Monday, February 16, 2015

Keeping Hospitality in the Family!

Simon received a very special guest last week, when his second cousin, Karl Hudson, dropped in to see him on campus. The two didn’t know each other existed until a few years ago. Karl – apart from being a top hotel executive – is a keen genealogist, and found Simon as he researched the family tree. Karl is currently Marriot’s Area Vice President for Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. He speaks five languages including Mandarin, so he was very comfortable conversing with the Center’s Associates, Fang Meng and Kevin So. He was down in Florida with other Marriott leaders to explore the DNA of innovation. Coincidentally, innovation is the topic of the conference that the SmartState Center will be putting on in August. Partners for the conference are the International Institute for Foodservice Research and Education, the University of Aruba – and Marriott! Watch this space for more details.

Monday, February 2, 2015

SmartState team wins new grant!

The SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism is delighted to announce the winning of a new $38,200 grant from the City of Columbia to examine the effectiveness of the use of hospitality tax (H-tax) dollars. The City has been collecting and allocating H-tax dollars for eleven years, generated by a 2% tax on prepared food and beverages sold in the city. Collections are used to promote tourism to help attract visitors to the region with the goal of increasing the region’s economic base. In 2014-2015, 96 organizations received grants ranging from between $2,000 to $280,000 for a total of $2.37m. One of those recipients was the Auntie Karen Foundation who will be bringing in 10-time GRAMMY Award-winner Chaka Khan to Columbia on February 20th at the Koger Center (see picture above). The SmartState Center has been engaged by the council to serve as an impartial, external body to provide assessment and research services that will ultimately result in the development of an assessment tool to assist the H-Tax Committee in efficiently and effectively evaluating organizations and events that receive H-tax funding. The SmartState team will also provide recommendations to the council on tangible ways to improve the H-Tax process to optimize the use of funds to both improve the quality of life of the community, and to increase revenue by attracting additional visitors to Columbia.