MeetingNews Convention Centers Roundup

Fort Worth Hotel Delays Have Conventions Scrambling for Rooms
Fort Worth, TX—Groups planning citywide conventions at the Fort Worth Convention Center have hit a housing snag, as several downtown hotels that were set to open in early 2008 have pushed back their completion dates while others have decreased their room counts. The 600-room Omni Hotel Fort Worth fell victim to various delays and will now not open until late 2008 (for more on the property, see p. 56). The Hilton Fort Worth, formerly a Radisson property, closed one of its towers, and the Clarion Hotel Fort Worth renovated and reflagged as an Embassy Suites, cutting its room total in half. The largest problem, though, came when the Plaza Hotel Fort Worth, which was supposed to reopen as the 435-room Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel on Feb. 1, had to push back its debut to mid-2008.

The 2008 United Methodist General Conference and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, both planning April conferences requiring 1,500 guest rooms, were affected by the hotel problems. While most of the delays were made known early enough to plan around, the Sheraton, as of mid-December, was on track to open on time. Now, instead of hosting all the delegates at five or six hotels within walking distance of the convention center, the two groups will be spread out to as many as 25 properties across the city.

According to Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO David DuBois, the CVB has been working tirelessly to make sure affected groups will suffer as little inconvenience as possible. "It's our responsibility to take care of attendees," he said. To that end, the CVB and the Sheraton are helping cover transportation costs resulting from housing attendees further from the convention center, and the CVB is looking at offering additional perks.

"Ideally, our delegates would be staying within walking distance to the convention center because legislative meetings run very late and a 20-minute bus ride at the end of the night isn't the best situation," said Alan Morrison, business manager for the United Methodist General Conference. "But we've reserved enough rooms with the CVB's assistance—and even saved attendees some money."

"The clients have been very understanding," said DuBois. "And every day, we're thinking of something nice we can do to thank them for their business."

Three Last-Minute Bids For Wilmington HQ Hotel
Wilmington, DE—With Wilmington's new convention center scheduled to open in early 2010, city officials have been racing to secure a hotel partner to open a headquarters property for the center's debut. After rejecting six offers last summer, Wilmington's city council received three new bids just before the Feb. 18 deadline extension.

While officials expected more than three bids, they recognize that some developers may have been scared off by tough financial demands of qualifying for the project, which include a $1-million performance guarantee. The three bids will be evaluated quickly, and officials hope to send a recommendation to the city council soon. Two bids are for specific hotel companies—a 150-room Hotel Indigo from InterContinental Hotels Group, and a 240-room aloft, Starwood Hotels & Resorts' mid-priced boutique concept. The third proposal was from Maryland-based Jerome J. Parks Companies,which indicated that it could bring in hotels from companies like Marriott International, Hilton Hotels, and Starwood.

Myrtle Beach Considers Convention Center Expansion
Myrtle Beach, SC—The Myrtle Beach Convention Center (MBCC),which provides 100,000-plus sf of meeting and exhibition space, is looking into a multi-phase project that will expand the center to 500,000 sf. Although there are no definite plans on the books, the first element that Myrtle Beach's city council will vote on will be a 35,000-sf performing arts center with a 500-seat theater. Along with bringing in performance groups, the venue would be used for corporate lectures and conferences.

Breaking It Down
Just as important as putting up trade shows, these days are about how organizers take them down

The annual World of Concrete show, held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center, proved that almost anything can be recycled. Hanley Wood LLC and Freeman indicate that 81 percent of the post-show waste collected at World of Concrete was diverted from local landfills and recycled. In addition to the typical materials used at shows, WOC also contended with concrete walls and slabs poured for demonstrations. The concrete used was also recycled at the close of the show.

"Hanley Wood came to us in search of ways the company could make World of Concrete more eco-friendly. It took some creative research, but we were very excited to find a recycling company, Evergreen Recycling, that could partner with us to produce such impressive results," noted Martin Moggre, Freeman's VP of sales administration.

The Las Vegas Convention Center has also stepped up its recycling efforts recently. Spurred by demand from many of its top trade shows, such as the Consumer Electronics Show, the convention center has diverted, on average, 50 percent of its shows' waste from landfills. That is double Nevada's state goal (Jan. 28 MN, p. 24).

Green initiatives have taken the trade show industry by storm in the past year, but it's not happening in a vacuum. In addition to World of Concrete's post-show recycling effort, WOC also featured GreenSite, a new green build area where exhibitors showcased green build technologies and products, along with valuable information on this growing topic of concern for the commercial and residential construction industries.

Like many industries, construction is exploring ways to become more sustainable—and that carries over to trade show initiatives that can lead the way by example.

Originally published March 10, 2008