The Short Report - 2003-12-01

CEO Sternlicht Splits Starwood

Barry Sternlicht, the executive who led Starwood Hotels and Resorts' transformation from a faltering real-estate investment trust into one of the world's leading hospitality companies, is stepping down as chairman and CEO to assume the newly created position of executive chairman, as soon as a successor is secured. Under Sternlicht's stewardship, Starwood acquired the hotel companies ITT Sheraton and Westin, and launched the iconic W Hotels brand. Sternlicht, who is heading the search for his replacement, says Starwood's next CEO may come from the retail or entertainment industries, with a deep service-related background. At press time no appointment had been announced.

Denver CVB CEO Stripped of Post

The latest CVB leader to leave his organization under fire for questionable bureau activity (see Cleveland, Dallas) is Eugene Dilbeck, president and CEO of the Denver Metro CVB. The Board of the Denver Metro CVB placed Dilbeck on administrative leave with pay on October 31 and a few days later, he was officially fired. The action came shortly after a Denver television station broadcast images of Dilbeck's administration hosting an event at the Diamond Cabaret, a Denver strip club. Richard Scharf, executive vice president of sales and marketing, has been named acting CEO, but at press time Dilbeck's replacement had not been announced.

Tyco Planner Testifies

Ever wish for the big budgets and opulent events of yesteryear? Be careful what you wish for. Barbara Jacques, a former Tyco event planner, was forced to testify in October in Manhattan Supreme Court, providing embarrassing details of lavish bashes thrown by her boss, former chairman Dennis Kozlowski. Kozlowski is accused of looting the company of $600 million, some of which was spent on outrageous parties, including a week-long birthday celebration in 2001 for Kozlowski's wife. The $2 million party featured singer Jimmy Buffet, Roman gladiators, and an ice sculpture of Michaelangelo's David that gushed vodka from its penis.

Exhibitor Spending, Costs to Rise

The Chicago-based Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) has released its Annual Budget Guide, which indicates that average spending by exhibiting companies will go up in 2004, increasing to $596,995 from $532,039 in 2003. The survey of 95 exhibiting companies also predicts that some exhibition costs will rise next year, particularly those associated with promotion, design, and transportation.

MPI OK in 2003

Dallas-based Meetings Profession-als International (MPI) achieved financial and organizational success in stormy 2003, according to its 2002-2003 Annual Report. MPI's top achievements for the year include the creation of a new strategic plan called Pathways to Excellence, raising $3 million in the MPI Foundations Capital Cam- paign, and launching new programs for minorities and women.