Friday, December 16, 2011

The World of Water

Water is the oldest resource used in the meeting planning business, but it also provides one of the newest food and beverage options. With all the choices for water today: still, sparkling, bottled, tap? None of the former possibilities offer the taste bud excitement of the newest food and beverage trend. Infused water- water infused with real fruit, spices, and herbs, is the newest trick in the meeting planning industry for a low cost, delicious, and aesthetically pleasing treat for your reception.

At your next meeting, get creative and ask the venue for infused water at the water station instead of the usual plain water station set up. Infused water set ups include at least three carafes of different infused flavors. Flavors can include lemon-lime, pineapple-orange, mixed berry, cucumber mint, with an additional touch of flavors such as basil, cilantro, rosemary, and even habaneros. The choices of flavors are endless and stop only with the limitations of your imagination!

These tasty flavors provide a healthy and low cost alternative to sodas and coffee for your reception. The infused water also provides d├ęcor for the room with the array of fruit floating colorfully in the carafes. With all the healthy and yummy fruit floating around, your attendees will want to try all the possible flavors adding some spice to your reception. The new infused water trick cuts the need for plastic water bottles and soda cans helping make your meeting more environmentally friendly. Using carafes and glasses for the reception water station helps your meeting reach its green meeting goals.

When planning your next meeting, try this new trick for enhancing your reception by adding flavor and color to the usually boring water station. Your attendees will love the tasty and healthy alternative you provided, and your clients are sure to appreciate the earth-friendly, cost cutting benefits of serving this yummy treat.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Travel to Cape Town, South Africa

Sawubona! That means hello in Zulu, one of South Africa’s eleven official languages. In the past decade, South Africa has transformed from a struggling nation to a country with a prominent influence on the world’s economy. There has never been a better time than now to visit the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa’s second most populated city. Whether for work or vacation, Cape Town’s vibrant culture and exquisite sights are sure to create an experience of a lifetime.

Cape Town is the perfect location for any meeting. With a citywide room count of around 32,000, this bustling city has more than enough space to accommodate any type of meeting. For the past two years, it has held the top ranking spot for global gatherings in Africa and the Middle East for the International Conference and Convention Association. The success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup proved that this coastal city can accommodate all types of travellers and a variety of meetings.

There are many reasons why Cape Town should be on everyone’s trip list. In one day you can relax on the beautiful beaches of Camps Bay, take a trip up Table Mountain to see the breathtaking views, and have a true South African experience in one of the many craft markets around town. For business professionals looking for the perfect venue, try the One & Only Cape Town or the RadissonBlu in the heart of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront harbor. For a team building exercises, why not go wine tasting in the Stellenbosch wine lands or try Great White Shark Diving? It’s obvious that no matter what the purpose of your visit, Cape Town is bound to exceed every expectation.

For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cruising to Your Next Meeting

Looking for an exciting location for your next meeting, corporate retreat, or incentive trip? How about the big blue sea? Having a meeting on a cruise is an affordable, exotic, and refreshing alternative to the usual hotel venue.

More and more companies are catching on to using cruises as venues for their meetings. Interest is growing due to the significant cost reduction of using cruises. When comparing prices, an all-inclusive cruise event can save up to 30% of overall cost. All inclusive of meals, entertainment, presentation equipment, and meeting space in one package, a cruise not only offers saving but added convenience. Attendees have access to many amenities such as nightly entertainment, happy hour, and personally chosen meals. All-inclusive packages reduce a budget significantly.

Cruises also offer incredible team building experiences, incorporating social events and excursions that give attendees enough time to refresh and energize their minds between meetings. Combining leisure and business can produce magnificent results for a company. A comfortable environment enhances teambuilding, and the fact that there’s nowhere for anyone to go creates a captive audience. Companies can book a private charter or part of the ship depending on their size.

Want to learn more about a corporate cruise? Click here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Travel Optimism!

This year we have seen earthquakes, tsunami’s, and uprisings around the world; yet amid tragedy and uncertainty, corporate travel is strong. According to The Pegasus View, advanced corporate bookings grew in August by 10.2% over the prior year. Also noted was that although corporations are being more stringent on spending, they are still permitting employees to take trips. For additional information, go to

Friday, November 25, 2011

Get Your Attendees' Brains Cookin’!

Get your meeting attendee’s brains cooking at your next meeting or conference by feeding them “Brain Food.” Brain Food is a new idea developed in Sweden’s Radisson Blu Hotels by Swedish nutritionist Christain Bitz, the food is made up of healthy ingredients designed to keep meeting participants sharp, full, and focused. Brain Food includes menu items consisting of fish, whole grains, eggs, fruits, and vegetables and contains less that 10% fat content and added sugar. The new menu items are designed to increase brain and physical energy by keeping a stable blood sugar and providing as much nutrition as possible. Sounds like something we should be doing for ourselves on a daily basis!

Here are some tips from the Radisson Blu for feeding yourself and your meeting attendees Brain Food:

The Six Brain Food Principles

1. Lots of fish, whole grain products, fruits and vegetables
2. Primarily fresh, locally sourced ingredients
3. Pure ingredients with minimal industrial processing
4. Less meat and always a maximum 10% fat content
5. Natural sweeteners and never more than 10% added sugar
6. Focus on good taste and satisfying the senses

Using fish instead of other fatty meats helps participants stay full while not wanting to take a nap after lunch. Also, adding more vegetables and whole grains and having less meat in the meal keeps attendees from becoming tired throughout the day. Fruit for dessert instead of artificially sweetened desserts keeps attendees feeling sharp, healthy, and on top of their game during long meetings.

If you want to try one of Radisson Blu’s Brain Food ideas, check out the recipe below for an easy but yummy salmon dish with the perfect mixture of protein and healthy fats.

Salmon Pastrami

450g Norwegian Salmon
130g Salt
70g Sugar
15g Coarsely ground black pepper
15g Coarsely ground fennel seed
15g Coarsely ground mustard seed
15g Coarsely ground coriander seed

Marinate salmon in salt and sugar mixture for 20 minutes
Wash off the salt and sugar mixture of the salmon with cold water
Roll the salmon and wrap three times in plastic wrap so that it is wrapped solid
Poach the salmon at 60 degrees for 20 minutes
Unwrap the salmon in the remaining ingredients
Slice in

For more information click here and here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What’s up with VAT? A helpful guide to understanding the Value-Added Tax.

International meetings can be quite complex to organize. Time differences, language barriers, and currency conversions are just a few of the obstacles meeting planners face when planning a perfect meeting abroad. The most confusing aspect of international meetings for many planners is the Value-Added Tax, or VAT, that exists in more than 140 countries outside the U.S. It can be compared to a sales tax, as it is the cost added to goods and services. However it is quite daunting to planners because there are no universal standards for administering the tax.

Every country has its own VAT rate, rules as to what it is applied to, and procedures regarding filing and deadlines. Although this can perplex many planners, experts say that there are basic steps meeting planners can take to find out what refund they are entitled to as well as ensure they follow correct protocol during the planning process.

The first step in mastering the VAT is to do preliminary research before planning a meeting. It is important to find out which countries offer rebates and which do not. Most European countries do, with Italy and Spain being the exceptions. The best way to obtain the most up to date information on VAT rates in specific countries is to check the country’s tourism website.

Remember that all VAT countries offer different rebates, so it is very important to research rates before creating a program budget. There are also some countries outside of Europe, namely China, India and Central and South America that charge VAT but do not offer rebate recovery. Japan, Australia and South Korea offer limited rebates, but their requirements and documentation is very tedious and complex.

The next step in the international planning process is to decide what type of meeting will be held. In many countries, rate eligibility depends on the type of event. For example, Ireland does not rebate VAT costs associated with an incentive program, however the U.K., France, Germany, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands (and a few others) do. Before choosing a country for a meeting, it is important to check its tourism website for information on rate eligibility.

So, you’ve done your research and chosen a destination for your meeting. What’s next? Collecting paperwork and filling out forms. I know, it doesn’t sound very fun, but the benefits are worth it. Experts stress the importance of keeping the necessary receipts and invoices and completing the filing forms. This form is usually supplied by the hotel, and all invoices should be filed under the same name. Make sure you know when the deadline is for submitting the forms – every country has a different deadline.

If the Value-Added Tax is too complex or too tedious to planners, there are many resources available to ease the VAT rebate process. Third-party VAT reclamation agencies are extremely helpful and can take care of all the refund process, but it is important to contact them before the planning process rather than after the event. Their service costs are based on a percentage of the rebate.

When planning a meeting or event abroad, remember that the VAT rebate, although daunting, can be a money saving process. So go out there and master that VAT!

For more information please click here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

National Sales Meeting 2012: Lake Erie Shores? A wave of renovations and revitalized attractions make Northern Ohio a “shore thing”

Looking for a wealth of meeting-friendly hotel offerings, wineries, amusement parks, unique local attractions, and a plethora of fine dining? Enter Northern Ohio. No, really. With a relatively short drive from Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, and Cleveland, and a quick flight from numerous U.S. locations, Northern Ohio offers guests a year-round, first-class experience at a fraction of the cost of top tier destinations.

With today’s meeting budgets dwindling and client’s expectations mounting, planners are struggling to secure reasonable rates at high-end sites, encouraging them to explore hidden treasures nestled in the Midwest. Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores caters to the expansive needs of delegates with their recreationally rich, picturesque atmosphere showcasing diverse eateries and unique lodging options.

Upon completion in December, Sandusky’s African-themed Kalahari Resort solidifies its ranking as the largest hotel in the state of Ohio. It will boast a 38,000 square-foot ballroom and exposition center, a 12,000 square-foot junior ballroom, 14 meeting rooms, a 4,000 square-foot outdoor plaza and a an extra 30,000 square-feet of indoor function space. For those of you, keeping track: that will total 215,000 square-feet of convention space when combined with the existing venue. This $22 million expansion is situated on 256 acres and offers 884 guest rooms, an indoor water park, an outdoor adventure park, a mini-golf course, a spa, and a zoo-like park with African animals on display.

For the client seeking a slightly more enthralling meeting break, Cedar Point offers exceptional meeting space location directly at “Ohio’s Roller Coast”. Dubbed the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World”, Cedar Point not only showcases sky-high rides and an outdoor waterpark, but also an expansive beach, inviting guests to engage in various watersports. On site meeting-friendly hotels include the 650-room Hotel Breakers and the 237-room Castaway Bay.

Approximately 20 minutes east of Sandusky lies the town of Huron, the home of the Sawmill Creek Hotel Golf Resort. Located directly on Lake Erie, Sawmill Creek is a Tom Fazio championship golf course that also harbors 236 guest rooms, 50,000 square-feet of meeting space, and multiple restaurants.

For the more adventurous groups looking to be engulfed in the outdoors of the Midwest, Port Clinton and the Lake Erie islands offer a local escape from the everyday, requiring only a short Jet Express ride. High speed ferries and charter services are abundant in these areas, making transportation a breeze. East Wine Cellar Road in Port Clinton invites guests to relax at the Mon Ami Restaurant & Historic Winery during corporate receptions available both indoors and outdoors.

Island accommodations include the Put-in-Bay Resort and Conference Center, located on the popular South Bass Island, and is capable of hosting a few hundred delegates. The Islander Inn and the Grand Islander Hotel recently announced their newest addition, the Niagara Event Center which can house up to 600 for an event in their 14,000 square-foot venue. Smaller groups looking for a unique experience need not explore further than Kelleys Island, offering trails for hiking at the Island State Park along with their 1,600 square-foot meeting space facility, Kelleys Island Venture Resort.

Northern Ohio has numerous options for various meetings, and it on the short list of up-and-coming corporate meeting areas.

For more information, please click here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holiday Travel Tips and Tricks

It’s already November and the holiday season is sneaking up on us! But before we are bombarded with the inevitable stress of shopping, traveling, and the anxiety of crowds that follow synonymous, we have compiled a few tips and tricks to help you beat the holiday travel woes!

As if airports weren’t crowded and stressful enough during the holiday season, airlines are cutting capacity in order to save on costs such as rising fuel prices and an uncertain economy. Ironically, as airlines cut capacity, there has been a rise in passengers using air transportation. This means more tightly packed airplanes, in addition to the already large crowds in airports, and of course long security lines and delays. In anticipation of the large crowds and densely packed flights, we have found a few helpful tips and tricks for a more comfortable and efficient holiday travel season.

You are all familiar with the rigid airport security and long lines that follow, but there is one change to security lines that will put your mind at ease. In the past, T.S.A. has used scanners that display a virtually nude image of passengers to security agents. However, this year T.S.A. is implementing new scanners that show only a generic, computer-generated body outline that passengers can also view online.

In addition to new privacy implementation for security lines, passengers can now choose to pay to go through security lines faster. United sells

expedited security and pre-boarding starting at $9, and Jet Blue’s “Even More Speed” program allows passengers to pay $10-$65 extra for more legroom and expedited security lines at certain airports. American’s “Five Star Service” program also offers expedited security line options as well as other V.I.P. services for those willing to pay the extra cost. So if you want to skip the lines while traveling this holiday season, check out what options your airline offers for moving you through security faster, as well as additional comfort features.

This season, some airlines are also changing their boarding procedures. In order to ensure you get on the plane with your seat preference, be sure to check your airline’s boarding process. American, which used to board back to front, now randomly assigns boarding groups; but, coach passengers can pay $10 and beat first class and even elite frequent flyers to the front of the boarding line! United, and soon Continental, will be boarding window, then middle, and finally aisle seats, as opposed to boarding back to front. If seat preference is important to you, then remember to check your airline’s website for their procedures as many companies are changing this year to ensure faster boarding.

Trying to fit all those presents for your friends and family into your checked bags? Don’t forget about checked bag fees most airlines impose, including fees for overweight and oversized luggage. Jet Blue offers one free checked bag and Southwest offers two. Check your airline’s website for baggage limitations and fees including oversized and overweight bags.

We hope these tips and tricks help you have safe and efficient travels this holiday season!

Happy Holidays from the Meeting Sites Pro team!

For more information please visit:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Ups and Downs of “Gamifying” Your Meeting

The hottest new thing on the market is always exciting however that doesn’t mean that it always benefits your meeting.  Adding technological games such as adding Four Square or awarding participants for scanning a QR code may be fun but isn’t always beneficial.

Often we try to adopt a concept like incorporating games into a meeting before we fully understand it.  Random scavenger hunts are just not going to cut it in this ever changing technological world.  You have to think like an attendee and understand that if you are going to cut out networking time you have to offer them something better in return.
Cell Phone Gaming has reached new heights.

Last February the Green Meeting Industry Council introduced a game design as its key element of their Sustainable Meetings Conference. Attendees played through the game by attending sessions and talking to exhibitors in order to complete a case study.  The rules were simple and the networking possibilities negated the time they had to spend doing specific activities.

The problem arises when the goals of your game do not match those of your meeting.  Often companies and planners get caught up in the buzz and the fun and forget to reflect on the objectives and goals of the meeting when developing their own game.  This can lead to complicated rules and no end goal that makes it hard for the attendees to understand why they should participate.

Games can be a great way to add some fun and excitement to annual meetings or other events but make sure that they are only included if they meet the objectives and goals of the meeting.  

For more information please visit:

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Meeting Industry: A Cure for the Recession

It’s no secret that the Unites States economy is suffering. Many are looking for an effective way out of the recession, and in an economic climate full of failing businesses and lay-offs, solutions seem few and far between. The meeting industry can offer a significant cure to the current recession.
The results of a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers quantified the meetings industry as a vital entity and significant contribution to the national economy. The study, “The Economic Significance of meetings to the U.S. Economy”, was released by the Convention Industry Council in February. According to the study, “the U.S. meetings industry directly supports 1.7 million jobs, $263 billion in spending, a $106 billion share of the GDP, $60 billion in labor revenue, $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue each year”. These significant numbers prove that the meetings industry plays a critical role in supporting employment in communities across the nation and creating environments that promote innovation and successful businesses.
A coalition of 14 leading meetings industry membership organizations spent a year performing the necessary research. The study was based on the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) definition of meetings, which is defined as a gathering of 10 or more participants for a minimum of four hours in a contracted venue. This definition includes conventions, conferences, congresses, trade shows and exhibitions, incentive events, corporate/business meetings and other meetings that fall within those guidelines. During a press release announcing the results, Executive Director of the Convention Industry Council, Karen Kotowski, summarized the importance of the meetings industry. “Two years ago, the value of meetings, one of America’s top economic and social engines, was misunderstood by governments and the public. This new research quantifies the economic significance of our sector for legislators, regulators and economists alike."
In the past, due to inconsistent research among various countries, the economic value of the meetings industry was unknown. With the results of this study comes a better understanding the meeting industry and its numerous advantages. These advantages, to both businesses and the public, are difficult to ignore. In a nation sick with the recession blues, the meetings industry can offer a meaningful remedy. 

For more information on the study, please visit:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Belfast Transformed

Two years ago Lonely Planet described Belfast as “a city on the rise” and Frommer’s rated Belfast in the Top 12 world holiday destinations in 2009.  In 2011, Belfast has much to celebrate with the Belfast Waterfront and Ulster Hall to the newest building Titanic Belfast launching in April 2012. Meeting Sites Pro visited the city recently to experience all Belfast has to offer; from its challenging history to its anticipation and excitement of a bright future. Walking through the city, there is seemingly endless scaffolding and new developments to include new apartment blocks, copper-domes concert venue at Waterfront Hall, the five-star Hilton Hotel, the extraordinary new Odyssey Complex, and the Titanic Belfast launching in April 2012.  We found the city to be especially proud and optimistic about their newest addition, Titanic Belfast, a world-class visitor attraction and events venue allowing us to voyage back over 100 years through time to experience the triumph and tragedy of the Titanic story.  For more information go to
While Belfast has overcome much adversity with its checkered past, its people remain proud and optimistic about it's future. We experienced their pride first hand during our visit when Belfast got news that the “2011 MTV EMA” would be broadcast live from the Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on Sunday, November 6.  For more information visit:    

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Legendary Hotel is Reborn

Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, California is set to reopen today after two years of extensive redesign and refurbishment. The iconic hotel is part of the Dorchester Collection which owns luxury hotels across the globe. Dorchester Collection CEO, Christopher Cowdray, transformed Hotel Bel-Air with the help of two worldwide renowned design teams, Rockwell Group and Alexandra Champalimaud. Cowdray also enlisted the help of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant group to oversee all of the food and beverage operations.

Throughout the redesign process, the two design teams took great care in keeping the originality of Hotel Bel-Air intact. The familiar themes of Spanish Colonial architecture are intertwined with elegant and glamorous aesthetics. The signature Bel-Air swans can again be found grazing throughout the beautiful 12 acre property.  

The hotel boasts 103 spacious guestrooms and suites, many with amenities such as grand pianos, fireplaces, and canyon views. The new 4,134 square foot Spa by La Prairie contains seven treatment rooms and invites guests to take time to relax and be pampered.

The dining venues were redesigned and expanded to enhance all of the elements of the property. Wolfgang Puck’s famous restaurant infuses modern California cuisine with Mediterranean and European influences. Guests can enjoy a range of relaxing activities such as cocktails on the terrace, tea time in the lobby, or lounging by the famous Bel-Air oval pool.

Hotel Bel-Air offers a unique location for both business and leisure travelers. It is ideal for those business executives who wish to escape the typical business setting. The hotel has 11,984 square feet of function space, both indoor and outdoor. The Hotel can accommodate outdoor receptions, large conferences, and private small meetings without sacrificing luxury.

With its magical ambiance, new generation design aesthetic youthful yet elegant manner, this exclusive hotel is bound to impress.

For more information, please visit:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Can the U.S. Visa Process Keep Up With Tourism Growth?

Beatrice Camp, US Consul General, speaks with Chinese applicants for U.S. visas.
 According to executives and Obama administration professionals, some of the security measures instated since 9/11 have stalled hospitality industry growth by discouraging the growing middle class to travel to the U.S.

There has been a significant increase in travel outside one’s home country in the last ten years, but the U.S. travel numbers have not reflected this trend.  From 2000 to 2010 there was a 40 percent increase in global long haul travel, travel to another country, but the U.S. share in the same time period actually dropped from 17 percent to 12 percent.

The Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, a group of outside advisors, wants the State Department to increase the capacity for processing visas and to streamline the process in key emerging countries.  Countries like China, Brazil and India have an ever growing middle class but the wait times for visa interviews can make travel to the U.S. difficult.  In some parts of China the wait for a visa interview is up to 39 days and in Brazil it can be up to 4 months.

State Department officials say they plan to expand the capacity to process visas by 30 percent in the next year for high-demand countries.  They will also be creating the Corporation for Travel Promotion, a non-profit group that will promote U.S. tourism abroad.

For more information:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Don’t Be a Victim of Identity Theft: How Meeting Planners Should Protect Themselves and their Company

Last year approximately 8.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. Unfortunately, this number continues to increase. So how can you make sure that you do not fall victim to thieves? There are simple precautions, especially for meeting planners, that can be taken to ensure that identity theft does not happen to you.
Meeting planners should make sure that their laptops or computers have passwords, proper firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware technology. If you must e-mail private information, including addresses or credit card numbers, learn to encrypt files you send. One obvious way to avoid data theft is to collect less data by requesting the minimum amount of data.

Before the meeting commences, planners should remind attendees to always watch their personal belongings. John Sileo, keynote speaker of identity thief, claims that “educating attendees is the most powerful thing that planners can do. If you have 1,000 attendees now every one of them is looking out…you’ve got 1,000 deputized police officers watching what’s going on in the room. That’s a huge difference”.

During the meeting, planners should ask the host hotel to set up a secure Wi-Fi connection where all meting attendees can log onto the Web with a user name and password. Make frequent reminders to attendees not to leave laptops, smart phones and purses or wallets unattended.

After the program ends, planners should protect themselves and their company by gathering all of the physical documentation used for the meeting. Planners should look into digitally destroying all records kept on computers, and make sure that the files have been taken off hard drives, or at least encrypted.

Protecting yourself from identity theft is not something that is only limited to meeting planners. Remembering these 5 quick tips will go a long way to prevent identity theft for anyone, especially when traveling;
1) Never leave your belongings unattended.
2) Only carry necessary items with you. Leave all other personal and valuable items at home or in your hotel such as your passport, credit card, laptop etc.
3) Only use secure Wi-Fi with a user name and password.
4) Be safe while using the Internet: Think before you click!
 5) Select complicated passwords for your credit card, bank and phone accounts. Avoid passwords such as your birthdate, address or mother’s maiden name.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Technology Driven Hotels

With the social media revolution and the expectation for high-technology, hotels are competing to get the best twitter blasts about their “cool factors”.  WIFI is no longer enough of a bonus to a guest room; tech-savvy travelers are expecting a bit more.

The Upper House, Hong Kong, has replaced reservation desk check-in with computer kiosks.  Additionally, the JW Marriott Hong Kong has digitalized their hotel room control system.  A touchscreen controller, located
right on the bedside phone, offers everything from local attractions to events during your stay.

At the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, you can control the room lights and room temperature through the LCD touch panel or the TV. A timer can even be set on the curtains to open automatically in the morning so guests can wake up with the sunlight shining into their room.

The Le Parker Meridien in New York City has taken their gym to the next level. They created a Wii gym room where you can play tennis with computer partners or run on digital tracks.

There are countless ways in which technology can improve and modernize the hotel industry; however, hotel guests can accept or reject as much as they prefer. If the new technology intimidates them, they can stick to the traditional simplicity of travel. No matter what the traveler decides, hotels will continue to move towards a technological dream world. 

For more information see

Friday, September 16, 2011

Disney's New Luxurious Hotel

The happiest place on earth just got happier. Disney World, located in Orlando, Florida, is opening its doors to their first ultra-luxury, Four Seasons. 

The lavish hotel will not only be the first non-Disney branded hotel, but also, the first five-star hotel located inside the theme park. This $360 million dollar project, expected to open in late 2014, will begin its construction this December. The 444-room resort will have impeccable views of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It’ll be steps away from numerous restaurants, an extravagance spa, basketball and tennis courts, a golf course as well as three pools.

With rates expected to be anywhere from $440.00 to $2,185 a night-this might not be an option for the regular families visiting the theme park. The Four Seasons expects to fill only half their rooms with park visitors and the rest will be conventioneers and business-meeting attendees. The Four Seasons will include approximately 37,750 square feet of meeting and event space, which will be a great new location to use in the future.

For more information visit:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“Trusted Traveler”

With the busiest time of the year for the airports soon approaching, travelers are demanding stress-free travel and the airline industry is loosening up on security procedures. A survey conducted by Consensus Research reports that American travelers would fly two to three more times per year on average, if the hardship of airport security were eliminated. These flights would add nearly $85 billion in consumer spending and nearly 900,000 jobs to the industry.

So what might this new program consist of? Well, The U.S. Travel Association has proposed a voluntary, government-operated program called “Trusted Traveler”. Program participants will be identified by entering a kiosk that scans their finger or iris (eye) to confirm their identity, and then pass through an explosive – detection device with their luggage.

Seems easy enough, but what’s the catch? Well, first, to apply for admission into the “Trusted Traveler” program, passengers must provide biometric information for screening, such as fingerprint, and iris recognition. Then, participants must submit to a criminal background check. Afterwards, a required interview with government officials is scheduled, and qualification into the program is then determined. Once enrolled, participants will receive an identity card, which they present at airport security checkpoints. This might seem like a lengthy procedure, but according to Consensus Research, surveys suggest that many passengers would rather have more government intrusion in exchange of traditional strict checkpoints.

Regardless of the “Trusted Traveler” program, one thing is made clear. Americans are pushing for changes in security measures, and airlines are open to the idea of relaxing on their current abrasive procedures. Voices are definitely being heard, and it will be exciting to see how loosened security procedures will significantly strengthen the airline industry.

For more information and the full U.S. Travel report, visit

Monday, August 29, 2011

Airline Food

During the early parts of the decade, the airline industry was suffering. Who better to target than hungry travelers for a little extra revenue? Thus, the industry eliminated free meals and introduced ‘food for purchase’.

“When people are traveling, they may buy food because they are hungry or they may be looking for something to do to pass the time,” said a United spokesman. Airlines took this opportunity to charge willing passengers for inflight treats.

At first, airlines tried experimenting with healthy items; however, the most popular treats were those filled with salt and carbohydrates. “United Airlines tried offering ‘active’ and ‘organic’ snack boxes with high-protein, low-fat and organic items, but ended up donating unused boxes to thousands of food banks before eliminating them from the menu,” says Scott Mccartney, Wall Street Journal writer.

Many food connoisseurs question the nutrition and portions of these inflight meals. “Dr. Pescatore, who practices nutritional medicine in New York, says that in general, airline coach offerings today ‘are terribly unhealthy’, he says. High-calorie sandwiches are packaged with both chips and cookies, for example, and snack boxes are loaded with sugary and salty food at movie-theater prices” writes Mccartney.

Some of these snack boxes can range between 600 – 700 calories. Also, the high salt content further dehydrates passengers traveling long distances. The best option available today is packing your own food. You know exactly what you’re getting for your money!

For more information see

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hotels Are Greener Then Ever!

“Going Green” is a movement that has expanded dramatically in the hotel industry and has gone past just switching to florescent bulbs or implanting a linen reuse program. Today, some hotels are going above and beyond in order to be called “the greenest” hotel.

One of the highest standards these hotels can receive is U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification which is not only the toughest but also the rarest - only 64 hotels are certified in the USA. In order to receive this certification the hotel needs to cover all environmental friendly areas such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, and stewardship of resources.

The Motel 6 Texas Motor Speedway in Northlake, Texas is the very first economy class hotel to receive to LEED certification, which demonstrates going green does not need to cost more! This Motel 6 has everything from thermal solar power units to drought-resistant native plants for their landscape. They even built the motel with local materials and only certified sustainable wood was used in construction! All of this and the room rate is still only $40.00 per night!

The New Wisconsin Hotel teamed up with Pineapple Hospitality and together they are working towards obtaining the highest LEED gold certification. This boutique-hotel just open last spring and is continuing to push towards more eco-friendly advances in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The hotel uses green amenities such as 100% biodegradable key cards and Tommy Bahama refillable bath dispensers, which eliminates the need for little bottles. Another eco-initiative is the use of only healthy and sustainable cleaning products. All rooms have recycling bins and all bills are printed on recycled paper.

These hotels are paving the way for future eco-friendly hotels- proving saving the environment is not only important for generations to come but it can be easy!

For more information: http:// &

Friday, July 29, 2011

The 21st Century Business Traveler

The days of all work and no play are over! Today’s business travelers are looking for the best of both worlds while away from home. That is why travel tech, Katie Linendoll, and Hyatt Place have partnered up in order to provide modern business travelers all the insider knowledge on the latest and greatest gadgets, amenities and innovations!

The partnership between hotels and technology is key for a successful trip. Hotels are becoming more tech-savvy making traveling easier and allowing guests to be more productive. Hotels like the Hyatt Place offer free Wi-Fi and smart integration technology which is a must for any modern traveler. Even though in a recent survey, 69% of business travelers stated they are traveling more than in the past, these respondents also say that traveling is becoming easier than ever due to the growth in technology.

So, what is the most essential travel accessory for the modern business traveler? According to the survey, 64% of business travelers would rather leave home without underwear then forget their smartphones! These mobile geniuses make traveling much easier, especially with the use of GPS and local hotspots. Katie suggests downloading apps such as “Aroundme” which can help you find your way in new cities or “Camera ZOOM FX’ to capture all those memorable events on the road. These phones are also business travelers’ key to staying close to family and friends while on the road. 70% of business travelers reported spent more time communicating with their loves ones creating a more positive work-travel experience.

Travel technology does not end there; Linendoll offers a few last tips to make any one a modern-day business-traveling pro! She highly recommends tablets (which are basically lightweight laptops perfect for working on the road) and eReaders (to keep you busy on the long flights). And finally, any modern business traveler must look the part- trendy, comfortable and business causal is becoming the norm! So pack those sundresses, ladies! And have a great trip!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The long awaited event has finally arrived…Comic Con 2011! Outrageous costumed fans will be flooding the streets of downtown in order to meet their favorite entertainment and comic book icons, like Director Steven Spielberg and the cast of the popular series “Twilight”. Comic Con is San Diego’s largest annual event bring over 126,000 people from all around the world.

This four-day convention creates a huge impact on the hospitality industry selling out tens of thousands of rooms for attendees while generating over $68 million in spending for just dining, transportation and lodging alone. Comic Con composed a list of nearby hotels; 30 of which are walking distance to the convention center. Nearby hotels are nearly completely booked and those with open rooms are selling for almost double their regular rates. These heighten prices may not last, as Comic Con’s 40-year contract with San Diego ends in 2013. It is now up to these hotels to lower their convention rates and increase incentives in order to compete against other major cities, like Los Angeles and Anaheim, fighting to be the new home for the convention. San Diego is so determined to keep Comic Con, city officials even offered to block out more hotel rooms at cheaper rates while using $500,000 of hotel taxes to pay for a shuttle service to and from the event.

Another looming problem for San Diego is convention space, Comic Con started in 1970 with only 300 attendees meeting in a small basement located in U.S. Grant Hotel and now have expanded taking over the whole convention center and two nearby hotels in order to hold all of its programing. While the city tries to work out these issues, officials and fans alike hope that Comic Con will stick to tradition and continue keeping San Diego its home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chinese Travel Increase

China is becoming one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets. Thus, many hotel branches are competing to attract these travelers’ attention. Hotel chains, such as Hilton Worldwide Inc. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, are implementing special programs/ packages to incorporate the Chinese customs.
According to Alexandra Berzon of the Wallstreet Journal, “Starwood plans to announce a program Monday called "Starwood Personalized Travel," which will require the company's 1,051 hotels—including the Sheratons, Westin and W chains—to offer a set of specific services for Chinese travelers, including in-room tea kettles, slippers and translation services, in addition to new menu items”.
This program expansion will cover all the Starwood properties by the end of next year. Hilton, on the other hand, takes this program one step further. Their program ‘Hilton Huanying’ (which means ‘welcome’ in Chinese), requires hotels to provide a front desk receptionist that speaks Mandarin. In addition, they have one Chinese television station and a full Chinese breakfast menu.
"Chinese travel is going to provide one of the great opportunities that we'll ever see in the business," said Hilton Chief Executive Chris Nassetta.
Marriott International Inc. is planning on getting involved as well. In the fall, they will begin a program “that will include information for hotels on how to create a Chinese breakfast” (Berzon).
While the Chinese economy grows and their travel restrictions loosen, hotels prepare for this important growing sector in the travel market.
For more information see

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Phone Keys

Hate waiting in-line to check-in to your hotel room after a long journey? Maybe you don’t have to anymore. Hotels are implementing a new room key that could save travelers some time!
“Some chains are adopting permanent keys that repeat guests can carry in their wallets and use for multiple trips at a variety of properties. Other establishments are doing away with physical keys altogether; instead, guests can open their room doors by holding their cellphone next to the lock” says Andrea Petersen, Wall Street Journal writer.
The hassle of demagnetized room keys will no longer be an issue. Hotels are trying to find the most convenient way to accommodate their customers. In addition to the permanent and cell phone keys, some hotels, like the Hilton and Intercontinental Hotels Group, are using something called OpenWays. This new technology sends a phone number to the guest’s cell phone. Upon arrival, the guest calls the phone number which will play an audible tone that unlocks their door. This tone changes every few minutes for security purpose. Thus, no one can record and replay any of the tones to reopen a room.
"Think of the business traveler who goes to the same hotel every week. He can go straight to his room, drop off his bag and get right to his meeting," says Pete Sears, senior vice president of operations at Hyatt Hotels Corp.
Although hotels do not believe these changes will be very cost-saving, they do trust it will boost their customer service and satisfaction rating. Those chains that decide to adopt the new keys hope to stand out amongst the other hotels.
For more information see

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Mobile Check-In Revolution

The airline industry is starting to use mobile check-in more frequently. Not only can you check-in to your flight using your phone but you can also get a barcode to board your flight with. Printing your boarding pass is no longer needed! Passengers can register their cell phone number with the airline when they purchase their ticket and the airline will send them a text message with a barcode or instructions on how to download the barcode when it is time for their flight. There are special scanners that airports use to detect these barcodes so you have to make sure that the airport you are flying out of supports this system. There are also always some issues with cell phones and scanners not being reliable. For the most part this eco-friendly, easy to use, industry cost saving, and convenient method has been working well.
The hotel industry is beginning to make the check-in process easy as well. For the Hyatt Hotels & Resorts as well as Omni Hotels & Resorts you may check-in with your iPhone or BlackBerry. This allows you to pick up a key at the registration desk without any wait! The hotel industry is working towards something similar to the airlines where you would be able to unlock your door with your cell phone. This would eliminate all check-in and out processes that are sometimes timely.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Right Plastic for Perks

Credit card issuers have been aggressively targeting business travelers because they have higher household incomes, better jobs and better credit ratings. Frequent fliers who use cards issued by their airline’s loyalty program can also earn miles from hotel stays, car rentals and even from things like mortgage payments. The benefits range from earning miles to having access to airport lounges. Have a specific benefit you would like to receive? Choose the card that is right for you! Do you enjoy waiting for your flight in an airport lounge? For this type of access you might get the American Express Platinum or Centurion cards. The annual fees of $375 or more cover entry into the lounges of American Airlines, Delta Airlines and US Airways. You also will receive annual membership in Priority Pass Select which is a program that provides access to 600 lounges worldwide. If you do not like accumulating foreign fees the best cards for you are American Express Platinum and Centurion cards; certain Visa cards issued by Cotinental, British Airways, IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt; Chase’s Sapphire Preferred; and Citi’s ThankYou Premier and ThankYou Prestige cards. Foreign fees could be as much as an additional three percent of the cost of goods and services purchased overseas. Some fees are high while others like Marriott’s are only $30 per year. If you would like to waive fees for checking baggage Continental’s MasterCard as well as Delta’s SkyMiles credit card will allow for one or two complimentary bags per traveler per flight. The American Express Platinum and Centurion cards give a $200 annual credit toward miscellaneous airline fees which can be used towards checking baggage. If you are interested in reducing mileage requirements American Airlines’ Citi card and USAirways’ MasterCard offer discounts on the number of miles required to book an award ticket. If you are interested in earning qualifying miles you might consider the top-tier cards offered by Continental, Delta, United, and US Airways. These cards allow holders to earn elite miles after they spend a certain amount of money. There are many different benefits for the different needs and wants of business travelers. Choose a card that has the right perks for you!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Government Meetings

Ensure success in any economic environment.

As funding for government meetings comes and goes, three prominent trends are developing that people should be aware of to assist in executing a successful government meeting.

  1. Blacklisting = Nonexistent. Gone are the days of blacklisting cities as congress passed legislation to allow cities like San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando and Atlantic City back in the game for government business.

  2. Second Tier Cities = Flexibility. If you are looking for hotels that are willing to work with you on getting great meeting space and per diem room rates, second-tier cities are the way to go.

  3. Hybrid Meetings = Cost Savings. Government groups have been adding a virtual component to meetings allowing attendees to save on travel costs while still receiving educational credit.

Keeping these trends in mind for your next government meeting will ensure greater success across the board!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boutique Boom

Uniquely designed hotels with even more creative meeting space combined with superior service and extensive amenities comprise a rapidly expanding lodging segment known as “Boutique Hotels.” Regina McGee of MeetingsNet Magazine published an eloquent article in April’s edition of Corporate Meetings and Incentives detailing the rise of boutique hotels and how they are becoming a big part of corporate meeting planning.

For the full article visit:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rising Airfare Costs

With the increase in gas prices, airline tickets have inflated as well. As of Monday, April 25, airlines, such as Delta, raised airfare by $10. Delta was quickly followed by Southwest, American Airlines, JetBlue, and United.

This escalation in prices marks the 7th increase this year!

"This higher fare is to offset higher fuel costs that we continue to face in the industry," said Southwest spokeswoman, Laurel Moffat.

Nevertheless, industry employees do not believe these hikes will go too high. Their customers must be willing to pay the extra charge for a plane ticket in order to keep sales up. Thus, airlines have been filling their seats to accommodate the $111 it costs for a barrel of oil. Nowadays, it is unusual if a plane is half empty.

Experts predict that this is not the last price increase flyers will see this year. In fact, between June 9 and August 21 airlines charge an additional summer fee since the demand for tickets is higher during this time.

So be sure to book flights far in advance to avoid extreme prices! To read more visit:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rewards Revamp

Rewards programs have always been a perk for frequent flyer travelers. Although these individuals may be traveling for business, they can still earn rewards for pleasure. Thus, a lot of commotion arose when two major airlines changed their systems recently.

Delta’s new rewards program eliminates expiration dates for points earned. However, this addition only benefits the infrequent flyers, who were most at danger for losing their points. For the business travelers, nothings really changed for them. Delta hopes that without expiration date they will get more customers.
“After discussions with our customers through surveys and focus groups, it was apparent that they view their miles as a form of currency,” Mike Henny, the general manager of Delta’s SkyMiles Medallion program, says. “The breakage of these miles was of minimal gain to Delta, but eliminating expiration was a big win for customers.”

On the other hand, Southwest’s program has created a bit more chatter. The old system based points around every one-way flight and any unused points expired after two years. Now, the system is based around the length and the price of the ticket.
Therefore, the “Wanna Get Away” tickets will receive fewer points than the “Business Select”. Additionally, if you shop or dine, you can earn more points. You can even purchase points in this new program – the minimum is 2,000 points at one time.
While there are disadvantages to this new program, there are several positives as well. Southwest has eliminated blackout dates. Therefore, a flyer can redeem their points for any flight and with no additional fees. There are also no charges for changing flight reservations.

Although some changes have been made to the rewards systems –and there may be more to come, the bottom line is that these airlines want to reward you for your loyalty.

For more information visit:

Friday, April 8, 2011

No More Check-Out

Do you ever find yourself stuck in-between check-in and out times? Perhaps this doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Some hotels are looking into relaxing their rigid policies. Properties, such as Hilton and Hyatt, allow their guests a few more hours after check-out to stick around. Starwood Preferred Guests receive a guaranteed 4PM check-out at nearly 75% of their properties. Even some American Express card holders have the luxury of a 4PM check-out time in AmEx’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program.

Hotels began to notice the inconvenience these inflexible times were causing business travelers. After doing some research, Horst H. Schulze, chief executive and chairman for Capella Hotels & Resorts, and former president of Ritz-Carlton, found that the check-in/out times were travelers’ biggest pet peeve. "Business travelers are very annoyed when they come in the morning and have to go to a meeting and want to put their stuff down and are told check-in time is 3 p.m.," says Schulze.
As a result, Capella Hotels & Resorts have completely gotten rid of set check-in and check-out times. In order to keep track of check-in/ out times, a staff member calls each guest to get their approximate arrival/departure times. With this estimation, the hotel can still plan other guest rooms accordingly.

With this new policy; however, troubles may arise. With a completely booked hotel, the wiggle room minimizes. However, Guenter Richter, the Setai's managing director, says that at his “214-room hotel [they are] able to fulfill guests' desired schedules 95% of the time”.

To read more visit:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Penny Pinchers

Shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, lotion, toothpaste, and deodorant – the list of in-room amenities goes on. But with the on-going recession, hotels have cut costs and eliminated some of these luxury items. The jokes of stealing hotel toiletries are now outdated. With the high costs of restocking bathroom amenities, hotels have implemented new strategies. For instance, instead of individual shampoo/ conditioner bottles, a hotel may now place a shampoo dispenser on the wall inside the shower. Or, some hotels simply take the more lavish products out of each hotel room, yet carry them in the housekeeping departments. Thus, if a customer were to call for some mouthwash, it is delivered to their room complimentary. On the contrary, products, such as deodorant or hairspray, now come at a price. The development of in-room products has expanded over the years. Joseph McInerney, president and chief executive officer of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, offers a run-down of the past years: After color TV came the TV-plus-remote, then the clock radio. In the 1960s, shampoo became a must. Lotions, mouthwash and more followed. The 1970s saw the introduction of sewing kits, shoe mitts and shoe horns. In the early 1990s, coffeemakers appeared in the room. At the end of the century, irons and ironing boards became mandatory. Nevertheless, with the increase in these complimentary items came the increase of hotel costs. Thus, in-room coffee makers are turning into single serving coffee packets. Turn down service is not always an everyday occurrence. Moreover, mini bars are turning into empty fridge storage. In fact, only 22% of upscale hotels still have mini fridges. Nevertheless, some hotels are getting creative with these empty refrigerators. Some let customers pick and order mini bar options upon check-in. If the customer is not interested, they can simply refuse any products. Other hotels enforce a mandatory mini bar fee, that also includes parking and internet. These fees allow the mini bar items to be “free”, while helping the hotel pay for the acquired costs. The future of in-room amenities is unknown. However, hotels are showing a preference to updated in-room technology over shampoo bottles and hairspray. Therefore, we’ll just have to wait and see what is to come. For more information:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From Green and Gold to Snakes and Shamrocks

The story behind St. Patrick’s Day and some of its major celebrations

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland and gained his notoriety by driving the snakes from the island. Although the likelihood of snakes being on the island to begin with is slim to none, this story is believed to also represent the saint putting an end to Paganism in Ireland as serpents were a common Pagan symbol and often worshipped in practice. St. Patrick is also credited for crowning the Shamrock as the National flower of Ireland, using it to explain the Holy Trinity to the Pagans. It is widely accepted that St. Patrick passed away on March 17, 461 AD, giving the Irish a day for spiritual renewal and prayers.

While the history behind St. Patrick’s Day is unsettled, one thing we do know for sure is that this unique holiday gives millions of people around the world a reason to celebrate come March 17th. The biggest of these celebrations occurs in none other than the capital of Ireland itself, Dublin. The city plays host to a five day festival where upwards of 1,000,000 people flock to commemorate the saint with art, outdoor concerts, fireworks and drinking (of course!). Arguably the next largest celebration takes place in Chicago, Illinois where an extravagant parade and festival follows the world famous dyeing of the Chicago River. Several other American cities are known for their enthusiastic St. Patrick’s Day rituals including: Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York City, St. Louis and Savannah, GA.

Now you can go out confidently this Thursday, adorned in green, and celebrate with a Guinness and good friends!