Category Archives: Member News

Welcome Newest Members

ConventionPlanit.com has been busy adding new venues to our portfolio.

Consider these newest members of ConventionPlanit.com for your next meeting:

Fairmont Dallas – Dallas, TX
Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa – Bonita Springs, FL
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa – Maui, HI
Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa – Key West, FL
Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel – Pittsburgh, PA
Bahia Resort Hotel – San Diego, CA
Deauville Beach Resort – Miami Beach, FL
American College of Chest Physicians – Glenview, IL
Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino – Palm Beach, Aruba
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa – Kalaheo, HI
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate – Orlando, FL

View more newest members.

Don’t forget, when you use ConventionPlanit.com, you can still send your RFP to your NSO reps!

Berlin Convention Office – We Know all About Arranging Meetings

berlin logoBerlin Convention Office – We know all about arranging meetings
The visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office (BCO) is the first go-to agency for event planners. The BCO offers comprehensive support for the organisation of conventions, meetings and incberlin photoentives in Berlin.Customers benefit from the experienced team, a vast network of contacts and the free-of-charge agency and reservation services for hotel allocations.

Learn more about Berlin.

ALHI CEO Talks on Vastly Expanded Global Portfolio

Adds 76 Luxury Hotels in Europe, the Middle East & Asia 

Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), the leading independent Global Sales Organization serving the North American meetings and incentive marketplace, has expanded its impressive portfolio with the addition of 76 magnificent luxury hotels and resorts located outside North America. The hotels and resorts, all owned and/or operated by Kempinski Hotels, are located in 31 countries outside of the United States, with 17 hotels in Western Europe, 13 hotels in Eastern Europe, 26 hotels in Asia, 10 hotels in Africa, and 10 hotels in the Middle East.
Dave GabriConventionPlanit.com spoke with AHLI CEO Dave Gabri to learn more about this expansion and the market trends behind it.
CP: What is driving this latest expansion in the hotels and resorts represented by ALHI?
Gabri: This strategic addition helps ALHI address the growing demand for international meeting and incentive programs, as these hotels and resorts are now officially represented by ALHI for North American meeting professionals, incentive specialists, association executives and business executives interested in conducting meetings and/or incentive programs at any of the hotels or resorts. The addition of these beautiful hotels brings our portfolio to over 250 Four and Five-Diamond quality (U.S. standards) hotels and resorts worldwide, which all serve the meetings and incentive marketplace. ALHI’s portfolio now features more than 100 international options in 44 countries to complement our extraordinary hotel portfolio in the United States.
CP: Tell us more about Kempinski Hotels.
Gabri: Kempinski Hotels is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group, and one of the most respected hotel companies in the world. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Kempinski is known for its luxurious and distinctive hotels and resorts, personal service, fascinating destinations, and reliability. The portfolio comprises historic grand landmark hotels, superb city hotels, and exquisite resorts and lifestyle hotels. Each property embraces the cultural traditions of its location.
CP: How can meeting professionals take advantage of the services ALHI offers?
Gabri: First, I want to emphasize there is no cost to the planning organization to utilize ALHI’s services.
For information about any of the ALHI member hotels and resorts and other resources, planners should contact their nearest of the 20 professionally-staffed ALHI Global Sales offices located coast-to-coast in the United States and in Canada, with locations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Richmond, Southern California (3), Toronto, Washington, D.C., and Washington (state).

For specifics, go to alhi.com to identify the “ALHI Team” sales professionals in your state/area.

For more information about ALHI, to inquire about any of the ALHI portfolio properties, and/or to acquire a free copy of ALHI’s new “2016 Meeting Facilities Guide” or the ALHI app, contact your nearest ALHI Global Sales Office, or call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-ALHI (2544), and visit alhi.com.

National Conference Center Celebrates Turnaround Success

Anyone driving by The National Conference Center or West Belmont Place, knows there’s a lot going on at the property. The National and West Belmont Place represent the largest open market meeting, training and event center in the nation, located within close proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport and just outside of Washington, D.C. Purchased out of bankruptcy just over a year ago, the property has undergone significant changes and improvements which have resulted in a dramatic uplift in business.

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Last year, LaKota Hotels & Resorts was retained by the new ownership to reorganize and re-energize the operation. LaKota brought in new onsite leadership and worked with them to reorganize the sales and marketing team, develop a capital improvement plan and infuse and reinforce a “whatever it takes” attitude. The result was one of the fastest and most dramatic turnarounds in the history of the conference center industry.

Earlier this summer, The National hosted a reception to celebrate their turnaround success.

The National's Turnaround Reception

The National’s Turnaround Reception

In 2013, prior to new ownership, The National was at a financial low with a downswing that continued into 2014 when the property was purchased and the new management team brought in. The team managed to completely reverse the downward direction during the remaining seven months of 2014, actually increasing revenue 34% over the prior year. In 2015, the team accelerated the trend with 2015 revenues forecasted (conservatively) to increase another 73% over 2014, which is a 140% increase over 2013. Occupancy in 2015 has increased by 130%. Usage from all group market segments is up double to triple digit percentages at The National and West Belmont Place including corporate, association, government, military, religious, fraternal, weddings, social functions and events. So far this year, more than $5 million in additional group business had to be turned away due to advance group commitments.

The key players of the new executive leadership team include Vice President and General Manager Geoff Lawson, a proven hospitality executive with years of conference center experience, numerous turnarounds and a former president of the International Association of Conference Centers; Chief Marketing Officer Chuck Ocheltree, a conference center sales and marketing icon with a number of turnaround successes in his career; Kahilua Herlihy, chief financial officer with years of experience as an accounting and finance executive in the D.C. hotel market; Allan Reynolds, director of food and beverage, with exceptional culinary experience in revamping conference center food and beverage operations; Chris Ferrier, executive chef who brings large 4- star hotel and catering experience and a passion for exciting, locally-sourced and innovative food; and Kellie Mueller, an exceptional leader in conference planning who returned to The National as director of conference services.

This new team set about to shake up the former operation and set it on a new path by investing in top sales talent, repositioning the property in the marketplace, and initiating capital improvement and renovation plans. “The dramatic turnaround at The National is a true testament to the ability and attitude of the onsite team, which is by far the strongest leadership, sales, and service group of folks I have had the pleasure of working with in this industry,” stated Sam Haigh, LaKota president and chief operating officer.

Capital improvements include renovations internally and externally with new dining and gathering areas, lobby improvements, a renovated fitness center and outdoor gathering areas such as patios and fire pits, taking advantage of the property’s large campus setting. With the physical improvements and service changes, dining at The National is an entirely new experience, as is relaxing and enjoying the evening entertainment in The Bar.

“The best way to tell we’re on the right track is the tremendous volume of business we’re seeing as well as the very high marks and exceptionally positive feedback from our clients,” stated Geoff Lawson, The National vice president and general manager. The property will continue with additional renovations as part of the ongoing capital improvement plan, so that clients will experience new enhancements with each return visit.

Networking Experiences Multiplied

Networking is always a key element of a successful meeting, and increasingly meeting professionals are looking to exciting offsite locations for these events. These can include a wide variety of venues, many of which can provide unique experiences for attendees.“I’ve always been a big believer in giving people a great experience and good food to help them connect and engage at conference networking events. When you give people a fun location and/or an engagement opportunity outside of the convention center/conference location, then you find that organic relationships are built, says Carrie Abernathy, Director of Education and Events at Practice Greenhealth.Consider some of the adventurous and exciting offsite venues highlighted on ConventionPlanit.com:

L.A. Live
Looking for the ultimate entertainment destination, maybe with a bit of star-sighting? That would make a great networking activity. L.A. Live in Los Angeles is a genuine world-class sports and entertainment destination. Located in the center of the entertainment capital of the world, the 5.6 million square foot L.A. Live mixed-used development on 27 acres is the primary “content campus” and event center for Southern California.

Some of the many venues include the Conga Room – the premier Latin and world music venue in Los Angeles – which features live performances from the hottest Latin music acts along with authentic Latin cuisine, cocktails and dancing. The GRAMMY Museum® is an interactive celebration of the power of music with four floors of cutting edge exhibits, experiences and films. The Nokia Theater is home to the EMMYs, ESPYs, American Music Awards and American Idol Finals.

Universal Studios
Universal Studios Hollywood has activities that can get everyone talking. Popular venues include their show pavilions such as the Globe Theater, Animal Actors Pavilion, and the Special Effects Stage.

Up Close With the Monuments
On the East Coast? Check out the The American Pharmacists Association’s headquarters, known as the American Institute of Pharmacy on the National Mall. Located on Constitution Avenue, the event spaces include two connected buildings with ground-level indoor and outdoor areas and a spacious rooftop deck.

The original building was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope, whose work includes the National Archives and the Jefferson Memorial. The expanded building, completed in 2009, is LEED certified, boasts a rooftop terrace with unparalleled views of the National Mall and beyond. The rooftop is seasonally tented and available for corporate and private events March to November.

On the Track
Some friendly competition is a good way to break the ice and make connections. Pole Position Raceway in Jersey City, New Jersey, is a state-of-the-art indoor karting center. They work closely with planners to ensure a customized, memorable networking experience.

Back to Nature
More into nature? Cibolo Creek in Marfa, Texas is a 30,000 acre ranch that offers ATV rides, horseback riding to view Native American rock art and its own ghost town. Rafting trips through the canons of Big Bend National Park are also a great way to get adventuresome networkers to do some bonding.

Check Out the Ranch
The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, Colorado hosts automotive shows, animal and livestock events, and concerts. Getting away from the normal stress and hectic schedule of meetings to go kick up some dust will definitely let attendees relax and connect.

CP Members Receive CIC Award

Kudos go out to Jane Schuldt, CIS, CITE, founder and president, World Marketing Group Ltd. and longtime supplier partner of ConventionPlanit.com along with Patricia Farías Barlow, CEM, CEO, Puerto Vallarta Convention Center, a brand new member for being honored by The Convention Industry Council.

“This year’s CIC Hall of Leaders and Pacesetter Award inductees represent a global footprint of the meetings, conventions, events, and exhibitions industry and we are excited to celebrate their expertise, leadership, and breadth of achievements. The iconic Hall of Leaders encapsulates a lifetime achievement award, while the Pacesetter Awards recognizes emerging leaders who have made an impact,” said the CEO of the Convention Industry Council, Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP.

The winners will be inducted into the CIC Hall of Leaders for 2015 during IMEX America in Las Vegas this coming October. The CP.com team is proud to be partners with such esteemed colleagues and we value their contributions as leaders in the meetings industry. To Jane and Patricia, Congratulations and ¡Felicidades!

CP Heads to Expo! Expo!

This is your traveling blogger reporting in from L.A. after attending the IAEE 2015 Expo!Expo! held Dec.9-11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Beginning with the Opening General Session and CEM presentation, the event moved on to the Tradeshow in the Conference Hall and then to the Opening Reception occurring next door at Nokia Plaza near the Staples Center.

ConventionPlanit.com recently signed a collaboration agreement with IAEE, and Deborah Shepard and I were on hand as “first-timers” to the event.

Deborah Shepard readies the ConventionPlanit.com booth for the first day of the Expo!Expo! trade show at L.A. Live.

Deborah Shepard readies the ConventionPlanit.com booth for the first day of the Expo!Expo! trade show at L.A. Live.

David DuBois, President and CEO, welcomed the audience by greetings in English, Japanese and Spanish, demonstrating that 30 countries were represented by the attendees. The group was then addressed by Ernest Wooden, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, a CP.com member.

The trade show opened in typical L.A. style with the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band escorting attendees to the show floor by playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” The exhibition offered a combination of business and education and the planners on the floor represented the best of the exhibitions and events industry.

CP.com member United Airlines hard at work during Expo!Expo!

CP.com member United Airlines hard at work during Expo!Expo!

Deborah and I walked the show floor and were interested to find a number of CP.com members exhibiting. Of course we have photos to share with you!

Mark McMinn and Wendy Frank of Team San Jose decorated their booth with some early holiday spirit!

Mark McMinn and Wendy Frank of Team San Jose decorated their booth with some early holiday spirit!

At the various tradeshows ConventionPlanit participates in throughout the year, it is always a treat to catch up with our member hotels and cvb’s.

Kendra London of the Sheraton Memphis Downtown and Nicole Seltzer of the Memphis Cook Convention Center found a moment to relax in between clients.

Kendra London of the Sheraton Memphis Downtown and Nicole Seltzer of the Memphis Cook Convention Center found a moment to relax in between clients.

In between stints on the tradeshow floor, I was able to check out the educational session focusing on “Exhibition Marketing – Asian Practice.”

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Most interesting were mentions of CP.com members Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

It was demonstrated how Asia has become the hub of the global exhibitions and events market and that these world class facilities are the reasons why Singapore and Malaysia are known as superior M.I.C.E. destinations.

The closing party was held at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live. The last chance to meet with colleagues before heading home is always a fun time, and all are excited to meet up again for Expo!Expo! 2015 in Baltimore.

See you there!

Wanted: Best Name Badge Tips

PC NAMETAG

Printing badges? Don’t forget the 12 square inches on the backside, too, that will be in front of your attendee the entire meeting.

Agendas and sponsorship messages are great – but what other practical little “oh, yeah…” detail or “a-ha” ideas have you had about the backside of badges?

From creative to useful to income-generating, submit your best ideas for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate for anything in the PC/NAMETAG catalog.

The tip with the most votes wins – so start sharing the news with your industry peers!

Founded by meeting planners, PC/NAMETAG® provides fellow planners with supplies that solve their problems and simplify their jobs. They specialize in exclusive, innovative products that make meeting registration run smoothly.

Donald Trump Welcomes Associated Luxury Hotels International

Dave Gabri & Donald Trump

Associated Luxury Hotels International recently hosted its Global Sales meeting in Miami.

Donald Trump (right) welcomed ALHI CEO David Gabri (left) and the ALHI Global Sales Organization (GSO) team to Trump National Doral Miami, personally sharing the progress and his vision for the $250 million capital improvement plan for the iconic ALHI member resort.