administrator Billy Nolen. “This team will strengthen our ongoing safety efforts and identify specific investments we can make to bolster the National Airspace System.”

        The group will begin its assessment in May and is expected to complete its work by October 2023.

        ASAE Names 2023 Class of Fellows

        April 25, 2023—ASAE today announced five association leaders to the 2023 class of Fellows program. The annual program confers honorary recognition upon association leaders who have made significant contributions to their organizations and association communities, according to a press release.

        “Congratulations to the 2023 class of Fellows. The Fellows program is among ASAE’s highest honors, recognizing individuals who have made a significant impact on the association community through outstanding volunteer service and inspiring leadership,” said Janice Lachance, FASAE, executive vice president for strategic leadership and global outreach at the American Geophysical Union and chair of the ASAE Fellows. “These five professionals join a cadre of leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to ASAE and are thought leaders for the entire association community.” The 2023 Fellows will be inducted during the annual ASAE Fellows Retreat in June in Vancouver.

        Danielle Baron, MA, MBA, FASAE, CAE

        Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Industry Relations

        School Nutrition Association

        Michael Dominguez, FASAE, CHSE

        President and CEO

        Associated Luxury Hotels International

        Tori Miller Liu, MBA, FASAE, CAE

        CEO

        Association for Intelligent Information Management

        Debra McGuire, MBA, FASAE, CAE, IOM

        Executive Director

        International Association of Assessing Officers

        Bob Moore, MA, MS, FASAE, CAE

        Executive Director

        American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians

        Leading SaaS Company Integrates with Cvent

        April 21, 2023—Bizly, an enterprise technology platform focused on small, simple, self-service meetings and events today announced its integration with Cvent, as well as its listing on the Cvent App Marketplace, according to a press release.

        “In today’s hybrid workforce, small meetings are more important than ever and joining our Bizly solutions together with Cvent through this integration is a natural next step in our evolution as we look to best support our mutual customers,” CEO of Bizly Ron Shah said. “The integration allows any Cvent customer to embed Bizly into their meeting request form process and consolidate data in a powerful way.”

        Cvent users can access Bizly from the meeting request form (MRF), import contacts, and consolidate and match Bizly data into their preferred tool. Bizly customers will initially be able to link data from a Cvent instance directly into the small meetings platform through various APIs.

        Experience Kissimmee Announces Sustainability Initiatives

        April 19, 2023—Experience Kissimmee, the official tourism authority for Osceola County, FL, introduced a new sustainability program with Trees4Travel, an initiative to plant trees to help with creating future forests, restoring eco-systems, and supporting biodiversity and local communities. Plus, an investment is made into a United Nations renewable energy carbon credit, which will help reduce a portion of the meeting organizations’ CO2 emissions. For instance, if a meeting organization actualizes 1,500 paid room nights in Kissimmee, Experience Kissimmee will plant 1,500 trees through the Trees4Travel hybrid program. The meeting organization will receive a certificate of Planet & People Positive Action, which includes a UN CER certificate, post-meeting.

        “We are proud to be amongst the first DMOs in the nation to offer a carbon reduction program for meetings and conventions,” said Michelle Moore, senior director of meetings sales and services at Experience Kissimmee.

        KSL Resorts Unveils New Sustainability Program

        April 19, 2023—KSL Resorts announced today it has launched a new sustainability program called “On Purpose” to be rolled out amongst its portfolio of 11 destination hotels and resorts, including Camelback Resort (Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania); Vespera Resort on Pismo Beach, California; Fairmont Grand Del Mar (San Diego, California); Silverado Resort and Spa (Napa, California); and Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.

        While the name and framework are new, the program reinforces existing companywide sustainability initiatives. “All of our properties have increasingly adapted green practices in recent yearsmaking dramatic improvementsbut we are thrilled to make it official by introducing this forward-thinking new platform,” said Ian Pullan, executive vice president of asset management west, who is leading the charge. “Focused on reducing KSL Resorts’ overall carbon footprint, On Purpose was carefully designed to drive positive change and reduce carbon emissionsby both guests and staffvia four core initiatives.”

        Measurable initiatives include:

        • Carbon Offsetting—the goal is to reduce energy consumption by 10% in 2023 over the previous year.
        • Single Use Materials—the goal is to eliminate all single use materials at participating resorts by the end of 2023.
        • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—the goal is 20% waste diversion for each participating property.
        • Water Usage—the goal is 5% reduction in water usage by each participating property, with water consumption audits to be conducted companywide.

        Explore Seattle Southside Introduces New Logo, Campaign

        Explore Seattle Southside logoApril 17, 2023—Explore Seattle Southside (Seattle Southside Regional Tourism Authority) announced a fresh brand update and cheeky new advertising campaign today.

        Seattle Southside, the region made up of SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines, has given itself a fresh look with a brand update that offers a refreshed perspective on the destination as the travel industry opens back up post-pandemic. Its new look and personality encourage travelers to get off the beaten path and discover some of Washington State’s quirkier hidden gems.

        “Coming out of the pandemic, research has shown people are more interested in exciting quick hits of adventures, as opposed to just booking big trips, so the entire body of work leans into the idea of curiously wonderful microadventures” says Explore Seattle Southside CEO Mark Everton.

        In addition to the new brand identity, a series of videos is accompanying the new look. Leaning into the idea of “microadventures,” each video is micro in its own way. One content series gives viewers a cheeky guide to microadventures in Seattle Southside in a few microseconds. Another whimsical animated spot shows one microadventure leading to another, while a final video shows a micro-travel toiletry travel kit to help travelers discover all the many microadventures.

        Visit Greater Palm Springs Introduces New Certified Autism Centers

        April 12, 2023—Visit Greater Palm Springs (VGPS) on Wednesday announced new additions to the destination’s growing list of tourism, recreational and hospitality organizations that have earned the designation of becoming a Certified Autism Center (CAC), with the goal of ensuring that inclusive options are available to guests visiting the region in an effort to recognize Autism Awareness Month, according to a press release.

        “Visit Greater Palm Springs’ recognition as a Certified Autism Center in 2022 was an important first step in preparing our tourism and community partners to provide the best possible experience for our autistic travelers and their families,” said Scott White, president and CEO of Visit Greater Palm Springs. “As we recognize Autism Awareness Month, we are honored to add to the ever-growing list of Certified Autism Centers and encourage our partners in the local tourism community to join us in serving this very important group of travelers.”

        The CAC designation is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have completed autism training with the purpose of helping organizations better understand and welcome autistic travelers and their companions.

        The new organizations to achieve the CAC designations include the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and the Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory. “The Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory wants all patrons, residents, and visitors to feel welcomed. Our staff is appreciative to become an Autism Certified location, whether to pick up a book, attend a program or gaze at the stars at our Observatory, we look forward to serving you,” said Aaron Espinoza, director of the library and observatory.

        Atlanta Market Expands Gifting

        April 12, 2023—The largest in-person gift marketplace in the country will expand its collection of more than 700 gift and lifestyle permanent showrooms this summer with 16 updates at AmericasMart Atlanta. Gift resources as diverse as gourmet, housewares, tabletop and outdoor living are featured on 19 floors of space spread out over three buildings. TRVL Design travel bags are new this year along with expanded areas for Tremont Floral supplies and The Light Garden.

        As part of Atlanta Next, the lobby and arrival experience are being updated along with improvements spread out over the 7.2 million-square-foot campus.

        LVCVA Honors Outstanding Hospitality Worker, Announces Record Visitor Spending

        Woman in pink jacket with camera crew in background.
        Hospitality Hero award recipient Abriana Buffolino Credit: Sam Morris

        April 11, 2023—At its April Board of Directors meeting today, LVCVA named Abriana Buffolino, special events and filming supervisor at Fremont Street Experience, the first Hospitality Hero of 2023. Buffolino was nominated for her commitment to ensuring the iconic attraction shines onscreen and during its many live concerts and events. In her seven years with Fremont Street Experience, she has overseen more than 100 filmings and special events. The Hospitality Heroes recognition program continues to celebrate the outstanding hospitality workers who are the backbone of the tourism industry and nominations represent all facets of the Las Vegas experience.

        At the same meeting, Applied Analysis Principal Brian Gordon shared that the total economic output related to visitor spending reached a record $79.3 billion in 2022, a 24.7%  increase from the previous record set in 2019. Southern Nevada’s tourism industry remained the largest regional employer in 2022, directly employing an estimated 229,440 workers. Convention visitor spending directly supported an estimated 38,120 jobs, $2.1 billion in wages and $7.5 billion in economic impact.

        Gordon attributed Las Vegas’ unprecedented growth and strong rebound following the pandemic was driven by pent-up travel demand and the addition of new resorts, professional sporting events and venues such as Allegiant Stadium.

        Drury Hotels Celebrates 50 Year Anniversary

        April 11, 2023—Drury Hotels Company, a family-owned company based in St. Louis, Missouri, is celebrating 50 years of business this month. The company now operates 150 hotels in 26 states under the brands Drury Inn & Suites, Drury Inns, Drury Plaza Hotels and Pear Tree Inns. Last December, Drury Hotels opened the 604-room Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando in the Disney Springs Area of Florida as an official Walt Disney World Hotel. In the past five years, Drury Hotels has opened 16 new properties, including locations in downtown Nashville, Tennessee; Milwaukee; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Dallas. Three new hotels are currently under construction in Tallahassee, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; and Arlington, Texas.

        Leader in Upcycling Seaweed Lands $5M in Series A Funding

        April 7, 2023—Carbonwave, the leading organization in upcycling the troublesome seaweed known as Sargassum, which grows in a region spanning the Atlantic, has secured $5 million in Series A funding led by Mirova, according to a press release.

        Carbonwave is leading the effort in utilizing Sargassum for an array of products including fertilizer, textiles, cosmetics and bioplastics among others.

        “In three short years, we’ve become the first company to build a scalable cascading biorefinery to create a commercially sustainable operation harnessing Sargassum into high-value products,” said Geoff Chapin, co-founder and CEO of Carbonwave. “Support from our investors and partners has allowed us to catalyze our proprietary technology and manufacturing process to turn the Caribbean’s seaweed crisis into an economic opportunity and a climate solution. We are producing viable alternatives that redirect demand from fossil fuel-based products by cost-effectively developing a wide range of regenerative, low-carbon, and plant-based alternatives that global industries are seeking to advance their sustainability and decarbonization initiatives, while contributing to the bio-circular economy.”

        Mirova is an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers, which is dedicated to sustainable investment, with additional participation from Viridios Capital, Popular Impact Fund and Katapult Ocean. The latest round of funding brings the total investment in Carbonwave to $12 million to date and will be used to construct a large-scale cosmetics emulsifier production facility in Puerto Rico in response to the growing consumer demand for biomaterials.

        ConferenceDirect Celebrates 25 Years with Brand Refresh, Leadership Change

        April 6, 2023—At their Annual Partner Meeting at The Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky, ConferenceDirect announced their brand refresh in honor of their 25th anniversary and a change in leadership. The full-service global meetings solution company’s new tag line is “Your Global Partner for Meetings & Events” and the mission statement is “ConferenceDirect partners with organizations to help them achieve their goals and create memorable experiences for their attendees. With proven global experience, professionalism, and innovative meetings solutions our team is committed to your success.”

        At the event, ConferenceDirect founder and CCEO Brian Stevens announced he will now serve as executive chairman. Jerry Horan, current President and Chief Operating Officer, will now serve as President and Chief Executive Officer.

        ConferenceDirect’s more than 450 associates manage over 13,000 meetings, conferences and events for more than 4,400 customers.

        Fairmont San Francisco and Accor’s All Heartist Fund Announce Partnership with La Casa de las Madres

        April 6, 2023—Fairmont San Francisco and parent company Accor provided a $15,000 grant to San Francisco’s La Casa de las Madres. Accor’s ALL Heartist Fund, which in addition to supporting employees affected by the pandemic, has enabled the organization to support non-profit organizations focused on supporting and protecting communities most vulnerable populations that were further impacted by Covid-19. La Casa de las Madres is a Bay Area leader in the fight to end violence against women and children. Uninterrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, La Casa is San Francisco’s most comprehensive source of safety, support and resources to break the cycle of violence. The group provides over half the city’s emergency domestic violence beds; and they are the only organization enabling access to safety 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; and run an active Drop In Center with wide-ranging outreach initiatives empowering 26,000 community members over the past two years. La Casa’s mission is to respond to calls for help from domestic violence victims, of all ages, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They provide survivors the tools to transform their lives and seek to prevent future violence by educating the community and by redefining public perceptions about domestic violence. Every day, they are building bridges to safe, healthy, thriving lives for women, teens, and children.

        Grant funds will support the direct costs of delivering emergency shelter-based domestic violence family, women, and children’s services. The $15,000 grant will fund the equivalent of 165 days and nights of refuge and safety—an average 3-week stay for four (4) moms and their children who are escaping imminent danger, healing from the trauma of abuse, and preparing for their next steps into supported, violence-free lives.  This includes 24-hour support, comprehensive case management, and therapeutic interventions.

        Hyatt Launches Planner-centric Event Experience Guides

        April 5, 2023—Hyatt Hotels Corporation has launched the Event Experience Guides by Together by Hyatt. This has been designed to be an interactive online platform for meeting professionals, where they will have access to menus, sustainability practices, well-being experiences, event space, guest room details and more at select Hyatt properties.

        According to a press release, the Event Experience Guides will offer the following:

        • Real-time information available 24/7, streamlining the communication between property teams and meeting planners by ensuring all resources can be found in one place
        • A dynamic and easy-to-navigate user interface that showcases all information a planner could possibly need to execute a successful meeting and event such as venue photography, capacity charts, detailed floor plans of event spaces and exclusive preferred vendor options
        • Curated food and beverage menus unique to each location, with Hyatt’s “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.” philosophy incorporated, including local and responsible sourcing, plant-forward choices, seasonal flavors and balanced portions
        • Carefully assembled “Sustainability Fact Sheets” customized by hotel, highlighting how they are addressing climate change and water conservation, waste and circularity as well as responsible sourcing
        • Access to renowned wellbeing specialists through videos available for meetings and events, offering an opportunity for attendees to prioritize their wellbeing as part of their event experience
        • Time-saving Event Success Guidelines and technology resources which include the Hotel Resource Guide, providing answers to planner’s most frequently asked questions

        “We aspire to be the hospitality brand of creativity, flexibility and care, and our Event Experience Guides are created with the intention of simplifying event planning and execution by making information accessible in one convenient location, ensuring our meeting planners and attendees feel that they are at the center and in booking with us, their event will exceed expectations,” said Steve Enselein, senior vice president of events at Hyatt.

        As of March 31, 2023, Event Experience Guides are available at Hyatt properties Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz, Park Hyatt, Thompson Hotels and Hyatt Centric. For access to Hyatt’s Event Experience Guides, planners must reach out to the respective property’s event team.

        Destinations International Foundation Announces 2023 30 Under 30

        April 4, 2023—Destinations International Foundation and Destinations International (DI) announced the 13th annual 2023 30 Under 30 class, a group of young professionals in the destination marketing organization industry.

        “The 30 Under 30 program remains critical to our organization’s vision and mission,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “These talented individuals represent DI’s global footprint, with representation from Asia, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the United States. We can’t wait to recognize and celebrate them this summer at our annual convention in July.”

        The 2023 30 Under 30 Class includes:

        • Joey Bell, public relations and social media manager, Visit Tampa Bay
        • Elizabeth Boylan, sales manager, New York City Tourism + Conventions
        • Tom Carton, strategy and operations, Hello Burlington
        • Demi Cimiaskaite, senior marketing manager, Visit Eau Claire
        • Tim Crouson, CRM administrator, Destination Ann Arbor
        • Kathryn Shea Duncan, director of social media, Visit Lake Charles
        • Karly Dwenger, senior marketing manager, Travel Butler County, Ohio
        • Molly Evans, senior manager, business events, VisitPITTSBURGH
        • Ari Hamilton-Gery, corporate communications manager, Visit Baltimore
        • Joy IM, assistant manager, Goyang Convention & Visitors Bureau
        • Jerry Joseph, convention services manager, Destination DC
        • Patti Krausert, director of research and data strategy, Tulsa Regional Tourism
        • Catherine McCooey, marketing manager, Tourism Burnaby
        • Katie Rhoads, marketing manager, Visit Loudoun
        • Enya Rice, assistant marketing manager, VisitScotland
        • Coralis Rivera, manager, integrated marketing and social media, Brand USA
        • Yuliana Ruiz Velasquez, meetings industry executive, Greater Medellin Convention and Visitors Bureau
        • Lauren Saizan, editorial and online content manager, New Orleans & Company
        • Becca Schmiegel, marketing manager, Visit Indy
        • Zoey Shircel, associate manager, media relations, Visit Mesa
        • Megan Temple, senior director of partner and community engagement, Travel Lane County
        • Julia Thomson, specialist, destination development, Ottawa Tourism
        • Anjelica Uthe, executive director, Visit Watertown (Watertown, SD CVB)
        • Mai Der Vang, human resources Specialist, VISIT Milwaukee
        • Andrew Vela, project specialist, Visit Dallas
        • Lydia Wilder, director of operations and service, Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau
        • Austin Wingle, graphic design manager, Visit Tri-Cities
        • Cody Wiseman, creative marketing manager, Visit Rapid City
        • Glorianna Yamin, marketing director, Discover Puerto Rico
        • Madison Yohn, Content Coordinator, Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau

        Radisson Blu Mall of America Pioneers Carbon Capture Technology

        March 28, 2023—CenterPoint Energy and Radisson Blu Mall of America, part of Choice Hotels International Inc., announced the groundbreaking installation of a carbon-capture technology unit, CarbinX, developed by CleanO2. This marks the first hotel in the world to use this innovative system that captures greenhouse gas emissions from heating equipment. The installation is part of a program by CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota’s largest natural gas utility, to explore the potential of new, cleaner energy technologies.

        The size of about two home refrigerators, the CarbinX device is connected directly to the flue of the hotel’s natural gas water heating equipment, where it cap­­tures carbon dioxide (CO2) and converts it to a nontoxic carbonate powder known as pearl ash. CleanO2, the manufacturer of CarbinX, collects the pearl ash and recycles it as a key ingredient in commercial products such as soaps and detergents. The products are sold online at CleanO2.ca to customers in the U.S. and Canada. They are also sold through several retail chains and boutiques in Canada. Radisson Blu MOA also expects to reduce its energy bill because the CarbinX unit recycles heat, increasing efficiency in the water heating system to achieve both energy and cost savings.

        New York City Tourism + Conventions Launched as New Name for NYC DMO

        March 28, 2023—At its annual meeting today, President and CEO Fred Dixon debuted the name New York City Tourism + Conventions as the brand identity for the City’s official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the five boroughs.

        New York City Tourism + Conventions logo white type with black stacked letters.The debut of the new brand was launched in conjunction with a social campaign, #WHATSGOODNYC, harnessing the “opinion power” of the City’s 8.5 million New Yorkers, offering them a chance to share their points of view on “what’s good” and what to experience. Tapping into travelers’ desire for authentic experiences, the foundation and strength of the new branding comes from its genuine, enthusiastic perspectives shared by a diverse mix of locals, highlighting New York City Tourism + Conventions’ role in amplifying these opinions to help travelers have a richer experience in NYC. The campaign offers insights, tips, recommended activities and excursions through various channels to engage and encourage visitors and locals to explore all New York City has to offer.

        “With over 56 million visitors to the five boroughs last year, fueling tens of billions of dollars in spending for our local economy, New York City is not coming back, it is back,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

        Kempinski Hotels Appoints New VP of Food and Beverage

        March 27, 2023—International luxury hotel group, Kempinski Hotels, on Monday announced Jean-Marc Dizerens has been appointed as the brand’s new vice president of food and beverage. With over 25 years of experience as a hotelier, Dizerens was formerly vice president of hospitality, food and beverage of SJM Resorts in Macau where he played a pivotal role in the launch of the Grand Lisboa Palace that includes two fashion luxury-branded hotels, The Karl Lagerfeld and The Palazzo Versace, according to a press release.

        Hawaiian Airlines Enters into Sustainable Aviation Fuel Agreement

        March 24, 2023—Hawaiian Airlines reached an agreement with biofuel company Gevo Inc., purchasing 50 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over five years. Gevo expects to begin delivering the fuel to Hawaiian starting in 2029, from a facility in the United States’ Midwest region.

        Gevo will produce SAF with residual starch made from inedible field corn. “This offtake agreement gets us one step closer to achieving our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian’s president and CEO. “We intend to continue to invest in SAF, which will be pivotal in reducing our impact on the environment.”

        Viceroy Partners with Out & Equal

        March 23, 2023—Viceroy Hotels & Resorts announced its official partnership with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates (O&E), a nonprofit organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equality. O&E will provide Viceroy with LGBTQ+ executive leadership development, comprehensive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) training and consultation, and opportunities for professional networking that create and sustain inclusive and welcoming work environments. This partnership builds upon Viceroy for Everyone which is Viceroy’s ongoing pledge of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for its colleagues and guests, and cements their long-term commitment to meaningful workplace equality.

        360 Destination Group Expands Into Nashville Market

        March 23, 2023—360 Destination Group (360DG) announced today that it is expanding into Music City with the launch of their local Nashville office to cater to corporate groups in Tennessee. All of 360DG 18 locations are operated by local destination experts well-versed in the city’s venues, vendors, and experiences. Opening an office in Nashville included hiring and onboarding a local DMC team of knowledgeable and experienced event professionals.

        Ashley Dye, account executive for 360DG’s Nashville office, said, “Nashville’s energy is absolutely incredible, and sharing it with corporate groups is the best part of my job! When clients come here, I make sure they get the true Nashville experience; that means showing off not just Broadway, but also all of the other hidden gems around town.”

        FAA Addresses Safety Concerns

        March 22, 2023—Following several recent incidents risking flight safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) held a Safety Summit last week. A safety alert for operators has been issued today with detailed requirements for airlines, pilots and all others in the industry to follow. Issues such as runway collision risk, landing safety and air traffic control issues were addressed in the press release.

        Visit Ventura Donates Surfboards After Smart Meetings Experience

        March 20, 2023—During a Smart Meetings National 3-Day Extraordinary Experience held at Mandalay Beach Zachari Dunes, destination representatives and meeting planners gathered for a Surfboard Team Building Experience sponsored by Visit Ventura and Walden Surfboards. Participants decorated the surfboards with visuals and messages inspired to inspire. Recipients of the surfboards were encouraged to make use of their surfboards however it would fit their needs. The 10 organizations that received a donated surfboard include Westside Community Development Corporation (WCDC), STEMbassadors, the Ventura YMCA, Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institution (CIMWI), Surfrider Foundation, FoodShare, A Walk on Water, Ventura Land Trust, Canine Adoption and Rescue League (C.A.R.L.), and DATA Middle School’s Makerspace Program in partnership with Merito Foundation.

        “We [are] planning on raffling off our surfboard, and using the funds to support our newest Westside Mural,” said Kendra Gonzalez, WCDC Executive Director. “Our funding is currently super limited, and we plan on using the money to help disenfranchised teens develop our future mural. The proposed site is Doc’s Market, and the process can be quite expensive. With your help, we will be able to make this dream come true.”

        Like WCDC, many of the recipients plan to put their donated surfboard up as a raffle item during a fundraising event. Ventura YMCA, Ventura Land Trust, C.A.R.L., Surfrider Foundation, and FoodShare will use their donated surfboards for their fundraising efforts. Other organizations will put their surfboard to use in the water. Students from DATA Middle School will use the surfboard during their surfing lessons made possible from the Merito Foundation partnership. A Walk on Water will also use the surfboard during their Ventura surf therapy event for children with special needs this May. A recap of the event can be seen here.

        Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City Donates $100,000 to Hope Exists Foundation

        March 20, 2023—Leadership from Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City resorts, including Caesars, Tropicana, and Harrah’s Resort, presented the Hope Exists Foundation with a $100,000 donation on behalf of the Caesars Foundation to support crisis treatment and services.

        “We are humbled to have the opportunity to support the Hope Exists Foundation and its goal to help those suffering from substance use disorders and mental health,” said John Koster, eastern regional president of Caesars Entertainment. The donation will help fund the organization’s Hope Exists mobile response that will be dedicated to meeting individuals where they are and connecting them to critical support and treatment in Atlantic City.

        Atlas Air Worldwide Acquired by Investor Group

        March 20, 2023—Atlas Air Worldwide, a leading global provider of outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services, announced an investor group including Apollo, along with affiliates of J.F. Lehman & Company and Hill City Capital, has finalized its acquisition of the company previously announced in August, according to a press release.

        “Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Atlas, and we are eager to begin our partnership with Apollo, J.F. Lehman and Hill City,” Atlas Air Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer John Dietrich said. “With the support and resources of our investor partners, we are well-positioned to achieve our growth objectives while continuing to serve the increasingly complex global supply chain. I want to thank the entire Atlas team, whose customer focus and dedication made this milestone possible. I look forward to the opportunities this next phase provides for our Company and our employees.”

        Atlas Air Worldwide will continue to maintain its global presence and operate under the same name under Dietrich’s direction.

        The Hutton Group Announces New Vice President of Sales and Marketing

        March 16, 2023—Pittsburgh-based The Hutton Group—Inspired Meetings and Events, announced Andrea Milrad Heilweil as the company’s new vice president of sales and marketing. Milrad Heilweil will manage and organize the site selection process and hotel contracting needs of the woman-owned and operated boutique company’s clients, according to a press release.

        “I am thrilled with Andrea’s addition to The Hutton Group as she brings a myriad of hospitality and business experience,” said President/Owner and Chief Inspiration Officer Jill Garcia. “Her vast knowledge and understanding of diverse global clients in the association, corporate and nonprofit spaces fits perfectly into our wheelhouse.”

        Milrad Heilweil previously worked as senior director of global accounts at HelmsBricoe over the last 20 years and was a consistent recipient of the President’s Club sales award. Garcia and Milrad Heilweil also formally worked together for 14 years. “I am excited to collaborate again with Jill to assist clients with important meetings and conventions,” said Milrad Heilweil. “We have a special rapport that brings an unmatched level of service, value and benefits to all our clients, large or small.”

        Sensei Announces Dr. Vishal Patel and Alexandra Waterspiel as Co-Presidents

        March 14, 2023—The luxury wellbeing brand Sensei announced the promotion of Alexandra Walterspiel and Dr. Vishal Patel as co-presidents of the rapidly growing company, according to a press release.

        Walterspiel, who also serves as the chief operating officer, will focus on the operations, human resources, accounting and business development. Patel, who is also chief medical officer, will focus on wellness and technology. In their joint efforts, they will focus on Sensei’s goal of helping people live healthier lives.

        “Alex and Vishal have both been critical in Sensei’s success and growth to date. The company not only deftly navigated the challenges of the pandemic, but also thrived, as evidenced by the fact that a second, and fully managed, retreat—Sensei Porcupine Creek—opened just three years after Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort,” according to Sensei co-founder and world-renowned physician, Dr. David Agus. “Their unique backgrounds and extensive experience give Sensei a leadership perspective that we believe will offer a unique strategic direction and will serve the company’s ambitious growth goals.”

        Prior to joining Sensei, Walterspiel owned and operated IMPRINT Hospitality and Patel worked with various healthcare systems such as Geisinger and Parkland Hospital.

        Culinary and Bartenders Unions Land New Contract, Avoid Strike at Las Vegas Convention Center

        March 14, 2023—Culinary and Bartenders Unions announced a new four-year tentative contract with Sodexo LIVE! and Centerplate at the Las Vegas Convention Center, providing a historic wage increase for the 400 workers covered by the new agreement, providing temporary workers with union wages and benefits, technology language that protects workers and their jobs and proving workers with union health care and pensions. according to a press release.

        “The Culinary Union has fought hard to protect workers over the last 88 years and we are proud that this new agreement is the best contract with the highest wage increases that Sodexo LIVE!/Centerplate workers have ever had while continuing to protect health care and pension benefits for 400 hospitality workers who work so hard every day to keep the Las Vegas Convention Center running,” according to Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union. “This new contract mirrors the Culinary Union technology standard language in contracts on the Strip and Downtown by setting clear goals regarding worker retention, job training, advance notice of technology implementation, automation and a severance package.”

        The previous contract with The Sodexo LIVE!/Centerplate expired on Sept. 1, 2022, with banquet servers, bartenders, concession cashiers, cooks, dishwashers, and other Sodexo LIVE!/Centerplate workers agreeing unanimously in December to authorize a strike. The latest agreement was reached before reaching the strike deadline slated for March.

        Director of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Arrives at Oscars in Suit from Unclaimed Luggage

        March 13, 2023—Director of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Daniel Scheinert, arrived on the champagne-colored carpet of the 2023 Oscars sporting a tuxedo from Scottsboro, Alabama-based Unclaimed Luggage—the only retailer of unclaimed luggage in the U.S., according to a press release.

        “We were thrilled to see one of our very own items on the Oscar stage,” said Vice President of Retail and Company Culture for Unclaimed Luggage, Jennifer Kritner. “Each item we find and sell at Unclaimed Baggage has a unique story and leaves the store with a bright new future. Who knew this item would find its way to the one of biggest nights in entertainment.”

        The Oscar-winning director and Alabama native’s film, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” won seven Oscars Sunday evening including the Oscar for best picture, best actor, best actress, best director, among others.

        Everline Resort & Spa Announced as Culturally Sensitive Name for Olympic Valley, California Property

        March 10, 2023—Resort at Squaw Creek, in Olympic Valley, California, announced yesterday its new name and logo would be Everline Resort & Spa.

        “Our resort is dedicated to fostering spaces where everyone feels welcome. This name change was a top priority for the resort and community and a decision that has been made in collaboration with the Washoe Tribe, who have lived in this area for thousands of years,” said Manfred Steuerwald, general manager of Everline Resort & Spa.

        The name Everline encompasses the resort’s evergreen mountain escape that guests can visit year-round. The name further reflects the resort’s on-site experience that caters to every Lake Tahoe state of mind, through experiences that inspire adventure, exploration and togetherness.

        The new name also focuses on connection–to nature, to self, and to exhilarating shared experiences that help to forge bonds between family, friends, colleagues and other travelers.

        The design of the logo and artwork evokes the resort as a Gateway to Natural Wonder and celebrates the natural surroundings through a bold durable mark, nature-inspired colors, and texture-forward touch points, making Everline an extension of the environmental experience that stands out by blending in to its natural surroundings.

        Several D.C. Restaurants Added to 2023 Michelin Guide

        March 9, 2023—Eight DC-based restaurants will be added 2023 Michelin Guide Washington, DC.

        The newly starred restaurants include:

        • Bar Spero in Capital Crossing
        • Opal in Chevy Chase
        • Causa in Blagden Alley
        • Mandu I Mount Vernon Square
        • New Heights in Woodley Park
        • James on 14th Street
        • Tigerella in Foggy Bottom
        • Le Tejana in Mount Pleasant

        “Adding eight more of Washington, DC’s impressive restaurants to the 2023 Michelin Guide highlights the city’s innovative and diverse dining scene,” says Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital.

        The current Greater Washington Michelin guide contains 129 restaurants, including 24 Michelin star rated restaurants.

        Destinations International Forms Strategic Partnership with Groups360

        March 8, 2023—Destinations International and Groups360 today announced a strategic partnership aimed at providing a more efficient group process by using best-in-class booking technology, powered by transparent data insights, to align destinations with their planner customers and meeting attendees, according to a press release.

        “Streamlined solutions for destination organizations are here to stay,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “This new partnership provides our destination organization members with unparalleled, streamlined solutions to meet the evolving needs of their stakeholders. We are excited to offer our members access to the GroupSync™ platform with advanced data insights and technology.”

        Destinations International will bring its 650 member organizations spanning 23 countries to the partnership to research, develop and deploy technology to create a more efficient process for bringing groups to destinations while improving the distribution of hotel room blocks and meeting spaces to better fulfill the needs of event attendees.

        JetBlue’s Proposed Acquisition of Spirit Airlines Blocked by Justice Dept.

        March 7, 2023—The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a civil lawsuit to block JetBlue’s proposed $3.8 billion acquisition of Spirit Airlines. The complaint alleges that the acquisition of JetBlue’s fiercest, low-cost rival, which provides hundreds of routes and serves millions of travelers, would reduce the options available within the U.S. and would ultimately lead to higher fares and fewer seats, according to a press release.

        “As our complaint alleges, the merger of JetBlue and Spirit would result in higher fares and fewer choices for tens of millions of travelers, with the greatest impact felt by those who rely on what are known as ultra-low-cost carriers in order to fly,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Companies in every industry should understand by now that this Justice Department will not hesitate to enforce our antitrust laws and protect American consumers.”

        Additional details of the complaint include the extensive expansion of Spirit’s network, doubling in size over the last 10 years, with the merger expected to curb this continued growth and future competition before it starts.

        PRA Acquired by EagleTree Capital

        March 7, 2023—EagleTree acquired PRA through CI Capital Partners that had invested in PRA in 2017. PRA announced today that while their management team will continue to lead the company, the business events and programs company will be enhanced by the EagleTree acquisition.

        “Since its founding over 40 years ago, PRA has become a leading business event management firm in the United States,” said Mike Fiber, CEO of PRA. “We are excited to build this momentum and thrilled to have the support and partnership of EagleTree Capital.”

        FAA Calls Emergency Meeting for Passenger Safety

        March 7, 2023—According to MSNBC News, the FAA is calling an emergency meeting to address several incidents that are endangering the lives of passengers. Between engine fires, airplanes colliding with birds and increased degrees of turbulence, FAA chief Billy Nolen enacted a nationwide safety summit schedule for next week.

        “I want to hear from the participants what they are seeing in their own operations,” says Nolen. “And more important, I want specific ideas on how to enhance our already robust safety net with concrete actions.”

        USDOT Delivers Blow to Airline Family Seating Junk Fees

        March 6, 2023—The U.S. Dept. of Transportation on Monday unveiled a new family seating dashboard that highlights airlines that guarantee fee-free family seating, along with those that don’t, helping travelers avoid paying junk fees as the Biden Administration continues to press airlines to improve customer service, according to a press release.

        “Parents traveling with young kids should be able to sit together without an airline forcing them to pay junk fees,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “We have been pressing airlines to guarantee family seating without tacking on extra charges, and now we’re seeing some airlines start to make this common-sense change. All airlines should do this promptly, even as we move forward to develop a rule establishing this as a requirement across the board.”

        Secretary Buttigieg last summer pushed for U.S. airlines to do better for travelers who face canceled or delayed flights due to the carrier. Now, all 10 of the largest U.S. airlines guarantee meals and rebooking, and nine of those now guarantee hotels when an airline issue results in a cancellation or delay.

        ACVB Executive Vice President Set to Retire End of Year

        March 2, 2023—Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB) has announced Executive Vice President and chief sales officer Mark Vaughan will be retiring at the end of this year. The announcement was made during the ACVB’s board of directors meeting.

        “Much of Atlanta’s growth and success as a destination has occurred under Mark’s leadership,” said William Pate, president, and CEO, ACVB. “His efforts during the last two decades have generated tremendous economic impact and job growth for our industry and our city.”

        During his time with ACVB, Vaughan oversaw trade show and in-house sales, convention services and international sales. ACVB saw a spike in both convention bookings and visitation during the pandemic under his leadership.

        ExCel London Partners with Isla to offer Trace Carbon Measurement

        March 2, 2023—Carbon neutral event venue ExCeL London has announced a new collaboration with sustainability consultants isla to offer the TRACE platform to event organizers, the first UK venue to do so. TRACE was designed to help reduce and report the environmental impact of an event’s life cycle–from the early planning stages to the moment an exhibitor heads for home. The platform will now be an additional service available to any event hosted at ExCeL, with the venue also holding its own license to aid data capture and measurement as part of its wider roadmap to becoming Net Zero.

        Concord Hospitality Announces Record Growth for 2022

        March 1, 2023—Concord Hospitality on Wednesday reported record growth for 2022 with hotel and development revenue topping $1.6 billion. Concord also announced the highest food and beverage revenue in the company’s history, increasing by 40% over 2021 with Concord’s overall portfolio surpassing its 2022 budget by 8.1%, according to a press release.

        “Our performance in 2022 was outstanding, delivering record-breaking growth and a full recovery from the biggest economic downturn to ever impact the hospitality industry. We provided excellent topline and bottom-line performance and did it through excellence in service execution. We owe much of this success to the relentless pursuit of innovation and excellence by our talented teams making strides in technology, food & beverage, operations and revenue management/digital marketing to keep Concord a best-in-class operator. Our trajectory for 2023 shows a healthy pipeline of development and new business as Concord Hospitality continues to be a preferred developer and operator amongst the leading hotel ownership groups in North America,” said Mark Laport, CEO and president, Concord Hospitality.

        Marine Highway Program to Provide Millions for Maritime Improvements

        March 1, 2023—The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration today announced that $12, 423,000 will be made available throughout the 2023 fiscal year. The funds are provided by the United States Marine Highway Program (USMHP), which seeks to improve the efficiency and sustainability of water-based transport, create additional maritime jobs and strengthen the nation’s supply chains, according to a press release.

        “America’s waterways serve as critical links in our nation’s supply chains,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These investments in our marine highways will help to strengthen our supply chains, reduce emissions, and create jobs across the country.”

        Recipients of the grant money will first be evaluated by the department with criteria including any impact on the shipment of goods, the consideration of equity, environmental justice, use of domestic preference, level of non-federal funding investment as well as considering geographic diversity.

        Sensei Porcupine Creek Announces Exclusive Tennis Program Featuring Former Tennis Pro

        Feb. 28, 2023—Sensei Porcupine Creek on Tuesday announced a special, one-time-only exclusive tennis program featuring former tennis pro Tommy Haas. The event is slated to take place April 25-28 and is in partnership with Indian Wells Tennis Garden, home to the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, according to a press release.

        “For the first time ever, Sensei Porcupine Creek’s formerly private professional-grade tennis facilities are now open to guests, offering unique tennis experiences for all levels of play,” said Julie Oliff, general manager at Sensei Porcupine Creek. “We’re thrilled to offer this once-in-a-lifetime program that goes far beyond a typical tennis clinic, to help guests refine their skills through the help of best-in-class professionals, such as Tommy Haas and our own, Caroline Vis.”

        The Tommy Haas Tennis Program includes the following experiences:

        • Luxury accommodations for three nights
        • Welcome reception with Tommy Haas and group orientation session that focuses on goals and intentions
        • Behind-the-scenes experience and tour at Indian Wells Tennis Garden and Stadium 1 play time
        • Guided warm-up with Tommy Haas and Team
        • 5 hours of drill practices and rotating doubles matches with Tommy Haas and team
        • Personalized wellness consultations with a Sensei Guide, focused on fitness, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or nutrition
        • Group classes including open sky meditation and wall yoga
        • Select dining experiences including daily breakfast, welcome reception, farewell Omakase-style dinner, and lunch at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

        MeetingPulse Launches Platform Templates

        Feb. 27, 2023—San Francisco-based event solutions company MeetingPulse launched a line of interactive employee engagement and audience response tools called Platform Templates. Browser-based modules are designed to improve engagement in live Q&A, polling, surveys and quizzes for in-person, virtual and hybrid events.

        Platform Templates are have been designed by experts to equip sales and executive teams, event professionals, administrators, recruiters, marketers and human resource departments with tools to promote interaction between leaders and their team, according to the press release. Template features include: pre-event surveys, lead-generation marketing, speaker evaluations, all-hands meetings, sales kickoffs and voting.

        Nearly $1B Awarded to U.S. Airports to Meet Surging Demand

        Feb. 27, 2023—The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday announced that nearly $1 billion in funds will be awarded to 99 airports across the U.S. to meet surging air travel demand by investing in improvements including new baggage systems, larger security checkpoints and improved ground transportation, among others, according to a press release.

        “Americans deserve the best airports in the world, and with demand for air travel surging back, this funding to improve the passenger experience couldn’t come at a more urgent time,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These grants will make it faster and easier to check your bags, get through security and find your gate, all while creating jobs and supporting local economies.”

        The funds will be allocated to 47 states and two territories and will also include improvements to aging air traffic control towers.

        Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show Takes Spot as Largest West Coast Consumer Show

        Feb. 24, 2023—The Travel & Adventure Show series hosted its fifth show at Los Angeles Convention Center Feb. 18th and 19th. The show welcomed more than 17,000 travel enthusiasts, a 50% increase compared to 2022. It also included more than 250 exhibitors, 591 travel advisors and 2,300 travel media members.

        Keynote speakers included the likes of Rick Steves, host of “Rick Steves’ Europe and Travel with Rick Steves”; Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer’s Guides and publisher of frommers.com; and Peter Greenberg, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and CBS News travel editor.

        “The 2023 Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show marked our 18th year in the City of Angels and it’s no secret that this one was the most important. We are excited to see its revival back to a pre-pandemic audience, both from an attendance perspective and number of exhibitors and what they bring to the show floor,” said John Golicz, CEO of Unicomm LLC, producer of Travel & Adventure Shows.

        Hospitality Agencies Adopt School District, Donate Goods and Services

        Feb. 23, 2023—Local business are participating in an adopt-a-school program and are donating a variety of supplies and services to the Volusia County School District, Dayton Beach News-Journal reports. The program aims to support schools mainly in West Volusia area.

        “(It’s important) from elementary, and especially elementary and middle school, that we show the kids that we care, that the business community is aware and that we can guide them,” said Bob Davis, president of the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County, during an interview.

        The program includes 250 members, 100 hotels and 150 hospitality allies. Hotels, such as The Hampton Inn & Suites in Deland have partnered with various area schools including Edith I. Starke Elementary, providing upgrades to campuses such as new carpets, landscaping and newly painted parking lot lines.

        Other donations include laptops and miniature jet engines. Agencies involved in this program helping to boost the learning experience of students while also opening the door of curiosity of the next generation of hospitality leaders.

        Hubilo Acquires fielddrive in Latest Event Tech Merger

        Feb. 23, 2023—Hubilo Technologies acquired fielddrive BVBA after raising $150 million in venture capital funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Akeon Capital and Balderton Capital.

        “The two companies combined really pools our products, expertise, and talent, ensuring that we can cover digital, hybrid, and in-person anywhere in the world. This acquisition cements Hubilo as the leading event tech player,” stated Vaibhav Jain, founder and CEO of Hubilo. Jain added, “fielddrive will run as an independent entity and will continue to be platform agnostic. fielddrive’s dedication to customers aligns with our customer-first approach, and our aim is to continue to meet and exceed our customers’ needs by providing technology that enables exceptional event experiences regardless of location, budget or format.”

        As Hubilo looks to grow further within the in-person space, Sophie Ahmed becomes the GM of Hubilo Onsite, leading fielddrive, which includes features to manage visitor queues, facial recognition for onsite check-in, sustainable badging, lead retrieval and analytics, new monetization opportunities and an expert customer experience team.

        New Plans for Raleigh Convention Center Expansion Would Double Capacity

        Feb. 22, 2023—Expansion plans for a $425-million Raleigh Convention and Performing Arts Complex (RCC) revealed for the first time at Wake County Board of Commissioners this week sketched out a design that would add 500,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 30 additional breakout rooms and an additional capacity for 20,000 people, doubling the current RCC capacity.

        Kerry Painter, general manager and director of RCC pointed out that the convention center is the force behind the most hotel room nights booked in the county. “Last year, we set an all-time record for the number of hotel room nights booked in downtown Raleigh thanks to a packed schedule of conventions, shows and other events. This is a marker of success but also an indication that we can do even more. The truth is, we turned away business because we simply didn’t have room, not to mention the potential clients who weren’t even able to consider us due to our limited capacity,” she said.

        The next step for the planned two-square-block destination for meetings, events and entertainment is a funding vote at The Board of Commissioners and the Raleigh City Council on June 20.

        Wizz Air Strikes Deal for Supply of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

        Feb. 22, 2023—Wizz Air, Europe’s fastest growing sustainable airline, according to the Centre for Aviation Awards for Excellence 2022 (CAPA), on Wednesday announced a deal with Neste for the purchase of 36,000 tons of sustainable aviation fuel starting in 2025, according to a press release.

        The deal, based on a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), will allow Wizz Air to supply the airline’s route network across Europe and the UK with the goal of reducing the airlines CO2 emissions by 2030 by 25%. The plan is focused on reducing CO2 intensity per passenger kilometer and reach net-zero by 2050. Wizz Air in 2022 reached its lowest ever carbon intensity, which amounted to 55.2 grams per passenger/kilometer.

        “Wizz Air continues to invest in innovative technology and believes that SAF is a key part of the solution for the decarbonisation of the aviation industry. This partnership with Neste, the world’s leading producer of SAF, reaffirms our commitment to reducing our carbon emissions intensity, which is already one of the lowest among airlines in the world. Working together with Neste, we will drive the adoption of SAF throughout our network, paving the way to a more sustainable future for aviation,” said Ian Malin, Executive Vice President and Group Chief Financial Officer at Wizz Air.

        United Announces Plans for More Family Friendly Skies

        Feb. 21, 2023 — United is launching a new utility on its seat map feature that allows for children under the age of 12 to be seated in an adjacent seat to the adults in their party for free. In a press release yesterday, Linda Jojo, Chief Customer Officer for United, explained why this update to family travel is so important.

        “In an era where more families are working in a hybrid environment, they’re traveling more often – and they’re flying United,” said Jojo. “We’re focused on delivering a great experience for our younger passengers and their parents and know it often starts with the right seat. We look forward to rolling out more family-friendly features this year.”

        SITE Celebrates Crystal Awards Winners

        Feb. 20, 2023–Eight SITE Crystal Award recipients were celebrated on the final night of the largest-ever SITE Global Conference in New York City. “This year’s winners strongly reflected an ability to deliver the many impacts and benefits of incentive travel, while also leading the way in embracing new and emerging trends,” read the press release, which highlighted the range of destinations and companies represented and the growth of incentive travel as a key reward and motivational strategy for top firms looking to retain and attract talent.

        Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group, which sponsored this year’s awards praised the international reach of the programs honored. “The Crystal Awards bring our community together and spotlight the innovation and excellence powering these teams and their standout incentive programs,” she said in a press release.
        This year’s complete list of Crystal Award recipients includes:

        Access Holidays & Events, for Excellence in Incentive Travel: Africa and the Middle East

        Amstar DMC (Costa Rica), for Best Destination-Based Experiential Incentive Travel Program

        Amstar DMC (Mexico), for Best Destination-Based Experiential Incentive Travel Program

        Arabian Adventures Meetings, Incentives & Events, for Excellence in Incentive Travel: Africa and the Middle East

        Augeo, for Best Virtual Motivational Experience

        AV Business & Communication, for Excellence in Incentive Travel: Latin America & Caribbean

        Creative Travel India & FMC Solutions South Africa, for Excellence in Incentive Travel: Asia Pacific

        Motivation Excellence, for Excellence in Incentive Travel: Europe

        Two Airlines Team Up to Provide Supplies to Earthquake Victims in Syria and Turkey

        Feb. 17, 2023–Atlas Air Inc. and Turkish Airlines announced an Atlas Air 747-8F departed Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), carrying relief supplies for the earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey.

        The two companies are working with the Turkish Embassy to support the thousands impacted, with Atlas Air providing the crew and aircraft, and Turkish Airlines providing clothing, medical supplies and other essential items.

        “Through our partnership with Turkish Airlines, we are honored to contribute air freight capacity to deliver critical supplies to this region where they are needed the most,” said John Dietrich, president and CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide. “We are moved by the heroic work of first responders and humanitarian organizations to provide relief to the communities impacted by this natural disaster.”

        Cape Cod Hotels and Restaurant Win Forbes Five Star Hospitality Award

        Feb. 16, 2023—Two hotels and a restaurant based in Cape Cod have been honored with Forbes Five Star hospitality awards. The award-winning hotels and restaurant include Twenty-Eight Atlantic, the signature dining room at Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich, Chatham Bars Inn, and Chatham Inn in Chatham.

        This marks the second year for Twenty-Eight Atlantic to win the award and the second year for Chatham Inn.

        The winners of the 65th annual Star Awards were selected following anonymous visits to hotels, cruise ships, spas and restaurants by Forbes Travel Guide’s incognito inspectors. The criteria consist of 900 rigorous standards, measuring every element from modern-day luxury to more traditional standards of hospitality.

        Biden-Harris Administration Announce Next Steps to Deliver Electric Vehicle Chargers Nationwide

        Feb. 15, 2023—The Biden-Harris administration today announced its latest action for delivering on the President’s goal of building a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, consisting of reliable and Made-in-America electric vehicle (EV) chargers, according to a press release.

        The latest steps include the publication of minimum standards for federally funded EV infrastructure, finalizing the Build America, Buy America implementation plan for EV charging equipment, and announcing that states, cities, towns and Tribes can soon apply for the first round of $2.5 billion in competitive grants to build EV charging stations in locations across the U.S.

        “This is a major step toward a world where every EV user will be able to find safe, reliable charging stations anywhere in the country,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “We’re establishing common, universal standards for EV charging stations just like the ones for gas stations, so that recharging an EV away from home will be as predictable and accessible as filling up a gas tank.”

        DI and Tourism Cares Partner for Social Good

        Feb. 15, 2023—Destinations International, the association for destination organizations and convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), announced a partnership with Tourism Cares, a non-profit organization dedicated to the long-term survival of the travel and tourism industry that inspires travel leaders to make travel a force for good.

        The partnership will establish cross-promoted special programs benefitting destination organizations globally including: The collaboration of inclusions to the Meaningful Travel Map to drive awareness of and highlight social and environmental impact experiences and opportunities and a jointly produced volunteerism project in conjunction with a Destinations International event in 2023–2024. Additionally, the two organizations will development a disaster relief program focusing on long-term recovery, supported by Destinations International and destination organization stakeholders.

        SEARCH Foundation Exceeds $1 Million Giving Milestone

        Feb. 15, 2023 —SEARCH (Special Event Assistance Relief & Crisis Help) Foundation chairwoman Kate Patay announced  that the philanthropic organization for the meetings and hospitality industry has exceeded the $1,000,000 mark in funds distributed to industry individuals in crisis in its 25 years of supporting the industry. “We’re pleased to report that since inception, 100% of qualified cases have been funded, and industry professionals in crisis were profundly affected by the efforts of the board, committees and supporters,” she said.

        The SEARCH Foundation Annual Signature Event is scheduled for March 29 at Canvas Event Venue in Orlando, Florida.

        Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City Resorts Add AI Concierge

        Feb. 15, 2023 —Caesars Entertainment properties in Atlantic City are using technology to enhance the guest experience with Ivy, a 24-hour virtual concierge service. Created by Go Moment and powered by IBM Watson, the automated guest engagement platform for hotels will launch at Caesars Atlantic City followed by Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana, respectively. Ivy allows guests to request the services they need to enhance their stay from their devices. Ivy can book dining, entertainment and spa experiences and facilitate housekeeping and maintenance requests. Ivy also surveys guests during their stay, which allows for quick recovery of unhappy guests in real time. Users may opt out of receiving messages from Ivy at any time.

        Ivy initially launched at the boutique Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace and The Cromwell in December 2016. Caesars Entertainment rolled out to its remaining Las Vegas resorts in 2018, becoming the first major gaming company in the market to offer a widespread guest text messaging program with built-in artificial intelligence. The platform is now used at other Caesars-owned properties across the country to enhance the customer service experience.

        American Airlines Awarded for Sustainability Efforts

        Feb. 14, 2023 — American Airlines is named 2023 Eco-Airline of the year by Air Transport World (ATW)! In a press release from ATW, the organization attributes the recognition to the continual effort to the sustainability and fuel-efficiency efforts from American Airlines. Robert Isom, CEO of American Airlines, acknowledges the award and promises to continue these eco-conscious efforts.

        “American is actively incorporating sustainability at every level of our business, from the fuel we buy to the food we serve our customers,” says Isom. “And our all-the-above approach is just getting started. As Eco-Airline of the Year, we will continue to lead the industry as an innovator in this space and affirm our unyielding commitment to build an American Airlines that will thrive forever.”

        Little Rock CVB Launches Video Series Celebrating Black History Month

        Feb. 13, 2023—The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) on Monday announced the “Experience Little Rock in Color” interactive video series featuring local Black community influencers discussing the Black experience in Arkansas’s capital city, according to a press release.

        The series premiered before an audience of business and community leaders, as well as tourism industry partners, on February 7 at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

        “We are thrilled to celebrate Black History Month with the launch of our new video series,” said President and CEO of the LRCVB, Gina Gemberling. “Little Rock is a dynamic and diverse community that pairs different cultures with world-class attractions, restaurants and experiences. We are proud to spotlight our city’s rich Black history and culture and look forward to expanding our video series to connect with more diverse communities that make our city a unique, must-see destination for visitors and locals alike.”

        The video is narrated by local radio personality Mia Banks and includes more than 30 Black business leaders, community influencers and residents as they discuss various area restaurants, attractions, and experiences.

        Fort Worth Eateries Named as James Beard Award Semifinalists

        Feb. 13, 2023—Two restaurants in Fort Worth, Texas, have been recognized as James Beard Award semifinalists, highlighting the city’s vibrant culinary scene, according to a press release.

        Don Artemio, a traditional Mexican restaurant and Goldee’s BBQ, will be considered for the prestigious award that will be presented during a ceremony in Chicago slated for June 3-5. Led by Chef Juan Ramon Decardenas, Don Artemio serves traditional Mexican dishes with a commitment to use only the freshest ingredients and opened its Fort Worth location in March 2022. The restaurant originated in Saltillo, Mexico, over a decade ago. Don Artemio is up for Best New Restaurant.

        Started by five friends, who all happened to be pitmasters, Goldee’s BBQ is known for being ranked the number one BBQ pick in Texas Monthly and was named after an old golden Ford F250 that was once used to haul a smoker. Three of Goldee’s chefs, Lane Milne, Jalen Heard, and Jonny White are up for Best Chef.

        ALHI and Hosts Global Partner to Offer Global Experiences

        Feb. 13, 2023—Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) and Hosts Global announced a strategic partnership to offer tailored event experiences at ALHI’s 250 luxury properties, resorts, and cruise lines across the globe.

        “There was just such a natural symmetry within our two organizations in approach, culture and focus on the client journey,” Michael Dominguez, president and CEO of ALHI said. “We are excited to leverage the reach and strength of Hosts Global with current and new ALHI clients.”

        “We believe in the power of face-to-face events,” said Kurt Paben, CEO of Hosts Global. The strategic partnership will provide an integrated expertise merging best-in-class locations with boots-on-the-ground comprehensive DMC services.

        Adelaide Named Host of Australia’s Dreamtime 2023

        Feb. 12, 2023—Business Events Australia has announced Adelaide will be the host city for Dreamtime 2023, its signature incentive showcase designed to increase awareness of and interest in Australia as an outstanding business events destination. The Showcase will be the first Dreamtime held since 2019 due to the global Covid pandemic. The event will welcome and business events planners and media from Greater China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, North America and the United Kingdom.

        “Even with the disruption of the global Covid pandemic, Dreamtime 2019 delivered solid results for Australia, generating 36 business leads in three months, worth $97 million,” reported Tourism Australia’s Executive General Manager of Commercial & Business Events Australia, Robin Mack in a written statement. Prior to the pandemic, the business events sector was a key contributor to the visitor economy, attracting 1.04 million arrivals, spending A$4.5 billion for the year ending 31 December 2019. In terms of relative size, this makes the international business events visitor the second largest yielding market for Australia, after China.

        DI’s Event Impact Calculator Launched in Mexico

        Feb. 10, 2023—Destinations International announced that its Event Impact Calculator developed in partnership with Tourism Economics has launched in Mexico, marking more than 300 destinations with the tool in place in 12 countries. For meeting professionals working with destination partners, this tool is an easy way to quantify the impact of an event for reporting purposes.

        “In 2022, more than 137,000 events were analyzed, with 80% business events and the remaining encompassing sports, festivals, and consumer shows,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “Hotel room nights are just one piece of the pie and the EIC tool allows our destination members around the world to convey the total value of an event to community stakeholders in a very understandable way.”

        Reno Tahoe Reported Highest Tax Collections Ever

        Feb. 9, 2023—Reno Tahoe released transient lodging and room tax statistics showing 2022’s total of $467,849,408 as the most taxable room revenue ever recorded for a calendar year. Four of the top five all-time revenue-producing months came in 2022, when nine additional records were set for monthly room tax collections. In 2022, Taxable Room Revenue in Washoe County was up 11.2%, from $420,530,005 to $467,849,408, compared to 2021, which previously held the record for room tax revenue in a calendar year. Cash Occupied Rooms were up 3.2%, from 3,092,164 to 3,189,970, over that same time period, and Average Daily Rates (ADR) increased 7.8%, from $136.00 to $146.66, breaking 2021’s record for highest ADR in a calendar year.

        “Reno Tahoe lodging revenue continues to show some of the strongest gains anywhere in the U.S.,” said Reno Tahoe President and CEO Charles Harris. “The outdoor, gaming and special event offerings of Northern Nevada coincide with the diverse experiences travelers are seeking, and we are thrilled to be able to deliver on that promise of excitement, relaxation and adventure.”

        MPI and NCBMP Expand Partnership

        Feb. 9, 2023—Meeting Professionals International (MPI) announced a formal three-year extension and expanded community offerings with the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP). In October 2020, the partnership was focused primarily on a joint membership offering that has resulted in 53 members across both organizations having taken advantage. The updated partnership will extend through 2026 with ongoing renewals available for the two organizations to continue their collaboration. The two associations will seek to collaborate on industry education efforts through shared virtual learning and in-person sessions at each of their annual signature events, including MPI’s World Education Congress, Global Meetings Industry Day and NCBMP’s Annual Conference.

        Visit Anaheim Booked $1.4 Billion Worth of Events for 2023

        Feb. 9, 2023—Visit Anaheim announced it has confirmed 150 conventions, meetings, and events for 2023, which are projected to bring more than $1.4 billion in economic impact to the local community. Combined, these 43 conventions at the Anaheim Convention Center, 89 meetings and 18 events will generate an estimated $793 million in tourism occupancy tax (TOT) revenue for the city, exceeding 2022 tourism occupancy tax revenue numbers. These meetings, conventions and events will bring 800,263 attendees and 584,970 room nights to local hotels in comparison to the 618,118 attendees and 447,355 room nights booked in 2022. As a result, 2023 will garner an additional $285 million in economic impact compared to 2022, demonstrating a strong recovery to the community because of attendees dining, shopping and entertaining while in town, according to a press release.

        Frontier Airlines Releases Fourth Quarter Revenue Report

        Feb. 8, 2023—Frontier Airlines Holdings, Inc. on Wednesday released its fourth-quarter report for 2022 showing strong revenue performance, including a record ancillary revenue per passenger. The parent company of Frontier Airlines reported that operating revenue for the fourth quarter totaled $906 million—a 38% increase when compared to 2019, according to a press release.

        “Fourth quarter results were strong, underpinned by record ancillary revenue and meaningful improvements in CASM and utilization,” said President and CEO Barry Biffle. “Moving into 2023, we intend to bolster our competitive edge by driving further improvement in ancillary revenue per passenger and unit costs. Today, our total cost advantage over the industry average is wider than it was in 2019, and I expect it will widen further this year. With these contributing factors, I’m confident we’re on track to return the airline to the pre-pandemic profit levels per plane on a run-rate basis in the second half of 2023.”

        In addition, total operating revenue per passenger was $133, a 24% increase over the quarter in 2019, and ancillary revenue per passenger hit a record $82, 41% higher than the 2019 quarter.

        United Nations Approves Global Tourism Resilience Day

        Feb. 7, 2023—With the support of more than 90 countries, Jamaica has been successful in spearheading the declaration of Feb. 17 as Global Tourism Resilience Day.

        “This announcement will in fact signal to the world to put aside one day, February 17, every year to not just observe but to create a greater level of consciousness around resilience, says Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism the Hon. Edmund Bartlett. “The pandemic has shown us that global disruptions will continue, so there will be more epidemics, pandemics and earthquakes like the one in Turkey. The importance of this day is therefore to encourage capacity building for the world to be better able to respond to these global disruptions and recover quickly.”

        The Global Tourism Resilience Conference will be held at the University of the West Indies’ Regional Headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica Feb. 15-17.

        ExCeL London & Levy UK+1 Partner for Sustainability

        Feb. 7, 2023—Carbon neutral event venue ExCeL London and sport and entertainment caterer Levy UK + Ireland,  announced a new long-term partnership with an emphasis on sustainability, technology and innovation as part of the pair’s roadmap to net zero, with Levy UK+I targeting an early adoption of 2027.

        Future initiatives will see the introduction of consumer-facing carbon labelling, a minimum of 50% of menus to be plant-based, sourcing of 100% recyclable or reusable packing, to get food waste under 25% by 2024, and a new technological advanced store designed to improve the visitor experience and speed up service times, according to a press release.

        Boeing Announces Plans to Cut 2,000 Finance, HR Positions in 2023

        Feb. 7, 2023—Boeing on Monday announced staffing cuts to the company’s human resources and finance departments throughout 2023, with a total staffing reduction of roughly 2,000 jobs, AP reports.

        “We expect about 2,000 reductions primarily in Finance and HR through a combination of attrition and layoffs,” Boeing said in a statement. “While no one has been notified of job loss, we will continue to share information transparently to allow people to plan.” Boeing’s overall workforce included 156,000 employees as of Dec. 31, 2022.

        However, Boeing also said the company has plans to “significantly grow” its overall staffing levels over the course of the year. “We grew Boeing’s workforce by 15,000 last year and plan to hire another 10,000 employees this year with a focus on engineering and manufacturing,” the statement read. Boeing recently relocated its headquarters from Seattle, Washington to Arlington, Virginia.

        IATA Claims Continued Air Travel Recovery

        Feb. 7, 2023—The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that the recovery in air travel continued in December 2022 and for the full year.

        The agency reported that total traffic in 2022 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 64.4% compared to 2021. Globally, full-year 2022 traffic was at 68.5% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels. December 2022 total traffic rose 39.7% compared to December 2021 and reached 76.9% of the December 2019 level.

        International traffic in 2022 climbed 152.7% versus 2021 and reached 62.2% of 2019 levels. December 2022 international traffic climbed 80.2% over December 2021, reaching 75.1% of the level in December 2019.

        Domestic traffic for 2022 rose 10.9% compared to the prior year. 2022 domestic traffic was at 79.6% of the full-year 2019 level. December 2022 domestic traffic was up 2.6% over the year earlier period and was at 79.9% of December 2019 traffic.

        “The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted Covid-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year, despite some governments’ over-reactions to China’s re-opening,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

        Visit Greater Palm Springs Announced Partnership to Support Local Entrepreneurs

        Feb. 6, 2023—Visit Greater Palm Springs (VGPS) today announced it has partnered with Caravanserai Project to support a group of up to 30 Coachella Valley small business entrepreneurs with micro-grants up to $7,500 as well as business readiness training.

        This micro-grant and training opportunity is available to Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs with businesses that are a part of the hospitality and tourism ecosystem in the Coachella Valley. These businesses can include restaurants, retail, housecleaning, daycare, transportation and more.

        “As part of our commitment to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, Visit Greater Palm Springs is thrilled to partner with Caravanserai Project to support our Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs in the Coachella Valley,” said Scott White, president & CEO of Visit Greater Palm Springs. “Our commitment widens the circle of opportunity to the community while providing skills, knowledge and an investment in small businesses so they can take part and grow in the hospitality and tourism industry.”

        The next business-readiness training program begins on March 13. Caravanserai Project will be hosting a virtual information session on Feb. 8, 9-10:30 a.m. Entrepreneurs interested in learning more can register for this session at caravanseraiproject.org/seed-2.

        Uncertainty Authors Announced as Keynotes for PCMA European Conference

        Feb. 6, 2023—PCMA opened registration today for Convening EMEA conference for global business event professionals taking place in Copenhagen Sept. 20-22. The omnichannel event will feature opening keynote speakers Nathan Furr and Susannah Harmon Furr, authors of “The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown.”

        In-person registration will include an all-access pass to the educational conference at Bella Center Copenhagen and exploration tours.

        Israel Railways Purchases A.I.-Based Obstacle Detection Technology Systems for $1.4 Million

        Feb. 6, 2023—Israel Railways Ltd., Israel’s state-owned principal railway company, has signed an agreement to purchase 10 obstacle detection systems and related services from Rail Vision Ltd. The Main Line System is a cutting-e