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Q & A

NYC & Company CEO
Cristyne Nicholas

March 25, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

Cristyne Nicholas is president and CEO of NYC & Company, the city's convention and visitors bureau, which recently formed the Convention, Exposition, Meeting & Event (CEME) Coalition, a committee of 200 representatives from hotels, caterers, attractions, destination management companies and other industry players who are working to bring event business to New York.

BiZBash: How has New York's meeting and event business recovered since September 11?

Nicholas: With the coordination of industry leaders, the meeting and event community came together to work with NYC & Company in promoting New York City following September 11. With innovative marketing messages such as NYCPDQ [New York City Pretty Darn Quick]--in which participants pledged to return requests for proposals within 24 hours--we have been successful in maintaining market share during a difficult time.

What's the current state of the industry?

New York City's meeting and event industry is on its way back and is in fact doing better than our regional competition. Revenues are down but we're working hard to bring business back to prior levels and to exceed them. We have also succeeded in attracting existing meetings from other destinations, including the World Economic Forum, which came here from Davos, Switzerland.

How are you working with event and travel vendors in New York to bring meetings and events here?

The CEME Coalition is helping to get the word out that this is the perfect time to hold a meeting or event in New York City. We have placed more than $300,000 in pro bono advertising, engineered several email marketing campaigns and developed promotions to highlight our industry at this important time.

What are the greatest obstacles to getting meeting and event planners to bring business here?

Certainly corporations are cutting budgets, and we've got to devise ways to lure them back. But air travel is a big problem as well, with traffic to our airports down 20 percent.

How are you working with the Bloomberg administration to bring business to New York?

We are fortunate to have a leader in City Hall who understands the importance of the city's meeting and event industry to our economy. We have already partnered with this administration on numerous initiatives including bringing the U.S. Conference of Mayors here in January and hosting the successful World Economic Forum. In the coming months we will be bringing in groups of meeting planners and potential clients for mayoral briefings, encouraging them to bring their business to New York.

When do you think the industry will return to normal?

We're predicting that business and leisure travel will start recovering towards the fourth quarter of 2002.

What's your favorite annual event in New York?

Personally, the New York City Marathon, because I've run in it and it brings together more than 30,000 runners to tour all five boroughs. One-third of the participants are from New York, a third from the rest of the U.S. and a third come from virtually every other country in the world. And the Economic Development Corporation estimates the marathon is responsible for more than $100 million in spending.

On a professional level, I of course would have to say my favorite annual event is the NYC & Company annual meeting.

Posted 03.25.02

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