Monthly Archives: May 2011

Fairfax County Celebrates National Travel & Tourism Week

Fairfax County, VA – Since 1984, the travel industry has designated the first full week in May as National Travel & Tourism Week – a week dedicated to spreading the word on the power of travel and the benefits of tourism. Visit Fairfax (www.fxva.com) salutes the thousands of individuals in Fairfax County that work in our industry – from airline and hotel employees to restaurant, attraction and taxi workers – who raise the quality of life in our area for visitors and residents alike.

“Without the tourism industry, the average American family would pay $1,000 more in taxes each year,” explains Barry Biggar, President & CEO of Visit Fairfax. “I’m incredibly proud to say that in Fairfax County alone, the tourism industry supports almost 30,000 local jobs and visitors contribute more than $2.4 billion to the local economy each year.”

By the numbers, the travel and tourism industry:

– Represents one of America’s largest employers supporting 14.1 million jobs (including 7.4 million directly in the travel industry and 6.7 million in other industries)

– Accounted for more than $1.8 trillion in economic output for the US economy just last year alone.

– In Virginia, tourism supports more than 204,500 jobs and $4.3 billion in payroll and salaries.

– Direct spending by domestic and international travelers averaged $2 billion a day, according to US Travel Association data

In celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week, hotels, restaurants, attractions and visitor centers throughout Fairfax County are passing out information cards that highlight some of these impressive statistics and invite visitors to download the free Visit Fairfax smartphone app.

Visit Fairfax is the official tourism organization for Fairfax County, Virginia. Charged with destination marketing and tourism promotion, it is directed by many of the County’s top tourism and hospitality leaders. For more information, please visit www.fxva.com.

The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa Joins ALHI’s NSO Membership

. . . Asheville Resort Becomes ALHI’s 3rd In North Carolina

WASHINGTON, DC – The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, one of the South’s best-loved resorts, has been accepted as a new member of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI). The 512-room Asheville, North Carolina resort, which provides magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and which features 53,000 square feet of meeting space, will now receive dedicated National Sales services and support by ALHI and its professional sales force throughout North America.

ALHI (www.alhi.com) is a prestigious dues-based membership National Sales organization (NSO) that represents more than 130 Four- and Five-Diamond quality hotels and resorts worldwide to the meetings and incentive marketplace. There is no cost to planners’ or executives’ organizations to utilize the National Sales services of ALHI, as its members’ dues fund the organization to serve planners.

The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa becomes ALHI’s third member in North Carolina, joining: the renowned and historic Pinehurst Resort, which sits on 2,000 acres in the heartland of North Carolina; and the elegant and impressive Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, offering 271 guest rooms and 33,000 square feet of meeting space in vibrant Durham.

Perched atop scenic Sunset Mountain overlooking the picturesque city of Asheville, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa has a rich history, which includes serving as host to many U.S. presidents and famous guests since its opening in 1913. The resort features 53,000 square feet of meeting space (which includes the 17,982-square-foot Grand Ballroom), as well as a 43,000-square-foot world-class spa, a Donald Ross-designed championship golf course, and a 50,000-square-foot Sports Complex that features an indoor pool, three outdoor tennis courts, three indoor tennis courts, and a fitness center. The resort’s three award-winning restaurants include Horizons Dining Room, ranked as one of the 50 best hotel restaurants in the nation. Area offerings available to groups include hikes to scenic peaks, gallery strolls, horseback riding, visits to The Biltmore Estate, Asheville Historic Trolley Tours, and adventure excursions like whitewater rafting. The resort is located just nine miles from Asheville Regional Airport.

“The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa is truly one of the most famous resorts in the South, and it is an exceptional venue for groups in every regard,” said David Gabri, president and CEO of ALHI. “In addition to featuring a breathtaking setting, the resort also offers an array of recreational options for groups, and provides genuine first-class service. We are very excited to have Grove Park Inn join our membership, providing us three fantastic options for planners in beautiful North Carolina for their meetings of all types and sizes.”

With a worldwide portfolio of over 100,000 rooms and suites and more than 10 million square feet of meeting space, ALHI provides planners and their organizations experienced National Sales services with diverse options among its outstanding worldwide member hotels and resorts which specialize in meetings and incentive programs requiring from 10 to more than 6,500 rooms, with easy and professional one-call local access.

Member hotels include extraordinary meeting and incentive resorts, incomparable city hotels, exclusive smaller hotels, golf resorts, historic and landmark properties, island destinations, resorts with spas, properties in international destinations, and hotels with world-class gaming and entertainment.

For a complete list of ALHI’s entire worldwide portfolio, visit www.alhi.com, and preview details of ALHI’s impressive portfolio, including easily useful information on several defined specialty segments within the ALHI portfolio to serve distinctive meeting, convention and incentive travel needs. Due to the diversity of its offerings, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa is now one of the offerings in ALHI’s “Mountain Collection,” as well as in the “ALHI Golf Collection” and the “ALHI Historic Collection.”

On the website, planners can quickly see details of the properties’ meeting, accommodation, recreational and dining offerings, as well as destination information and “Luxury on Sale” value opportunities. A photo gallery, meeting floor plans and specs, and a location map for each property are also easily available.

ALHI has 16 professionally-staffed National Sales Offices to serve the meetings marketplace, with locations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Louisville, New York City, Orange County (CA), Orlando, Philadelphia, Richmond, San Diego, Savannah, and Toronto.

For more information about ALHI, to inquire about a future meeting at any of the ALHI member properties, and/or to acquire a free copy of ALHI’s new “2010-2011 ALHI National Sales Guide To Meeting Facilities,” contact your nearest ALHI National Sales Office, call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-ALHI (2544), and visit www.alhi.com .

IMEX 2011 Marked by Hosted Buyer Strength, Educational Excellence & Exhibitor Diversity

The ninth IMEX exhibition for the worldwide meetings, incentive travel and events industry opens today with an exceptionally strong international hosted buyer programme in place and, with more than 90 seminars and workshops over three days, its biggest ever line-up of English and German professional education.

Exhibitor diversity

There are 39 brand new or returning stands to IMEX this year and 37 exhibiting companies who have taken bigger stands in order to capitalise on the show’s outstanding business opportunities. European organisations account for just over half of all exhibition space with significant increases having been taken by established exhibitors including Croatia, Hungary, Paris, Switzerland and The Netherlands. The Balearics and the Gdansk Convention Bureau are taking their own stands for the first time; whilst both Latvia and Lithuania make welcome returns to the show. The Germany (GCB) stand also features over 200 German exhibitors for the first time.

IMEX Association Day 2011 sets up strong start to business-focused week

Record numbers of association meeting planners from across Europe and the rest of the world met yesterday for the annual IMEX Association Day & Evening, which took place at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Frankfurt. The day’s education programme had been planned to address the key issues currently facing association meetings and events buyers, both in their professional development and in every day operational responsibilities. This year, as economic pressures have played out in different parts of the world and changes such as the growth of social media have fundamentally shifted the way in which associations communicate with their members, the day’s programme had been tailored to find fresh answers to these issues, to share winning ideas and innovations as well as providing motivation for the more than 300 individuals attending from over 30 countries.

AICPA Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference to Bring Mingle Networking Solution to Event

The American Institute of CPAs, AICPA, will bring Mingle360’s networking solution to their upcoming AICPA Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference on June 13 – 15, 2011. The conference will be held at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas, NV and all 1,000 attendees will receive a MingleStick for their peer-to-peer networking.

The MingleStick enhances networking at an event because the technology is simple and ubiquitous. The one button device is distributed to all attendees, thus making for a great social ice breaker and business utility tool. The MingleStick enables attendees to exchange information including professional contact information, profile pictures (facial recognition), favorite social networks, and an About Me description.

“This is our fourth event with AICPA and we are excited to continue to support their events,” says Dan Coffing, CEO of Mingle360. “With the event discussing mobile and cloud-based technologies, the MingleStick is a natural fit for stirring conversation and engaging attendees.”

“MingleSticks and MingleStations have the ability to enhance the networking experience at conferences. They were well received at the 2010 Tech+ Conference and Practitioners Symposium and we’re looking forward to using them again at our 2011 event to build on the success we experienced last year,” said Todd Helton, Director of Meetings and Conferences at AICPA.

About AICPA

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (www.aicpa.org), founded in 1887, is the world’s largest association representing the accounting profession, with nearly 370,000 members in 128 countries. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education, and consulting; membership is also available to accounting students and CPA candidates. The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies, non-profit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination.

For information on attending Tech+ Conference and Practitioners Symposium, call 888-777-7077 or visit us here.

About Mingle360

Offered as a service to event organizers, the Mingle360 solution greatly enhances attendee networking at the event, surpassing business cards with up to date contact information and facial recognition. The company’s MingleStick product is akin to an electronic business card and provides peer-to-peer attendee networking. The company’s MingleStation product is akin to a passive lead retrieval system and online document sharing solution for exhibitors. The mingle networking solution creates ‘buzz’ and excitement at the event and helps differentiate an organization from the competition. For more information, please contact Mingle360 at 703-425-0402 x111

Liverpool Wins Four High Profile Medical Symposiums

BT Convention Centre Liverpool, part of ACC Liverpool , is to add four high profile medical symposiums to its roster of confirmed events between 2011 and 2018.

UK Dementia Congress will take place in November 2011, bringing 1000 delegates to the venue, while the Association of Coloproctology of GB & Ireland will take place in 2013 bringing a further 800 delegates into the city.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, having previously used the venue in 2009 and 2010 have confirmed their intention to return for a further two years in both 2011 and 2012 at the venue and Symposium Mammographicum will see over 800 conference delegates assemble at the Liverpool venue in both 2016 and 2018.
ACC Liverpool has increasingly become the nucleus for a series of high profile medical conferences from across the world. Since opening in 2008, the venue has hosted pioneering medical events with speakers at the forefront of their medical field.

Events to date include NHS Confederation annual conference, National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) who will return to Liverpool in November 2011 and the Royal College of Nursing congress who only last week confirmed their return to the venue in 2013 following a very successful conference in April 2011.

The development of the new exhibition and events complex adjoining ACC Liverpool in 2014 will further widen the scope for hosting large scale symposiums from across the globe.

Bob Prattey , CEO, ACC Liverpool , said: “These new wins reinforce our strength in hosting events in the medical sector. We are also delighted that many of our clients, having hosted an event for the first time at ACC Liverpool , are signing contracts to return.”
“This is a massive vote of confidence in our offer and the ultimate accolade for us in terms of our delivery and service levels.”

“The city is recognised as a pioneer for medicine and science through the Universities so it is encouraging to see organisers of medical events capitalising on this and choosing the BT Convention Centre Liverpool for events of this nature.”

Berlin Ranked Fourth At ICCA Statistic 2010

Berlin is one of the four most important association congress locations around the world.

This is documented by the results of the current statistics of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA ) (to be officially released by the end of June).
With 138 events by international associations in 2010, the German capital ranks fourth – after Vienna (154), Barcelona (148) and Paris (147) and ahead of metropolises such as Singapore, London and Sydney.

“Whoever is among the top rankings of ICCA is perceived by congress planners all over the world as a leading congress location. And Berlin has already been represented at the top for years”, says visitBerlin CEO Burkhard Kieker .

“With the decision to refurbish the ICC Berlin and to build a new trade fair and congress hall, we send the right signal to the market.”
The result for Berlin is above all based on the optimum conditions provided for congress organisers in the city: Europe’s most modern hotel landscape, a very good value-for-money ratio, numerous extraordinary locations and a large network of additional service providers.
With the opening of the new capital airport Berlin Brandenburg in June 2012 the offering of long-haul flight services will, moreover, increase.

The official contact partner in Berlin for meetings, conventions, corporate events and incentives is the Berlin Convention Office of visitBerlin , headed by Heike Mahmoud. .
It has direct local representations in the United Kingdom and in the USA, two of the most important meeting and convention markets.

The annual ICCA “International Association Meetings Market“ statistics present an in-depth evaluation of trends in the international meetings industry. The association conventions reviewed by the ICCA must have at least 50 attendees, be regular events and take place alternately in at least three different countries. Founded in 1963, the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA ) is based in Amsterdam and has been collecting data on association events world-wide since 1972.

Premio Incentives (DMC) Costa Rica Selects WMG For U.S. MICE Business Development

Effective May 01, World Marketing Group was engaged to provide representation and business development in the United States for Premio Incentives , a destination management company in Costa Rica.

Led by Helena Chavarria Saxe and supported by her experienced team of industry professionals, Premio Incentives delivers high-quality, competitively priced programs for its clients throughout Costa Rica.
They offer business expertise in the meetings, incentives, conferences and special event segments.

Jane Schuldt , President of World Marketing Group stated, “In keeping with our strategy of Latin American growth, we saw this as an opportunity to represent one of the most dynamic and creative DMCs in Costa Rica.”

“Over the last several years, we have been impressed at the number of clients expressing an interest in Costa Rica as the ideal destination solution for their MICE programs. We are also struck by the number of programs in which Costa Rica survives the cut as the destination of choice – even when up against very strong, appealing, and exotic competition.”

“With Premio Incentives , our spectrum of destination offerings continues to grow, putting us in more places where clients want to be.”

According to Helena Chavarria Saxe , “Costa Rica is a sought after destination for North Americans, allowing us to build up not only a very successful MICE operation, but also a leisure division in response to this demand.”
“All we needed was the right company to tell our story and take us to market. For us that was World Marketing Group , demonstrating not only their comprehensive understanding of this market segment, but a professional approach to everything they do as we evaluated their services.”

“They have already demonstrated the sincerity behind their promise – ‘Our Business is Building Yours’ – and we look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead.”

World Marketing Group is a B2B sales and marketing company providing representation services in North America for members of the international hospitality industry interested in building their brand and growing their business from the North American incentive, meeting, conference and custom group travel markets.

Inselair Launches Twice Weekly Nonstop Flights from Charlotte to Curacao

Introductory Fares Start at $337 Roundtrip through June 22, 2011

WILLEMSTAD, CURAÇAO – Starting June 22, 2011, InselAir, Curaçao’s national carrier, is launching twice weekly, nonstop flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to Curaçao International Airport (CUR).

InselAir Flight 7I913 will depart Curaçao at 9:10 a.m. and arrive in Charlotte at 1:25 p.m. Insel Air Flight 7I914 will depart Charlotte at 2:35 p.m. and arrive in Curaçao at 6:40 p.m.

“We are thrilled to announce InselAir’s nonstop, twice weekly flights to Curaçao from Charlotte, increasing the seat capacity for U.S. travelers to visit Curaçao,” said Curaçao Tourist Board Marketing Manager North America André Rojer.

“The new service brings huge potential for growth in arrivals to Curaçao from Charlotte, North Carolina, the surrounding area and feeder markets. With twice weekly flights from Charlotte, we hope to introduce Curaçao to more American travelers, making the destination more accessible from the Middle Atlantic States, North Carolina and South Carolina.”

InselAir currently services Curaçao with daily flights from Miami, Sunday through Friday, accounting for more than 55,000 seats each year. With the new nonstop service from Charlotte to Curaçao, InselAir adds an additional 15,808 seats per year, boosting its total seats out of the U.S. to 71,136 annually. The new service helps to increase Curaçao’s capacity to nearly 191,000 seats per year from the U.S.

InselAir is offering special savings to Curaçao in honor of the new service. Travelers can book roundtrip airfares starting from $337, including taxes, excluding Curaçao’s airport departure tax. Tickets must be issued before June 22, 2011 for travel before December 15, 2011. This special introductory fare may book booked at: www.fly-inselair.com.

About Curaçao
Selected as one of the ‘Top 21 Places We’re Going in 2011’ by Fodor’s, one of the ‘Hottest Destinations for 2011’ by AOL Travel and one of the ‘Destinations to Watch in 2011’ by SmarterTravel, Curaçao is a unique Caribbean island paradise, boasting 35 uncrowded beaches, and an eclectic mix of history and culture. Explore the vibrant, culturally diverse capital city of Willemstad – a UNESCO World Heritage site – with its distinctive architecture, museums, monuments and world-class shopping. Indulge in Curaçao’s vast selection of flavorful restaurants, with a mix of sophisticated international and tasty local cuisines. Discover Curaçao’s abundant natural beauty, pristine dive sites and spectacular snorkeling at secluded beaches – including Cas Abao Beach, selected as one of the ‘Top 10 Beach Destinations for 2011’ by SmarterTravel. Curaçao offers idyllic weather, situated on the fringe of the Hurricane Belt. To learn more about the island of Curaçao visit Curacao.com. To request a FREE Curaçao information package click here or call toll free 1.800.328.7222.

Switzerland Among the Top Ten Congress and Convention Countries

The 2010* ICCA (International Congress & Convention Association) ranking reveals a steady increase in Switzerland’s popularity as a congress and convention venue. With 244 such meetings in 2010 (up 61% on 2005 figures), Switzerland ranks 10th worldwide in this league table which is headed by the USA with 623 congresses and conventions, followed by Germany (542) and Spain (451). At European level, Switzerland comes in sixth, behind Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

ICCA is one of the major international associations of congress organization professionals, with 900 member organizations in 86 countries.

To be included in the ICCA’s annual ranking, association congresses/seminars must meet the following criteria:

+ be attended by at least 50 participants
+ be organised on a regular basis (one-off events are not included)
+ be rotated among at least three different host countries

***

For questions, please contact Barbra Albrecht, Director Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau (barbra.albrecht@switzerland.com)

***

Switzerland Tourism is an enterprise of the public right of the Swiss Federation and operates globally in 29 countries. Its major focus is the development of high quality marketing programs to stimulate leisure and business travel to Switzerland within and outside it’s borders. In the Americas, Switzerland Tourism operates offices in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and São Paulo.

For more information go to www.MySwitzerland.com/meetings

New Requirements For Claiming Tip Credit

Employers must notify employees or forfeit tip credit on wages

Under a U.S. Department of Labor rule, which went into effect May 5, 2011, employers must comply with specific procedures if they seek to claim a tip credit for wages paid to employees who receive tips in addition to a cash wage.

How it Works
Every employee for whom a tip credit is applied as part of his or her wages, must be notified of the following:

• The cash wage being paid to him/her, which must be at least $2.13 an hour (or higher depending on state law)
• The tip credit amount, which may not be greater than the difference between the minimum wage and the cash wage or the actual amount of tips received by the employee up to $5.12 per hour (or less depending on state law)
• All tips must be retained by the employee, except in the case of a valid tip-pooling arrangement
• The credit will not apply to any employee who has not been informed of this information

Although the rule states that employers do not necessarily need to provide this information in writing, it strongly advises employers to do so in case they are called upon to prove they have complied.
Questions? The Department of Labor has produced a fact sheet on the new rules.

State Laws
Employers must also comply with state laws that apply to tipped employees in addition to federal laws. Wages for tipped employees in specific states can be found here.