Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Glad you could join us for this week's Extra, Extra!, wherein we round up interesting, offbeat, and important news from around the meetings industry.

First up is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's goal of reinvigorating Atlantic City by making it more attractive for smaller and midweek conventions and meetings. According to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, A.C. stands the best chance of accomplishing this if it does the following:
  • Focus on regional conventions more likely to seek out a drive-to destination.
  • Improve sales and marketing channels to attract small meetings and gatherings, as well as tourists.
  • Build more hotel rooms, priced more affordably.
  • Comp far fewer guests, offering high-quality hotel rooms to customers paying to stay in them.
Why does A.C. need to attract more of these smaller and midweek meetings, with attendee counts of 250 to 1,000? Because gaming revenue, long the lifeblood of the town, has been dropping steadily and continues to do so: The take over the first 10 months of this year was down 9.1 percent as compared to the same period in 2009.

As many of you may know, Omni Hotels is building a new, 800-room headquarters hotel in Nashville — and last week, according to the Tennessean newspaper, the company purchased the last piece of land it needs for the property: a one-acre parcel right behind the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, for which it paid $7.6 million. Overall, Omni bought 3.3 acres of land for the hotel, at a total price of $25.9 million, or approximately $180 a square foot. The newspaper quoted "observers" as saying that the final bit of land "was a crucial piece needed to connect the hotel to the hall of fame as well as to make the construction of the hotel more economical."

Next up: Zagat, "best known" for "its" big-city restaurant "reviews" (anyone who's ever used one of the company's bizarrely quotation-mark riddled guidebooks will get the joke about the quotation marks in the preceding phrase), recently released the results of its 2010 airline survey.

The airlines were rated on Zagat's traditional 30-point scale in four areas of performance: comfort, service, food, and website. (We imagine that the most common food rating is "N/A" or very low.) Here are some of the top-line winners:
  • Continental Airlines (large domestic premium class) — 21 overall score
  • JetBlue Airways (large domestic economy class) — 19 overall
  • Virgin America (midsize domestic premium class) — 24 overall
  • Virgin America (midsize domestic economy class) — 24 overall
  • Singapore Airlines (international premium class) — 28 overall
  • Singapore Airlines (international economy class) — 24 overall
Nice work, Virgin and Singapore! Click here for the full survey press release, including favorite airport, best entertainment, and more.

Finally, here are some hilarious "outtakes" from the survey comments — I'm sure many of us can sympathize with these complaints (but, to be fair, the airline business is a tough and thankless one — we appreciate the air carriers for what they do for business travelers and the meetings industry):
  • The only thing missing is a blindfold and a cigarette.
  • At least they haven't killed me yet.
  • My bags get better service, but they pay extra.
  • Flight attendants seem to have trained with Frau Blucher.
  • PBS...paralyzed butt syndrome!
  • The only difference between economy and business classes is a shrimp on your salad.
  • "Unwelcome aboard!"
  • Not sure if I really want to know that Captain Skippy is flying today.
  • I don't love getting up-close-and-personal with the head of the person in front of me .
  • Who made them mad at their customers?
  • Point a to point b with a bag of pretzels.
  • Entree selections should be labeled "choose your poison"
  • Service without a smile...or a smile without service.
  • A violation of the Geneva Convention.
  • Staff must use Orwell's 1984 as a training manual.
  • Only an option when it's the only option.
  • When two crummy medium-size airlines merge, all you get is a crummy large airline.
  • Seats make an iron maiden seem comfortable.
  • Like a cattle car, except the cows are mercifully slaughtered at trip's end.
See you next week!

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