Successful Meetings - August 2008 - (Page 66)

08.08 PLACES SPACES & Down on the Dollar The trusty greenback has Americans a little blue when they travel to Europe these days. They aren’t the only ones missing the days of a stronger U.S. currency, either, as many conference venues across Europe and the United Kingdom this year are experiencing a loss of business from Americanbased organizations. “The dollar is so low, and with already stretched budgets, planning a meeting in Europe is a huge challenge,” says Kim Reynolds, owner of Strategic Meetings Solutions, a full-service planning firm in Dallas, TX. And with the euro expected Inside to grow only stronger through 2008, PAGE 69 > Cleveland many planners are looking at locales > Palm Springs PAGE 73 where the dollar holds more value. > Midwest PAGE 76 To help entice Americans back Meetings across the pond, several hotels and PAGE 78 > San Antonio conference centers in Europe are > Yucatan PAGE 84 offering promotions to give planners a Peninsula bit more of the proverbial bang for their buck. Ashford Castle Hotel, the 83room former Guinness estate set on over 350 acres near Galway City, Ireland, is offering the “Hold Back the Euro” program, which will set the exchange rate for meetings on select dates starting in October at $1.40 per euro. The fixed rate includes not only lodging but also food, beverages, and activities. “The program creates a sense of predictability for organizers as they plan events for the future,” says Anita Cotter, spokesperson for Ashford Castle. “This way, they know what to expect when calculating the exact costs.” Similarly, two Concorde hotels in Paris—the Hotel Lutetia, a luxury property with 10 private meeting rooms on the famous Left Bank, and the Hotel du Louvre, a boutique hotel in the center of the city—are offering a fixed $300 per night rate for lodging, independent of the exchange rate. But despite offerings like these, Reynolds admits she expected a greater number of promotions to continue attracting American meetings, and their absence may be because the ones that are out there are not bearing fruit. Paolo Pedrazzini, director of sales and marketing at the Rome Marriott Park Hotel, a five-star hotel outside Rome with 601 guest rooms and more than 118,000 sf of meeting space, says that special offers do not seem to balance the loss in the dollar’s buying power. “We have tried to give special rates,” says Pedrazzini. “We keep getting bids, but we are not able to match the rates they can get in areas like the Asia-Pacific region, the Caribbean, or even Eastern Europe.” Certainly, Eastern European destinations are becoming more popular. The Metropolitan hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria, is actively trying to attract American meetings. Although the newly completed hotel in downtown Sofia with more than 200 guest rooms and eight private meeting rooms is not offering any special promotions, management is willing to work with organizers to help them AUGUST 2008 SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS ILLUSTRATION: MIKE MORAN 66

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Successful Meetings - August 2008

Successful Meetings - August 2008
Editor's Note
Industry Trends
Industry Events
On the Record
Websites of the Month
Personal Success
Technology Talk
Food & Beverage
On Site
Tools of the Trade
Crude Awakening
Oil’s Well
Betting on Development
The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of
No Spa, No Dice
New & Improved Bean Counting
Places & Spaces
Palm Springs, Desert Resorts
Midwest Meetings
San Antonio
Yucatan Peninsula

Successful Meetings - August 2008