September 03, 2009

When Cyclones are a Good Thing

Posted by Kinley Levack
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Last night, my colleagues and I left Manhattan for Brooklyn and attended a Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball game. Brooklyn lost the game to the Hudson Valley Renegades, but we had a great time downing two-for-one hot dogs and spending a little bit of time together outside of the office. It was a nice reminder that you don’t always need to coordinate something complicated and expensive to refresh your team—sometimes all it takes is getting people out of the office for a couple of hours.


Particularly as budgets remain tight and employees are liable to be frustrated, consider putting something together that says to them, “Hey, let’s take a little time to relax and enjoy one another’s company.” You might be surprised what a difference it can make.

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April 13, 2009

Video of Las Vegas Leaders Discussing Pres. Obama's Comments

Posted by Vincent Alonzo under Current Affairs
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Recently, Successful Meetings and our sister publication MeetingNews hosted a Leadership Roundtable in Las Vegas at which members of the Las Vegas hospitality community gathered to discuss, among other things, President Obama's comments on holding meetings in Las Vegas. Here's what they had to say:

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March 27, 2009

VIDEO Gilly Wong opens MEHK office in NYC

Posted by Terri Hardin under Travel
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March 27, 2009

VIDEO James LaValle comments on MEHK initiative

Posted by Terri Hardin
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March 27, 2009

VIDEO Monaco Is Green!

Posted by Terri Hardin under Travel
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Check out this video about Monaco's green initiatives. It was taken at the Successful Meetings International Marketplace on Tuesday, March 24, 2009.

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March 26, 2009

Dallas Takes No Chances on Convention Hotel Referendum

Posted by Will Ng
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With a little more than a month to go before Dallas residents get to vote on whether the city can build a publicly owned Omni hotel for the Dallas Convention Center, mayor Tom Leppert's office has begun circulating a letter (see bottom of this post) highlighting the consequences if the hotel does not go through.

Urging a "no" vote on Propositions 1 and 2, which go before the public on May 9, Leppert, in his letter, warned thousands of new jobs and millions of tax revenue dollars are at stake, as well as the city's future as a convention destination.

Time is running short, and this situation is heating up. In fact, Leppert and Anne Raymond, spokeswoman for Citizens Against the Taxpayer-Owned Hotel, have sparred over the hotel in a local-TV debate. Raymond also has accused Leppert of personally attacking Harlan Crow—of Crow Holdings, the owner of the Hilton Anatole and main benefactor to the anti-hotel group, which spearheaded a petition that triggered the referendum. Right now, the hotel is a hot-button topic (real hot) among Dallas media.

I've been covering the ongoing story in MeetingNews in the past couple of months, and in my conversations with Dallas CVB chief Phillip Jones, he has repeatedly said the city wants to have a ground-breaking and construction started before the May 9 referendum, noting that changes to the Dallas city charter are not retroactive. However, the sense around Dallas is that this is not iron-clad and is open to legal wrangling.

Also clouding the issue is that Leppert and the city are waiting for interest rates to climb before revenue bonds to finance hotel construction are issued. In a face-to-face interview at MeetingNews' New York office on Tuesday with Dustin Clark, a spokesman for the Dallas CVB, he said the bureau remains confident the bonds will be sold according to schedule and that construction will begin some time in April.

Nevertheless, the mayor's letter is a fail-safe move if the city's best-laid plans do not pan out.


Mayor Leppert's letter:

The future of Dallas is at stake...

Dallas's potential as a convention destination city and a magnet for business development has never been more in jeopardy.

If Propositions 1 and 2 pass on May 9, they could prove devastating … to our long-term economy … to our hopes of transforming Downtown Dallas … to our hopes of becoming the world-class city we are on the verge of becoming.

The organizations that have finally begun to reconsider Dallas as a possible host for their annual conventions? They'll change their minds and pass us by.

And the developers who are poised to reinvigorate many long-neglected Dallas neighborhoods? They'll turn their attention to nearby cities that aren't so difficult to do business with.

What will also pass us by are the thousands of jobs — and the millions of dollars of tax revenues — that such conventions and developments create.

That's why I'm urging you to forward this message to everyone you know and to strongly encourage them to Vote No! May 9.

- signal to the world that Dallas is committed to being a great convention city, with a great convention hotel attached to its convention center.

- ensure the core of our city becomes a more vibrant destination like those in other great convention cities around the world.

- reap millions more in revenues each year, lessening the tax burden on Dallas's homeowners and business owners.

- see shops, restaurants, sports venues and arts organizations citywide benefit from a new wave of patrons they did not have before.

- emerging convention cities like Houston, Denver, Phoenix and Louisville will continue to speed past us, leaving us in their dust.

- thousands of Dallas residents who would have jobs as food servers, concierges, baggage handlers and tour guides will have to hunt elsewhere for work.

- surrounding cities like Frisco, Grapevine, Arlington and Fort Worth will siphon even more convention business away from Dallas.

- the city's residents will have to bear a greater burden of the taxes the city needs to fund city services.

In 1969, the naysayers said we couldn't afford to invest in a regional airport, planned for "out in the middle of nowhere". But just look at the economic engine DFW International Airport has become for this area.

Two decades later, the naysayers said we couldn't afford to invest in a sports arena, planned for the site of a power plant near downtown. But just imagine how Dallas would be faring today if the American Airlines Center had landed, instead, in Arlington, next to the new stadium for the Cowboys.

Well, now the naysayers are back once again, saying we can't afford to invest in a convention center hotel immediately adjacent to our downtown convention center. And that the entire voting population of the city should be able to vote to approve tax incentives above $1 million.

However, I know that if we truly hope to take our rightful place among the great cities of North America, we can't afford NOT to invest in the convention center hotel. Nor can we expect developers to invest in our city if their tax incentives must wait until they get approval in costly general elections.

So, please, forward this message to every single employee, vendor, friend and neighbor you know and ask them to Vote No! May 9.

Dallas's ability to maintain its reputation as a "can do" city is riding heavily on the outcome.


Tom Leppert

Mayor, City of Dallas




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March 18, 2009

Obama's Town-Hall Meetings

Posted by Andrea Doyle
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Couldn’t help but chuckle when I read today’s AP headline, “Obama heads to California for town-hall meetings.” This is a president who understands the importance of getting in front of his constituents and explaining his vision; exactly what today’s CEOs should be applauded for doing, not dragged through the media’s mudpile. How will the economy ever turn around if companies, TARP recipients and not, are not allowed to get out there and meet with their teams?

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March 05, 2009

We Mean Business

Posted by Will Ng
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Several weeks ago on this blog, I called for a meetings industry promotional campaign to respond to the damage inflicted upon thousands of meetings and events, which are being postponed or canceled as a result of scrutiny by the media hounds and the government.

Yesterday, my call, as well as yours, was answered.

In an unprecendented movement, Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, representing an industry coalition that includes Meeting Professionals International, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Professional Convention Management Association, Site, and Destination Marketing Association International, announced the Meetings Mean Business publicity campaign that will create national print and TV ads explaining why America needs meetings. See the news story on the homepage of

Not long after my blog post, I was made privy to a plan by the U.S. Travel Association and the coalition by an industry source. He invited me to take part in a conference call with Dow, the exact details of which at the time were unknown. Ultimately, that call was postponed until, I reckon, yesterday, when Dow went public with the PR effort, ending weeks of speculation as to when and how the industry would respond.

For 45 minutes yesterday, Dow delivered a fiery oratory, practically declaring war on politicians "who have made the meetings industry their political punching bag." The Meetings Mean Business campaign got off to a rousing start with a scathing ad in USA Today aimed at those politicians, and even the President, which read, "Want To Lose One Million More Jobs? Just Keep Talking."

While Dow lauded the many grassroots and nascent pro-meetings efforts undertaken by individuals and small factions, he also took a veiled swipe at the industry, basically asking why it took so long to band together as one lobbying voice to flip not just the current crisis but all geopolitical issues that affect meetings and hospitality suppliers. (While that question can be left open to discussion, the current necessity is the mother of invention.)

Never one to mince words, Dow, who on several occasions has dubbed meetings a Rodney Dangerfield industry—one that gets no respect—promised more print and TV salvos on behalf of a sector that supports one million American jobs. And, taking a page from politicians, with whom he said he'd rather be partners than enemies, Dow and Meetings Mean Business are looking for their own Joe the Plumber—how about Jane the Housekeeper and Bob the Banquet Captain?—to represent hardworking Americans who rely on our industry and as a campaign rally point.

We need the snarl Dow brings, and let's hope he brings more of it to Washington.

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February 25, 2009

Stick to Celebrity Gossip, TMZ

Posted by Will Ng
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There is now a lynch-mob mentality, a witch hunt, as Roger Dow calls it, of business meetings and events by both the media and the public, and the mob has taken on unexpected new sources.

As we delve deeper into the latest mess surrounding Chicago-based bank Northern Trust's golf event, imagine my surprise—and distress—to find that bastion of journalism TMZ broke the story. When did celebrity gossipers become "real" reporters? Sure, it's fun to jump on the bandwagon and kick an industry while it's down!

So as major news outlets pick up on the story and are still dissecting all the little sordid details of the golf event provided by an unabashed TMZ, the good news is the Keep America Meeting petition has surpassed 10,000 signatures and grown to include new industry groups, such as the Association of Destination Management Executives, the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners, and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. MeetingNews, Successful Meetings, and Incentive magazine also have joined Keep America Meeting, and the petition has caught Bill Marriott's attention.

Meanwhile, members of MeetingNews' and Successful Meetings' online community, MiForum,, are mounting their own letters to senator John Kerry's office in response to his plan to propose a bill to end "extravagant spending practices of U.S. banks" "relying" on TARP money. I put on quotes since the government reportedly requested Northern Trust to take bailout money. Said Kerry, after finding out about the Northern Trust golf tourney: I'm sick and tired of picking up the newspaper and reading about another idiotic abuse of taxpayer money."

So are we!

The Keep America Meeting petition now reports that it has sent the mainstream media and elected officials U.S. Travel Association coalition-backed correspondence explaining the need for meetings. It also has added downloads at its site,, including print ads, e-mail buttons, logos, and other promo materials.

Keep America Meeting is also constantly updating its Facebook fan page, at Please join!

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February 13, 2009

The Argument Against Associations

Posted by Kinley Levack
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There is a fascinating post on Folio's blog about Hachette Filipacchi Media dropping its Magazine Publishers of America membership and what the future might hold for associations. Tony Silber, general manager of Folio, a brand covering the magazine publishing industry, writes:

... as you comb through your budget trying to make the least damaging and least painful decisions, you see a line for association membership that may be $10,000 or may be $50,000. And in the case of the large companies, it’s certainly over $100,000.

There’s no way—no way—when you see that line that you don’t ask what the value is that you’re getting. Yes, you get lobbying for postal reform. Yes, you get research proving the value of magazine advertising. Yes, you get events with quality programs and valuable networking.

But in a time when all you want is to drive revenue with as lean a business as possible, those benefits are less compelling. Especially when you have to pay for virtually everything the association provides in addition to your dues. And that big, fat budget line becomes an easy target.

What publishers are looking for is not participation in committees and abstract reports and golf tournaments. Those are fine most of the time, but not now. Publishers want tools and resources that will keep them focused on effectively driving revenue in their markets.

So how do planners combat this? The question of "Can we afford to be a member?" is likely to hit across industries and it's up to planners to show that you are doing your part to keep association meetings and events valuable, timely, and irreplaceable. Be sure that you are listening to members and responding to exactly what they need today--because today's needs are very different from last year's, no matter what industry you're in. How are you working with association leadership and members to show that you're on the ball and that under no circumstances can your members afford to let their membership lapse?

In this case it also doesn't matter the cost of membership--although it's a quicker impact to slice $10,000-plus off of a budget sheet, it still helps if you're able to slice $1,500, or $500. We initially heard from hotels and destinations that while corporations were cutting back on meetings and events, the association market was stable. But if companies and individuals end up in a position where they question the value of association membership, we could be at the beginning of a second wave of attrition and/or cancellations, in addition to dysfunction within individual associations.

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