#HPN17 Winning Together

Have fun every day doing what you do. If you enjoy what you are doing, it pretty rapidly ceases to be work, it’s pretty cool to do something every day that you are having fun at! A lot of people go thru life without ever having that opportunity. We are in the best business in the world! We’ve never met a happier, more fun group of people in our lives! – HPN Global

Welcome to #HPN17

Partners Start Arriving

The day finally arrives after months of planning, the first day of #HPN17. Our partners start arriving early to the beautiful host city and by evening, we are kicking off our Annual Partner Conference with a fantastic reception by our host the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

We can feel the anticipation of another great event as the main conference theme “Relationships Matter, Winning Together” can be felt all throughout the day.

#HPN17 Day 1

As we inch closer towards the “Opening Act” attendees are greeted with The Buena Vista World Famous Irish Coffees brought to us by our partners at San Diego Tourism Authority. Bill Kilburg aka BK tells the story of the time they were in San Fransico for a site tour of the city to determine the location of this event. During the tour, a member of the San Francisco Travel team took the HPN crew to the Landmark “Buena Vista” Restaurant for a post-tour pick me up. As they sat there enjoying their Irish coffee, BK suggested that we hire them to provide coffees for all of our attendees before the General Session. And like that, magic happened.

The “Opening Act”

The #hpn17 LIVE Experience. Thank you, Dr. Sean Stephenson, for sharing your incredible story!

Individual Appointments between our associates and partners kicked off around 1 pm and featured a reverse trade show where hotel partners moved around the room meeting with HPN Global associates whom they had made appointments with leading up to the event. This opportunity, for some face to face time, was enhanced by a contest to see what HPN Global associate could decorate their table the best. We saw some interesting and creative tables and in at least one case, no table at all!

Nark-bice-hpn-global
Mark Bice really gets into the San Fran spirit with his “hippy” vibe.

Check out the virtual tour of the Individual Appointments sponsored by Wyndham Hotels

#HPN17 Day 1 Recap

#HPN17 Day 2

Day 2 of #HPN17 featured a massive teambuilding experience that featured a walking adventure through Chinatown which ended with a culinary experience at China Live, brought to us by our partners at San Francisco Travel

<

The day and conference ended as it usually does for these conferences, with Club HPN Global sponsored by Access DMC. This evening of great food and entertainment is a great way to end a busy and event-filled few days. As always, HPN Global once again delivers by standing behind our core principles, “People do business with People they like,” and “Relationships matter.”

What a show in San Francisco—thank you, everyone, who joined us to spend a few days in the Bay area enjoying this great city and spending amazing time with our associates and partners “relationship building.” Our business is all about relationships and our Partner Conference is just another way we celebrate. Celebrate our industry, our business, our associates and our partners.

Thank you.

Post Hurricane María – Puerto Rico

Post Hurricane María Statement
Milton Segarra
President & CEO, CDME

In our goal to keep you updated on our news and plans, we are pleased to share the week’s positive news for our industry – more cruises have been arriving in our ports; more attractions are opening; more hotels are accepting new reservations; and San Juan was just recognized by Lonely Planet as one of the World’s Top 10 Cities for Travel in 2018!

A list of attractions including the Bacardi Welcome Center, Plaza Las America’s and Mall of San Juan, and many of our water sports venues can be found here with opening dates from now to the end of December. San Juan’s hotels continue to post opening dates (please click here for exact dates per the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), power (by generator) continues to keep the lights on in many of our hotels, gas lines continue at a normal level, the port is fully operational, the airport is fully operational and open 24 hours – by the end of November we will have more than 700 domestic and international flights daily.

Additional service status can be found at status.pr for daily updates.

We are also pleased that the Puerto Rico Convention Center will resume its schedule of conventions in January, kicking off with the region’s largest tourism marketing event, The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace, January 30 – February 1. CHTA has expressed confidence in the readiness of Puerto Rico to host in January. Last year more than 1,100 delegates from 31 countries participated in more than 10,000 pre-scheduled appointments.

Our calendar of events remains intact and you will have the opportunity to hear personally from us at upcoming trade shows, conferences, and events. Please click here for the list: http://puertorico.simpleviewcrm.com/webapi/rsvp/v2/. Next week we will be participating in TEAMS, the world’s leading conference and expo for the sports-event industry. We will be sharing updates on our sporting venues, many which are, like our convention center, being used by the military and/or as collection centers. A complete list of those facilities and their availability for groups can be found here.

As a part of our engagement phase – interacting with the industry and media on a consistent basis – we are continuing to ask for input on new ideas, new approaches and new commitments that we can work on together and share in the anticipation of relaunching and rediscovering Puerto Rico.

Many continue to ask how they can help or contribute. We continue to provide the link to United for Puerto Rico, an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María. Please click here.

We intend to keep you updated on our progress in real time – keeping you informed, engaged and connected. As you know, Puemeetingso has always been one of the most desired meeting and convention destinations and we intend to continue the same tradition soon.

HPN Global Hotel Database

Hotels Impacted by Hurricane Irma

Getting the most out of your frequent flyer miles

Almost everyone in the industry has a varying amount of frequent flier miles because of the traveling that we typically do in the course of our jobs. Some people stockpile them to use for a future trip, some spend them on non-travel related things like magazines, and some people use them sporadically for domestic travel.

Destination Review: Havana, Cuba

I have wanted to visit Cuba for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, as an American, this was not really possible for much of my life. Sure, I could have snuck in from Mexico or one of the other Caribbean islands, but the risk/reward factor was very lopsided. Thanks to the US embargo put in place in 1960 after many US interests there were nationalized, the embargo was expanded in 1962, and expanded further by the Clinton Administration in 1999, Americans have been pretty much forbidden from spending any money in Cuba. The US still holds about 6.5 billion dollars’ worth of claims due to this nationalism. It is still officially a socialist country, but is changing to be more accommodating to entrepreneurs and businesses.

But in the last few years, the relations between the US and Cuba has eased significantly, to the point that Americans are now free to go to Cuba, spend money, and bring back cigars and rum. You still have to clear a few hurdles but it is now incredibly easy to get down there. I will talk a little about the hotels, but a lot about the process needed to get down there and enjoy this amazing destination. Pure tourism is still not allowed, but there are 12 permitted reasons to travel, and a lot of latitude with these reasons. Educational Exchange and People to People exchange is probably the easiest one to fulfill, as you will be very educated about Cuba by visiting there, and encounter a lot of lovely citizens of their country.

havana cuba buildings color

There are now multiple US airlines that fly to Havana. Many come from Miami, but Alaska Airlines does one from LA, American has one from Charlotte and four from Miami. Delta has Miami, New York, and Atlanta. Jet Blue flies to Havana from Fort Lauderdale, New York, and Orlando, while Southwest has Fort Lauderdale and Tampa flights to Havana. Spirit, United, and Frontier also have flights to Havana. When booking your flights, you will apply for your Cuban Visa with the airline. The cost is 50 dollars, and the airlines must add another 25 dollars to your ticket to cover your health insurance while you are in Cuba. You must keep your boarding card with you at all times, as this serves as your proof of insurance.

Almost no US credit or debit cards will work in Cuba, and even if they did, almost no establishments will ever take cards for anything. Bring plenty of cash, and convert it at the airport, bank, or hotel. There is a 10% penalty for exchanging US dollars into Cuban Pesos, but the exchange rate is close to one to one after that. Getting Euros from your bank might be cheaper, depending on how much you are charged for foreign currency there. Just be aware that it is almost completely a cash economy for everything, and bring more cash than you think you need. Not kidding about this at all.

The Havana airport is fairly small, but very functional. It is about 20-25 minutes to downtown. As you might guess, there are few western hotel brands there. There are many Melia hotels, a really nice Iberostar one right on the main square of Havana, and a new Kempinski that is opening soon across from the Iberostar. All are five star hotels, but that is probably the equivalent of our two and a half to three star properties. There are also many smaller boutique hotels, as well as hundreds of houses and rooms on Airbnb. If you use these smaller hotels or private rooms, be sure to get the address information in advance in English and Spanish, print it out, and keep it with you at all times. Like most countries, the odds of getting a taxi driver who speaks no English is fairly high. I did find that they did not know the brand names of the hotels, but when I would say Central Parque Hotel (Iberostar), they knew instantly what I was talking about.

Telecommunications is a challenge, but I did not visit Havana in order to stream movies on Netflix. Some hotels include access to internet in the room rate. Others will charge for access. In either case, they will give you a card with 12 numbers as the user name and 12 numbers as the password. When you connect, you will be able to stay online for an average of five to ten minutes at a time. Connection speed is about what you had with AOL or Prodigy in the late 1990s. It worked for what I needed, which was to check emails, upload pictures to make my friends insanely jealous, and text with my wife. Your cell phone will cost you an absolute fortune if you try and use it, average is about three dollars a minute to use it and data is also terribly pricey. Best to keep it on airplane mode and use it as a camera if you do not have a real one. It actually was pretty nice to be able to unplug and disconnect from the world for a while, and really have some great conversations with undistracted people.

american car havana sunset

This was the 60th country I have visited, and I would say with zero hesitation that it is the safest one to which I have been. At one point, I walked by myself, 13 blocks back to my hotel, well after midnight and felt safe and secure the entire time. There is no US or international city where I would do that. There has never been a time that I have felt more safe walking around a city than I did in Havana last week.

havana waterway

The people of Cuba are amazing, friendly, and enthusiastically enjoy life. Everywhere I turned, there was amazing music being played, people laughing and dancing, and they all helpfully answered all of my questions. Interacting with the Cuban people was one of the highlights of the trip. You will miss so much if you just visit a city without getting to know the people. The food was unbelievably good, from fresh caught fish, to fried pork, and everything in between. This is certainly a place that you can eat well, and most places it was very inexpensive. I found a new favorite drink while there, the Rum Collins.

There is no place I have visited that has such amazing and beautiful architecture as Havana. Everywhere you turn, there are stunning buildings from the first half of the 20th century. As a huge architecture nerd, it was one of my favorite places. Many buildings are in a state of disrepair, but the whole canvas is just fascinating. I loved taking pictures of the classic cars in front of exceptional architecture. It just felt like real and authentic Cuba, from a bygone era. The colors and designs of the buildings, and the allure of the old cars made everything a feast for the eyes, everywhere you turned.

Because of the embargo, it was impossible to import any US cars for the last 50 years. So there are thousands of simply gorgeous classic American cars from the late 50’s and early 60s on the island. It is easy to rent one for the day, and have your driver take you on a true and authentic Cuban day.

american cars havana cuba

We went out to Ernest Hemingway’s house, about 30-45 minutes outside of Havana. This was where the legendary author lived off and on for many years beginning in 1939. Highly recommend visiting here when you come to Havana. On the way to his house, driving a 1960 Buick, we stopped and played baseball with some kids near there. Having drinks at the outdoor bar while listening to a Cuban band, was a most pleasant way to while away the day. On the way back, after a three hour lunch that was beyond fantastic, we stopped and bought some cigars and rum. Not sure it is possible to have a more enjoyable day than what we had on Saturday.

In downtown Havana, there are two iconic bars you must visit, Sloppy Joes and Floridita, the home of the Daiquiri. They are within easy walking distance to the Museum of the Revolution, another must visit.

In closing, Havana is a must visit place. It was not just like visiting another country, it was like visiting another time. It truly had everything you want in a destination. Art, architecture, music, great food, amazing people, rich culture, safety, authenticity, and an overall sense of true wonder while exploring. You can sense that it is on the cusp of change, perhaps very rapidly over the next few years. So go now, before the changes, and experience one of my now favorite places I have visited.

All photos taken by Timothy Arnold in May 2017.

Timothy Arnold, CMP, CMM
Regional Vice President
Hospitality Performance Network – HPN Global

Congratulations, Tulcy!

Hotel Meeting Trends Survey Results

HPN conducted a quick survey on hotel contracts and hotel trends. The goal was to identify any emerging trends in the way hotels do business. Don’t get caught off guard by a new charge or higher rate. Take a look at what a few of our associates are seeing in the industry.

Timothy Arnold
Hotels seem to be trying to get meeting room rental for everything now. It used to be only international hotels, but now it is everywhere. When I get the rental removed, the hotel is often less likely to negotiate on other things, as they feel that they have already given a lot of ground.

Mark Dallman
Parking charged in Vegas, meeting room rentals increasing everywhere, resort fees increasing or being added to non-resort properties, service charges increasing. All ways for hotels to find additional revenue sources.

Lynn Ann Perretta Wagner
Furniture Removal Fees for outdoor events. Additional Lighting necessary in many cases which in turn ups your AV or Decorator budget. In addition to hefty min. service charge of 26% in some areas of the county.

Jaci Bidanec
Daily attrition vs cumulative.

Steven Scatino
Transient rates are up over $30.00 higher than group last reported hotels are not allowing groups to increase their blocks over the contracted numbers without paying hefty increases

Paul Miller
Properties’ Service Charge Increase. Was told by one branded hotel company that they are increasing service charge amount to 25% at all properties – as of 6/1.

Bill Kilburg
Long article on a Las Vegas hotel company bankruptcy in today’s WSJ but buried in the middle is the fact that they have raised hotel room rates at 3 times the national average. 16% increase in realized rate in the last year!

Hospitality Performance Network Global
Tap into HPN Global’s vast network of corporate conference venues and services — with a personal touch. Let HPN plan your event, and you’ll experience concierge service from start to finish. Get started now