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December 18, 2014: Change in Cuba Policy Could Open Door to Tourism, Spending Down on Holiday Parties, Ownership Deal Shakes Up Las Vegas Nightlife

1. CHANGE IN CUBA POLICY COULD OPEN DOOR TO TOURISM: President Obama’s change in Cuba policy expands the types of group that may legally travel to the country, raising the possibility of the island as a destination for meetings and events in the future. New York Post: “A ban on commercial tourism from the States remains in effect despite President Obama’s plans to re-establish diplomatic ties. But the dramatic move still gives hope to travel companies that they will be able to cash in by luring American travelers to Cuba, already a hot spot for sun-starved Canadians and Europeans.”

2. SPENDING DOWN ON HOLIDAY PARTIES: Most people consider the office holiday party the biggest event of the year, according to a new survey from the online restaurant ordering site Seamless. But companies are spending less on parties this year, the survey showed. DNAinfo: “New York company parties are lighter on food than the national average, with half claiming that only finger foods would be served at the office holiday fêtes in the city. Nationwide, 41 percent of office holiday party throwers serve employees a full dinner and 22 percent do a potluck meal.”

3. OWNERSHIP DEAL SHAKES UP LAS VEGAS NIGHTLIFE: Nightlife company Hakkasan Group is buying hospitality company the Light Group for $36 million. Hollywood Reporter: “Nightclubs and day clubs attached to big name DJs and posh dining spots have become as omnipresent as slot machines in the glittery destination as casino companies looking for newer revenue from, perhaps, younger pockets avoid relying solely on what they win from gamblers.”


To promote the meeting and event industry across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, April 16 is being designated as the North American Meetings Industry Day. Meetings Mean Business will lead activities in the United States, and the Convention Industry Council will help in implementing strategies and activities. The effort is modeled on the decades-old Canadian National Meetings Industry Day created by the Canadian Chapters of Meeting Professionals International.


BOSTON:  Disney on Ice will host the "Worlds of Fantasy" mixer Monday at the Boston Harbor Hotel’s ice-skating rink. Pro skaters will skate alongside hotel guests, and kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite Disney characters.

CHICAGO:  Sugar Fixe pastry shop, devoted entirely to macarons, is now open in Lincoln Park. The bakery provides the French treats in flavors ranging from orange blossom to mocha.

LAS VEGAS:  Las Vegas has set a record for annual visitation, drawing more than 40 million people with two weeks remaining of the calendar year. The previous record was set in 2012 with 39,727,000 tourists.

Lindsey Rathjen, a senior account executive at PR firm Kirvin Doak, is leaving for a position at Sunshine Sachs in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES:  LA2015, the Organizing Committee for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, chose FiveCurrents as the executive producer for the opening ceremony, which takes place July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and will be broadcast live on ESPN.

The Ace Hotel Los Angeles is for sale less than a year after opening. Los Angeles Business Journal: "The 182-room hotel at 929 S. Broadway opened in January and quickly became a popular hipster hangout. Chicago landlord Greenfield Partners is said to be seeking $550,000 per guest room, or approximately $100 million, for the property."

The Special Event Company will produce the ninth annual Academic Event Professional Conference January 8-9 in Anaheim.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA:  Natpe has promoted Jordan Ryder to the newly created position of vice president of domestic and international programming. She will lead conference programming for the group's Miami event and work on new programming for its European event.

NEW YORK:  Flatt magazine is hosting a party for its eighth issue Friday at the Tribeca Grand Hotel. The event will launch the Cole Haan and Flatt video series called “History Begins Here.” Rose McGowan will host the event and also premiere her short film Dawn. The party will feature DJ sets by Samantha Ronson and Elle Dee and cocktails and desserts by Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi.

City Winery, the 300-seat music venue, announced a new mobile ticketing program. It  will also be available at its Chicago, Napa, and Nashville locations.

Local event listings from Masterplanner:

SAN FRANCISCO:  Vanity Fair will host a second New Establishment Summit October 6-7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Women’s Wear Daily:

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  People fortunate enough to get invited to a White House holiday party share pro tips about navigating security, the buffet table, and the line for a photo with the president and first lady with the Washington Post's Reliable Source column:

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Anna Sekula in New York.

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