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Elite Meetings International Achieves Unprecedented Growth
In Less Than a Year, EMI Doubles the Size of its Advisory Board, Quadruples Website Traffic and Cements New Corporate Relationships - Hyatt, Starwood Execs Are Added to the EMI Advisory Board
Santa Barbara, CA – September 9, 2009 – On the eve of its semiannual Elite Meetings Alliance event (, Elite Meetings International (EMI) announced that its year over year growth surpassed expectations, as the company doubled the size of its Advisory Board, quadrupled its unique visitors per month to nearly 20,000 at, announced a technology partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts (NYSE:HOT), and worked to provide other corporate partners with access to planner-focused, hotel profile information and its Request For Proposal (RFP) functionality. The company also unveiled its proprietary FaceTimeTM appointment scheduling system, and expects additional new product announcements in the coming weeks.

“When Elite Meetings International (EMI) brought together more than 100 top meeting professionals and luxury hotels for our Elite Meeting Alliance (EMA) in fall 2008, it was not yet clear how challenging the year ahead would be,” said Kelly Foy, EMI’s chief executive officer. “We are proud that in the midst of the turmoil, we have not only continued and accelerated our company’s growth, but more important, provided new, integrated solutions to help enhance the performance of a growing number of meeting planners and hospitality professionals with the assistance of the Elite Meetings Advisory Board (EMAB).” He concluded, “As we prepare for this fall’s EMA, we look to the coming year with sound optimism and the promise of even bigger, better things to come.”

The Fall 2009 Elite Meeting Alliance will take place September 13-15 at the Boca Beach Club at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida. An exclusive group of top meeting and hospitality professionals will attend the three-day, invitation-only event that features pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings between planners and upper-upscale and luxury hotels; educational breakout sessions for CMP credit, and unique networking events and activities. Geoff Freeman, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Travel Association, has been a leading voice for the meetings industry and will be headlining the speaker lineup. More information can be found at

Starwood, Hyatt Added to the EMAB
EMI also announced the appointment of two new members to its Elite Meetings Advisory Board (EMAB): David C. Marr, Senior Vice President of Brand Management for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Gus Vonderheide, Vice President of Group Sales for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

The addition of these executives grows the membership of the EMAB to 18, more than double its size a year ago, and expands the board’s supplier voice as the business continues moving forward. The EMAB includes executives from companies and brands including Charles Schwab & Co, Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Hess Corporation, Nike Inc., Symantec, and VMware,.

“We are pleased to welcome David and Gus to the EMAB at a moment of unprecedented and dymanic growth for Elite Meetings,” said Andy Anderson, a founding member of the EMAB and Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, for Destination Hotels & Resorts. “At a relatively young age and with an amazing new member growth rate, EMI has emerged as the preeminent meeting planning resource organization, which has changed the way luxury hotels interact with meeting planners. Foremost among the innovations is EMI’s property certification process, meeting planner interactive sessions and their progressive and contemporary on-line presence.” He concluded, “As an advisory board member I have been both energized and amazed by EMI’s development of new and innovative tools that bring the planner and supplier together as a working unit, in the pursuit of better and more focused meetings.”

Web Traffic, Partnerships Validate EMI Growth
During the first half of 2009, EMI also notched exponential growth in traffic to its website,, and cemented relationships with leading industry brands.

“Our most recent statistics indicate that unique visits per month to have more than quadrupled when compared to this time last year,” said Brad Pirman, EMI’s chief information officer. He concluded, “With the site’s combination of information, resources, and commission-free RFP tool, we are confident the growth will continue to accelerate.” is an interactive site that provides a forum for meeting professionals and upscale to luxury hotels to interact, share leads and information, and transact business. The site has won numerous awards and is a trusted resource for thousands of industry professionals.

Also in the first half of 2009, EMI announced a partnership with Starwood Hotels & Resorts for the redesign and re-engineering of the company’s Starwood Convention Collection (SCC) website, In addition, Elite’s certification process and its “Elite only” search option functionality continued to gain acceptance among major players in the industry.

EMI is scheduled to announce additional innovations and partnerships in the weeks ahead.

About Elite Meetings International
Based in Santa Barbara, Elite Meetings International (EMI) provides integrated solutions to enhance the performance of meeting and hospitality professionals. EMI supports this community through a combination of innovative technology, direct sales support, customized marketing programs and face-to-face business-building events. Additionally, the company’s Web site serves as a commission-free RFP-generating tool and a comprehensive vehicle for sourcing luxury, upper-upscale and upscale properties. For additional information, please visit or call 805-730-1000.