Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome back to Extra, Extra!, Convene's weekly special supplement to our ThisWeek@PCMA newsletter. (Click here for the ThisWeek archive.) Let's see what's news:

The Wall Street Journal has a fun, splashy review of the decadent new 160-room Armani Hotel Dubai, the first such property by Giorgio Armani — where, because "Mr. Armani doesn't believe in waiting in lines," reception takes place in the guest's room. (Which begs the question: Would you want this amenity? We editors for Convene travel quite a bit for work, as you might imagine, and this writer, for one, isn't so keen on the growing encroachment by staff into guest space. No, I don't need a tour of the room, thanks; I can figure out how to operate the television all by myself.) At any rate, the Armani Hotel Dubai isn't alone: It will soon have fashion-world competition in the form of an 87-room Gucci property and a Palazzo Versace, both in Dubai.

But it might be more alone in the future: According to the real-estate website GlobeSt.com, hotel development for the "Europe, Middle East, and Africa" region, once a veritable gusher, will "slow to [a] trickle" by 2013. Just a few years ago, hotel growth in the Middle East, especially in Dubai and its oil-rich patron emirate, Abu Dhabi, were the talk and wonder of the global hospitality industry. But it seems the well has run dry, with growth down for eight consecutive quarters.

This past summer, we reported on the fight over union work-rules reform legislation at Chicago's McCormick Place, which, after suffering the departure of a few high-profile trade shows last year, went through an ultimately successful effort to reform the way unions operate within the building, as well as what exhibitors are allowed to do on their own. (In Convene's forthcoming October issue, we have a news item in our brand-new "front of book" section, Plenary, which discusses the first show hosted under the new work rules at the center.)

It sounds like things are going smoothly under the new work-rules order, though of course there will be hiccups: According to this story in the Chicago Sun-Times, one carpenters’ union, which picketed last weekend’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), has filed a federal lawsuit to block the legislation. Nevertheless, IMTS was happy with how the show came off under the new model, with IMTS Vice President of Exhibitions and Communications Peter Eelman telling the Sun-Times that the show was "a great experience" thanks to the new law.

In green news, any eco-minded individual who remembers bitterly how, in 1986, Ronald Reagan had removed the solar panels that Jimmy Carter installed on the roof of the White House in 1979 will be happy to hear that one public building is setting a good example: The Salt Palace Convention Center, in Salt Lake, Utah, is having 600,000 square feet of solar panels installed on its roof. Larger than six football fields, incorporating 11,319 solar panels, and with the capacity to produce fully 25 percent of the energy consumed by the convention center, the project, which will be fired up by this coming January, will soon represent the nation's largest rooftop solar array.

Finally — and clear the kids from the room for this one — not only is Santa Claus not real, it turns out he's also being sued by the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for non-payment for the jolly old elf's "Celebrate Santa" festival, which for two years now has been held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. The mom and dad playing the part of Santa in this story are festival organizers Joseph and Mary Moore. What do you think these two will get in their stockings come Christmas?

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