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: