The McAllen Hospitality Forum, chaired by Andrea Rodriguez, director of sales for Embassy Suites, has initiated several new programs and announced plans for more. Recent programs have included “How to get more business in tough times,” and “The art and Music explosion in McAllen — another reason to visit our city.”

The most recent meeting, conducted at the McAllen Convention Center on April 7, featured plans for the four new hotels which will surround the Convention Center. Brent Branham, deputy city manager, noted the goal of 600 hotel rooms “in reasonable walking distance from the Center.” There are currently two hotels slated to break ground this summer and two more that should follow shortly.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau rolled out a new “event calendar” which is emailed to member hotels starting in April. These colorful monthly calendars will have information of interest to visitors and will be posted at the front desk. The calendars are provided in an “interactive” format so each hotel can personalize them with their own event information — for example a weekly barbecue or manager’s reception.

Maritza Munoz of the Chamber will update the calendars each month and send them out to member hotels. If you have an event, of interest to tourists, that you would like included, please email your information to Maritza at mmunoz@mcallencvb.com. If your event is received in time and meets our criteria, Maritz will include it on the calendar.

A “Hotel Concierge”program is also rolling out for member hotels. This is a flyer which promotes Art Walk and seven other activities available in and around McAllen. The flyer, which is emailed to member hotels is also interactive so hotels can complete it which their own information. By combining rooms with activities, a trip to McAllen becomes even more appealing. The CVB has recruited service providers who are eager to participate in this program which will put “more heads in beds” and more customers for local business as well.

Future programs will include Police Chief Victor Rodriguez of McAllen on the subject of tourism security and how to deflect the media frenzy and scare tactics about the Border. In July, Patricia Griffin, president and founder of the “Green Hotels Association,” will speak on how to “green the hospitality industry” which reduces expense as well as make the planet better.

Any Chamber member in the Hospitality industry is invited to participate in the Hospitality Forum For more information, contact Jim Deuser at 956-682-2871 jdeuser@mcallencvb.com.