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In The News: Travel Industry Continues to Promote Meetings, Madonna's Fund-Raising Faux Pas

Travel Industry Combats Cancellations: As the U.S. Travel Association continues to lobby the government to support meetings and events during the recession, more statistics have emerged to illustrate how different facets of the industry are suffering. Canceled events accounted for a $220 million loss in room revenue during January and February, and Starwood Hotels—which owns the Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, and W brands—has booked 40 percent fewer group events in 2009 compared to this time last year, prompting the company to eliminate 10 percent of its staff, or approximately 6,000 employees. [NYT]

Host City Braces for G20: Protesters in London for the G20 Summit are causing quite a stir. To protect the world leaders in town for the series of meetings on the global financial crisis, London has enlisted a record number of police to maintain order. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that approximately 3,000 officers will be on patrol during the two-day summit, and that number could double, should riots erupt. [Telegraph]

Madonna Money Might Be Missing: Madonna and Gucci are both under fire after reports emerged this week that the money from the duo's glitzy fund-raiser at the United Nations last year seems to be M.I.A. Proper tax forms for Gucci or Madonna nonprofit Raising Malawi have yet to be filed, and neither group has released information about where the funds have gone. Further confusing the situation, there's speculation that charity partner Unicef didn't walk away from the event with half of the $3.7 million haul, as Gucci had previously claimed. [FOX]

Nothing Funny This April: Though the usual suspects (Google, Whole Foods) have returned this April 1 with a slew of obvious, mostly Web-based pranks, BrandFreak points out that not as many marketers are taking advantage of April Fool's Day this year. The somber economic times have prompted several brands to bow out of annual pranks. [BrandFreak]

Vanity Fair Keeps Out of Cannes: Unconfirmed reports have Vanity Fair canceling its annual party at the Cannes Film Festival. The magazine has traditionally held the event at the Eden Roc restaurant at the Hotel du Cap in Antibe on the first Saturday of the festival. [FOX]


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