Monthly Archives: July 2009

Marriott To Report Earnings

On Thursday, July 16, Marriott will report its Q2 earnings that may provide some insight as to the state of the economy.

Why is it important?  Marriott operates more than 3,200 lodging properties worldwide, and the company’s performance offers insight on travel trends and consumer spending. Demand for its hotel rooms and timeshare resorts has been weak, and investors are curious about whether business picked up with the approach of summer.

What to watch for?

You’ll know the economy is improving if: Declines in hotel demand start to stabilize. If travelers are booking hotel rooms, it could mean consumer spending is increasing, despite continued layoffs nationwide.

You’ll know the economy is not improving if: Revenue per available room sinks during the quarter. Known in the industry as revpar, revenue per available room is considered a key gauge of a hotel operator’s performance. Last quarter, revpar for Marriott’s comparable company-operated properties dropped 19.6 percent.


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iGroupNation Interview With Kim Reynolds, CMM, CMP Strategic Meetings Solutions

Kim Reynolds, CMM, CMP

Kim Reynolds, CMM, CMP

Kim Reynolds, CMM, CMP and Principle of Strategic Meetings Solutions located in Dallas, Texas is one accomplished meetings and events entrepreneur.  Kim has been in the hospitality and meetings and events industry for 25 years and shares her insights in this inaugural edition of iGroupNation.

iGN: Kim, before we get to Strategic Meetings Solutions, tell us what drew you to the meetings and events industry?

Kim Reynolds:Early in my career, 25 years ago, I worked as a reservationist for a chain of motels in Anaheim then at a catering company, not really understanding what the industry was at the time.  About 10 years later I heard about a job opening at Kawasaki Motors for a meeting coordinator, applied, and I have loved every minute of it since.

iGN: So you decided to launch your own company, Strategic Meetings Solutions.  How did that all come about?

Kim Reynolds: After 10 years working with Kawasaki, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted an opportunity to stretch my boundaries, that was 6 years ago.

iGN: There are planners who are reading this post right now that want to possibly follow in your footsteps.  What would you say to them?

Kim Reynolds: It’s our job to make a meeting or event look easy, but it’s not and you really have to be dedicated, detail-oriented, and willing to do whatever it takes to make the meeting or event appear perfect.  Also, there is much more to starting a business than one would probably realize and many, many more hours and a great deal of expense. I would recommend spending some time with a small planning company before you make he jump from corporate to small business owner.

iGN: How has the industry changed since you started 15 years ago?

Kim Reynolds: When I started it was hard to find any formal education or job classifications for meeting professionals, since that time the industry has really started to become a recognized and respected profession. Now we just need a NAICS code (how the government classifies professions).

iGN: You earned an MBA from University of Redlands and added two impressive industry certifications…one in Meeting Management (CMM) and the other as a Meeting Professional (CMP).  What made you decide to pursue both of them?

Kim Reynolds: I have always strived to continue learning and these two designations are an outcome of the industry striving to grow and my desire to outwardly demonstrate competency and excellence. 

iGN: As a business owner you’ve weathered a terrorist attack and two recessions.  Where are you most challenged now?

Kim Reynolds: Keeping financially afloat through this downturn. We have had to make some difficult cost cutting decisions. The resulting challenge is what is the new business model and what will it look like and how can we be the leaders in this new world economy.

iGN: When do you see this thing turning around?

Kim Reynolds: Not soon enough, but I am anxious to see what the third and fourth quarters look like as organizations look at their balance sheets and set budgets for next year.  I think that organizations are going to start to feel the need to get back in front of their clients, renew relationships and offer training to remain competitive and I am hopeful that corporate travel restrictions will ease in the next six months to allow this shift to happen

iGN: What will a meeting professional’s job look like five years from now?

Kim Reynolds: I think that one of the unintended outcomes of this downturn is that organizations will realize the importance of meetings to their bottom line. Not only from cost saving perspective but also aligning to the overall goals and strategies of the organization and the role that meetings play in the results (think if AIG and Wells Fargo had made different decisions). I believe that we will see more outsourcing of meeting planning departments to planning companies and the role of the planner will grow into a strategist.

iGN: So what keeps you awake at night? What worries you most about your responsibilities to your customers?

Kim Reynolds: The economy is at the core of it right now. We are having to do more with less budget.

iGN: What is the hardest part of your job?  If you could change one thing about your job, what would that be?

Kim Reynolds: Juggling so many responsibilities (owner, sales, marketing, planning, travel and management) I would hire a team better than me.

iGN: Who is your mentor and what is the best advice that he/she has given you?

Kim Reynolds: I have been very fortunate to have a number of strong mentors and I think some of the best advice is “don’t sweat the small stuff; if nobody died, it’s not a big deal”.

iGN: You must travel a lot in your position.  What is your favorite hotel/resort and your favorite destination?

Kim Reynolds:  If I am going to a getaway locally, I love Rough Creek Lodge, Glen Rose, Texas in the spring and fall.  My favorite destination is Africa. I have been twice and can’t wait to get back again

iGN: Are you involved with any social networks and is there one in particular that you are most involved?

Kim Reynolds:  I am on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. I probably spend more time on Twitter than the other two; however I admit an addiction to Scrabble on Facebook.

  • Company: Strategic Meetings Solutions
  • Website:
  • Education: University of Redlands, Masters Degree
  • Industry certification: CMM, CMP
  • Management style: I prefer to let the professionals that I hire do what is best to get the job done.
  • Last meeting or conference planned: Large incentive trip to St Maarten.

If you are a professional meeting planner or if you represent a hotel, resort, convention center, destination or other related services and would like to be featured on iGroupNation, please leave us a reply along with your email address and we will contact you with additional details.

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California Reports 32 Hotels In Foreclosure

The “challenges” for San Francisco’s biggest business are coming thick and fast. That oft-used word at last Tuesday’s San Francisco Visitors & Convention Bureau luncheon rang loud and clear two days later when the Four Seasons Hotel on Market Street defaulted on a $90 million loan. Those who might have forgotten were reminded that Nob Hill’s famed Stanford Court Hotel had gone into receivership two weeks earlier, owing $89 million after its new owners bought the place for $93 million two years ago and spent $32 million in renovations.

There’s a wave of hotel defaults and foreclosures sweeping up and down California. Currently, 32 hotels are in foreclosure and 174 in default statewide.

Opportunity costs: That presumably is what Hong Kong’s Keck Seng Investments Ltd. saw when it agreed to buy the San Francisco W last week for $90 million. As The Chronicle’s James Temple pointed out, the price represents a 50 percent drop from peak values two years ago. The seller, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which owns numerous hotels in the Bay Area, including the recently opened four-star Rosewood Sand Hill in Silicon Valley, said the sale is one of those the company “is pursuing to further reduce its debt levels.”

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iGroupNews To Launch New Monthly Segment – iGroupNation

On Monday, July 13, iGroupNews will launch a new monthly segment that features information, inspiration, and insight from passionate professionals who plan meetings and conferences and those who support their efforts representing hotels, destinations, and other related services called iGroupNation. 

We envision that iGroupNation will be an ever-evolving work in progress so if you have any ideas, suggestions or comments that you believe would make this segment more engaging; we want to hear from you.

If you are a professional meeting planner or if you represent a hotel, resort, convention center, destination or other related services and would like to be featured on iGroupNation, please leave us a reply along with your email address and we will contact you with additional details.

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DFW Area Launches Co-Op Program For Meeting Planners

The cities and convention and visitors bureaus of Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas and Irving, along with American Airlines and several ground transportation providers, launched an incentive program on July 9 designed to boost business travel to North Texas.

Called DFW Meet Now Promise, the co-op program provides discounts and other incentives to corporate meeting planners who commit to booking and having their meetings and events in North Texas before the end of 2009.

The program involves almost 130 regional hotels that have agreed to waive attrition fees charged to event planners if all rooms they have booked are not used. Meeting planners  have been apprehensive with booking conventions and events during the current recession because of the attrition fees.

Attrition fees are part of a standard hotel contract, according to Tim Sullivan, chair of the Hotel Association of North Texas and general manager of Renaissance Dallas.

Participating hotels represent every major brand and category, including luxury, economy, full-service and extended stay, according to Sullivan.

The program also includes a 10 percent group discount on American Airlines and a 20 percent discount from participating ground transportation providers.

Officials said the DFW Meet Now Promise program is the largest regional collaboration since the cities banded together 35 years ago to build Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the site of the program’s announcement and headquarters for American Airlines.

“It may very well be the largest multi-city, multi-brand, business-to-business incentive program under way in the history of the United States’ hospitality industry,” Sullivan said.

David DuBois, president and chief executive officer of the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the program will create an additional economic impact for all of North Texas and will not create a lot of risk to the hotels.

“This program is intended to go through Dec. 31 but my gut feeling is – depending on its success – I wouldn’t be surprised that it doesn’t extend into the first six months of 2010,” said DuBois. “That decision can’t be made yet because we’re just launching it but I would be very supportive of carrying it forward.”

More information on the program can be found at

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Four Seasons SFO In Default

Millennium Partners is in default on its two-year $90 million loan for the 277-room Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, according to the developer.

The luxury condo and hotel developer and operator has purposefully stopped making debt payments as a strategy to jump start renegotiating the debt. The Four Seasons is the second luxury hotel to default on its debt payments in recent weeks. The owners of the 393-room Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel in Nob Hill defaulted on a $89 million loan.

Alan Reay, president of Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality Group, called the Four Seasons San Francisco action a “default of convenience” and said it was the only way for Millennium Partners to force the special server on the loan to enter negotiations. He said the more deluxe a hotel, the more likely it is to be hurt by the recession, because the costs of operating a true full-service hotel are not easy to pare down.

“To see the caliber of hotel like Renaissance Stanford Court and the Four Seasons going into default in the early stages of this downturn is not a good sign,” said Reay. “It means this is going to be deep, it’s going to be long, and this is going to effect everybody.”

In the last 60 days 213 hotel owners have defaulted on their loans in California, a 184 percent jump over the previous 60 days, Reay said. Reay predicted that the vast majority of hotels that were financed with loans that tapped the commercial mortgage-backed securities market between 2005 and 2007 will end up in default, a number that could top 2,000 in California alone.

“We’re in a deep recession and hotels are suffering the most of any real estate class right now,” said Reay.

A report by Atlas Hospitality estimates that room revenues in California are down 21.5 percent in 2009 and that values are 50 to 80 percent lower than they were at the market’s peak from 2005 to 2007.

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Obama Blows Off Kremlin For Night At 02 Lounge

According to a report issued by the NY Times, President Obama took leave of his Russian hosts on Tuesday night to seclude himself in his Moscow hotel with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters.

The first family enjoyed a relaxed evening at the O2 Lounge, the super-chic, super-pricey rooftop club at the new Ritz-Carlton, although no doubt the Secret Service first cleared the place of most if not all of the swaggering tycoons and leggy models who flock to such Moscow venues.

The club is “a place to see and be seen,” as its Web site says — that is, unless you are a visiting president who after a day and a half of blinis, beluga and bilats (the diplo term for “bilateral meetings”) just wants to hang out with the clan.

The decision to brush off the Russians on one of his two nights here miffed some in the Moscow government who did not understand why he would not devote the scarce time to his hosts.

For a President who made the famous remarks, “You can’t get corporate jets, you can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime”, you certainly have demonstrated that you are using your “down time” wisely, and on the taxpayers dime.

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