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Talk of the Bay: Was your holiday party this fancy?

Chances are that your company's holiday party wasn't as swanky as the one Tampa-based Sykes Enterprises threw last weekend for 7,000 of its call center employees in the Philippines.

By Times Staff Writer
Published December 23, 2007


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Was your holiday party this fancy?

Chances are that your company's holiday party wasn't as swanky as the one Tampa-based Sykes Enterprises threw last weekend for 7,000 of its call center employees in the Philippines. The party, held at a convention center in the Manila area, featured a "Viva Las Vegas" theme with showgirls, backdrops of Las Vegas landmarks, catering by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and fabu-lous door prizes. The real show-stopper, according to one Internet report, was a raffle with three cars as prizes.

Fewer tourists came to Orlando

The heart of Florida's critical tourism industry skipped a beat last year. Orlando attracted 1.5-million fewer visitors in 2006 than the previous year, according to a study by the area's tourism bureau that was reported in the Orlando Sentinel last week. The 47.8-million visitors was 3 percent below the 49.3-million who came in 2005. That marked the first decline since 2001, when tourism nationwide tanked because of recession and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It was only the second drop in 15 years. A spokeswoman for the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau blamed economic woes such as a housing slump and rising gas prices. Domestic visitors dropped 3.3 percent. While international visitors were up slightly, the number of tourists from the United Kingdom - Orlando's most critical overseas market - was off 8.2 percent. Room rentals and record theme-park attendance, however, suggest visitor numbers will rebound for 2007, say tourism officials.

Southwest might look for an airline

Its unique culture and single-aircraft fleet traditionally made Southwest Airlines executives reluctant to consider mergers. But in his fourth year as CEO, Gary Kelly continues to show a willingness to slay sacred steers at the Dallas discounter. Last week, Kelly told the Dallas Morning News that Southwest will "probably acquire somebody" as carriers come on the market at fire-sale prices in a weakened industry. "There's bound to be a scenario that we would say, 'That scenario out of these 10, yep, that one would work for us.' " he told the newspaper. For the record, Southwest has acquired two small carriers - Muse Air in 1986 and Morris Air in 1993 - and has code-shared with ATA Airlines since 2004.

New insurance fix: concrete poles

From the "Tell Me Again How This Is a Good Thing" file: After a hurricane, insurance companies send out adjusters to settle claims. Now a California company called WindX Partners is putting up 30-foot concrete poles throughout Florida that can gauge wind speed and flood levels. The idea is once you hit a certain threshold, the insurance company pays out. There are still lots of questions, like who sets the threshold and how is that pole going to look in your back yard?

[Last modified December 21, 2007, 20:58:09]


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