Wednesday, December 30, 2009

First Annual Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. Retreat

On the weekend of December 18, 2009, Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. held its first employee retreat since the company’s inception 10 years ago. The Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey was the ideal venue offering a great meeting facility and relaxing atmosphere perfect for a productive retreat. The overall goal of the retreat was to team build, have fun and discuss 2010 goals. The chili cook-off contest proved to be a great team builder where we relied heavily on providing clear communication to each other to succeed. In the end, the First Annual Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. Retreat was a great opportunity for the team to bond and set goals for what is sure to be a great year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cool New Ways for Entertainment in Your Own Hotel Room

Many hotels have been upgrading their rooms to go hand in hand with the entertainment technology we have available to us today, everything from iPod connectors to flat screen TVs. The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas has followed the in-room entertainment trend to the tee. The hotel has recently upgraded all their rooms to have the MediaHub from TeleAdapt, which is a one stop connection for all your entertainment needs. Guest are able to connect their laptop, iPod, iphone, DVD player, camera and even your very own game console! All these connections project on to the hotel's TV screen and are heard over the in-room sound system. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, in-room entertainment comes in second for most important hotel amenity. The Mirage is not the only hotel adopting this new technology, many hotels around the world have been installing the MediaHub. It is good to hear the new trend is more and more popular, as now hotels have one more way to make us feel at home when away from home.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let The Good Times Roll!

Owners of Lucky Rug Group, Niall Donnelly and Joe Altounian, are betting the Rolling Stone name will elicit an eat, drink and be merry response from bar goers when they visit the newest launch of the brand. The first-of-its-kind Rolling Stone location set to open next summer will boast numerous levels, 10,000-square feet of lounge atmosphere which will incorporate a bar, lounge and exclusive event space. The placement of the new venue practically guarantees foot traffic as it is situated next to the Kodak Theatre, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theater. Los Angeles was a natural choice for a location because of the musical history the town boasts but also the diversity of people that visit and reside there. "The Rolling Stone brand transcends age, gender and musical preference and we are committed in making sure that everything that encompasses the Rolling Stone space at Hollywood and Highland Center will reflect that," added Altounian. For more information visit the website

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Recession Calls for Creativity!

Let’s reflect on 2009: Hotels have been struggling to stay afloat since we began what feels to be a never ending recession. For this reason, hotels have been working harder than ever, and thinking of ways to get people interested in their hotels. We saw many new trends in the hotel industry in 2009. For example, in South Florida hotels had their creative minds flowing and the Wyndham in Boca Raton launched an all -women floor made especially for business women. Many hotels have also have gone “green”, as it is the biggest trend at the moment. As these hard times continue into 2010 we will see more and more new ways of attracting consumers.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hotels Play a Big Role in the Success of Communities in Phoenix

Hotels play a bigger part in contributing to the success of the Phoenix community more than residents may realize. A new study was released by the Destination & Travel Foundation, featuring the city of Phoenix found that one guestroom alone generated $6,300 in taxes among other findings. The study proves that not only have hotels in Phoenix significantly contributed to the income of the city but that other cities might have similar revenue coming in from hotels. "For people within our industry, this data is educational; for people outside our industry, it can be enlightening as to just how hotels are a fabric to one's community needs," said the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau (GPCVB) President and CEO, Steve Moore. More than $166 million in taxes came from Phoenix hotels. The study is representative of Phoenix, although Phoenix is just one large metropolitan city in comparison to what the possible overall total of hotel revenue is in the Unites States. For more information go to the following website:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

See Who Made It to The Leading Hotels of the World 2010 Directory

There is something new in 2010’s directory for The Leading Hotels of the World. Based on adjusted standards, now the worldwide directory includes hotels who truly represent their brand. There are more than 450 members in over 80 countries across the world. Debuting in the directory for 2010 are 13 hotels in Jochberg, Austria; Prague, Czech Republic; Cologne, Bonn, Germany; Sicily, Agrigento, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Cape Town, South Africa; Guangzhou, P.R. of China; Shanghai, P.R. of China; Sentosa Island, Singapore; Riviera Maya, Mexico; Buenaventua, Panama and São Paulo, Brazil. See who’s new at

Monday, December 7, 2009

Customer Service and Touch Points

Customer service is not something that “just happens”. It is a series of actions taken to be distinguished as superior and go above and beyond a guest’s expectations. The key is to identify the touch points that lead to a great experience. Every touch point is an opportunity to grow the relationship and make a good impression. Missing a last touch point can jeopardize an entire experience, so it is important to understand that touch points are equally important. For example: A guest might have had the best service up to the point of leaving a hotel's parking lot. They experience bad service with the parking attendant while leaving, and now that is their last and most memorable impression of the hotel is negative. See how to identify touch points and improve your ability to provide outstanding customer service.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First Hotel with Full Amenities That Will Blow Your Mind!

Le Meridien in Minneapolis recently announced that they are the first fully featured luxury hotel. The CEO of Le Meridien hotels, Juergen Bartels, brought this new concept called “Art + Tech” is and made this distinction happen. “Art + Tech” brings full amenities to this hotel such as KoolConnection by Sprint, which includes thousands of videos and music on demand. Other new amenities consumers will be happy about is the climate control rooms, rain shower heads, 42 inch plasma TVs and high speed internet that can be connected to the TV for better viewing. All the “Art + Tech” rooms have also been designed by famous designers, with each room having their own flare. This new concept seems to attract guests that are ready for a change in the hotel world.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What's Next After Black Friday? Cyber Monday!

Cyber Monday is coming soon and hotels hope to cash in the spending spree with point and click vacation gifts. Historically, shoppers are focused on tangible gifts not purchasing trips during the holiday season but hotels are hoping that may change when they see the new promotions designed to distract just in time for Christmas. The Hyatt has launched their version of a ‘wish list’ complete with the ability to forward on a potential itinerary with items or activities the traveler would like. The idea is that friends or family can peruse the list and purchase what is within their budget, perfect for the hard to buy relative or friend. Not to be outdone, is adding to the joy of the season by offering a 50-percent discount for a four-night stay for more than 200 hotels in 100 different locations. For jolly shoppers with extra money to spend, vacations are just a click away. For more information please visit:

Westin Brand Gears Up For Worldwide Expansion in 2009 and 2010

The last six weeks of this year are going to be busy for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., as they open six new Westin properties before 2009 comes to a close. With their current focus on international expansion, three of the six hotels will open in India, one in China and two in the United States, but they won’t stop there. Following in 2010, the Westin brand will continue its expansion with 12 projected openings all over the world, including Canada, China, Greece, Japan, India, Mexico and the United States. Although economic times are difficult, Simon Turner, President of Global Development for Starwood Hotels & Resorts is committed to opening the best-in-class hotels and predicts success in both their current and emerging properties. Currently 111 of the 163 existing hotels are located in North America; however with the predicted increase of business and leisure travel to Asia and the Middle East, we can be sure that the Westin Brand will continue to expand their hotel base to maintain world-wide recognition and ensure company success.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Give Grandma a Break this Thanksgiving; Let The Hotel Carve your Turkey!

Looking for a less-traditional option for this Thanksgiving’s turkey dinner? Many hotels throughout the country are offering packages that will leave both your wallet and stomach full for the holiday! If you are in the Miami area, the Four Seasons will cook you dinner and bring it to you ‘a la home service.’ That’s right; the hotel brings the feast to your home! This out-of-hotel dining experience, that includes a full staff of assistants, covers every dinner detail including post-event clean-up, and the ability to customize a menu to suit your family’s taste! If you are really looking to go outside of the traditional ‘Plymouth Rock’ themed dinner, head over to the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, CA. The hotel is offering a ‘Wild Turkey’ Package that includes a stay in a studio room or a suite, a $40 dining credit at the hotel’s Mary Jane’s diner, and to top it off, you will receive a complimentary shot of Wild Turkey premium bourbon whiskey. Cheers!
To find out where you can gobble-up these great packages, visit:

Friday, November 20, 2009

A ‘New Moon’ of Hotel Deals

With the highly-anticipated release of the ‘Twilight’ sequel ‘New Moon’, many hotels are taking the opportunity to celebrate the movie premiere by offering vampire-inspired deals! The Hotel Triton in San Francisco invites guests to their property to explore the gothic side of Nob Hill. For their package of $103, guests will receive a pair of tickets to the Vampire Tours of San Francisco, a night’s stay at the hotel in a room with blacked-out windows, a bottle of red wine and cherry-filled chocolates, AMC movie passes, a New Moon welcome amenity, and a choice of either sunscreen (for the vampires), or a garlic necklace (for the mortals). Want to celebrate the premiere on an island? Head over to The Westin St. John where they will be offering ‘The Bites of Twilight’ package. Guests can select their favorite Twilight amenity including the ‘Twilight’ movie DVD, ‘New Moon’ in paperback, and the already chart topping soundtrack from ‘New Moon’. Despite the fact that the packages do not include ‘Edward’ or ‘Jacob,’ these deals are hot and are booking-up quickly! Do not miss out if you are a fan!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Winter’s Hottest Hotel Amenity is Cold as Ice

If you thought free yoga classes or a complimentary cappuccino were as good as it gets when you stay at a hotel, think again! Lace up your boots and get ready, because this winter, many hotels have decided to go on an Ice Capade! Hotel Del Coronado, located on the beach in San Diego, will be offering ‘Skating by the Sea’ packages during the holiday season, including a Family Holiday package that even includes a cheery mug of hot chocolate. Some others to look-out for include the W Hotel Los Angeles Westwood where you can purchase an ‘Ice Skate, You Skate, We all Skate’ package, that will get you rink tickets and winter-themed cocktails, as you skate on the hotel’s completely transformed pool area. Don’t miss out on this season’s opportunity to sleep and skate!
For more information on which hotels you can go to and practice your double axel visit:

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Marketing Campaign Hopes to Have “Luck of the Irish”

Coming to the end of one of the most difficult tourism years in Ireland’s history, Tourism Ireland has launched their new marketing campaign for 2010! The campaign was celebrated with an afternoon of entertainment displaying the best of Irish hospitality, which included a performance by the cast of Riverdance, Irish storytellers, and live traditional music. The campaign, which was launched at the international travel trade show, targets both the leisure and business tourism communities which have suffered due to the economic climate and fluctuations in currencies. Tourism enterprises from across the island have joined forces to start the promotional drive and hope to significantly increase the number of visitors from Great Britain to Ireland this next year, as well as, make the island a clear choice for buyers seeking high quality and good value venues. Luckily, the campaign has another great vehicle to promote itself: St. Patrick’s Day. Their goal is to have this holiday be the biggest consumer event of the first quarter in 2010. As part of the campaign, Tourism Ireland is also excited about the new assets and infrastructures that will be opening up over the next two years. Be sure to look out for the new Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport, which will greatly improve passenger comfort, as well as, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and the Centre Dublin! Sláinte!

Friday, November 13, 2009

And the winner is...InterContinental Hotels and Resorts!

Often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the global travel and tourism industry, the World Travel Awards are becoming instrumental in increasing international brand recognition. This year, the 167,000 voters consisting of travel tourism and hospitality professionals, gave the title to InterContinental Residence Suites Dubai Festival City. The hotel is the group’s first luxury residences in the United Arab Emirates, specifically designed to cater to the needs of extended stay guests. Congratulations to InterContinental Hotels and Resorts for receiving the World Travel Award 2009!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Revival of Radisson

CEO Hubert Joly of Carlson Hotels previewed a project to draw more of a distinct line between Radisson’s upscale and upper upscale within their properties. The project, to be launched by the company early next year, also seeks to import successful service concepts from overseas. Carlson plans on introducing this distinction beginning in 2010, which is a line of ‘Green” hotels (upscale around primary and secondary cities) and “Blu” (upper scale properties). The hotel group will also be introducing design standards for Radisson properties for the first time and will be launching service concepts that have worked well internationally to North American properties. Stay tuned in 2010 to see if Radisson’s New Year Makeover is a success!

Miami Insomniacs Have Something to Look Forward to Every Year

The City of Miami hosted the second annual, 13-hour Sleepless Night art extravaganza this past Saturday. The exhibit is a definite departure from the standard bar scene late night venue and boasts a plethora of art installations, exhibits, galleries, and dance and music performances. The event began 6 p.m. and completed 7 a.m. Sunday. The event was intended to be easily navigated and to ensure this the city was split up into 4 areas with about 80 venues in total. This year the city also called for more buses for the convenience of event goers. According to event planners from last year, the number of interested onlookers did increase. More than 100,000 patrons visited the event despite heavy winds and some cancellations due to safety precautions. For more information on the event, please visit

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tools to Ensure Your Company is Technologically Savvy in 2010

If you thought Twitter and the iphone were as technologically advanced as we could get, think again! 2010 promises to be an impressive year for both technology devises and online social networking tools. Computer trends are turning to both smaller and lightweight Netbooks, with new updated operating systems. Microsoft will be coming out with Windows 7, and will be competing with Google, who will be making its first attempt at an operating system, called Google Chrome. Google will also be competing with Mozilla on new social networking devices. Google will be launching Wave, a device that is part instant-messaging, part email, and part social-media integration. Interestingly, Mozilla will be launching their device called Raindrop, which includes all of the networking capabilities of Google Wave, but also integrates Twitter and Skype. Lastly, Google will try to out-do Apple with their launch of Droid. A smart phone that has some enthusiasts saying it could replace computers altogether. Which devices will live up to their potential and enhance your business in the New Year? Stay tuned in 2010 to find out!
To find out more go to:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Making Honeymoons Even Sweeter

The Buddha-Bar Hotel Prague in the Czech Republic is wooing newly married couples to vacation during their honeymoon by offering alluring amenities. The hotel was featured in ‘The 2009 Honeymoon Hot List’ in an Australian travel magazine and was nominated with other properties that boast five-star services and a unique location. The Buddha-Bar Hotel is offering the special amenities in the hopes to entice lovebirds to have their momentous vacation at the property. The amenities include: a limo transfer for arrival and departure, welcome drink, luxury guest room with ‘romantic’ flower decoration, bottle of Champagne with strawberries, a breakfast at Siddharta Café, candlelight dinner at Buddha-Bar Restaurant, turndown service with goodies, private use of Jacuzzi, Buddhattitude Massage, Buddha-Bar music CD, romantic gift. The long list is not the only plus to staying at this unique venue. The Buddha-Bar Hotel differs from the typical tropical honeymoon by adding some European flair and combined with the upgrades may prove to sweet a deal for some couples to pass up. For more information regarding this promotion or hotel log onto:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hotels Get Creative to Keep Guests Returning

As the US hospitality industry struggles through one of the worst financial periods in more than 20 years, hotel managers are moving beyond the usual discounts and offering creative promotions to attract business. With a two night stay at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, a Harley-Davidson comes complimentary to cruise around the city while in town. Several hotels around the nation are promoting their property this way to gain business. Hotel analysts don’t expect the hotel industry to bounce back until 2011.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everything you need is at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort has many facets, each attractive to a different target groups. Located in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona just minutes from the International Airport, it is ideal for those who can’t get enough warm and dry weather. The resort is home for “Hole-in-the-Wall River Ranch”, a water wonderland perfect for families with children. There are a total of nine pools on property, including an “adult only” pool, so take your pick! The resort also offers a “home” feel through their Casita Village. These accommodations are excellent for extended stays and are equipped with kitchenettes and decent size refrigerators. There are three onsite dining options, from poolside to old fashioned family style. Golf is nearby at the Lookout Mountain Golf Club. Meetings are also possible at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak with 48,000 square feet of function space, including three spacious ballrooms and 46 choices of conference rooms. Visit and start planning your next “Pointe-cation” today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

W Hotels Brings its Passion for Fashion to Life

W Hotels returned for the 12th consecutive season to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. The hotel also exposed a series of firsts that will further strengthen the link of the W brand to the fashion industry, including a fashion-forward partnership with Barneys New York, support of the global fashion initiative Fashion's Night Out, the hotel will host a series of exclusive designer events during Paris Fashion Week.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Glitz of Dubai has a price tag

Dubai hotels are ranked as having the most expensive room rates in the world as of October 2009. The standard rate for a night in Dubai rival that of New York and soar around $230. All prices noted were located in a survey that posted. The site lists nearly 100,000 different hotels and the analysis tracked the top 30 tourist locales to compile the data. In October 2008, the statistics showed that all cities’ had a decrease in room pricing. The only omission from that distinction was Marseilles. As for the room rates going down, there has been a tremendous increase in construction and availability in rooms, which may drive prices down. Next year may show a discounted price, which may mean better prices for not only travelers but also events planners who have meetings in the foreseeable future. For more information see the article at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SD Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Nominations

Michelle Bartolone has been nominated for the 16th Annual “Women Who Mean Business” award to be selected on October 27, 2009 in a Special Edition of the San Diego Business Journal featuring dynamic women business leaders and role models, selected for their achievements and contributions to San Diego. Congratulations, Michelle!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ingredients for Surviving Corporate Event Planning

Add a dash of cost effectiveness and throw in some passion and you have the key components to what makes an event planner survive in this economy. Between more RFPs to review from hotels, watching the budget closely, educating clients where to cut costs, and finding budgets are being reduced; planners seem to have more on their plate than ever before. According to Meeting News, a planner interviewed said that looking over a contract again because they had the possibility of getting lower rates or more concessions has become more common. A universal characteristic prevalent amongst the planners interviewed that helps them overcome new obstacles: passion for the industry. See this link for more information:

Virtual vs. Face-to-Face Meetings

The results are in! Eventia and the Institute of Travel and Meetings have released results from their real versus virtual events experiment. The results highlight that there is a potential application for the technology in the events arena but the evidence to date seems to suggest it is predominantly on a complementary basis to real-life events and won't replace the benefits people get from face-to-face interaction. For more results visit

Friday, October 2, 2009

“Your Name Here” Branding Isn’t Just for Products Like Tide Anymore

Branding just became the latest way to launch your professional alter-ego into the 21th century. Not only are ambitious, young up-starts using social networking sites to keep in touch with friends and family, professionals have recognized the merit and they are using the sites for more than shooting the breeze with colleagues. Creating a name in an industry by maintaining a blog or having a following on Twitter is the newest way to promote numero uno. Showcasing a proficient portfolio and accomplishments on social networking sites make the career-minded more visible and can be an advantage, especially when a promotion is at stake or searching for a new job is on the horizon. For more information read “Brand Yourself for Success” at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No Diamond or Star: Green is the New Hotel Rating!

Marriott earns a place in the top 50 on Newsweek’s first-ever list of The Greenest Big Companies in America. 500 companies were evaluated based on their environmental impact and green policies. Marriott ranked #42 of 500 hotels with a score of 82.75 out of 100. Their strategy is to reduce fuel and water consumption by 25% per available room. Marriott also launched a program to help save the rainforest. 275 Marriott hotels have been awarded an ENERGY STAR label.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is The Art Of Live Socializing Dead?

Jeff De Cagna doesn’t think so. De Cagna is an authority on the subject. He is the chief strategist and founder of Principled Innovation, LLC, in Reston, VA. Although the way in which social networking has changed with the utilization of sites like facebook and Twitter, one-on-one interaction has not been taken over completely by on-line networking he said. De Cagna suggests that meeting planners look for reasons why on-line networking seems to be stronger at some events rather than others. He said that we should look for the culprits such as a weak platform or presentations that bore attendees. To overcome this happening at your event, focus on ensuring the presentation is worthy of in-person attendance and networking. For the entire article visit:

Friday, September 25, 2009

W Hotel says Bonjour to Paris Fashion Week!

For the first time, W hotel will be packing their bags in New York City this October, and heading to France to participate in the world renowned Paris Fashion Week. With their W Paris-Opera scheduled to open in 2010, W hotels are taking this opportunity to introduce their brand to the Parisians as well as continue their ongoing project for global expansion. The company will be designing event space in the chic Bastille neighborhood, where various high-profile celebrities and fashion designers will enjoy special performances in-between fashion shows. With the hotel’s prestige reputation of innovative design and passion for fashion, Paris could not have picked a more suitable company to create upscale lounges for their elite.
For more information on W hotel’s involvement in Paris Fashion Week as well as other W hotel properties in the Paris area visit:
Bon Voyage!

The Cure for the Common Hotel

Since 1963, the cure for the common hotel may lie in The Boulder Outlook Hotel & Suites. This independent, mid-to-low priced, full service hotel offers something for the corporate/business and leisure traveler. They provide unique amenities that quench your thirst for adventure with an on-property one-of-a-kind cascading waterfall and bouldering rocks for climbing. In addition to being fun, this hotel is environmentally responsible and is being billed as Colorado’s first ‘zero-waste hotel’ using packaging that can be utilized as compost later, utilizing low-energy lighting, and using recyclable paper keys for the hotel doors. To learn more about this unique venue, go to

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hilton Waikoloa Village - WOW

This island is an exotic haven that caters to the leisure traveler as well as group business. With great hotels and many activities, there is something here for everyone. The Hilton Waikoloa Village offers outstanding service that is warm and friendly has large sleeping rooms, and great meeting space located all together on one level. While they offer snorkeling and many other water sports, they offer a very unique activity allowing guests to swim with their dolphins. This property is also conveniently located near shopping and restaurants.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So Much Beauty In One Place

From the soaring cliffs of the Napoli Coast to the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon, Kauai enchants the senses. Recently we stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and had an incredible experience. With 602 classic Hawaiian guestrooms with balcony’s and over 65,000 sq ft of indoor meeting facilities and 40,000 sq ft of outdoor venues; this property is the perfect meeting location. The Anara Spa and golf facilities are first class. Don’t take my word for it… check it out for yourself!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Big Island: Hawaii

This island is an exotic haven that caters to the leisure traveler as well as group business. With great hotels and many activities, there is something here for everyone. The Hilton Waikoloa Village offers a unique activity of swimming with their dolphins, the Fairmont Orchid offers great food & beverage, and the Four Seasons Resort Kailua-Kona is in a class of its own; unbelievable! There is a property to fit every budget on the Big Island and it is meeting friendly! When planning your next meeting or incentive trip, call the pro’s at Meeting Sites Pro.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Magic gets a Makeover

Disneyland Hotel undergoes a three year makeover with construction beginning last week. The reason for this transformation is to have guests feel the Disney magic even when they return to their room after visiting the Disneyland parks. The new features in the hotel include a pair of Mickey Mouse hands holding the lights in the dressing rooms and hidden Mickeys in the carpeting. You can also hunt for Tinker Bell as she will be hiding in your room, while your bed headboard lights up giving you the experience of the world-famous Disneyland fireworks above Sleeping Beauty Castle. This makeover is being done in segments, with Dream Tower expected to be completed in June of 2010, jumping to the Magic Tower and over to the Wonder Tower with a total completion in 2012. Former Disneyland Hotel furniture will be sold and the proceeds will be donated to local charities. For more magical details visit

Friday, September 4, 2009

Attractive Marketing Strategy for Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is hosting a social networking competition to increase Thailand’s global online presence. They are inviting adventurous couples to recite their experiences via social networking sites as well as blogosphere, focusing on what they enjoy about the Thai culture. The five couples chosen will have an all expense paid trip to Thailand. For more information visit

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thousands Left With No Job

6,000 people lost their jobs after a contract expired between 30 hotels late Monday. “Layoffs” and “overtime” continue to be an on-going concern for the hotel industry. One of the hotels laid off 19% of its staff from November 2008 and March 2009. During this time, a striking 46% of the remaining staff had to work overtime. The union is now asking the hotel to restore the much needed jobs.

Hay-cations! The latest craze in lodging

In times of recession, the latest trend for lodging in Europe is sleeping on beds of hay. The Zum Alten Marstall in Neckarmülbach, Germany is a Medieval ambience hotel where its staff addresses its male guests as “Knights”. The farm setting allows you to enjoy fresh meats and cheeses. You can also enjoy many outdoor activities such as horse riding, canoeing, mountain biking and even archery! For more information on this Heuhotel (“heu” is German for hay) visit

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Business Travelers Give Up Amenities to Cut Costs

According to the New York Times, as the recession unfolds, budget-minded business travelers are shifting to lower-price hotels. The biggest beneficiaries of the shift, are hotels that keep prices down by not offering many extra amenities. This is great news for corporate travel managers trying to hold the line on lodging expenses in a tough economy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Don’t be a Twanker or a Twidiot!

Hospitality industry members: Are you using influential marketing blogs appropriately? Share your valuable information on Twitter, but do so appropriately. Twitter has evolved greatly since its beginning, yet there are still many users who do not know how to use it, use proper etiquette or know its overall potential. Follow these ten simple “rules” and you won’t be a Twanker or a Twidiot.

Friday, August 28, 2009

“More heads in bed” VS “Room revenue bottom line”- The Battle Continues…

A study was conducted based on two branded, high tier, hotels assumed to be located in a downtown area in a major US market, same in size for sleeping rooms and meeting space, and competitors to each other. From July 2008 to June 2009, one hotel opted to lower the Average Daily Rate (ADR) aggressively. Over the same time period, the other hotel opted to maintain a consistent ADR. Both hotels anticipated a high room revenue in the end. Who had the right answer? See if you can determine for yourself at (Part 1) & (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

W Hotel in Chile? YES!

The first W branded hotel in South America is in Santiago, Chile. It is located in the “fashionable” district of El Golf. The hotel has 196 guestrooms offering views of the Andes Mountains and city. With three restaurants, a rooftop bar and more than 1,800 square meters of modern meeting space, this hotel offers its guests a classy environment to mingle.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Consumer confidence soars

While the economy is still in a recession, a key measure of consumer confidence jumped much more than predicted in August 2009, as the job market outlook and business expectations improved. To read more, click below:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Meeting Sites Pro Community Update

Join Meeting Sites Pro in a celebration marking the 35th Anniversay of Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension. MSP supports saving this natural habitat for future generations. Event date: August 22, 2009. For more information visit


NEW in San Diego! Bow Wow BRUNCH Cruise Coming Sept. 20th Dogs are WELCOME on the Exclusive Hornblower Brunch Benefitting HWAC. Check it out at

Meeting / Event Planners Want It All

In today’s economy, properties exemplifying over-the-top customer service practices are walking away with most of the meeting planning industry’s business. Even when meeting planners are working with a smaller budget, they are not willing to sacrifice good customer service for cost-saving purposes. In a recent study, 85% of meeting professionals claimed customer service as their number one factor in choosing a venue for their programs. From early on in the planning process, sales managers have the ability to win over meeting planners. Being knowledgeable about their property and spending time studying the client’s program to see how it can best fit into their property instills a level of confidence that is invaluable to planners. Brands that ensure employee satisfaction acknowledge that if employees are satisfied with their job, the customers will be satisfied with the property and will develop brand loyalty and repeat business. Building personal rapport with clients is key in customer service as well. Taking the time to send birthday cards or specialized items that the client is interested in even long after an event is over helps build rapport and repeat business. These standards are winning over clients in today’s economy and will allow properties to thrive.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Discover an Island

The Island Hotel in Newport Beach, CA is the perfect place for business and leisure. It is a mid-point between Los Angeles and San Diego in the heart of Newport Center. This hotel offers great meeting space. The Island Hotel’s Grand Ballroom is over 6,000 square feet. After a full day of meetings, you can relax by doing some shopping right next door at Fashion Island; or head over to the beach to catch the last rays of sun followed by some fine dining and cocktails. If you are business by day and fun by night, then dive in and discover this island for yourself at

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blackstone mulls Hilton break-up

The Hilton group could be broken up under plans being drawn up by its owner Blackstone in an attempt manage debt repayment deadlines in three to four years.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Living the Language of Business

Talking the talk and walking the walk gets planners and the global meeting and event industry a seat at the CEO’s table. Take a look...

10 great places to eat regionally, eat well

This country's most unique foods are best experienced in native settings. A new book, "500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late", is a state-by-state guide to must-eats across America. Here is a list of favorites.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Phoenician Hotel, Scottsdale

Arizona has been a hot spot for winter meetings and with January right around the corner, we’ve been busy looking in this area. A great hotel for vacation or business is the Phoenician in Scottsdale. With over 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, this property has the flexibility to accommodate the most intimate meetings to the most expansive meetings. The hotel features ten exquisite restaurants, a beautiful championship golf course, a luxurious spa, nine inviting pools, an attractive $25 million art collection and an astonishing cactus garden. You can find out more about this fabulous hotel at:


A few days or even two weeks of vacation does not seem like much in comparison to the number of days that we work. Nevertheless, people look forward to their vacation the day they return from their previous one. The Access America Vacation Confidence Index for 2009 reports that out of 1,000 surveyed Americans only 37% have taken a vacation as of July 20. The combined 63% of those who haven’t taken a vacation and those who most likely won’t has created a vacation deficit. Of course the first to notice are the varied destinations hotels and their staff. Hotels are overwhelming consumers with great vacation deals for this summer, so take a peak and find your vacation- you know you need it…and the hotels need it, too!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wasington DC May Increase Sales Tax

The D.C. Council is poised to raise a number of consumer taxes in order to help fill more than $660 million in combined budget shortfalls for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year and the two years following.

Jobless Rates Highest Since Great Depression

This recession has shrunk the racial gap in unemployment, largely because white men are doing so much worse than usual. Check out this interesting article in USA Today.

Island Hotel Newport Beach

Formerly the Four Seasons Newport Beach, this upscale boutique hotel is just minutes from the John Wayne Santa Ana Airport and adjacent to Fashion Island. Hotel has 295 guest rooms and 30,000 sq ft of meeting space. Newly renovated in April 20009. Check it out at:

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Expanding The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Hotel has opened several new locations in Mumbai, Florence, Istanbul, Macao, Bora Bora, Mauritius, Seychelles, Hangzhou, Moscow, and three in the U.S.A. One of the new US properties is the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis located in the historic Laclede’s Landing entertainment district. This property overlooks the Gateway Arch and Mississippi River with access to stadium sports and the Lumiere Place Casino. With 200 guest rooms and suites, a serene spa, and 17,600 square feet of meeting space; there is something for everyone here. For more information, click here:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel in Default

The seizure of the St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel, where American International Group, Inc. sponsored a luxury retreat shortly after accepting a federal bailout, is the most dramatic sign yet of the deep troubles in the market for high-end hotels. Citigroup, Inc. took over the Orange County, California, hotel and golf course last week after months of negotiations over a $70 million loan that was in default. For more information, click on the following link:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Meeting Sites Pro Making a Difference!

What a wonderful experience we had sharing a few hours with residents of St. Paul's Villa in downtown San Diego at their Annual Ice Cream Social. Meeting Sites Pro was honored to organize this year's Villa Ice Cream Social. The biggest reward was interacting with the residence, listening to their great stories and even singing along to live piano music; all while enjoying delicious ice cream! We take great pride in being a small part of helping to fulfill St. Paul's mission to serve the physical, spiritual and social needs of the elderly community! fb#

Friday, July 17, 2009

Marriott Earnings Fall as Timeshare Profits Shrink

Marriott International, the No. 2 U.S. hotel operator, Thursday posted a 7.6 percent decline in quarterly profit and forecast future earnings below Wall Street expectations, signaling further declines in the once booming lodging industry. Check out the story at #fb

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It’s not about over-indulgence. It’s about wellness.

Everyone knows that spas are a huge part of the resort scene. With these economic times, spas are seeing a huge downturn. Now that people are reducing the time and money spent on treatments, spas are emphasizing on wellness and value by offering valuable packages at discounted rates.

The goal is to convince people to take better care of themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. “Everybody needs stress release right now,” says the director of sales for a well know resort and spa in Arizona. “Anytime you can incorporate a spiritual or inner quest experience into a program for a corporation that is not just rewarding or expanding the bottom line, it’s incorporating a motivational element into the program.”

Whether traveling on business or leisure, don’t forget to take advantage of valuable packages spas all over the country are offering.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Twice the Work, Half the Pay

The New York Times recently published the following article on independent planners. The article is copied below. Enjoy it.

When meetings or conferences are canceled — a relatively common occurrence in these financially difficult times — hotels collect a fraction of the money they were expecting, and participants lose the chance to network or gain knowledge about their industry.

But one group of hospitality professionals is literally watching its livelihood go down the drain as corporate events are pared to the bone — the corporate event planners hired by companies to book and coordinate meetings.

“One hundred percent of my revenues are made on commission,” said Stephanie Edwards, a partner at Conference Consultants Worldwide. “I would say when we got our first-quarter results, they showed a 40 percent cut in revenue.” Other independent planners report similar and occasionally even steeper drops. Those who focus on troubled industries like automotive and financial services have been hit the hardest. But no one is immune.

“It’s been a really challenging time for the industry,” said Brenda Anderson, chief executive of Site Global, an association for corporate event planners. “Let’s say you’re a small planner. One big piece of business that goes away is going to put you out of business. It’s your survival on the line.”

While Ms. Edwards and others like her are hired by companies, their contract is actually with the hotel. The property agrees to pay them a commission — 10 percent is standard in the industry — based on the room revenue they bring to the hotel. This means that if a meeting for 2,000 is suddenly scaled back to half that, or if a four-night booking is halved to become a two-night event, the amount of money people like Ms. Edwards earn automatically drops by 50 percent, even though the work they do does not change.

“We’re working twice as hard for half as much money,” said Brian Stevens, president of ConferenceDirect, a site selection company that makes bookings for some 6,000 groups a year. He added that his booking pace for 2009 so far is down by about 33 percent from last year.

In fact, many freelance planners who depend on commission say they are working harder than ever to drive hard bargains on hotel rates and lobby for lenient contracts that will not penalize a group if the number of delegates they draw is smaller than the number promised.

“Our clients realize we’re working twice as hard for them, and they realize our job is to get them the best rates even if that cuts our commission,” Mr. Stevens said. Other planners report that they have been able to shave as much as 40 percent off previously negotiated rates — a boon for the event sponsor, but a loss for the planner.

If an event is canceled outright, planners who work on commission usually do not make a dime. While a rare few freelancers say they have been able to wrangle concessions from hotels that promise them a piece of the damages a group must pay the hotel if it cancels, the vast majority have to chalk it up as a loss. An equally tough challenge is if a company or association decides to postpone the event for a year, or even indefinitely. This holding pattern has become so common it even has a nickname among the professionals — “helicoptering” — to describe clients who are afraid to commit to a future event because of current financial uncertainty.

“Clients are so afraid the pickup isn’t going to be there that they’re not signing the contracts for future years,” said David N. Bruce, managing director of CMP Meeting Services.

As the economy has worsened, some site selection professionals have even found themselves embroiled in disputes with hotels resistant to paying a commission on rates that have been slashed to the bone.

John Foster, a lawyer who specializes in group hotel contracts, said some hotels are now taking the position that they won’t pay a commission if a conference attendee books accommodations outside the block of rooms designated for the group. Part of the difficulty is the ubiquity of online discount-booking sites, on which conference delegates can often find rooms nearby or even at the same property for less than the rate being offered by the event’s sponsor. Hotels generally pay these third-party sites a commission per booking, so they are loath to pay a second commission to the event coordinator.

To sustain income during these difficult times, planners like Cecilia Rose who offer site selection are changing how they are paid. “We’ve redefined how we charge a little bit,” said Ms. Rose, who owns an event booking and planning firm. “We’ve gone to more flat fees as opposed to a commission,” and her contract in those cases is with the group not the hotel.

Although planners run the risk of putting off clients who would prefer to have the hotel pay the planner, Ms. Rose says her clients appreciate knowing how much her services are going to cost. Nor, she said, do they have to worry that the hotel is padding the room rate to make her commission.

Other freelance event planners and companies that depended on commission dollars in the past are exploring the prospect of offering other, fee-based services to insulate them from a drop in hotel bookings. They will run a conference registration desk, for example, or help develop seminar topics, all for flat or hourly fees that supplement their shrinking commission income.

The industry trade group, Meeting Professionals International, added new educational sessions for its coming convention to teach freelance planners how to expand their services beyond room booking and into more strategic areas like creating education curriculums or running group activities.

Hot Rates at World Class Hotels

New York City hotels slashing prices to lowest in years - even Waldorf is under $200

Read more:

Slashed Hotel Rates

The Atlanta Business Chronicle posted an article stating that slashing hotel rates is a foot-shooting strategy. In my opinion, this is not a strategy but rather a business survival necessity. Read more and decide for yourself.

For more information go to:

U.S. Lodging Sees Turning Point

While researching topics on current trends in the hospitality industry, I came across some interesting articles. Most reports show continuing decline through 2010 with 2009 having the weakest year on record for the domestic lodging industry.

For more information, please go to:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun Food and Beverage Ideas

Looking for a popular menu item to add to your next Food and Beverage function or a new dish for a dinner party at your house? At a recent program in San Diego at the US Grant, the Fruit Fondue Station and Smashed Potato Bar were a HUGE hit! The fondue station was presented with pieces of fresh pineapple and strawberries on skewers. Guests could choose their dip of choice, either chocolate or crème anglaise. Those looking for a hearty side dish visited the Smashed Potato Bar. Guests helped themselves to a martini glass and filled it with mashed potatoes. The fun part was choosing your toppings. There were a bunch to choose from including bacon bits, blue cheese, mushrooms, sliced avocados, sour cream, tomatoes and wasabi. The guests loved these two food items due to their delicious taste and fun presentation. We highly recommended adding either one or both of these cost effective menu items to your next food and beverage function.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Looking to plan a program or just get away in the Fall?

Why not head to Munich, Germany and enjoy competitive airfare and rates? We are pleased to highlight a fabulous property in the heart of the city, The Sheraton Munich Arabella Park Hotel. Conveniently located in the influential district of Bogenhausen, The Sheraton, along with its sister hotel, The Westin Grand (directly across the street), provide the largest meeting space in all of Southern Germany. Not only do we love the abundance of meeting space, the modern décor and location are very appealing. Check out a brief description below!

We are just a short stroll from Munich’s famous park, the English Garden, with its beer gardens and long walking trails. The city centre and central station are only 10 minutes away by underground train. After a full day spent with family, friends, or colleagues, relax in one of our 446 modernized and spacious guest rooms. With Canadian maple furnishings, breathtaking view over Munich, and High Speed Internet Access, you will want to settle in and stay for awhile.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Looking for a fun way to expand your Personal and Professional Network?

Meetup is an online based network, however groups typically meet in person based on similar interests. There are Meetups in approximately 11,507 cities worldwide covering nearly 8,340 topics! The slogan for Meetup is “Do something • Learn something • Share something • Change something.” Meetup is great for people of all ages and demographics! Just move to a new city and you enjoy jogging? There’s a Meetup for you. Looking to network with like-minded Entrepreneurs in your city? There’s a Meetup for you. At Meeting Sites Pro, some of our favorite Meetups in San Diego are the Downtown Women’s Book Club, SD Small Business Referral Program and the SD Network of Business Women.

Meetup is free and easy to join. Feeling extra ambitious? Start your own Meetup for only $12/month for 6 months. We encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and attend a Meetup by July. You never know who you will meet!

Sign up for Meetup

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Looking for an exciting Group Activity?

This week we’d like to feature a delicious opportunity for a group activity at the Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort. Master Sushi Chef, Chef “Fuji” Fujita, the only sushi chef in the United States to earn the Japanese Chef’s Associations recognition in 2006-2007, will demonstrate his art and personally teach his techniques and the history of sushi. The two hour class consists of hands-on learning, tasting and a Sake Clinic. The admission price is approximately $50 per person. Students will leave with an apron, chopsticks, a sushi guide, and a discount card to eat at Marssa, the restaurant where the class is held. Groups won’t have to gamble on where to go for food and fun this summer. Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort is a destination built for recreation.

For more information on Marssa, visit

Friday, June 12, 2009

Miami in January is HOT HOT HOT

Where do you go if you’re looking for 80 degree weather in January? Miami is the place to be. While researching the South Florida region for a program in January 2010, we came across an abundance of beautiful resort properties. What’s more, the 2010 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl will be held in Dolphin Stadium right outside of Miami. If you’re looking to plan an exciting program or vacation getaway in January, go to Miami! We are experts on the area and would love to provide you with some of our favorite properties, just post a message and we’ll get back to you. Hotels are booking fast so be sure to plan ahead and reserve your space today!

Check out this great link to hotels in the Miami area:

Friday, June 5, 2009

i-Meet do you?

It’s no i-pod or i-phone, it’s i-Meet! At Meeting Sites Pro we are very excited about this new online community tailored to the Meeting Planners Industry. i-Meet is easy to join and best of all it’s free. i-Meet allows individuals to connect, communicate and network with professionals in the Meeting Planning Industry.

i-Meet is set up similar to LinkedIn and allows users to create a custom profile to highlight experience, interests and skills. We especially love the Marketing section where you can post links to your business or blog. Activate your account today and connect with me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Abundance of Meeting Space near D.C.!

While researching hotels for a site selection in the Washington, D.C. area, we came across a fantastic property that instantly grabbed our attention. Lansdowne Resort is an award-winning facility strategically located just 15 minutes from Dulles International Airport. We really love the abundance of meeting space this property has to offer (a 45,000 square-foot conference center) as well as the unique Aquatic Complex. Check out the brief description below!

Our 45,000-square-foot IACC certified conference center encompasses a Grand Ballroom, Amphitheatre, Boardrooms and elegant outdoor function space. You can also plan your event at our magnificent new Clubhouse featuring its own ballroom. Dedicated meeting planners, custom meeting packages, and cutting edge technology including wireless Internet access offer the elements you need for success. Plan a teambuilding golf tournament on our two championship courses, or a group tour of the Nation’s Capital—at Lansdowne Resort, there’s room for both business and pleasure.

Monday, June 1, 2009

'That's So LA' Campaign

We all know that Los Angeles is like no other place on earth. There is an LA way of doing things and the new campaign just launched by LA INC., the Los Angeles CVB is making that known! The trendy campaign, dubbed “That’s So LA”, is a new marketing campaign designed to attract meetings to the city.

The campaign features a series of ads that highlight key meeting sites around the city and includes images of Walt Disney Concert Hall, the LA LIVE entertainment district and nightlife in LA. Planners can find mapping tools and sample itineraries, and other features on the bureau’s revamped website,

All this excitement is sure to bring some great revenue to LA and the meeting planning industry!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting Started with Social Media

These days, the web is filled with social networking sites. At Meeting Sites Pro, Inc., we are on multiple social networking sites including Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and You Tube. Once you establish a profile, what’s next? Learning to navigate through the separate sites is overwhelming not to mention understanding the different functions. From tweets on Twitter to pokes on Facebook, social networking takes time to fully understand. We found a great article to assist you in getting started with social networking. If you’ve already created profiles on sites, this would be a great article to skim over to make sure you started off on the right foot.

We wish you luck in your social networking endeavors! We’re still getting a hang of everything. With a little time and patience, you can reap the rewards of this new low cost marking strategy for your business.

Exciting New Property!

Rosewood Hotel Group visited MSP last week and presented a great lunch and learn. We are very excited about their new property Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. We are confident our clients will love this property as much as we do. Check out a short description of the property below.

Rosewood Sand Hill is not your typical hotel, appealing to a varied guest experience with resort like amenities, lush courtyard gardens, superb service and local charm. Intended to meld with the surrounding landscape, Rosewood Sand Hill’s 123 guestroom and suites in low-rise designed dwellings are inspired by local architectural tradition and expressive of the transparency between the indoors and outdoors. In addition the 13,000 square feet of event space has been designed with high level executive meetings in mind. Most meeting rooms have windows, private patios and are equipped with the latest in technology.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Michelle Bartolone's Biography

Ms. Michelle Bartolone is the founder and CEO of Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. and Global Meetings Group, full service worldwide meeting and conference planning firms headquartered in San Diego, California. Since receiving her Business Management degree from San Diego State University, Ms. Bartolone has actively participated in the hospitality industry gaining a national presence with a career spanning over two decades.

Since its inception in 2000, Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. has experienced tremendous growth successfully orchestrating all genres of corporate meetings and conferences. Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. and Global Meetings Group are proud to continually support a diverse group of clients and industries which include pharmaceutical, healthcare, medical device, association, technology, Navy, Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, and Environmental Protection Agency with a common goal of executing flawless top notch meetings. In delivering all facets of meeting planning, from site selection to full service on‐location representation and everything in between, Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. and Global Meetings Group has coordinated meetings for our clients in venues around the world.

As an advocate for continuing education, Ms. Bartolone has received designation as a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) from the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and is proud to have participated as an active member of multiple advisory boards including: San Diego Business Travelers Association (SDBTA); Meeting Professionals International (MPI); Alliance for Continuing Medical Education (ACME); Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA); and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). She was also responsible for facilitating San Diego’s first APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) City Discussion Group which helped to pave the way in developing standards by which the meeting and event industry functions. In 2003, Ms. Bartolone founded a continuing medical education firm, CME Pro, Inc. which provides continuing education programs for physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to strengthen and expand medical knowledge in common medical arenas. Through accreditation by ACCME and numerous educational workshops, she has become knowledgeable with Health Care Compliance, PhRMA guidelines, AdvaMed guidelines, FDA regulations, Office of Inspector General policy, and other regulating bodies that police the meeting and conference planning industry.

Ms. Bartolone remains enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge, business success experience, and vision with others through mentorship, educational workshops, and presenting at various associations and educational institutions. Through her expertise and approachable style, she continues to mentor and empower others to advance their profession. As a recognized industry leader, she has been invited to speak at various industry conferences to include Meeting Professionals International, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Pharmaceutical Meeting Planners Forum, Center for Business Intelligence (CBI), the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education (ACME), and the University of California at San Diego’s Meeting & Event Programs. Ms. Bartolone’s accolades include being recognized for the following awards: Women Who Mean Business, San Diego Business Journal, 2005 & 2006; Susan B. Anthony "Leadership" Award, 2005; Delores Braswell "Mentoring" Award, 2005; and Meeting Planner of the Year, 2003 ‐ 2006.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Welcome to "Meet the Corporate Meetings Professional"! Congratulations Michelle.