Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Extra, Extra!: Convene Newsstand

Surely most of you read a couple of weeks ago (either with horror or amusement — or more likely a mixture of both) about the now-infamous $16 muffin at a recent Justice Department meeting at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C. Well, the ombudsman for the Washington Post, which brought the Justice Department inspector general's report that cited the costly pastry to the public's attention, recently revisited the issue, and determined that the reporting wasn't entirely accurate.

Patrick B. Pexton, the newspaper's ombudsman, writes: "[A]s a journalist, my instinct tells me that the muffin story was just a bit too good to be true."

Turns out it was. The total cost for F&B at the mandatory five-day immigration-law training conference, which only provided breakfast and snacks for its 534 attendees, was $39,360, or $7,872 a day. "Divide that by 534 people attending," Pexton writes, "and you get $14.74 per person per day for continental breakfast and snacks." Pexton continues:
So why did the IG’s office say the immigration judges were eating $16 muffins? Because the itemized receipts from Hilton are imprecise: The coffee and fruit were provided free, and they allocated all the fees to the muffins, croissants, bagels, brownies and cookies provided for morning and afternoon refreshment. Hence it looks like $16 per morning pastry and $9 for afternoon brownies, cookies, and bags of chips. But really it was $14.74 per head per day.
Sounds like an open-and-shut (and toasted, and buttered) case to me.

Moving on: We talked about pump dispensers for hotel toiletries awhile ago in Extra, Extra! — and it so happens that this is just one of six hotel trends you should expect to see more of in the future, according to the Associated Press. What are the others? Increasing fees, "lobbies as social hubs," "disappearing [bath]tubs," electronic check-in, and locavore food options.

Which of these do you like, and which do you hate? Click here for more detail on each trend.

Whatever you think of the aforementioned lodging trends, the hotel industry seems to be recovering nicely following the Great Recession: Smith Travel Research Global reports that the average U.S. room rate in the first week of September climbed to $107, just $3 shy of the high-water mark set in March 2008. And, according to Mike Kistner, chief executive of lodging firm Pegasus Solutions, quoted in this story in the Los Angeles Times, hotel prices will most likely rise even further in the coming months.

In other hotel news, Nashville's Tennessean newspaper reports that the proposed 1,500-room Gaylord hotel and convention complex outside of Denver has moved one step closer to becoming a reality, after the suburb of Aurora last week approved an incentive package which could add up to more than half a billion dollars.

And finally, for no other reason than fun, check out this story from the New York Times about the World Championship of Public Speaking, put on by Toastmasters International.  Who will win!?  Will it be the Australian native who previously torched his chances at the title by, in his speech about his pregnant grandmother and a Tasmanian bush fire, using an insensitive term for an overweight person?  Or will it be the teddy-bear-toting speech-impediment-surmounter who sang, onstage, the popular Queen song "We Will Wock You"?

1 comment:

Roger said...

The bigger industry issue is not about "Muffingate", the post is correct that once the facts were revealed - it became an open-and-shut case, it is about the lack of respect and knowledge about the value of the meetings industry.

We have little or no influence, and it is strangling our industry. When are we going to explain our business value? When are we going to prove that what happens in meetings and events drives commerce, creates innovation, educates, and is the engine behind the growth of free enterprise.

It’s not shame on theme for attacking – it is shame on us as an industry for not quickly standing up for what we know is right. Big kudos to those who stood up and spoke out on the value of meetings, and the value of the meetings industry.