Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Welcome to this week's edition of Extra, Extra!, wherein we round up the most interesting meetings-industry news from around the world.

It used to be said that, "As General Motors goes, so goes the nation."  Is the same true for Orlando and the meetings industry?  According to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, the city filled eight out of every 10 hotel rooms in March, logging 80.6 percent occupancy.  The last time that happened?  March 2008.  Big trade shows and conventions held at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) helped: In March, the OCCC hosted the comic-book/sci-fi convention MegaCon, which drew 40,000 fans; CTIA Wireless, with 39,000 attendees; and the Heli-Expo International, which choppered in 15,000 people.

VISIT DENVER and its Blue Bear have launched a new website for meeting planners. Check it out at www.visitdenver.com/conventions.  Among a host of other features, the new site has a simple RFP form; detailed info on the Colorado Convention Center; a list of Denver-area meeting hotels; and a section covering the city's environmental resources.

It seems that government employees in California will no longer be meeting face-to-face to figure out a solution to the state's fiscal woes — or for any other reason, for that matter.  By virtue of an executive order from California Governor Jerry Brown, "Travel to attend conferences, networking opportunities, professional development courses, continuing education classes, meetings that can be conducted by video or teleconference or other non-essential events will not be permitted or paid for by the state." You can read more on this matter, and the full executive order, at the Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Clean the World, a nonprofit organization that takes used hotel bath products and distributes them to those in need (about which Convene has written previously), has signed a corporate agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The agreement, the first of its kind for Clean the World, will involve up to 500 North American Starwood properties, representing 176,000 guest rooms — and an estimated 1.6 million pounds of soap.  That's great news not only for the needy recipients of these cleaning products — more than 9,000 children die each day from diseases which can be prevented by washing with bar soap, according to a Starwood press release — it's also great news for the Earth, as the program will keep approximately 550 tons of hotel waste out of landfills.  If this country's hospitality industry cannot move toward using bulk dispensers of shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner — as many hotels in Europe and around the world do — then this is undoubtedly the next best thing (and maybe even better, if all North American hotels can get on board with Clean the World's program).

Finally, Convene hears that Disney World's 655-room Contemporary Resort — next door to the 115,000-square-foot Contemporary Convention Center — has some restful new "health and wellness suites" coming this fall.  Each room will sport its own cardio equipment; guests will be able to choose from seasonal and organic foods at their concierge lounge; and yoga classes and spa sessions will be available at a "wellness studio." Each suite will have bamboo flooring, 100-percent cotton linens, and hypoallergenic mattresses, while the bathrooms will each have rainwater showers and tea tree oils.  Here's a preview of what the rooms will look like.  They do look tranquil!

No comments: