2006 was a turbulent year for the meetings industry, marked by an epic hotel seller's market, high fuel costs, the threat of avian flu, and travel hassles brought on by threats of terrorism. Here are six more 2006 events that will continue to influence the industry in 2007:
- Changes at the top at MPI
After a lengthy search, Meeting Professionals International in October named Tourism Toronto head Bruce MacMillan as its new president and CEO, with the goal of leading the association in a new direction. MacMillan replaced Colin Rorrie Jr., who stepped down in March.
- SITE Foundation breaks from SITE
The SITE Foundation broke away from the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives and relaunched itself as The Incentive Research Foundation, with the intent to broaden its focus to include merchandise and motivational events as well as incentive travel.
- StarCite and OnVantage merge
Two of the industry's most visible meeting technology companies, StarCite and OnVantage, announced in August that they were merging under the StarCite name.
- Hotels and unions talk
Faced with looming deadlines, hoteliers and Unite Here, the union representing hotel workers, began settling their differences. After a two-year stalemate, San Francisco hotel workers agreed on a five-year deal — retroactive to 2004 — with a group representing 13 hotels. An agreement was also reached in Chicago, wherewith more than 20 major hotels had expired.
- New Orleans is back in business
Just 10 months after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, New Orleans began hosting citywide conventions again. Despite some travel issues (the city's airport handles about two-thirds of the flights it did before Katrina), the city has since hosted dozens of large meetings.
- Hotels go smoke-free
Smoking is no longer an option at a growing number of hotels. In January, Westin, the first to institute a ban, prohibited smoking from Westin Hotels & Resorts in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Three Disneyland hotels implemented a ban in March. In October, all 2,300 Marriott International hotels in the U.S. and Canada, including its Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance brands, went smoke-free. Many independent properties followed suit.