Starwood, Pepsi Name Meetings Contest Winner

Education publisher McGraw-Hill has won Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's 2009 meetings promotion, Starwood and its promotional partner, PepsiCo, announced yesterday.

Introduced last year in order to stimulate the hard-hit meetings industry, the Starwood-Pepsi promotion offered corporate and association groups a series of value-added incentives when they booked meetings at Starwood properties nationwide. In addition, groups who booked meetings were entered in a drawing to win a private concert by Grammy-nominated British singer Natasha Bedingfield—known for the hit singles "Pocketful of Sunshine" and "Unwritten"—to benefit the charity of their choice.

Nearly 1,000 companies participated in the promotion, according to Starwood, which said winner McGraw-Hill has chosen to donate its private concert to Financial Literacy Now, a campaign dedicated to providing financial literacy training and services to high school students. The concert, which will be attended by more than 500 high school teachers, will take place Jan. 25 in New York.

"We are thrilled that hundreds of teachers who contribute so much to their communities are being recognized for their tireless efforts," Starwood's North American senior vice president of brand management, David Marr, said in a statement. "We created this initiative to strike the right balance between providing value for meetings in today's challenging environment while supporting philanthropic efforts that are important to our customers' local communities."

Added McGraw-Hill Vice President of Corporate Affairs Eileen Gabriele, "We are delighted to share this concert with the dedicated teachers who are enhancing economic education in classrooms across the city and to pay tribute to their hard work. On behalf of Financial Literacy Now, we appreciate Starwood and Natasha Bedingfield for enabling us to thank these teachers in a special way."