Monday, July 12, 2010

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

A couple of weeks ago I inaugurated a weekly companion to PCMA's ThisWeek e-newsletter, which goes out to PCMA members every Tuesday, and contains, among other things, news items for the top three or four stories in the meetings industry from the past week.

But so much else happens every week! And my Firefox is always filled with great stories. It seems that all the news that's fit to print, well ... just doesn't seem to fit. With that in mind, here's an extra helping of meetings industry news — some weird, some pertinent, and some inspiring.

Developer JBG Companies and Marriott International have settled a dispute that was holding up construction on Washington, D.C.'s long-awaited 1,167-room Marriott Marquis convention center headquarters hotel. Last year, JBG filed a lawsuit that accused Marriott of engaging in an irregular procurement process for the hotel. Now that the dispute has been settled, construction on the $550 million hotel should begin this fall.

Sci-fi fans who felt uneasy about the name of the digital billboard on the side of Denver's Colorado Convention Center — SkyNet; aka the name of the ruthless worldwide computer network that seeks to wipe out humanity in the Terminator movie series — can rest easy, as the company behind the billboard has gone kaput. As someone once said, "Hasta la vista, baby."

The San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (SFCVB) celebrated its 100th Annual Luncheon last Wednesday. Congrats, SFCVB! And, can you believe it? The bureau and the city, which has won the Conde Nast Traveler Readers' Choice "Best City" award for 17 years running, has certainly come a long way since the devastation of the 1906 earthquake. At the luncheon, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and SFCVB President and CEO Joe D'Alessandro both took the opportunity to speak out against a proposed 2 percent hotel tax hike on the November ballot.

According to the Associated Press, Hyatt Hotels Corp. plans to embark upon a multimillion-dollar revamp and subsequent reopening of the 1,193-room Hyatt Regency New Orleans, which is adjacent to the Louisiana Superdome. Before it closed in Dec. 2005, the hotel served as a primary support location for government agencies when Hurricane Katrina struck the city.

Sick of what airline baggage fees? (The Dept. of Transportation recently announced that U.S. airlines brought in $770 million in checked-baggage fees during the first three months of 2010, representing a 33 percent increase over the same period last year.) Well, UPS has come up with a novel solution: The shipper has begun selling cardboard boxes that resemble luggage, complete with carrying handles, for travelers to use in shipping their excess baggage to their destination — and it will cost from $30 to $80 less than taking it with you on the plane.

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