Industry Update

September 8, 2011

GBTA REVEALS BEST AND WORST
TRAVEL TAXES IN TOP 50 U.S.
DESTINAT IONS
The GBTA Foundation, the education
and research foundation of the Global
Business Travel Association (GBTA), released
the 2011 findings from its annual
study of car rental, hotel and meal taxes in
the top 50 U.S. travel destination cities.
The study reveals that the discriminatory
travel taxes and fees enacted on travel-related
services impose an average increased
cost on visitors of 56% over general sales
tax. These taxes are often used to fund
local projects unrelated to tourism and
business travel.

“The difference in the effective tax rate
on travelers from one city to the next is
quite remarkable. For instance, a traveler
who visits Chicago pays 80% more in
taxes during their one-night stay than a
traveler visiting Ft. Lauderdale,” said Joe
Bates, GBTA Foundation director of Research.
“If you are a travel manager planning
a meeting, this is important information
to take into consideration. And
if you are a retail business attempting to
lure travelers, this tax rate differential is
a competitive advantage or disadvantage.”

The study provides several different
views of travel taxes to help readers make
informed choices. The top 50 markets are
ranked by overall travel tax burden, including
general sales tax and discriminatory
travel taxes, and by discriminatory travel
tax burden, excluding general sales taxes
to count only taxes that target car rentals,
hotel stays and meals. Separate data are offered
for central city and airport locations,
as the tax regimes are often distinct.

“Each year the GBTA Foundation undertakes
this important study to help travel
managers make the best decisions for their
companies. The rising cost of business
travel and especially meetings and events is
an area of deep concern when developing
travel plans,” Bates continued.

The research shows the U.S. cities
where travelers incur the lowest total tax
burden in central city locations, factoring
in general sales taxes and discriminatory
travel taxes, are:
1. Fort Lauderdale, FL
2. Fort Myers, FL
3. West Palm Beach, FL
4. Detroit, MI
5. Portland, OR

The cities that impose the highest total
taxes on travelers are:
1. Chicago, IL
2. New York, NY
3. Seattle, WA
4. Boston, MA
5. Kansas City, MO

Discriminatory travel taxes are those
imposed specifically on travel services
above and beyond general sales taxes. The
U.S. cities with the lowest discriminatory
travel tax rates in central city locations are:
1. Orange County, CA
2. San Diego, CA
3. San Jose, CA
4. Burbank, CA
5. Ontario, CA

The cities that impose the highest discriminatory
travel taxes on travelers are:
1. Portland, OR
2. Boston, MA
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. New York, NY
5. Chicago, IL

The full report is available exclusively
to GBTA members and offers detailed
insight for travel managers interested in
understanding the impact that these taxes
have on their business travel spend. Nonmembers
can purchase this study through
the GBTA Foundation website: http://
www.gbta.org/Lists/Resource%20Library/
Forms/Foundation_Research_and_
Surveys.aspx

New hotel management
agreement announced
Crown Center Redevelopment Corp.
has announced a 20-year management
agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Worldwide, Inc. Effective January
1, 2012, Starwood will operate Crown
Center’s two hotels and their restaurants,
the Crown Center Exhibit Hall, and two
restaurants inside Crown Center’s shopping
center, all on the southern edge of
downtown Kansas City.

Starwood has long managed Crown
Center’s original hotel, The Westin
Crown Center. It will now assume operation
of Crown Center’s second hotel,
a 40-story property that opened in 1980
as the Hyatt Regency. It will be rebranded
the Sheraton Crown Center.

During the next three years, Crown
Center and Starwood will invest more than
$18 million in the two hotels. The Sheraton
will receive a significant upgrade including
a new front drive, overall lobby improvements
and the brand’s signature guest
experiences including the [email protected]
experienced with Microsoft, Sweet Sleeper
bed, and Sheraton Fitness programmed
by Core Performance. At The Westin, the
entrance and lobby areas will be updated,
along with improvements to the Century
Ballroom and public restrooms.

Starwood will also manage Milano Italian
Restaurant and the Crayola Café. The
two Crown Center-owned restaurants,
located inside the Crown Center Shops,
have been managed by Hyatt Hotels since
2004. In addition, Starwood will operate
the 52,000-square-foot Crown Center
Exhibit Hall, located adjacent to the
Sheraton Crown Center.

For more information, please visit
www.crowncenter.com.

Going Beyond Green:
MPI Continues to Provide
Leading Example of CSR
practices at WEC
As a leader in industry sustainability,
Meeting Professionals International
(MPI) presented another a slate of innovative
CSR (corporate social responsibility)
projects and innovative professional
development at the World Education
Congress (WEC). The offsite and onsite
projects, in addition to the education sessions,
ensured that attendees gained the
experience of giving back to the greater
Orlando community while learning about
best practice in the industry.

MPI also outlined the new rules of
engagement for meetings and events
for the future. In a briefing on Sunday,
July 24 CEO Bruce MacMillan indicat-
ed that as an industry we must design
events in a manner that positively affects
the economic, social and environmental
impact they have.

“A large number of planners tell me they
are looking for fresh and different ways to
benefit the community, and most have already
planted trees and done some type
of restoration,” said Roger Simons, MPI
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager.

“What MPI has done in the recent years
is work with our destination partners to
program a wide range of innovative activities
and our approval rating has illustrated
that this is a successful strategy with our
industry.”

After serving as an advisor on the
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting
guideline for event planners, the
draft supplement made a global debut at
WEC, and MPI will use the guidelines to
report on the meeting’s impact. Following
the publication of the report, members
will gain education around the disclosure
framework that will guide the industry
into a more responsible future.

The CSR sessions at WEC were designed
to address multiple levels of proficiency,
from the novice to the expert, and
included three areas:
• Basic Sustainable Meetings
• Measurement
• Strategy

Session attendees interacted with
experts by examining case studies and
studying the application of sustainability
principles to meetings and events
from sustainable catering right through
to advanced psychology of sustainability
from a consultant with a doctorate in
psychosocial and environmental communication
studies.

As the organization has done yearly,
MPI will submit a report to the United
Nations (UN) in compliance with the
organization’s signatory status to the
UN Global Compact on Corporate
Social Responsibility, signed in 2007.
These reports are available to the industry
as examples of adherence to global
standards, and can be found at the CSR
portal of mpiweb.org.

A New Chapter Begins:
The Cheshire Reopens after
Multi-Million Dollar
Restoration
The roots of The Cheshire date back to
the late 1920’s. Now after a multi-million
dollar restoration, the landmark hotel has
reopened, beginning the next chapter in
its storied past.

The hotel and adjacent restaurant were
purchased by St. Louis-based Lodging
Hospitality Management Inc. (LHM) in
December 2010. Throughout the past
seven months, the hotel has undergone
a massive renovation, taking the building
down to its “bones,” and then restoring
and rebuilding into a luxurious boutique
hotel. Yet while the hotel features modern
amenities and systems, the charm
and character that The Cheshire has long
been known for has been painstakingly
preserved. Many of the antiques, artwork
and architectural details have been
restored and repurposed in keeping with
the hotel’s British theme.

“The Cheshire’s unique character and
authentic details are what make it special,”
explained Bob O’Loughlin, chairman
of LHM. “From the moment we
took on this project, our intention was
to capture that spirit and reinvent it for a
new generation. We think guests will be
pleased with the balance of old and new.”

The property’s history dates back to the
late 1920’s when St. Louisan Bill Medart
opened a luncheonette in a log cabin on
the site. The casual hamburger stand was
known as Medart’s Olde Cheshire and was
a hot spot for decades. In 1960, Steven J.
Apted purchased the property and remodeled
the restaurant into The Cheshire Inn,
complete with authentic British art, antiques,
furnishings and details. Four years
after opening the new restaurant, Mr. Apted
built The Cheshire Lodge (today’s hotel
building) and furnished it with antiques
and collections from his world travels.

Many of those charming British furnishings
and details are woven throughout the
“new” Cheshire. Additionally, each of the
108 guest rooms and suites is named in
honor of a British author. As they check
in, guests are given a bookmark emblazoned
with a quote from their room’s author,
and then will discover a hardbound
sample of his or her work in their royal
quarters. The cozy wood-paneled study
is lined with shelves bursting with British
literature and presided over by Captain
Barnaby, the legendary patron of travelers.

Another feature for which the old
Cheshire Lodge was known was the Fantasy
Suites. The new Cheshire boasts
six “Novelty Suites,” a fresh take on the
concept. Each of these spacious suites is
custom designed to capture the spirit of
a major work of literature. From James
Bond to Romeo & Juliet, the décor, furnishings
and artwork are all customized
to the theme and several include unique
features like Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces.
In addition to the Novelty Suites, the
hotel offers mini suites, a quiet executive
level, poolside rooms and extended stay
mini suites. All offer luxurious pillow-top
beds, flat-screen TVs, vintage artwork and
Archive bath products. Pets are also welcome
at The Cheshire (up to 60 pounds),
and the Noble Pet Program, in partnership
with Nestle Purina, provides items
such as custom dog beds and bowls, maps
of area parks and dog runs, food and water
bowls, and pet walking/sitting service.

DeathOnTheNile

RomeoJuliet

In addition to the classic details like the
red phone booth (repurposed to house an
ATM machine) and the elaborately carved
living room mantle, the hotel also boasts
modern amenities and features including
an outdoor heated pool offering poolside
food and beverage and massage by The
Face and Body; a sleek wellness center
featuring Matrix fitness equipment; modern
bathrooms with granite counters and
nickel fixtures; and a business center with
computer stations and printer.

No British inn would be complete
without a proper pub, and The Cheshire
is no exception. The legendary Fox &
Hounds Tavern has been restored and
re-launched, complete with its cozy
stone fireplace, wood-paneled booths
and rustic ambiance. The tavern features
an extensive list of Irish, American
and Scottish whiskeys, half-yards of
ale, and of course, other beer, wine and
cocktails. A small plates menu features
traditional pub fare, ensuring that one’s
cocktail of choice can be enjoyed alongside
a savory lunch, dinner or late night
snack. The tavern’s menu is also served
at the Poolside Terrace and on the garden-
like Clayton Courtyard.

For more information about The
Cheshire, visit:www.cheshirestl.com. For
additional information on the hotel’s
owner, Lodging Hospitality Management,
visit www.lhmc.com.

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa
Wins Big with LED Lighting Installation
When guests approach the Ameristar
Casino Resort Spa in St. Charles, MO
their bright welcome is also energy efficient,
thanks to a recent installation of
LED bulbs from Light Emitting Designs,
www.LED-LLC.com. Thousands of small
bulbs span truss angles and encircle the
perimeter of the building, while post top
lights line the roadway entry.

The lights are a hallmark of the Ameristar
Casino Resort Spa, welcoming guests
around the clock. “It’s important for the
outside of an entertainment venue like
Ameristar to reflect the sizzle and excitement
going on inside,” said Ray Voigt,
from Martin Electrical Sales in St. Louis.
“It’s equally important to find energy saving
solutions that also save money.”

The installation included more than 6,000
S14 LED lamps, along with more than 60
Post Top Lights. Although the initial cost
per LED bulb is greater than for the bulb
it replaces, “When you consider that the
expected life of an LED bulb is 35-50,000
hours, bulb replacement labor shrinks dramatically,”
said Tim Taylor, Light Emitting
Design’s CEO. “In addition, since a typical
150 watt incandescent bulb can be replaced
by a 35 watt LED bulb, the energy savings
really begin to add up.”

For more information, visit www.
ameristar.com/St_Charles.aspx.

A Quick Look Back at Big Steps
Forward: ISES Eventworld 2011,
St. Louis

ISES 1

ISES 2

Hundreds of event professionals hungry
for new ideas made their yearly pilgrimage
to the International Special Events Society
(ISES) Eventworld conference, held
in St. Louis from August 4 to 6, 2011.

ISES, which is based in Chicago and has
offices around the world, welcomed planners,
suppliers, and other professionals to
the St. Louis Marriott Union Station Hotel
for three days of education, networking
and fun. The idea was to show event
professionals how advanced the industry
has become, and what its future holds.
Emerging trends in event technology, virtual
meetings, and social media formed a
collective theme for the event. A number
of expo sessions also shed light on working
with caterers, entertainment, venue staff,
CVBs and other partners.

A key highlight of the event was ISES’
new conference application for Android,
iPhone and iPad users. Developed by
ATIV Software and known as EventPilot
Plus, the application freed attendees from
paper schedules and printouts by allowing
them to “weblessly” download session
schedules, presentation slides, and other
information to their phones and devices.
It offered users the ability to take notes,
communicate via Twitter and e-mail, share
contacts, schedule reminders and session
alerts… and save the planet by reducing
the need for paper and printing.

Kicking off
Eventworld 2011 got off to an energetic
start with the help of The 3 Painters, who
blended music and canvas magic to create
images of Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein and
John Lennon on-stage in a matter of minutes.
ISES president Heather Henderson
CSEP, CMP, welcomed a ballroom brimming
with attendees, and the opening general
session commenced with Don Neal,
president of 360 Live Media, who spoke
about treating events as the most powerful
social media channel available to companies
and organizations.
“Now more than ever, events are about
engineering an experience that triggers
an emotion that leads to action,” he said.
“They help people answer questions like,
‘Why do I matter?’ They fill basic human
needs for comfort, certainty and variety.”

In keeping with the Eventworld theme
of capitalizing on meeting technology,
Neal involved the audience throughout
his presentation, asking a variety of
event-related questions and then graphing
attendees’ responses instantly on large
screens. Wireless electronic voting devices
at each table allowed guests to weigh in.

Next, Angie Smith, vice president of
client services for InXpo, spoke about
the evolving differences among “physical”
events, where all attendees meet under the
same roof; “virtual” events, which are presented
remotely and connect people online;
and “hybrid” events, which feature
live attendees and remote guests. Smith,
who worked for software and networking
firm Cisco Systems, explained that her
former employer saw huge cost savings
by switching from expensive, high-end
gatherings to remote meeting technology.
“For one annual event alone, it took the
cost from $4,500 per person to $386 per
person,” Smith noted.

Down to business
Once Eventworld attendees had downloaded
their schedules, selected their workshops
and soaked up wisdom in the general
sessions, they were off and running.

Some spent Friday and Saturday attending
“Boot Camp for Emerging Professionals,”
a team-taught crash course for
attendees breaking into the meeting and
event industry. Others enjoyed concurrent
sessions on a broad range of topics.
They included audio-visual production,
working with caterers, using research to
improve events, growing business in tough
economic times, social media, meeting
ethics, corporate and social events, site
and venue selection, event technology,
professional credentialing, and the results
of a new Convention Industry Council
economic impact study. The February
2011 study showed that in the United
States, 1.8 million meetings generate 205
million participants, 250 million hotel
room nights and $263 billion in direct
expenditures each year.

On Friday, ISES held its annual general
meeting and Spirit of Excellence awards
program, as well as a Certified Special
Events Professional (CSEP) luncheon.
Following the slate of concurrent workshops
that day, David Rich of the George
P. Johnson Co. presented a general session
on experience marketing. Rich used the
example of interactive video screens in
New York City’s Times Square to illustrate
how people crave technology that
involves them in group experiences.

“You’re in the profession of manufacturing
time, where ‘donate,’ ‘purchase’ or ‘follow’
is the most important message, and attention
span is the most precious commodity,”
Rich told attendees. “The quest for
people’s attention has never been a more difficult
challenge than it is now. Events are no
longer just ballrooms with food and music,
or groups of people meeting ‘just because.’
You have to create experiences that involve
audiences’ insights and expectations.”

Added value
Education was the unifying theme at
ISES Eventworld 2011, but off-site networking
events at unique venues such as
St. Louis’ City Museum also provided
ample opportunities for attendees to relax
and socialize. The ISES Connections
Lounge was open to attendees looking for
an on-site spot to sit and meet with fellow
eventgoers between sessions. And the
final day’s schedule wrapped up with dinner,
ISES’ Esprit Awards ceremony, and
an after-party on Saturday evening.

ISES 2011 sessions served as a key reminder
that the event world is full of partners
available to help planners maximize
their return on investment. “There are
many customized services a CVB can offer
you,” explained Matt Brinkmann, convention
services manager for the St. Louis
Convention & Visitors Commission. He
was a co-presenter at the Saturday afternoon
session, “Tying It Together On-Site.”

“CVBs can refer you to member service
providers, offer city information and
custom maps, and advise you about coinciding
or conflicting events and transportation
issues such as road closures,”
Brinkmann said. “We also can offer promotional
advice to boost event attendance,
and help you customize Web pages and
other materials. The main message to event
professionals is, become a member, get involved,
and take advantage of the benefits.”

The International Special Events Society
(ISES) is a global organization promoting
special events and the advancement
of event professionals. Founded in
1987, it includes more than 7,200 members
and 49 chapters in 38 countries. For
more information on ISES and its annual
Eventworld conference, visit www.ises.
com, send an e-mail to [email protected], or
call 800-688-4737.

About the author

The MEET® Family of Publications

The MEET® Family of Publications produces regional and national publications that keep corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant industry suppliers, news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their upcoming company function(s).