Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriott Hotels Offers Mobile Check-In for Frequent Guests

Having a large crowd at your next meeting? An easy front-desk experience can start your gathering off on a positive note.

In recognition of its increasingly connected mobile guests, Marriott Hotels plans to rollout mobile check-in at 325 hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Now launched at 31 Marriott-brand hotels, mobile check-in will expand to all 325 Marriott-brand hotels later this summer.

According to the consulting firm Hudson Crossing, emerging Gen Y travelers (ages 24 – 36) in the U.S. lead all other age groups in smartphone ownership at 80 percent and travelers in general are more likely to own mobile devices.

With the Marriott Mobile App, all Marriott Rewards members can check-in after 4 pm the day before their arrival and will receive an automatic notification when their room is ready. Because credit card information is stored within their Marriott Rewards profiles, members simply walk up to the expedited mobile check-in desk where their pre-programmed key card will be waiting for them. The mobile check-in feature is part of the free Marriott mobile app available in the Apple iTunes Store and Google Play.

“As Marriott developed the app and tested mobile check-in, we engaged customers, asking for their feedback to perfect the experience and learn what mattered most to them,” said Paul Cahill, senior vice president of brand management for Marriott Hotels. “Our frequent guests told us they wanted mobile check-in first, using their smartphones, to be widely available. That is what we are delivering as Marriott Hotels continues its journey of envisioning the future of travel for the next generation.”

The Marriott Mobile App will not stop at check-in. Future innovations are currently being tested at Marriott’s mobile incubator hotels, including checkout and guest service requests. Marriott also plans to expand mobile guest services outside the U.S. and Canada.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Orleans Convention Center Project Wins Engineering Award

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center renovation, which re-configured the existing Hall A exhibit space into a new 60,000 square foot column-free ballroom with grand entryway, has earned Thornton Tomasetti, the international engineering firm that provided structural engineering work on the project, a 2013 Structural Engineering Association of Kansas and Missouri (SEAKM) Award.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Hall A Renovations took home the award in the “Other Structural Design Project” category.

New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Hall A Renovations:

  • Thornton Tomasetti was chosen as the structural engineer for the renovation and expansion of Exhibit Hall A, as well as the addition of a new grand entryway at the 1.1 million square-foot New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, completed in January 2013, in time to host the NFL Experience during Super Bowl XLVII. The firm used 3D Revit modeling throughout the design phase to identify potential conflicts and solutions.
  • Thornton Tomasetti collaborated with the architect of record, “Manning Architects/Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, A Joint Venture,” and design architect LMN on the renovation.
  • The first part of the project included the $50 million expansion and renovation of Exhibit Hall A, increasing its size from 46,000 to 60,000 square feet for use as a state-of-the-art ballroom space. The project also included the addition of 26,000 square feet of pre-function space.
  • The second half of the project consisted of the construction of a new grand entryway in the northwest corner of the existing building. Thornton Tomasetti demolished the existing structure and designed a 45-foot curtain wall separating the indoor and outdoor spaces of the entrance.
  • A new vertical circulation capacity including elevators and stairs, and a cantilevered roof structure were also added to the convention center.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Free Internet Access In Metro Toronto CC

Metro Toronto Convention Centre to Offer Free Attendee Internet Access

The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) today announced that it will now be providing free wireless Internet access to enhance the experience of event attendees. This is just one of many technological upgrades being addressed by the Centre as it undergoes a major renovation project to modernize the Centre and upgrade customer service.
On any given day, thousands of people attend events at the MTCC. Providing attendees with the ability to access their email, social media sites, and general web browsing is an important part of the attendee experience. The upgraded network infrastructure, complimentary wifi services, and MTCC mobile-adapted website will help facilitate planning, create convenience while in the Centre, and allow for greater overall event success.
"The ability to provide suitable Internet access to event attendees, and still provide the high level of performance and reliability required by others on the network (such as event exhibitors) is a major challenge for all convention facilities and requires advanced technological infrastructure, networking, and network management," said Bill McDonald, Chief Information Officer, MTCC. Access will be available to all attendees in public spaces and general areas outside of meetings rooms and exhibit halls.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Orleans Convention Center Adds Emergency Management Tools

New Tools Enhance Emergency Management and Security
at New Orleans Convention Center

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center—the sixth largest convention center in the nation—has acquired new tools to help emergency management and security efforts. One of the major items is the Global Electric Motorcar (GEM), a street-level electric vehicle which functions as a miniature ambulance, equipped with an electric power cot, cardiac monitors, advanced life saving equipment and a medical bag.

The Convention Center’s exclusive medical provider, New Orleans EMS, the sole 911 provider of Emergency Medical Services in Orleans Parish, will be able to quickly deploy the vehicle from three permanent medical stations located throughout the Convention Center and maneuver through the building in response to medical emergency calls. New Orleans EMS provides pre-hospital emergency care to convention attendees during shows as well as Convention Center employees and decorators operating within the building during move-in and move-out periods.

New Orleans EMS is equipped to provide service in cases where response time is critical: advance cardiac life support, advance pediatric life support, pediatric emergency care, and pre-hospital trauma life support. “The GEM allows us to take the emergency room to the patient,” said Cedric Palmisano, EMT-P, special events & detail coordinator and EOC liaison with New Orleans EMS. “It provides the patient with a seamless transition to the city ambulance. Once the city ambulance picks up the patient, the same protocol of care is continued.”

“Continuity of care is the most important part of a patient’s outcome,” added Allen Bellow, a New Orleans EMS paramedic who is stationed at the Convention Center. “The GEM will help us reach the patient faster and begin care.”

The GEM is the most significant piece of equipment the Convention Center was awarded through a grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security via the City of New Orleans Department of Homeland Security.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the grant “provides funding to increase the preparedness capabilities of jurisdictions responsible for the safety and security of communities.

Three years ago, Convention Center Public Safety Director Joseph Hebert worked with the New Orleans Department of Homeland Security as they began the process of evaluating the grant request. “A Threat Risk Assessment and a Vulnerabilities Study were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD), and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) through the United States and New Orleans Homeland Security Offices. The Convention Center, being the State’s largest asset, was deemed as Protected Critical Infrastructure. Because of the high profile events the Convention Center hosts, with more than 600,000 people passing through the doors each year, additional security equipment was awarded through the grant,” said Hebert.

The Convention Center received six Garrett Magnetometers, six Garrett hand wands, three 52” Samsung monitors, ten Samsung CCTV color cameras, and one portable X-ray machine. Also as part of the grant, NOPD was awarded miscellaneous Bombtech equipment. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lancaster County Offers New Smartphone App

Joining the app craze, the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled a free Lancaster County Exploration Guide app for travelers’ smartphones, to enhance their visit while in the area with geo-located listings, nearby coupons, pre-set touring routes, and more.

The app is specifically designed to help visitors find the great experiences, good deals, and hidden gems that are all around them while they’re visiting Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Each of the hundreds of attraction, lodging, shopping, and dining properties in the app contains concise descriptions, photos, maps, directions, and other pertinent details.

With a free download of the app from the iTunes App Store or the Android Market, smartphone users traveling about Lancaster County will be able to:

  • Find nearby attractions, dining, shopping, and lodging, along with relevant driving directions.
  • Search an events calendar by proximity, time, or categories like Family Fun or After Five.
  • Sort coupons and offers by type or distance from the user.
  • Utilize an interactive map that pinpoints nearby properties, coupons, and events.
  • Review sample itineraries, for nearby stops while traveling ‘round the county.
  • Access a direct line to the Visitors Center information desk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels Offer Special To Hospitality Workers

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels will offer their lowest rates of the year to all hospitality workers who visit from August 1, 2011 through September 30, 2011 as a special salute to the front-line ranks who make vacation wishes come true for millions of travelers each year.

“Travel industry employees work hard year-round to ensure that visitors enjoy their travel experiences, and they certainly deserve recognition for their contributions to the traveling public,” said Marti Alexander, chairperson of the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotel’s marketing committee. “There’s no better way to salute them than with special savings for their own travel.”

Travel Industry Appreciation Days at the seven official Walt Disney World® resorts is being offered in conjunction with the Second Summer destination-wide promotion by Visit Orlando that features the best deals of the year from August 15, 2011 through September 30, 2011. Travel industry employees who wish to take advantage of the Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels’ hospitality workers’ discount must show proof of employment with either a photo identification card or a current paycheck stub. Employees from hotels, restaurants, airlines, airports, attractions, rental car companies, cruise lines, tour operators and other travel companies are eligible for the savings. The special hotel promotional rates are only good for travel during the promotion timeframe. Space is limited, and some black-out dates apply to the following offers:

Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel

Rates start at just $55 per night, plus complimentary continental breakfast for two people daily (a $9 value). Guests can upgrade to one of the hotel’s Disney View rooms for just $5 more per night (a savings of $15 per night) and enjoy the EPCOT® Center fireworks from the comfort of their own furnished private balcony. The towering 18-story, tri-arch hotel is surrounded by 12 acres of lush, tropical landscaping that showcases the area’s natural wildlife. To book a stay with the hospitality workers’ discount, visit

Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa

Rates are from $79 per night to $89 per night based on availability. The award-winning hotel is a chic, sophisticated, decadently comfortable resort with a 10,000-square-foot spa, seven restaurants and lounges, and countless recreational activities. To book a stay with the hospitality workers’ discount, visit

Doubletree Guest Suites

Rates are 25 percent off already-reduced summer rates. As the only all-suite resort hotel inside the Downtown Disney® resort area, the Doubletree features 229 spacious suites with one and two bedrooms as well as separate living rooms with queen sofa sleepers, movies, workspaces, wet bars and much more. To book a stay using the hospitality workers’ discount, visit DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort ~ Travel Industry Appreciation Days.

Hilton Orlando Resort

Travel industry employees receive 20 percent off the best available rate at the time that they book their reservations. The 814-room property is the only hotel to offer Disney's EXTRA MAGIC HOURS benefit in which one of the Walt Disney World® Theme Parks opens each day an hour early or stays open up to an extra three hours for Hilton guests. To book a stay with the special hospitality workers’ discount, call (800) 782-4414 or visit

Holiday Inn

Rates start at $79 per night and are subject to availability. Travel must be booked at least seven days in advance. Rates are non-refundable and do not qualify for Priority Club® points. The hotel’s elegant rooms feature modern Florida décor, granite-top vanity bathrooms, walk-in showers in king rooms, a work area and either one king with sleeper sofa or two queen beds. To book, visit and follow three easy steps.

Royal Plaza Resort

A special rate of $59 per night is being offered for the duration of the promotion. Each one of the hotel’s guest rooms and suites is furnished with the Royal Bed package and exceptional amenities. Hotel conveniences include wireless high-speed Internet, an on-site fitness center and several food and beverage outlets. To book, call (800) 248-7890 or visit

Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort

The Wyndham also is offering a special promotional rate of $59 per night. The hotel features Disney Character Breakfasts at the hotel three times each week, scheduled transportation to Disney Theme Parks, an aquatic center with two outdoor pools and water sports, and tennis and basketball courts. To book, call (877) 999-3223 or visit

About Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels

Downtown Disney® Resort Area Hotels ( is a consortium of seven official Walt Disney World®Resort hotels that includes: Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel, Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa, Doubletree Guest Suites, Hilton Orlando Resort, Holiday Inn, Royal Plaza Resort, and the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. With nearly 30 food and beverage outlets and restaurants, more than 3,600 rooms and scores of amenities, they offer a rate, space and menu to please every guest. Located in the heart of Downtown Disney, these properties are within walking distance of some of the area's best shopping, dining and entertainment.

Guests staying at these “Official Walt Disney World” hotels receive special privileges not available at hotels outside of the Disney Resort, such as:

  • Complimentary transportation to all four Disney theme parks, two of Disney's water parks and Downtown Disney every 30 minutes
  • Advanced tee times and discounts at all four Disney championship golf courses
  • Disney’s Extra Magic Hours (at select hotels)
  • Delivery of souvenirs purchased at the parks directly to their hotel room at no cost

To make a reservation, visit

Monday, July 11, 2011

Disney Grand Floridian Receives AAA 5 Diamond Award

Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has once again received the prestigious AAA Five-Diamond Award, the highest AAA honor a restaurant can earn. This is the 11th consecutive year the restaurant has received the coveted award. Victoria and Albert's is also the only Central Florida restaurant to hold the designation

"This furthers the reputation of the Grand Floridian as a world-class meeting and incentive resort," said George Aguel, senior vice president for The Walt Disney Company. "With its award-winning dining, casual elegance and renowned guest service, it's easy to see why the Grand Floridian is a first choice among meeting and incentive professionals."

Under the direction of Chef Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert's is one of the top dining destinations at the Walt Disney World Resort. It features an intimate dining room, a customized seven-course menu, and an award-winning wine list. The restaurant also features the private Queen Victoria's Room that can accommodate up to 10 people. The room offers a perfect setting for hosting an executive dinner or a celebration for top performers.

Victoria & Albert's reflects the refined yet relaxed elegance of the Grand Floridian, which is the flagship for the six Walt Disney World convention resorts. The Grand Floridian consistently earns top honors from the meetings industry and similar accolades from publications like Condé Nast Traveler and Travel+Leisure magazine.

To learn more about bringing a meeting or incentive program to the Walt Disney World Resort, visit or call 321-939-7221.