Monthly Archives: April 2009

Hotels Waive Cancellation Fees In Mexico

Major hotel companies, in response to the swine-flu crisis, are waiving cancellation fees for guests who had planned to stay at their hotels in Mexico.

Marriott International Inc. (MAR), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. ( HOT), InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (IHG) and Global Hyatt Corp. all said they will waive cancellation fees for arrivals in Mexico.

Carolyn Hergert, an InterContinental Hotels spokeswoman, said the company will waive fees for guests in the U.S and Canada “on a case-by-case basis” and noted the company has seen a rise in cancellations at its Mexico properties.

Get the complete details from CNNMoney.com

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Wynn May Seek MGM Mirage Casinos Including Bellagio

Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd., said he is interested in buying some of the casinos owned by MGM Mirage, which may sell assets as part of an effort to reduce debt.

Wynn is interested in the Bellagio, a resort he built before his previous company was purchased by MGM Mirage, as well as other Las Vegas properties, he said today in an interview.

Get the full details from Bloomberg.com

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Dallas Convention Center Hotel Debate In Its Final Stretch

On the eve of early voting, advocates and opponents of a Dallas Convention Center hotel launched a final effort to convince residents of the merits – or lack thereof – of such a facility.

Here are the details from the Dallas Morning News

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Travel Industry Grapples With Swine Flu

Meeting planner Gail Murphy heard about the travel warning to Mexico too late in the day on Monday to do anything about her plans to head to Cancun the following day.

“I’m in good health,” said Murphy, who is heading to the Eighth Annual Mexico Showcase and Travel Expo from her home in Shelburne, Vermont. “I’m a risk taker, so I’ll go anyway.”

In light of the swine flu, the U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to issue a warning against any non-essential travel to Mexico, said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.  The move could potentially devastate an already struggling tourism industry in the country.

The country is the epicenter for the swine influenza virus outbreak. More than 100 deaths in Mexico are being investigated as possibly tied to the outbreak.

The World Health Organization said Monday that 73 cases of swine flu had been confirmed worldwide.

Get the full details from CNN

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Starwood CEO Planting Seeds for Recovery

The travel industry is in crisis mode, hotels are reporting sharp drops in demand and global growth has “hit the pause button,” says the head of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

So what better time to expand?

“We’re planting seeds for recovery. Today’s stay-cation is tomorrow’s pent-up demand,” Chief Executive Frits van Paasschen told Reuters in an interview on Thursday night.

While a full recovery could still be a ways off, hotel companies may have escaped the free-fall in travel of the past few months as demand appeared to be “reaching a plateau,” said van Paasschen.

The company’s strategy for staying afloat is to reach new consumers while demand is at the “bottom or the midst of the bottom” in hopes they will come to Starwood hotels when spending eventually picks up.

“We have an opportunity to expand our global footprint,” added van Paasschen, who spoke during a launch party of a new W Hotel in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The world’s No. 8 hotel group by rooms is expected to report first-quarter earnings next week, following reports from rivals Marriott, Wyndham Worldwide and Host Hotels & Resorts.

White Plains, New York-based Starwood has had to cut development projects as it grapples with a sharp decline in travel demand. In the fourth quarter, Starwood’s revenue per available room — an industry metric of profitability — fell 12.1 percent. Its peers also reported double-digit drops in RevPAR.

Last week, S&P cut Starwood’s credit rating to a “BB,” reflecting expectations for a steeper drop in RevPAR. ID:nWNA1876

Starwood decided not to pursue or continue the development of several projects, including two “significant” projects in Mexico and the Caribbean, according to the company’s annual regulatory filing in February.

More than half of the company’s hotels, which include the W, Sheraton and St. Regis, are outside of the United States.

But van Paasschen, who has been at the helm of Starwood since September 2007, sees signs of improvement. Earlier this month, the company said it was moving ahead with a $4 billion overhaul of its Sheraton brand. ID:nN13340287

He said the month-old Hoboken W Hotel was running near full occupancy.

The opening was celebrated with a glittering bash that featured W-shaped fireworks, a model in black spike heels lounging in an enlarged, rotating martini glass and a live concert from actor and musician Jamie Foxx. Also in attendance were celebrities including actress Shannen Doherty.

Van Paasschen declined to comment on the company’s ongoing lawsuit with Hilton Hotels Corp, which it charged with corporate espionage in a lawsuit filed earlier this month. ID:nN16293349

“These times are at least as bad as 9/11 without the prospect of immediate recovery,” he said. “It’s the worst time for the travel industry in our lifetime.

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Hyatt releases IAAP survey

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is making it easier for administrative professionals and meeting planners to go on the trip of their dreams. Now anyone who schedules a qualifying meeting or event held at a Hyatt property can automatically receive Hyatt Gold Passport points that may be redeemed toward free stays at any Hyatt location, at any time, with no blackout dates. The Hyatt Gold Passport Planner Rewards program is free to join and meeting and events held at a Hyatt can earn administrative professionals who register credit toward Hyatt Gold Passport membership tier status and more rewards.

“In today’s challenging economy, Hyatt is proud to be able to reward administrative professionals with free travel for simply booking their corporate meetings and events at a Hyatt location,” said Scott Seed, director of leisure and business marketing, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. “Whether they take their family away to their favorite beach or want to visit relatives across the country, the Hyatt Gold Passport Planner Reward program is their ticket to free stays.”

Today, Administrative Professionals Day 2009, Hyatt released the results of a survey, conducted in association with members of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). The survey details meeting planning trends and workplace topics including errands that administrative professionals have been asked to do as personal favors for their boss and what they expect, and wish, to receive this year on the special recognition day.

Key findings of the Hyatt Administrative Professional Survey, which was completed by more than 1,000 administrative professionals, include:

 •           81 percent are responsible for planning meetings and events and on average they plan four off-site meetings per year

•           Meeting and event planning is an Administrative Professional’s second most time consuming office activity, accounting, on average, for 17 percent of their time (trailing only creating documents, which accounts for 26 percent of time)

•           95 percent of Administrative Professionals believe that the budgets to support off-site meetings will shrink in the current economic climate, however, 85 percent still view meetings as valuable

•           To stretch smaller budgets, event and meeting planners are choosing locations that require less travel (82 percent) and are limiting food choices (65 percent)

•           44 percent have been asked to do personal errands for their bosses – with the top indiscretions being keeping secrets (24 percent), covering for their bosses (20 percent) and making personal travel arrangements (16 percent)

•           93 percent of Administrative Professionals expect to receive flowers, a card or a lunch out this year for Administrative Professionals Day, however, more than 60 percent wish to be recognized with dinner at a favorite restaurant, a visit to a spa, or an overnight stay with a significant other in an upscale hotel

•           61 percent state that the title that best describe their role as an Administrative Professional is CEO – Chief Everywhere Officer

“Administrative professionals are the backbone of companies from coast to coast, and on this Administrative Professionals Day, we are proud to join with Hyatt to recognize the work and the key role that these individuals play in corporations and organizations across the country,” Barb Horton CAP, president of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. “The survey results clearly show the important role that Administrative Professionals serve, and how they often go above and beyond the call of duty.”

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Inside the Minds of Twitter Users

We know plenty about Twitter’s crazy growth rate and mushrooming membership. We know about brands on Twitter, celebrities on Twitter, politicians on Twitter. We know Twitter apps, hashtags, trends, tools, tips and tricks. But we understand less about the motivations of users: Why do people use Twitter? How do its users feel about common practices there? What are their beliefs about Twitter, and how do they view their experiences?

Big questions, for sure. But in a recent survey on Twitter, we started to uncover some answers. Here are the highlights of a survey of 432 highly involved Twitter users (who spend an average of 2 ¾ hours per day on Twitter).

Get the complete story from Ann Handley, Editor and Chief of MarketingProfs

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