Monthly Archives: November 2011

Lodging Industry Touts Jobs Potential During Congressional Hearing

Washington, D.C. – Jonathan Tisch, co-chair of the board, Loews Corporation and chairman and CEO, Loews Hotels, served as a witness today before the Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The hearing, “Tourism in America: Moving Our Economy Forward,” focused on the travel industry’s impact on the U.S. economy.

Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a long-time champion of the lodging industry, called the hearing to highlight the opportunity for the U.S. to create jobs and bolster the economy by attracting international travelers. Senate Commerce Committee Chair John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Subcommittee Ranking Member, echoed the sentiment and expressed continued support for making international travelers a top priority in order to grow the economy and create U.S. jobs.

Focusing on how the government and private sector can partner to increase foreign visitation, Tisch described how various policies directly impact his business. His remarks called for supporting the work of Brand USA in attracting international visitors, reforming the bureaucratic visa processing system, and investing in infrastructure to accommodate additional incoming international visitors.

“America’s Travel industry is responsible for generating nearly $1.8 trillion of economic output annually and directly employing 7.5 million Americans,” said Tisch. “The economic stakes here are truly enormous. Our government should establish a national goal of reclaiming our share of the international travel market.”

Promoting travel and tourism remains one of AH&LA’s highest priorities. The Discover America Partnership, a lobbying and grassroots campaign co-chaired by AH&LA, is working to advance visa and entry reforms in order to regain the share of the international traveler market the United States held in 2000. By recapturing America’s historic share of international travel, the U.S. could create up to 1.3 million new U.S. jobs by 2020 and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.

AH&LA and The Discover America Partnership will continue to work closely with Members of Congress and their staffers to highlight the incredible opportunity presented by bringing more international travelers to United States. Today’s hearing was the second in a series to bring this bipartisan, low-cost, and job creating solution to the forefront of the debate.

In addition to Tisch, Jim Evans, CEO of Brand USA, Inc.; John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism; and Jonathan Zuk, vice chairman of Receptive Services Association of America, also participated on the panel.

Serving the hospitality industry for a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.

Atlanta Marriott Marquis Installs Additional High-Tech Energy Saving Management Systems

…Creates a more sustainable energy efficient hotel

Recycled 37 Million Gallons of Water from Laundry Usage to Date Alone

ATLANTA, GA. – Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Downtown Atlanta’s premier convention hotel continues to take an assertive stand in protecting the environment with the implementation of additional high-tech energy saving management systems. “And because we think that friendly service and eco-friendly service should be one and the same, you can still expect the same high-level of personal care and expertise from our highly trained staff,” stated Erica Qualls, General Manager, Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The award-winning property has installed the latest technology to conserve precious resources.

Inncom Guestroom Occupancy Sensors – Beginning in November, 2011, all 1,569 guest rooms and 94 suites will feature a door switch and a motion detecting thermostat that are tied into the central energy management system server (EMS). Upon door switch activation, the motion detector looks for movement. Once movement is detected, the room goes into occupied mode and the guest has full control of the guestroom heating and cooling. When the door switch is activated upon the guest leaving the room, the motion detector automatically searches for movement and if none is detected, the temperature range is slowly moved to the unoccupied mode.

Melink Intelli-Hood System – Heat and smoke sensors installed in six kitchen hood systems control the speed of the exhaust fans and air handler for the Bake Shop, Room Service, Cafeteria, and the Main Kitchen hood exhaust systems.

Steamgard Steam Trap Replacement – The property replaced 187 steam traps throughout the building. These steam traps are designed to be an end of line after load devices and stop steam from passing through, but allow condensate to return to the boiler. The new steam traps have no moving parts, utilizing a venture nozzle to separate the condensate from the steam. 11% consumption savings are attributed to the new traps.

Meeting Room Vacancy Sensors – Motion detectors installed in 48 meeting rooms activate a communication protocol from the hotel’s energy management system to coordinate with the lighting dimming system software to turn off the lighting when the room is not sold and no motion is detected.

Stairwell and Back of House Occupancy Sensors – Motion detectors and dimming ballasts were installed in all of the hotel stairwells and 926 motion detectors were installed in all back of the house associate areas

Additional Green Initiatives in place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis include:

• Single stream recycling system
• Linen-less tables in Atrium meeting spaces
• Linen reuse program in guest rooms
• Room keys made of 50% post consumer content
• Recycled meeting pads and pens provided in all conference spaces
• Water coolers in meeting spaces
• Reclaimed water used for in-house laundry
• 1.28 gallons per flush toilets in guest rooms
• Automatic sensors on all public area plumbing fixtures
• Distribution of daily “green” tips to hotel staff
• Light bulb and battery recycling program
• Energy-saving fluorescent lighting

To date, the vast array of eco-friendly programs at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis has generated significant savings and results to include:

• Awarded Marriott Environmentally Conscious Hospitality Operations (ECHO) Award for
$1.2 million annual savings
• Recycled 37 million gallons of water from laundry usage
• Reduced energy consumption from light bulbs by 10 million kWh, a 28 percent
reduction from the base year
• 30% improvement in Energy Star® rating
• 30% reduction in natural gas
• 27% reduction in electricity
• Saved 37 million gallons of water since 2005

About Atlanta Marriott Marquis
Atlanta’s premier destination – the Atlanta Marriott Marquis is home to 160,000 of meeting space; 1,663 guest rooms and 94 suites; five restaurants and lounges, The Spa and fitness center, swimming pool and lobby. This sophisticated and contemporary downtown Atlanta hotel is conveniently located in Peachtree Center, only 15 minutes from Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and offers an indoor connection to MARTA. It is steps from the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and few blocks from CNN Center, Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena, and Georgia Dome. The breathtaking atrium is marked by the 50-foot color changing sail of Pulse, a classically cool cocktail lounge and the new iconic symbol of this downtown Atlanta, Georgia hotel. Delight in Sear, the signature restaurant offering fire-inspired cuisine, or enjoy the lively ambiance of High Velocity, a trendy sports bar. For more information, or to book a meeting, please call (404) 521-0000, (800) 780-0983, or visit www.atlantamarquis.com

Marriott Hotels & Resorts is Marriott International’s signature and most widely distributed brand, with more than 500 hotels and resorts in 60 countries. Marriott continues to inspire performance and a balanced life on the road for discerning and high-achieving business and leisure travelers, offering warm, professional service; sophisticated yet functional guest room design; lobby spaces that facilitate working, dining and socializing; restaurants and bars serving international cuisine prepared simply and from the freshest ingredients; meeting and event spaces and services that are gold standard; and expansive, 24-hour fitness facilities. All Marriott hotels participate in the award winning Marriott Rewards frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information visit www.meetthedriven.com. Follow Marriott Hotels & Resorts on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MarriottHotels.

Visit Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) for company information. For more information or reservations, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

Green Travel App Available on iTunes

GreenEco, Apple’s most comprehensive green travel app, is now available in the i-Tunes store. The app has almost 50,000 green and organic retailers / points of interest. GreenEco uses GPS technology to show your current location’s closest retailers. Retailers include green fuels, restaurants, hotels, farmer markets, organic markets and organic restaurants. The green fuel stations include bio-diesel, ethanol, electric charging, LPG, LNG, hydrogen, and compressed natural gas. The app also includes your favorite coffee houses…since you can’t travel without coffee!

GreenEco includes an integrated routing tool and an expense management tool with e-mail and printing capability. The information tab includes a comprehensive user guide with the ability to e-mail us new retailers and points of interest. Finally, you can green rate a retailer and like a retailer, which are shared with the GreenEco community. GreenEco provides an average rating and overall like count of retailers / points of interest.

GreenEco supports the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch. Additional platforms including Blackberry and Droid are in process!

Greeneco is a platform that can be customized or modified for any organization, affinity group, company, brand or government agency. We can use your artwork or create unique artwork for you and your brands. We can also use your points of interest, supplement your retailers or provide unique content for you. We can also customize and add features to the platform.

www.LBSandC.com
Contact: Chuck DiMeglio,
Chuck.DiMeglio@LBSandC.com

International Association of Conference Centers Releases More Videos from the Series: “Creating Compelling Meeting Experiences”

(St. Louis, MO) – November 2011 – Peter Stockmann, President of IACC Americas, announced the release of two additional video clips on content-rich topics related to the meeting experience. The videos, based on IACC’s third Thought Leader Summit and subsequent white paper “Creating Compelling Meeting Experiences” at IACC’s 30th annual conference, include two customer-related topics: “Achieving Owner and Customer Satisfaction”, and “Eliminating Customer Sacrifice.”

According to John Potterton, CMP who facilitated the event, “these two videos will help viewers understand the difference between a variety of customer experiences – customer sacrifice, customer service and customer surprise”.

Broadcast live and webcast around the world from the Kellogg Center at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, the first ten-minute video, Achieving Owner and Customer Satisfaction, features Amy Wickenheisser, (Hotel Manager at Hamilton Park Hotel & Conference Center), who says her owners “are very interested in customer feedback.” The results of the feedback are measured, compared and ultimately tied to revenue production.

Also featured in the video clip, Jeff Vredevoogd, Director Education Solutions at Herman Miller, Inc. comments on the “six aspects of space which are critical to the success of any facility design: adaptable, social, resourceful, healthful, sustainable and stimulating. “

In the second video clip, Eliminating Customer Sacrifice, Potterton notes that
“Customer sacrifice is the pain or annoyance a customer endures when buying or using a product or service.” According to panelist Bob Dean, Director Americas for Profiling Online, “customer satisfaction doesn’t necessarily lead to customer loyalty, but eliminating customer sacrifice does and it can actually lead to customer surprise.”

The diverse panel included an authority on fully engaged adult learning and conference design; an expert on breakthrough learning; a member of the Steering Committee of the much-anticipated “Project Meeting Architecture;” a designer of furnishings and meeting spaces; a seasoned planner at an IACC conference center and a guru on incorporating social media into the meeting experience.

According to Potterton, the purpose of the summit was “to help conference center professionals and meeting professionals raise the bar on the meetings and events they create within their own organizations; to give them new knowledge on how to create compelling meeting experiences that engage participants; and to assist them in transforming meetings in a way that drives business results. “

In total, IACC will release 14 videos on different topics related to the meeting experience. These two video segments are available online at:

Achieving Owner and Customer Satisfaction at 10 min, 36 sec:
http://bit.ly/nHAIu3

Eliminating Customer Sacrifice at 1min, 52 sec:
http://bit.ly/sNAzB5

Founded in 1981, the International Association of Conference Centres is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and awareness of the conference center industry and to giving member properties the tools necessary to provide an exceptional meeting experience. Active members meet a set of stringent Universal Criteria and agree to a Code of Ethics. Currently, the association includes approximately 400 members from the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Japan. For more information, visit the website at www.iacconline.org. IACC = exceptional meeting experiences.

Cohesive Marketing Efforts Result in $200 Million Rebound for Alabama Beaches Impacted by Gulf Oil Spill

GULF SHORES AND ORANGE BEACH, ALA. – A strong partnership between Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism (CVB) and the Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) allowed both agencies to fully maximize marketing funds provided by British Petroleum (BP) to propel the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley area to a $200 million* summer rebound for this beach community that suffered the gulf’s largest economic loss from the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

“The strength of this team – along with the support of the area’s entire community who also joined forces – created a synergistic effect that allowed our message to reach many audiences through all mediums,” said Herb Malone, president/CEO of the CVB. “These audiences – comprised of both longtime guests and new customers – identified with our family beach destination, and we saw our tourism driven community bustling with activity throughout the summer with a resurgence of guests. As a direct result of this multi-leveled partnership, they returned to us in record numbers as the data shows.”

The Pleasure Island communities (Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan) gathered a record setting $154 million in summer lodging revenue – an 18 percent ($24 million) increase over the previous benchmark year of 2007, which saw $130 million collected in that summer. Continuing this pace, the area is posed to exceed the 2007 record year by 17 percent (year-to-date).

“What our tourism community accomplished is almost unfathomable, especially considering the national economy,” Malone said. “Last summer, we saw a 47 percent decrease in lodging revenue. Thanks to this partnership, the area not only made up for this decrease to return to pre-spill levels but then continued the momentum to break the summer record of our benchmark year.”

Along similar lines, the Pleasure Island communities also saw record-breaking summer retail sales figures as $235 million flowed through local cash registers – a 51 percent ($80 million) increase over summer 2010 and most importantly, a 7 percent ($16 million) increase over the benchmark year of 2007.

The Approach

The partnership also extended into the local tourism and hospitality industry and the surrounding community.

“Our area banded together as we have always done during challenging times,” Malone said. “Everyone worked together to help our area rebound as quickly and efficiently as it did.”

With additional marketing funds in 2011, the CVB enhanced multiple events in the area, such as the 2011 Hangout Music Festival, The Wharf Concert Series, and the Southeast Conference (SEC) corporate sponsorship.

“This relationship was a win-win for all parties,” Malone said. “Thanks to the insight of our brilliant team, we best utilized this funding to maximize its reach and impact. We have Governor Robert Bentley and his staff to thank for negotiating this 2011 BP grant.”

Malone added that “the year that we are having this year is the same year that we would have had in 2010 had it not been for the spill.”

The Impact

“We are excited that Alabama’s Gulf Coast Beaches were able to re-bound so quickly and to set record numbers on top of it,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “The BP funding allowed us to market effectively to travelers and those efforts paid off. We will continue to promote our Gulf Coast and hope to continue to set records.”

This excitement is shared among local lodging partners, such as Sarah Kuzma, corporate relations director for Meyer Vacation Rental:

“For over four decades our vacation rental business has hosted thousands of visitors to the area, and our Meyer Vacation Rental teams were elated to once again be back in full swing in 2011. Not only were our loyal customers returning to ‘their beach’ but we gained new customers from markets previously not common for us, primarily due to the successful Hangout Music Festival. We expect to continue to reap the rewards of this year’s new and returning customers in future years.”

Along the same lines, Eva Faircloth, Spectrum Resorts marketing director, noted that the area’s success translated into company records.

“The extra efforts of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, combined with the state tourism department and our own marketing efforts led Spectrum Resorts to gross more revenue in 2011 than ever before as a company,” Faircloth said. “We know our area will see the residual effects of the increased efforts and innovative marketing strategies for the coming year as well.”

Meanwhile, Kaiser Realty also spoke to the area’s rebound this year.

“2011 has no doubt been the light at the end of the tunnel we were all desperately looking for during the dreadful summer of 2010,” said Emily Eiland Gonzalez, marketing director of Kaiser Realty, Inc. “Kaiser Realty proudly welcomed back families who had been coming to stay with us for 30 years, and we embraced tremendous numbers of new families. As the year began we knew our beaches were ready to rebound and be celebrated once again, but we did not know if the guest and visitors were ready and willing to return. The efforts put forth by the CVB and ATD to determine when and where to utilize the BP grant monies undoubtedly paid off.”

Local restaurants also saw the results of the marketing efforts.

“The combined efforts of Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism, Alabama Tourism, and the local municipalities have helped LuLu’s to our best year ever, surpassing our 2009 benchmark year by almost 15%,” said Johnny Fisher, general manager of LuLu’s at Homeport Marina. “We’re very excited about the potential for future growth and most importantly, for the opportunity our communities will have to grow and provide a better quality of life for our residents.”

On the same note, Mary Lou Roszkowski, vice-president of operations for Original Oyster House Restaurants added that the year “exceeded our expectations! Thank you CVB for the continued effort to maintain our place in the tourism market.”

The Future

“With fall numbers still being gathered, we are on pace to exceed our 2007 all-time lodging revenue record by 17 percent, which speaks volumes to the dedication and hard work of everyone involved in our rebound” Malone said. “We have now transitioned to our fall shoulder season and recently concluded a healthy October highlighted by Thunder on the Gulf and the 40th Annual National Shrimp Festival.”

“We will continue to support Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to get the message out that it’s never been a better time to visit Alabama and our white sand beaches,” Sentell said. “We are thrilled with the support of visitors, especially the loyal customers who keep coming back. It is those tourists that we are deeply thankful for and we welcome their continued visits.”

For more tourism information on this family beach destination, visit www.gulfshores.com or www.orangebeach.com.

*The $200 million rebound encompasses an increase of the combined lodging and retail sales tax figures for the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley for Summer 2011 compared to Summer 2010.

Resources:
Complete Summer 2011 data available at http://www.gulfshores.com/stats/2_a.%20%20Destination%20Growth%20IndicatorsforWebsite.pdf.

Additional Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism information available at www.gulfshores.com/stats.

The National Conference Center Paves the Way as General Services Administration Announces New Specialized Conference Facilities Category

(Leesburg, Va) – November 2011 — According to the General Services Administration, The National Conference Center is now part of the new product category – Specialized Conference Facilities. The GSA’s Schedule Summary Category 599-6 recognizes The National Conference Center for its “commercial services for the provision of specialized conference facilities providing complete meeting packages (CMP) (to include sleeping room, meeting space, all food and beverage, conference technology services, business center services and other related services).

Government meeting planners and other government employees can now request bids for conference facilities on GSA’s eBuy. The National Conference Center has been on the GSA Schedule for several years now, but under a separate, temporary category. According to the GSA website, Specialized Conference Facilities and Services (Special Item Number 599-6) under Travel Services Solutions (TSS) Schedule 599 offers complete meeting packages (CMP) at conference centers with dedicated staff designed to fulfill your meeting objectives away from the hustle and bustle of traditional hotels, convention centers, and tourists.

“In creating this specialized category” said Eric Whitson, Director of Sales & Marketing at The National Conference Center, the GSA has recognized the importance of productive and affordable meetings and The National Conference Center is proud to have been a part of this ground-breaking initiative.” According to Whitson, “We pursued this category with GSA to distinguish and acknowledge the importance of a conference center in providing exceptional value combined with cutting-edge technology to the federal government market.” According to GSA, this specialized category “enables a government meeting professional an all inclusive daily price to better manage an off-site planning retreat, training program or executive level meeting.”

“We are honored to be singled out as the first individual property to be classified in this new category and thrilled to help make it easier for our current and future government customers to secure our services. We are confident this will highlight our award-winning, distraction-free environment to a community that is looking for an outstanding meeting destination,” said Whitson. Government meeting planners will now have the time- and cost-saving opportunity to plan and execute meetings with a simplified one-stop-shopping process.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies, and other management tasks.

More about The National Conference Center

Just 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and 45 minutes from Washington, DC, The National Conference Center, operated by ARAMARK Conference Centers, features a secure, distraction-free setting with self-contained buildings surrounded by 100 scenic acres in Leesburg, Virginia. One of the largest conference centers in the United States, the entire facility was purpose designed to accommodate larger meetings and conferences that concentrate on training.

Each of the 250 meeting rooms – representing 265,000 square feet of flexible meeting space — features high-speed Internet access, individual climate control, advanced conference technology, and sophisticated presentation technology with on-site audio/visual and IT support. The 917-room facility (including 78 suites) can accommodate meetings and events up to 1,800 people. Dining options include the popular Black Olive Sports Bar, and the 800-seat dining facility which features a wide variety of healthful buffet selections as well as specialty selections. Recreational options include a fully equipped fitness center along with volleyball, basketball, racquetball, tennis, and more. A fully staffed Business Center is conveniently located to provide administrative support service. throughout the course of each meeting and a professional conference support team is available. Free onsite parking is provided.

ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. In FORTUNE magazine’s 2009 list of “World’s Most Admired Companies,” ARAMARK was ranked number one in its industry, consistently ranking since 1998 as one of the top three most admired companies in its industry as evaluated by peers and analysts. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 260,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at the company’s Web site, www.aramark.com.

United States Introduces “Brand USA” to Welcome World Visitors

America Unveils First-Ever Unified Consumer Brand and Identity

London, UK – The organization responsible for marketing the United States to world visitors today unveiled “Brand USA,” America’s first-ever global consumer brand. Formerly known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, but now doing business as Brand USA Inc., the group introduced its global brand positioning and strategy before an international audience of travel professionals and destinations in London. The creation of America’s new global brand is the first critical step in the development of the nation’s first unified marketing effort. Brand USA Inc. will launch their first official advertising and marketing campaign in the spring of 2012 to invite world guests to visit America for leisure, business and scholarly purposes.

During a brand launch event at London’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) this morning and a subsequent press conference at ExCeL London, Brand USA spokespeople including Chief Executive Officer Jim Evans and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Perkins revealed details about the brand and how it was established. Although initially incorporated as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the organization will now be doing business as Brand USA Inc. in an effort to more clearly align brand strategy and corporate messaging.

“The United States offers a range of destinations and experiences that are unparalleled in the world market,” said Evans. “Now, through the creation of Brand USA, we are inviting the world’s travelers to come to visit us, and experience the limitless possibilities for themselves.”

According to Brand USA, the logo was created to be “fresh, welcoming and inclusive.” It aspires to remind the world that “the United States of Awesome Possibilities welcomes everyone.” It features a collection of dots joining together to compose the letters USA. The dots will serve as a vessel through which Brand USA can showcase diverse colors and images of people and destinations across America, emphasizing the boundless possibilities of the United States. It will not adhere to a single color scheme. The logo also displays the URL DiscoverAmerica.com, Brand USA’s official consumer web site.

“What is so compelling about the United States is that no one thing can explain who we are as a nation. Each visitor and each experience helps create the fabric of American culture, and Brand USA embodies this spirit,” said Perkins. “When we launch our global marketing and advertising campaign next year, we will be able to reach audiences around the world by showcasing the best of America and spreading the message that we welcome visitors with open arms.”

The United States first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing program was created by the Travel Promotion Act, federal legislation passed in March 2010. A public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government, the Corporation for Travel Promotion – now Brand USA Inc. – was charged with increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts to drive job creation and economic growth. The organization is led by private industry with oversight from the Department of Commerce and U.S. Congress. The program is funded through a combination of private sector investment and funds collected by the Department of Homeland Security from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. No U.S. taxpayer dollars are used to fund the program. Brand USA’s headquarters are located in Washington, DC.
“Brand USA has arrived, and it is not just a tourism brand,” said Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of Brand USA and Chairman and CEO of Diamond Resorts International. “It is a 21st-century global brand that will help reposition our great nation in the market for travel—and drive economic activity, including billions in new spending, tens of thousands of new outsource-proof jobs and much-needed tax revenue, to spur powerful growth throughout all corners of the United States.”

About Brand USA
The Corporation for Travel Promotion—now doing business as Brand USA Inc.— was created for the purpose of encouraging travelers from all over the world to visit the United States of America. The public-private marketing entity was created in 2010 to work in close partnership with the travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel in communities around the country. Through its call-to-action “Discover America,” Brand USA will encourage and inspire travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities. For industry or partner information about Brand USA, visit www.TheBrandUSA.com. Visit Brand USA’s consumer website at www.DiscoverAmerica.com. Download the Brand USA press kit here.

Crystal City Marriott Completes Phase One of Multi-Million Dollar Renovation

New Lobby Design Creates an Intimate Atmosphere in the Heart of Crystal City.

The Crystal City Marriott, one of Crystal City’s first hotels, has recently completed an award-winning redesign that adds sleek polish and modern updates to its lobby, including the launch of a new American tavern, BELL20. The extensive renovation marks the first stage of the hotel’s multi-million dollar plan to revitalize its public and meeting space, an investment by the hotel’s owners, Vornado Realty. The renovation includes the new design for Marriott Hotels & Resorts lobbies that offer guests spaces for working, dining and socializing.

“This renovation is the beginning of exciting things to come,” says Scott McClinton, general manager of the Crystal City Marriott. “We know our guests want comfort and style, we have delivered that and more. We look forward to welcoming our longtime and new guests alike to discover our transformed space.”

Cauhaus Design, in Frederick, Md., replaced the old world style lobby with a new look that blends nature with modern technology. To create a sophisticated yet relaxing atmosphere, Cauhaus Design used visually stimulating elements such as textured walls, warm earth tones, marble floors, leather chairs, and natural materials including stone and reclaimed wood on the walls and plank top communal tables. Other recycled materials such as natural tile accents, recycled 55 gallon drums, and hammered metals are used as artwork throughout the transformed space.

The welcoming reception desk has been redesigned to make it easier for guests and hotel staff to interact at check-in. Three new pods made of dark wood and stone have been added to allow business and leisure travelers to check in and check out with ease. With free WiFi and electrical outlets throughout the lobby, guests can plug-in and work on their laptops or kick back and relax in front of HDTVs at the lobby bar. In addition, semi-private seating nooks full of plush pillows, allow guests to socialize or work in an intimate environment.

The new bar and restaurant, BELL20, offers straight forward comfort food and pub classics. The menu offers daily soups, unique burgers, sandwich standards, salads, and a variety entrées. Ideal for socializing with work colleagues by day and impromptu gatherings at night, the energetic BELL20 bar offers a refreshing cocktail menu, over 30 bottled beers, wines by the glass and a number of hand-crafted micro-brews from Alexandria’s own Port City Brewing Company.

About the Crystal City Marriott:
The Crystal City Marriott is situated at 1999 Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington, Va., just off the Crystal City Metro on the blue and yellow lines. With 333 guest rooms, 10 suites, and a newly renovated lobby, less than one mile from Reagan National Airport, the Crystal City Marriott is ideal for business, weekend getaways, family and leisure travel. For more information or reservations, contact your travel professional, call the hotel directly at 703-413-5500 or visit crystalcitymarriott.com.

About Marriott Hotels & Resorts:
Marriott Hotels & Resorts continues to inspire and provide a balanced life on the road for discerning and high-achieving business and leisure travelers, offering warm, professional service; sophisticated yet functional guest room design; lobby spaces that facilitate working, dining and socializing; restaurants and bars serving international cuisine prepared simply and from the freshest ingredients; meeting and event spaces and services that are gold standard; and expansive, 24-hour fitness facilities. All Marriott hotels participate in the award winning Marriott Rewards frequent travel program that allows members to earn hotel points or airline miles for every dollar spent during each stay. For more information, visit www.MarriottHotels.com.

Visit Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) for company information. For more information or reservations, please visit our web site at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com.

Download the Visit OP Mobile App to Win an iPad2

The Overland Park Convention and Visitors Bureau (OPCVB) released a free, state-of-the-art mobile application (app) for all Smartphone devices this past summer. To encourage continued engagement with the app, by both visitors and residents alike, the OPCVB has launched a series of contests.

We’re kicking off our first contest with a fantastic prize: an iPad 2! You have until December 31, 2011 to enter and all previous and new app users are eligible to win. To enter, new app users must first download the app by visiting www.visitoverlandpark.com/app. The brief entry form can then be accessed by clicking on the ‘Contest’ page within the app. A lucky winner will be selected at random and announced in early January 2012. Come on folks, we’re making it really easy to win one of the coolest gadgets around!

If you have not yet downloaded the app, let us share with you a few reasons, besides the contest, for you to do so today. It is perfect for both visitors and residents serving as a one-stop-shop mobile resource. With features such as an Overland Park restaurant guide, coupons, near-me mapping, metro area shopping and attraction listings and more – the app is extremely helpful and user-friendly.

Future contests will be rolled out over the course of the year so enter today and stay tuned for more opportunities to win.

International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Chooses ACC Liverpool for its 2012 Meeting

The International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) has announced ACC Liverpool, home to BT Convention Centre and Echo Arena as host venue for its bi-annual scientific meeting in June 2012. The meeting will welcome up to 1500 experts and exhibitors from Europe, USA and Asia Pacific.

ISTH discovered ACC Liverpool’s potential for unique dedicated meeting space back in 2008 when the venue first opened and it was that early impression which resulted in the society picking Liverpool as a front runner during the bid stages for its 2012 event.

Cheng Hock Toh, Professor of Haematology said, “The society felt that the Liverpool bid was creative and they were impressed by the energy of the organising team and the attention the city would pay to the needs of younger delegates.”

The University of Liverpool has been a key ambassador in supporting the event and is heavily involved as a local organiser. The society’s aim at the Liverpool meeting is to increase the education aspect for younger members and for more established members to share best practice and engage in discussions of new developments within their field.

Liverpool Convention Bureau has led on the social programme, which includes an event at St Georges Hall, as well as a variety of opportunities to experience the city and the surrounding region.

Professor Toh continued, “With four years to plan the event at ACC Liverpool, we are sure that the meeting will be one that reaches beyond traditional audiences. Our clinical centre in Liverpool is supported by the Roald Dahl Foundation who will help to make this meeting extra special and memorable. We hope that by hosting this meeting in Liverpool we will attract higher delegate numbers. With such an adaptable venue, we can accommodate our delegates whatever numbers we reach. The announcement of the exhibition and events complex is excellent news for us when thinking about hosting larger events in the future.”

Kerrin MacPhie, Director of Sales ACC Liverpool said, “We are delighted to be hosting the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis next year. Having worked with Cheng Hock for many years on bidding for this event, it is a just reward for him to bring it to the city and an honour for us to host it; we look forward to helping him create a memorable event.

“ACC Liverpool has an exacting record of hosting medical conferences, with facilities suited for large conference groups, as well as destination support in terms of tailored social programmes, further confirming the city’s appeal to this sector.”