Monthly Archives: April 2015

SW AIR And HACU Now Accepting Applications For The Lanzate Travel Award Program

Southwest Airlines, in conjunction with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), announced that they are accepting applications for the 11th annual “¡Lánzate!/Take Off!” Travel Award program. Online applications will be accepted through May 15, 2015, at The program is geared toward Hispanic college students with economic need who pursue higher education at least 200 miles away from home. All applicants must complete an online application including an essay describing their inspiration to pursue a college degree.


Educators and education advocates from around the country will form a diverse judging panel this summer to select the 2015 Travel Award recipients. To view the criteria for the 2015 award program, please visit:SWAmedia. Each selected student winner is eligible for up to four roundtrip tickets for use by the student and/or a family member traveling to/from the university.


“Over the last 11 years, we have seen more than 700 inspirational students reach their dreams through their pursuit of higher education,” said Christine Ortega, Southwest Airlines Manager of Community Affairs & Grassroots. “We are proud and excited to once again offer this award to encourage the dreams of Hispanic students.”


“The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities is proud of its continued partnership with Southwest Airlines ¡Lánzate! Travel Award Program,” said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores. “The compelling essays of more than 4,500 students received through the years underline the importance for our students of balancing their education and their families. Through HACU’s partnership with Southwest Airlines, the cost for these students of traveling back home is eliminated, and countless families have received a way to stay connected during their higher education journey.”
More than 1,500 roundtrip tickets on Southwest Airlines have been awarded to students across the nation since the program’s inception in 2005. Learn more at NUTS About Southwest.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities represents approximately 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Information is available at
In its 44th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest operates more than 3,400 flights a day, serving 94 destinations acrossthe United States and six additional countries. Southwest service to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, begins in June 2015; and subject to government approvals, service to Belize City, Belize begins in October 2015.
Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity while over the United States. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to access streaming music provided by Beats Music or to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as nearly 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of our valued Partners. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply), and there are never reservation change fees, although fare differences might apply. In 2014, the airline proudly unveiled a bold new look: Heart. The new aircraft livery, airport experience, and logo, showcase the dedication of Southwest Employees to connect Customers with what’s important in their lives.


From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “The Southwest Effect,” a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic whenever the carrier enters new markets. With 42 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier’s performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2013 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at
Book Southwest Airlines’ low fares online at or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.

San Antonio CVB’s all new “Unforgettable Experiences” Vacation Packages

The San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau (SACVB) has a new way for travelers to authentically experience one of the greatest cities in the world. Unforgettable Experiences, an exclusive series of vacation packages, is guaranteed to help visitors create priceless memories in San Antonio, Texas.

The SACVB is the only destination marketing organization in the nation to develop these vacation packages, which take traditional accommodations and events bundles and up the ante. Unforgettable Experiences packages feature premier accommodations, epicurean discoveries, charming ground transportation, incredible event access, and more, all carefully curated to ensure the ultimate combination of ease, comfort, and cultural immersion. The simple, one-stop booking process allows the traveler to book the trip and rest easy, knowing countless key details have been expertly planned.

Each package is available for a limited time, and the current offering is a perfect example of the series’ inspired mix of exclusivity and fun: Viva Fiesta! The Royal Unforgettable Experience (April 22 – 26) gives visitors an unrivaled gateway into one of the world’s favorite parties, the legendary Fiesta San Antonio, April 16 – 26, 2015.

The Viva Fiesta! Royal Unforgettable Experience package for two includes the opportunity to:

  • Ride on a festive and colorful horse-drawn carriage in the country’s largest illuminated evening parade—the Fiesta Flambeau Parade.
  • Have VIP seats at the Battle of Flowers Parade to see the vividly decorated floats in the historic Alamo plaza.
  • Attend a private evening gala to meet Fiesta royalty and Grand Marshal John Quinones, as well as have their presence announced to the entire reception.
  • Have VIP Access and a behind-the-scenes tour at NIOSA (Night in Old San Antonio), where more than 250 elaborately decorated food and drink booths and more than a dozen nonstop-entertainment stages represent the diverse cultures and customs of San Antonio in 15 heritage-themed areas.
  • Enjoy a scenic San Antonio river cruise aboard a water taxi toward the Pearl District, a vibrant culinary section of the River Walk, to enjoy dinner at La Gloria restaurant.
  • Take a privately guided hidden-secrets tour aboard a personal Fiesta-decorated pedicab.
  • Work with a chef and bartender at Ácenar HotMex/CoolBar restaurant to make a famous drink and contemporary dish. The experience will also include lunch and dessert.
  • Attend the King William Fair and receive complimentary food and drink tickets.
  • Receive a welcome bag with Fiesta apparel and a selfie stick.
  • Stay at the ultra-luxurious Hotel Valencia on the world-famous River Walk.


New options in the Unforgettable Experiences series will be posted throughout the year. Upcoming options include this summer’s Family Fun Experiential Package, a kid-friendly dream trip featuring behind-the-scenes SeaWorld adventures, a visit to a Fiesta parade float-making workshop, honorary river barge steering duties for children, and more. This fall, a Tales From Times Past package, provides a deep dive into San Antonio’s rich history that includes a special meeting with descendants of the Coahuiltecan tribe who built San Antonio’s Colonial Spanish Missions, a meal with leaders of Mission Concepción, a curator-led visit to the Witte Museum featuring artifacts not on display to the public, an explanation of el Dia de los Muertos followed by a craft-making workshop inspired by the celebration, and so much more.


Visitors can check regularly for the latest vacation packages, and visit to explore all of the one-of-a-kind experiences waiting in San Antonio.


Washington, DC Area Hotels Win Five Awards Among Over 100 Hotels Throughout North America

Crescent Hotels & Resorts, held its Annual Leadership Conference at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel which concluded with an awards gala celebrating individuals and hotel teams among the over 100 managed properties that excel in guest service, community outreach and financial performance. Of the 31 awards given out, five were presented to hotels in the Washington, DC area.

The Community Outreach Award was given to the Sheraton Reston Hotel and Westin Reston Heights. These two hotels, adjacent to each other, are just minutes from the new Silver Line Metrorail via complimentary shuttle. “We are honored to receive this award, as it not only speaks to the culture of our hotels, but our company as well,” said Claudia Eggspuhler, Complex General Manager, who oversees both locations. “We feel it’s so important to give back to the local community and be a strong community leader.” The hotels participated in a fundraiser event nearly every month of 2014 with hotel team members volunteering their time. The nonprofit charities that the hotels assisted included: American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald Charity Homes, Brides Against Breast Cancer, Locks of Love Hair Donation, Backpack Drive, Wounded Warrior Project, Yellow Ribbon Fund, Toys for Tots and Katherine Hanley Family Shelter.

Harold Bassler, General Manger of the Hilton Crystal City at Washington Reagan National Airport received the General Manager Excellence in Sales Award. “We are particularly proud of this award because it truly showcases our commitment to our customers,” said Tim Bowes, Vice President of Sales. “With our well-known brands and ideal locations throughout the Washington, DC area, it’s easy for our sales teams to bring groups and corporate travelers to our hotels. However, it’s the strong dedication from our general managers that insure the highest level of service is given to our guests once they arrive, and that’s what keep our clients, groups and individual travelers, coming back to our hotels year after year.”

The 2014 Crescent Brightest Star for Leader of the Year Award was given to Butch Tamayo, Banquet Manager at the Sheraton Reston Hotel. “Butch has been with the hotel for over ten years and works closely with all departments of the property to be sure every catering event guest receives the utmost in service, “said Eggspuhler. “He is always going the extra mile. Many of our business and social events come back to the hotel because of Butch.” When given his award, it was noted that while Tamayo’s responsibility is at the Sheraton Reston, he is always the first to volunteer to assist at the hotel’s sister property, The Westin Reston Height, whenever needed – even on his days off.

Marje Jones, also a member of the Reston hotel complex, received an award thanking her for her two years of service on the Sales Marketing And Revenue Team (SMART) Council. Jones holds the position of Complex Director of Sales and Marketing, managing the sales team members for both locations. “The fact that Marje has her hands full, but is still willing to volunteer her time so that all our hotels can benefit from her hospitality expertise shows the kind of person she is,” said Lovell Casiero, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Crescent Hotels & Resorts, who credits the growth of the management company in large part to the high level of talent the company attracts. “I’ve never worked for a company where so many people are willing to work beyond the scope of their own positions, to help their colleagues and the company be successful,” added Casiero.

The last award of the night given to a Washington, DC area hotel was Most Improved Guest Service Score, presented to the Hilton Crystal City at Washington Reagan National Airport team and accepted by Harold Bassler. Less than a year ago, the hotel completed a $12M renovation, including a dramatic refurbishment of the hotel’s 393 guest rooms, convention and meeting space, lobby level as well as having introduced a new food and beverage concept, Oasis, geared to exceeding the needs of today’s traveler. “While our guests love the new look of the hotel, located just over the river from Washington, DC,” stated Sami Zeitoun, Vice President of Operations, “behind the scenes, our team at the Hilton worked diligently to transition the hotel to the gem it is today. We are all very proud of how hard the hotel team worked to usher in an even higher level of guest service for the hotel to match the exciting major physical enhancements of the property.”

Crescent Hotels & Resorts operates over 100 hotels throughout North America, including 15 hotels in the Washington, DC area.


Stay in Washington DC includes Crescent Hotels & Resorts’ hotels located in and around Washington, DC. These properties are internationally recognized brands including, Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, Westin, Wingate by Wyndham, Radisson, Cambria Hotels & Suites and Best Western. Most hotels are in walking distance to a Metrorail or offer complimentary shuttle service that links guests to the city’s world renowned Metrorail network. All locations offer various dining, shopping and entertainment options just minutes away via walking, complimentary shuttle or Metrorail. Several locations offer award winning restaurants right inside the hotels. For more information,, like on, follow on, follow on Instagram, subscribe on YouTube and connect on Google+. #StayinWashDC


Crescent Hotels & Resorts is a nationally recognized, top-5 operator of hotels and resorts. Crescent currently operates over 100 hotels and resorts in 36 states in the US and 4 provinces in Canada. Crescent is one of the few elite management companies approved to operate upper-upscale and luxury hotels under the brand families of Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, Hyatt and IHG. Crescent also operates a collection of legendary independent hotels and resorts. Crescent’s clients are made up of hotel REITs, private equity firms and major developers. For more information, please visit

The Convention Industry Council (CIC) responds to Governor Mike Pence in response to Indiana’s RFRA law

Dear Governor Pence:

On behalf of the Convention Industry Council, I respectfully request that your office continue to work with the general assembly and the hospitality community in the state to adopt corrective language that clarifies that the law does not allow discrimination of any kind against any segment of the population. The Convention Industry Council represents 33 associations in the meetings, conventions, exhibitions and travel industry who collectively represent more than 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry.

An unintended consequence of this law has been the reaction of many businesses who are considering not holding future meetings and events in Indiana. Not only would this be harmful to economic well-being of the state, but it would injure the very people who are employed by the hospitality industry and who may be subject to discrimination due to this legislation.

Meeting destinations in Indiana have a reputation for delivering world-class hospitality and service to all visitors and meeting attendees. This legislation does much to harm the view of Indiana as an inclusive and welcoming community.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.


Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP
Chief Executive Officer