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Scandic Acquires Rica Hotels: 72 New Hotels in Norway and Sweden

Scandic has entered into an agreement to acquire Rica Hotels. With the addition of 72 Rica hotels to its existing portfolio, Scandic further strengthens its position as the leading hotel chain in the Nordic region. In Norway alone, Scandic’s coverage will be increased by 65 hotels, thus becoming a nationwide chain.

Acquiring Rica Hotels marks an important milestone in the development of the Scandic group, which has implemented a number of measures in recent years to strengthen its offering across the Nordic region.

“With the acquisition of Rica, we will rise to a new level in the Nordic hotel sector,” said Frank Fiskers, President & CEO of Scandic. “We will strengthen our portfolio with 72 highly regarded Rica hotels in attractive locations, and our guests will soon be able to choose from 223 hotels throughout the Nordic region. We expect to host 25,000 guests every single day, and 13,000 skilled and motivated team members will do their very best to give our guests a pleasant and memorable stay.”

Today, Scandic has 151 hotels in the Nordic region, including 19 in Norway, while Rica Hotels’ portfolio currently includes 65 hotels in Norway and 7 in Sweden.

An excellent home and partner for the Rica hotels

“We’ve found an excellent home and partner for the Rica hotels and Rica employees,” said Rica founder Jan E. Rivelsrud. “Together, I am convinced that our companies will form an even more inviting presence in the Nordic region, with a solid basis for continued growth and a commitment to the further development of tourism in our markets. Rica and Scandic complement each other geographically and culturally, and will together provide our guests with a larger and even more attractive offering. Rica’s attractive market position in Norway complements, Scandic’s overall position in the Nordic region. All Rica and Scandic team members take great pride in providing superb hospitality and dedicate themselves each and every day to giving their guests the most enjoyable hotel experience possible.”

The Rivelsrud family, which currently owns Rica Hotels, will continue its involvement in the hotel sector through Rica Eiendom Holding. This company owns 20 of the hotel properties in the Rica Hotels portfolio, which will continue to be operated with Scandic as leaseholder.

“This is a strategically important and forward-looking move,” said Svein Arild Steen-Mevold, Country Vice President of Scandic in Norway. “Combining with Rica will create a truly nationwide chain in Norway and increase our presence in Sweden. We look forward to continuing to the development of our business and creating an even better guest experience in years to come."

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval in Norway and Sweden. Following completion of the transaction, it is expected that there will be an orderly transition of Rica hotels to the Scandic brand.

Inet and Svenska Mässan Launches Game and Computer Fair in 2015

Swedish computer dealer Inet and Svenska Mässan are now developing an ambitious event about gaming and computers. At the fair Gothenburg Games, which is held 20 to 22 February 2015, the visitors will get to test all the latest products and games, be entertained, educated at seminars and also meet the big stars of gaming.

"We want to attract a much wider target group than the computer and gaming enthusiasts by giving them an entertaining opportunity to test all new and fun products. In cooperation with Svenska Mässan in realizing this three-day event, we believe that new customers will find us," said Johan Wahlberg, Marketing Manager at Inet.

Computer dealer Inet is now cooperating with Svenska Mässan to create the largest gaming and computer fair in West Sweden. Similar initiatives exist in other parts of Sweden, but the ever growing interest in gaming and computers demands yet another large scale event.

"Today there is no great venue for gaming in West Sweden and this is our way to contribute to establishing a gaming and computer fair in Göteborg. We experience a craving to test and feel all new products and also to meet the big stars of gaming. This we know by implementing events in our own stores over the years which have been incredibly popular," said Wahlberg.

A flying start

"To work with a proficient company like Inet is central in building Gothenburg Games. With Inet’s knowledge, not only about the products they sell but also what the target groups gaming and computer enthusiasts are curious about and want to experience, we believe in a flying start for the new fair Gothenburg Games," said Fredrik Egelstedt, Exhibition Manager Gothenburg Games at Svenska Mässan.

At Gothenburg Games Inet will conduct its own activities and smaller events, and in addition, Inet will build a comprehensive and experience filled game and computer store at the center of the fair.

"When you get to test and feel brand new products, a lot of people also want the opportunity to buy. We will have lots of special offers onsite and do our best to give all visitors the best possible experience of Gothenburg Games," said Wahlberg.

Gothenburg Games will be held Friday to Sunday, 20 to 22 February 2015 at Svenska Mässan in Göteborg.

Passenger Demand Maintains Historic Growth Rates in 2013

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced full-year traffic results for 2013 showing a 5.2% increase in passenger demand compared to 2012. The 2013 performance aligns with the average annual growth rate of the past 30 years. Capacity rose 4.8% and load factor averaged 79.5% up 0.4 percentage points over 2012.

Demand in international markets (5.4%) expanded at a slightly faster rate than domestic travel (4.9%). Strongest overall growth (domestic and international combined) was recorded by carriers in the Middle East (11.4%) followed by Asia-Pacific (7.1%), Latin America (6.3%) and Africa (5.2%). The slowest growth was in the developed markets of North America (2.3%) and Europe (3.8%).

"We saw healthy demand growth in 2013 despite the very difficult economic environment. There was a clear improvement trend over the course of the year which bodes well for 2014. Last year’s demand performance demonstrates the essential and growing role that aviation-enabled connectivity plays in our world. And with system-wide load factors at 79.5% it is also clear that airlines are continuing to drive efficiencies to an ever-higher level," said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Helsinki Travel Marketing Ltd is Now Helsinki Marketing Ltd

Helsinki Travel Marketing Ltd has extended its business operations and changed its name to Helsinki Marketing Ltd in mid-January. Helsinki Marketing Ltd is in charge of the operative city marketing operations, including tourism, congress, event and business marketing and the application procedures of major events and congresses, as well as tourist information services and some of the city’s event productions. The fully city-owned company works closely together with the Helsinki City Executive Office’s Economic Development division. The Economic Development division’s city marketing department, which aims to promote the attraction and reputation of Helsinki, is in charge of the operational strategy.

In connection to the renewal of the City’s central administration, 23 employees from the former Helsinki Tourist & Convention Bureau, Event Unit, Economic Development Department and International Department transferred to the company, increasing the number of the company’s permanent employees to nearly 40. During the summer season, the amount of staff nearly doubles, as Helsinki Helpers and summer workers of the tourist information services begin their work. Tuulikki Becker continues as the CEO of the company.

An extensive group of tourism businesses, event organisers and other business representatives are included in the company’s vast partner network.

“Helsinki is being advertised comprehensively, regardless of whether we are promoting tourism, events or the city’s business life. The renewed company reinforces our marketing operations, both nationally and internationally, and also aims to extend our partner network even further. As a company, we are able to work with other businesses more flexibly than the city,” Becker said.

Together, Inspiration and Welcome

In addition to Management, the company has three units: Together, Inspiration and Welcome. The assignments of the Together unit include the management of customerships, marketing operations and partnerships in Finland and abroad, as well as applications for congresses and major events. Vappu Mänty is in charge of the unit's operations. The Inspiration unit is in charge of marketing campaign planning and implementation, the Visithelsinki.fi website and other online channels of the company, marketing publications, event productions and PR operations. Maarit Pitkänen is in charge of the unit's operations. The Welcome unit manages tourist information services and their sales operations. Sanna Salonen is in charge of the unit's operations.

Last year, over 806,000 customers visited the tourist information centres managed by the company in Pohjoisesplanadi, railway station, Hernesaari and the airport, which was 90,000 more than the previous year. Helsinki Helpers served almost 158,000 customers, between June and August, on the streets and at the Information point on the Market Square.

The official Helsinki tourism website, Visithelsinki.fi, had approximately 1.5 million individual visitors, which was about 400,000 more than the previous year.

The company offers advice to event organisers and implements some of the city’s own events, such as New Year at the Senate Square, Lux Helsinki urban festival of light, Helsinki Day and the Independence Day celebration for fourth graders, which have hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

In regard to business marketing, the company will be in charge of the joint stand of Helsinki and Finland during the MIPIM real estate show in Cannes.

Copenhagen: A City in Demand

The number of bids and leads won in 2013 show that event organisers are in no doubt as to Copenhagen's appeal. A record number of both international conventions and corporate events have chosen Copenhagen to be their host city, underlining the Danish capital's position as a world class meetings destination. Copenhagen's new convention director, Jonas Wilstrup, looks forward to building upon this success.

As the books are closed on 2013, it has been another record-breaking year in terms of events secured for the future: 57 international conventions and 277 corporate events have been confirmed for Copenhagen in the years to come, which makes 2013 the third consecutive record year in terms of bid and lead wins.

In recent years Copenhagen has underlined its position as one of the world’s most appealing meetings destinations, most recently ranking number eight on the ICCA's list of 'the world's most popular convention cities’.

The success can partly be explained by the fact that Copenhagen has all the ’hardware’ securely in place: easy accessibility, world class infrastructure, state-of-the-art venues and excellent hotel facilities. And the city's hotel and venue capacity is continuing to rise.

You have to offer more than hardware

However, to stand out as a meetings destination you have to offer more than hardware, as Jonas Wilstrup, Wonderful Copenhagen's new convention director, who took up the post on 1 January, explained:

“The meetings industry in Copenhagen has done a great job developing its product over the years, making sure that the city not only offers the required hardware, but also the software. Its strong points include the various achievements with sustainable events management - the latest being the ISO-certified Danish European Union Presidency in 2012 - and the focus on meetings design, manifested in the Danish Meetovation concept.”

Copenhagen is a university city and has a long tradition as a knowledge hub with a strong reputation within clean-tech, life-tech and IT, to mention a few key fields, all of which are important when trying to attract association congresses.

The Danish capital is also known as a clean and safe destination offering a high quality of life for both Copenhageners and visitors alike, also essential for every organiser. As well as this, Copenhagen has a united meetings industry in which all the major players work together in the Meetingplace Wonderful Copenhagen network. This has significant benefits for customers. Jonas Wilstrup commented:

“The 100 most important suppliers in the Copenhagen meetings industry are united in the Meetingplace Wonderful Copenhagen alliance, making it easy for any organiser to work with us. We know each other and are used to working closely together, which means that we are more efficient and flexible. I look forward to building on our successes and to continue developing Copenhagen as a destination for international conventions and meetings.”

Photo: Jonas Wilstrup, Wonderful Copenhagen CVB’s new convention director

Detroit Metro CVB Announces Rise in Convention Bookings and Hotel Room Nights

Convention bookings and hotel room nights in metro Detroit are up for 2014, and an impressive list of major conventions are headed to the region in the coming years, the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) announced today at its 2014 Annual Membership Meeting at Cobo Center.

“The hospitality industry has gone through much adversity over the past few years, but we’ve made the turn,” said Larry Alexander, DMCVB President & CEO. “Through an economic downturn and serious financial issues in our core city, we’ve turned adversity into opportunity,” he said.

According to the DMCVB, bookings are running at 208 percent of pace for 2014 and 2015. The Bureau has confirmed 236,000 room nights for 2014 compared to 129,000 in all of 2013. Metro Detroit will host 12 multiple hotel meetings in 2014, which is more than double of what was hosted in 2013.

The DMCVB has also set an all-time record in the number of rooms occupied in the history of the region. For 2015, there are 165,000 room nights on the books with another 258,000 in various stages of the bid process. The Bureau also reported that the booking pace is ahead for 2014 through 2018.

Alexander attributes the rise in bookings in part to the expansion underway at Cobo Center and new investment from the private sector, which is transforming Detroit into a vibrant city center with considerable appeal to meeting planners. He also said the DMCVB’s marketing campaign themed “America’s Great Comeback City,” that tells the story of new development in the region, has resonated with planners and visitors.

Upcoming major conventions booked by the DMCVB sales team in 2013 include:

  • Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses International District Assembly, June 6-8, 2014 and July 24-27, 2014, 60,000 room nights and 90,000 total attendance
  • USA Volleyball Open National Championships, May 18-27, 2015, 14,000 room nights and 10,000 total attendance
  • Communications Workers of America 75th Convention, June 1-11, 2015, 8,700 room nights, 1,400 total attendance
  • American Communications Network, Inc. ACN/GE Planning, Sept. 6-10, 2017 and Sept. 4-8, 2019, 8,000-plus room nights each year and 18,000 in attendance each year
  • Automotive Services Association NACE-CARS Industry Week, July 25-Aug. 5, 2014 and July 17-28, 2015, 8,400 room nights and 800 in attendance each year
  • Nation of Islam The Saviours’ Day, Feb. 20-23, 2014, 7,000 room nights and 5,000 total attendance
  • NeighborWorks America Training Institute, Aug. 7-12, 2016, 7,800 room nights and 1,200 total attendance

Alexander also said that the Detroit Sports Commission, a subsidiary of the DMCVB, will pursue opportunities to bring individual Olympic sports organizations together and create one multi-sport competitive event in 2014, as well as pursue college events and identify new regional facilities so they can grow this important sports market in the region.

The DMCVB Annual Meeting featured an energetic five-person panel of dedicated advocates and influencers in the region including Faye Alexander Nelson, President & CEO, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy; Deb Dansby, Vice President, Rock Ventures; Sue Mosey, President, Midtown Detroit, Inc.; Melissa Roy, Assistant County Executive, Macomb County; and Bridget Russo, Marketing Director, Shinola. The panel was moderated by Christy McDonald, MiWeek Anchor for WTVS.