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October 20, 2016
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Roundup: New York Debuts “New” New York City at IMEX, Marriott Returns to Athens




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New York City’s new destination marketing campaign at IMEX America, Marriott’s return to Athens and a GBTA Foundation study on the impact of the U.S. presidential election on business travel are the meetings and events industry headlines to watch today. 

New York Shows Off “New” New York City at IMEX America

At IMEX America, NYC & Company, New York City’s destination marketing organization, is showcasing the “New” New York City campaign to meeting planners in attendance. 

Leading the growth of new venues is this year’s announcement by Governor Cuomo’s office of the Javits Center expansion, which will add more than 1.2 million square feet of event space in the coming years, including the largest ballroom in the Northeast at 60,000 square feet. Ground breaking for the expansion of the Javits Center will commence by year’s end. 

In 2015 a record 6.1 million meeting and convention delegates visited the city’s five boroughs. In terms of hotels, the city has more than 110,000 hotel rooms throughout the five boroughs and 135,000 total hotel rooms expected by the end of 2019. Since January 2016, there have been more than 17 hotel openings, adding over 4,100 hotel rooms. 

To support the city’s expanded meeting and convention offerings, there have been several new and upcoming infrastructure improvements. The 34th St./Hudson Yards subway station opened across from the Javits Center in September 2015, connecting delegates to Times Square and beyond via the 7 subway line. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, completed this past May, connects delegates in Lower Manhattan to 11 subway lines and trains to New Jersey via PATH

By the end of December 2016, the Second Avenue Subway line extension is expected to open on Manhattan’s east side, while Citywide Ferry Service will provide delegates access to venues around 21 landings throughout the five boroughs by 2018. Late last month, Governor Cuomo unveiled the latest renderings for the redevelopment of Penn Station, expected to be modernized and expanded by the end of 2020. In addition, LaGuardia Airport broke ground this summer on a comprehensive redesign into a single main terminal and is expected to be rebuilt by 2022, complete with an AirTrain link to Manhattan. Free wireless Internet access throughout the City has been expanded, thanks to more than 500 state-of-the-art LinkNYC kiosks that have been installed throughout the five boroughs. 

Marriott Returns to Athens

In hotel news, Marriott International has announced plans for its Marriott Hotels brand to return to Athens in 2018. 

As part of a new agreement with Chandris Hotels, operators of the Metropolitan Athens Hotel, that property will undergo a $15 million transformation and debut in 2018 as the 366-room Athens Marriott Hotel

The hotel will have two contemporary restaurants, a rooftop bar, fitness facilities, a swimming pool and a meeting space that can be customized with Marriott's MeetingsImagined.com service. The hotel is located on the busy artery Syngrou Avenue, opposite the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, a cultural complex designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano that houses the National Library of Greece and the National Opera.

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GBTA: U.S. Election Slowing Business Travel Growth

A new study from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), suggests that the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming presidential election, as well as sluggish global expansion, low inflation, weak investment and choppy geopolitical conditions, are slowing business travel volume and spending growth. 

According to the GBTA Foundation’s latest forecast for business travel in the United States, total business travel volume is expected to grow only 1 percent this year, while spending could fall by 0.6 percent. In 2017, the GBTA forecasts spending to increase 3.8 percent, although that will largely be driven by price inflation. 

The report, GBTA BTI Outlook – United States 2016 Q3, cites three key drivers of business travel, all of which the GBTA describes as “mixed.” Indicators of business confidence remain weak but narrowly positive, which the GBTA said suggests a lack of enthusiasm for the near-term outlook. After-tax corporate profits fell for the fifth quarter straight in Q2 2016, which the GBTA said could translate to continued tighter expense controls, slow capital spending and constrained growth for the rest of the year. On the other hand, profits could become positive again in the second half of this year. Finally, weakness among key U.S. trading partners, combined with a strong currency, continue to drive down export performance, the GBTA said. 

“Businesses are hiring and paying better wages, but business travel spending is stalled – something we rarely see happen,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “The ongoing global uncertainty and added heartburn from a presidential election unlike any we have ever seen are causing many businesses to stay in a holding pattern, taking an extremely cautious wait-and-see approach bordering on paranoia.”

The report is available to members on the GBTA website

In terms of the presidential candidates, a separate study by black car service GroundLink of over 300 frequent business travelers saw respondents favoring Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 66 to 33 percent. When asked “which candidate would be better for frontline airline, hotel, restaurant and car service and taxi drivers,” 64 percent of respondents picked Clinton and 33 percent picked Trump. 3 percent picked third party candidates. 61 percent of respondents also picked Clinton as the better traveling companion on Air Force One, versus 34 for Trump and 5 percent for third party candidates. 

The GroundLink survey also polled business travelers on what was the most pressing travel issue the new administration should focus on once elected. 62 percent of respondents picked terrorism and security, followed by 10 percent for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and security lines at airports, 9 percent for airport runways and infrastructure, nine percent for roads and highways, four percent for rail infrastructure and three percent for air traffic technology. 63 percent of those surveyed said that they believe the travel industry and the jobs it provides to the U.S. economy is “extremely important,” and 36 percent said it is “somewhat important.” 16 percent of those surveyed have donated money to one of the presidential candidates. 

Have a tip on major meetings and events industry news, or an inspiring story you’d like to share? Reach out at aleposa@questex.com

And keep visiting www.internationalmeetingsreview.com for the latest meetings and events industry news, trends and updates. 


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About the Author: Adam Leposa



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