Working to reverse declining bookings

SATURDAY MAILBOX

February 17, 2007

As The Sun has reported, the outlook for the citywide convention business from 2008 through 2010 is soft, and that's why the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association is taking immediate steps to fill some holes in the coming years ("Convention bookings decline," Feb. 10).

Convention business is typically booked five to seven years in advance. But there is still time to make an impact with short-term bookings.

Our strategies include adding more muscle to the sales team with one or two new sales managers in the Baltimore office and opening a Northeast sales office that will focus on corporate and pharmaceutical groups, which can book meetings in the short term.

We're also developing a trends, analysis and projections (TAP) report for Baltimore that will track booking progress monthly, identify holes in the business cycle and track our sales pace compared with that of our competition.

A destination audit is in the works as well. It will determine how our customers and stakeholders perceive BACVA and the job we are doing.

That being said, we are happy to report that our long-term future is very positive. Sales bookings have increased the past two fiscal years, and we are on pace to surpass the fiscal 2006 mark for room-nights booked. In fiscal 2006, we booked 352,603 room-nights, 87,162 more room-nights than in the previous fiscal year.

BACVA lives in a glass house, and it is our responsibility to share information, both good and bad, with our tourism partners and stakeholders.

That's why we released the booking numbers for 2008 through 2010; that's why we are conducting a destination audit to determine what we do well and what we can do better; and that's why we are developing the TAP report to track our progress.

There are no secrets in this business, and the more information we share about the business landscape, the more effective we will be as salespeople and as a destination.

Tom Noonan Ed Hale Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the president and CEO and the chairman of BACVA.

City's history merits much more respect

The reuse of old buildings, which are inherently historic, is the most sustainable, regenerative choice a building owner can make for the future health of our environment.

But I find it discouraging that, once again, the historic buildings that make Baltimore the place that it is have lost out to yet another special interest - Mercy Medical Center ("A city's treasures," editorial, Feb. 8).

The sense of place and uniqueness of Baltimore is gradually being eroded.

Disparate parties promote the value of their economic agenda, but their projects produce only a sameness of place.

Legislation enacted to cause a contemplative pause in the rush to sameness is readily swept aside.

The city's historic buildings deserve better.

They deserve more from their owners, who are the stewards of the property and its history, and from the city, which must protect its valuable built environment so that Baltimore remains a distinguishable place over the next 100 years.

The architects of Baltimore have the talent to respond but need enlightened clients and a committed city government as partners.

Robert P. Brennan

Baltimore

The writer is a principal for an architectural firm and a member of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

Bush won 2000 race under agreed rules

Contrary to popular opinion, and to an assertion in The Sun's article "Electoral College reform in Md. sought" (Feb. 7), the "legitimacy" of the 2000 presidential election was in no way diminished because the winner, George W. Bush, received fewer popular votes than the loser, Al Gore.

The outcome of any contest is legitimate if it was conducted fairly under the rules agreed upon in advance.

In a presidential election, the rules are set by the Constitution, which states that the winner of the most electoral votes wins the contest.

Presidential candidates are keenly aware of this, and campaign accordingly. And there would have been no "constitutional crisis" had not Mr. Gore, after conceding the race to Mr. Bush, decided to press for a selective vote recount only in Florida districts he had already won, in a calculated attempt to increase his count and win Florida's electoral votes.

The Electoral College is not archaic or unfair or a mistake. It is simply misunderstood.

The Framers of the Constitution balanced the interests of individuals with their collective interest as citizens of a state by granting them representation proportional to their population in the House of Representatives but giving each state two senators.

They designed the Electoral College to reflect this balance.

The fact that tiny Maryland has the same number of senators as much more populous California does not call into question the legitimacy of the outcome of votes in the Senate.

The Electoral College simply gives each voter the same electoral "pull" in selecting the leader of the executive branch as he or she has in the Senate.

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