Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome back to Extra, Extra!, after a one-week hiatus. We've got lots of interesting meetings-industry news that we didn't have room for in this week's edition of ThisWeek@PCMA, so let's get to it!

"Augmented reality" — no, it's not some sort of Star Trek-like "holodeck" (although it's getting there). Rather, it's a newish smart phone technology that uses a phone's built-in camera, GPS, and web access to scan whatever's in the camera's field of vision, and then display that image on the phone's screen with added information — such as, in the case of destinations or venues, food and beverage options, facts and figures, and other information that might be helpful to someone who is unfamiliar with a particular place (such as, say, meeting attendees). Currently this tech is most widely available on the iPhone, in the form of an app called mTrip (which we learned about from this Associated Press story). But who knows what the future may bring?

Texas' forthcoming Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas got some great press last week in the Dallas Morning News. "The $133 million copper-plated convention center is taking shape in Las Colinas, transforming not only the skyline but revamping the city's image into more than just a business destination," wrote the reporter. After the new convention center, which will have 50,000 square feet of exhibit space, opens this January, a new stop on DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) will be added in mid-2012, along with a new hotel and entertainment center.

Another convention venue opening on the horizon is the Las Cruces (New Mexico) Convention Center, which has about two months left to go before its big debut. The 55,000-square-foot building's GM told a local news station that the center has already booked 14 conventions and "a handful of consumer shows," resulting in approximately 4,000 booked hotel room nights.

Frequent fliers won't believe this (or, come to think of it, they probably will, and relatively easily): A company called Aviointeriors will be showing a new type of almost-standing airline seat called the SkyRider this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, Calif. Aviointeriors Director General Dominique Menoud gave this hilarious quote about the new seating option to USA Today:
For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours ... this would be comfortable seating. The seat ... is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle.
This would be funny if it weren't all too real. It reminds us of an article from The Onion last November, headlined "United Airlines Exploring Viability of Stacking Them Like Cordwood."

Finally, here's an interesting post from The Wall Street Journal's "Developments" blog about how Omni Hotels & Resorts is "fast becoming a big player in the U.S. market for owning and operating convention-center hotels." Cases in point: Omni was chosen by Nashville's Convention Center Authority to build the 800-room headquarters hotel for its forthcoming Nashville Convention Center, while the hospitality company is also in talks with Pittsburgh to build a 500-room property and Boston for a convention hotel that will surpass 1,000 rooms.

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