The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has doubled its sales staff for meetings and incentives to 15, including 10 salespeople dedicated to handling bookings for the Hawaii Convention Center. Staff members are based in Honolulu, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.

HVCB Continues to Expand Services "We are greatly enhancing our Web-site capabilities over the next year," says Sandra Moreno, CMP, vice president of meeting, convention, and incentive sales, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. Improvements to www.gohawaii.com include meeting information from member suppliers with direct links to Web sites; online hotel reservations; online RFPs; a detailed calendar of same-industry events being held in Hawaii; a daily updated calendar of events; and a tip room featuring practical information and client testimonials.

All this is possible due to a major reorganization of the state's tourism industry. The newly formed Hawaii Tourism Authority is now in charge of a $60 million annual budget. Through Hawaii's first-ever competitive bid process, the HTA recently awarded three-year leisure and meeting, convention, and incentive contracts (MCI) worth $45 million a year to the HVCB. To date, the HVCB has confirmed 108 events for the center.

One of the HVCB's initiatives is a Restaurant Reservations Service that will operate at the Center during registration hours for citywide events. Member restaurants will be promoted via a touch-screen kiosk, and racks of brochures on member services and products will be displayed. HVCB staff will confirm reservations and complete a form that details the group's requirements.

*The 554-room Hilton Milwaukee City Centre has topped off a $40 million expansion to add 200 guest rooms, 4,000 square feet of meeting space (in addition to the existing 29,300 square feet), and an indoor water theme park by this month. A skywalk will connect to the Midwest Express Convention Center.

*Overland Park, Kan., plans to open a convention center in 2002. In May, the city finalized plans to bring in Starwood Hotels & Resorts to manage an adjacent 400-room property, Sheraton Overland Park Hotel. The center will feature 60,000 square feet of exhibit space, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, and 25,000 square feet of banquet space.

*At Chicago's McCormick Place, construction of a 140,000-square-foot conference center is on schedule for a fall 2001 opening. The center will offer 25 meetings rooms, totaling 22,000 square feet.

*The 200-room Park Hyatt Chicago, overlooking Water Tower Square, opened in April as a Park Hyatt flagship hotel.

*The Rosemont (Ill.) Convention Center was renamed in January to honor 12-time-elected Mayor Donald Stephens. The center has 700,000 square feet for exhibits and 52,000 square feet for meetings.

*The 369-room Doubletree O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont opened in April.

*After a renovation, the landmark Indianapolis Union Station last year reopened as the Grand Hall and Conference Center at the 276-room Crowne Plaza Hotel Union Station, with 30,000 square feet of function space.

*A 120,000-square-foot expansion of the Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome in Indianapolis will open in 2001, boosting the center's exhibit space to 400,000 square feet, including the 95,000 square feet in the attached RCA Dome. Total meeting space will be more than 140,000 square feet.

*Plans are under way for the 616-room Indianapolis Convention Center Marriott Hotel, which will be connected to the center by skywalk. It is set to open next spring with 38,000 square feet of meeting space.

*Two blocks from Indianapolis' convention center, Adam's Mark is converting an existing building to create a 280-suite hotel. The $25 million hotel is expected to open in June.

Midwest Resources * Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau

www.chicago.il.org

* Chicago Southland CVB

www.lincolnnet.net/chicago-southland-cvb

* Columbus (Ohio) CVB

www.surpriseitscolumbus.com

* Rosemont (Ill.) Convention Bureau

www.rosemont.com

* Indianapolis CVA

www.indy.org

* Traverse City (Mich.) CVB

www.tcvisitor.com

* Greater Minneapolis CVA

www.minneapolis.org

* St. Paul (Minn.) CVB

www.stpaulcvb.org

* Greater Milwaukee CVB

www.milwaukee.org

South Central *The Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Ark., will be reflagged. After a $20 million renovation, expected to be finished in September 2001, The Peabody Little Rock will offer 384 guest rooms.

*The 220-room Westin St. Louis near Busch Stadium will open in September.

*The Embassy Suites Kansas City has added high-speed Internet service to its 236 suites, 15,000 square feet of meeting space, and 24-hour business center.

*The 366-room Ritz-Carlton, Kansas City, has changed its name to The Fairmont, Kansas City, and will implement a $10 million improvement program.

*Sheraton Suites Houston opened in February with wireless, high-speed Internet access in each of 286 suites and in all public and meeting areas. Guests can obtain a wireless Ethernet card from the hotel and are charged a daily fee for the service. Guest rooms are also outfitted with a voice mail system and a pair of two-line speaker phones. The property has 8,000 square feet of meeting space.

*The 325-room Ritz-Carlton, Houston, scheduled to open first quarter 2001 in the restored Texas Company Building, will offer a spa and fitness center; high-speed Internet access in guest rooms, meeting rooms, and the business center; an 8,000-square-foot ballroom; and nine meeting rooms.

*In March, after a $6 million restoration project, Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened its 252-room St. Regis Houston, formerly The Luxury Collection Hotel, Houston.

*The Westin Stonebriar Resort, opening in August on 322 acres in north Dallas, selected Wiredinn.com to provide high-speed Internet service to guest rooms and meeting spaces. The resort will also feature a 24,000-square-foot conference center.

*The Opryland Hotel Texas recently broke ground on a 1,500- to 1,600-room hotel to be constructed at a 77-acre site on Grapevine Lake between Dallas and Fort Worth. The megahotel will have 350,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space.

*The 77-year-old, 330-room Magnolia Building reopened in Dallas in August as the Magnolia Hotel after a $40 million renovation.

*The May reopening of the 74-year-old Stephen F. Austin hotel after a $20 million restoration gave the city a new luxury boutique hotel with 191 rooms and commensurate meeting space.

*Barton Creek Resort will complete a $47 million expansion in the spring that will add 138 guest rooms, a second golf course designed by Tom Fazio, and additional meeting space to accommodate 500 people.

*The 254-room Sheraton Austin Hotel opened its IACC-approved conference center in October with nine meeting rooms, the largest of which holds 122 people theater-style.

South Central Resources Arkansas * Hot Springs CVB

www.hotsprings.org

* Little Rock CVB

www.littlerock.com

* Pine Bluff CVB

www.pinebluff.com

Louisiana * Baton Rouge Area CVB

www.bracvb.com

* New Orleans Metropolitan CVB

www.neworleanscvb.com

* Southwest Louisiana/Lake Charles CVB

www.visitlakecharles.org

Missouri * Kansas City CVB

www.kansascity.com

* St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

www.st-louis-cvc.com

Oklahoma * Oklahoma City CVB

www.okccvb.org

* Tulsa CVB

www.tourism.tulsachamber.com

Texas * Austin CVB

www.austintexas.org

* Dallas CVB

www.dallascvb.com

* Fort Worth CVB

www.fortworth.com

* Greater Houston CVB

www.houston-guide.com

* Irving CVB

www.irvingtexas.com

* San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau

www.sanantoniocvb.com