Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome to this week's installment of Extra, Extra!, where we expand a bit on the meetings-industry news disseminated in our ThisWeek@PCMA newsletter.

In its Oct. 4 issue, the New Yorker published an architectural piece about Las Vegas' new CityCenter development, praising it for its modern sophistication, and for not (as many structures do in Las Vegas) simply cribbing from a previously existing architectural model. The writer described CityCenter thusly:
It is the biggest construction project in the history of Las Vegas. It has three hotels, two condominium towers, a shopping mall, a convention center, a couple of dozen restaurants, a private monorail, and a casino. There was to have been a fourth hotel, whose opening has been delayed indefinitely. But even without it the project contains nearly eighteen million square feet of space, the equivalent of roughly six Empire State Buildings.
That's crazy and awesome! Read more about CityCenter and Las Vegas here.

On the other side of the country, a more modest (yet still impressive) development: The Buffalo Niagara Convention Center held its grand reopening last week, cutting the ribbon on the center's new, $7-million renovation, which added, among other improvements, a new main entrance and electronic marquee and a redesigned kitchen with a new chef's table/tasting room. Congrats!

The Buffalo Niagara CVB's chairman of the board of directors, Gary Praetzel, had this to say about the project:
The renovations to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center are an important piece in the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau’s broader effort to rebrand Buffalo as an attractive tourism and convention destination. We will leverage this improved facility, recent upgrades to our region’s hotel stock and our community’s world-class attractions to bring visitors — and their dollars — to Buffalo and Erie County.
Speaking of convention centers, the Washington Examiner newspaper's blog reports that construction on the "long-awaited" D.C. convention center headquarters hotel should break ground in early November. The $516 million hotel — which will be a Marriott Marquis with 1,200 rooms, directly connected to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center — is scheduled to open in April 2014.

Up in the air, now: Singapore Airlines has announced that in 2011 it will start to install technology that will let its passengers surf the web from the skies — as well as allow passengers to make calls on their cell phones, according to the Los Angeles Times. To be fair, a Singapore Airlines spokesman said that the company may or may not allow in-cabin calling.

Hugo Martin writes:
Although a handful of airlines in the Middle East and Europe allow cellphone calls during flights, federal regulators in the U.S. prohibit the practice, saying the calls may interfere with an aircraft's navigation systems.

But the problem may not be the technology. After all, Emirates airline has allowed cellphone calls since 2008. Cathay Pacific announced plans in July to let use their cellphones in the plane by 2012.

A bigger issue may be that passengers and airline crews hate the idea of turning a crowded, airborne cabin into a flying phone booth.

The Federal Communication Commission considered lifting the ban in 2004, but it stopped looking into the idea after being inundated with letters, e-mails and calls in opposition.
It looks like there's at least one thing we can agree on. And that's a good thing.

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