With business and leisure travel still in a slump, a potential oversupply of convention centers looming in some markets, and financing for needed new hotel construction hard to find, it's a tough time to be in the CVB business. As our lead news story on page 9 details, convention bureaus in Boston and Los Angeles are under intense pressure from local governments to book more convention business, while the CVB in Miami has also found itself on the defensive, albeit for different reasons.

One creative CVB marketing effort that seems right on track: The Charlotte (N.C.) Convention and Visitor Bureau will oversee a new marketing campaign funded by U.S. Airways (the city's major carrier), Bank of America (headquartered in Charlotte), and the city of Charlotte. The campaign's goal is to boost awareness of the city's travel and tourism offerings, including a new 700-room Westin hotel across from the convention center. US Airways announced special airfare will be periodically introduced as part of the promotion campaign.

CVBs are not the only ones pressured by new economic realities. It's not a great time to be a travel agent either. U.S. carriers, struggling with billions in losses since 9/11, have finally axed agent commission fees altogether after years of limiting them. The move will surely result in a thinning of travel agency ranks, especially those that don't have a diversified client base. Our cover story (page 24) examines the fallout of recent airline cost-cutting moves when it comes to association meetings and staff travel.

Speaking of new economic realities, there may be more reasons than ever for associations to consider partnering with association management companies. Our special section on AMCs (page 41) was developed in cooperation with the International Association for Association Management Companies. The section takes a look at several important trends, including the unbundling of AMC services — an AMC can manage your trade show, for instance, and nothing else; the use of AMCs by large associations as well as small ones; and the successful drive, by IAAMC, to establish standards for association management companies, as well an AMC accreditation process.

There's a lot to chew on in this issue! As always, we appreciate your feedback, comments, and suggestions.