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Making Dallas Even Better

All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Uninformed New Yorker Edition recently brought a young writer for Bustle — a site “for & by women who are moving forward as fast as you are” — on a junket to Dallas. She mistakenly believes she was visiting “the South,” and her primary experience in her 24 hours in our fair city was attending an FC Dallas game up in Frisco.

She concludes about Texas:

Lindsey and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Dallas, which felt like it was the size of a small country. Expansive views, spacious rooms, panoramic elevators, 50 stories — one wrong turn and I’d get lost for sure. But it wasn’t just the hotel that was huge. We couldn’t help but notice how larger than life everyday things were all over the city: couches, restrooms, restaurant chairs, food portions, drinks, sidewalks. Some things really are bigger in Texas.

But hair? Where was the big hair?! Is that in Houston?

In case she follows the linkback to this post, here’s what Sarah Hepola wrote for us about the big hair myth.

Airbnb Ranks Oak Lawn One of World’s Trendiest Neighborhoods in 2016

Short-term lodging service Airbnb last week put out a list of the “Top 16 Trending Neighborhoods on Airbnb in 2016.” It’s based on how much growth the site saw in bookings to those neighborhoods during 2015. The top finisher was Chūō-ku in Osaka, Japan, which accommodated 7,000 percent more travelers through Airbnb than it had the previous year.

I was surprised to find I have a personal connection to three of the 16. I lived in District VII of Budapest, Hungary, during one semester of college. I worked in the Richmond area of Melbourne, Australia, for a brief time to help finance a backpacking trip around that country. And I resided in a duplex in Dallas’ Oak Lawn for more than nine years.

That’s right: Of all the neighborhoods in all the world, Oak Lawn is the 11th-trendiest in Airbnb’s reckoning, boasting 260-percent growth in visitors. Only it’s probably not the Oak Lawn you’re thinking of. Look at the results you get when you filter for “Oak Lawn” on Airbnb’s map:

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City Convention Spending Hasn’t Boosted Dallas Hotel Business

Earlier this week, I wrote about the increasingly dismal state of financial affairs at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, and, as always, I enjoyed learning even more from the comments.

Mavdog suggested I needed to look beyond the center’s declining revenues and increasingly staggering losses and analyze hotel trends throughout the entire city of Dallas, under the theory that the Kay Bailey could be driving significant economic growth in the city’s overall hospitality industry that would more than offset its massive taxpayer subsidies. Amy S. also suggested a comparative analysis with other markets. Both comments were on point. What we needed to do was compare the growth of the hotel market in Dallas with the growth of the hotel market in the nation as a whole. Then, we could charitably attribute some or all of Dallas’ out-performance to a Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau strategy of using the convention center as an “economic engine,” following its DCVB-advocated $130 million expansion in 2003, which then triggered the need to construct a DCVB-advocated $500-million convention center hotel shortly thereafter.

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The Convention Center That Ate Dallas

A couple of weeks ago, after reading that the taxpayer-funded Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau apparently wanted to lend us the letter “D” from their “DALLAS” logo to replace the City of Dallas’ existing letter “D” logo, I got to thinking once again about the outsized influence the DCVB wields over municipal affairs.

Late last year, after Philip Jones, the DCVB’s president, tossed out a plan to have taxpayers pay for a $300 million addition to the convention center, I took a look into the finances and found that it lost $37 million per year before debt service and $54 million after interest expense — amounts that were virtually identical to its losses prior to the opening of the half-billion-dollar city-owned Omni Convention Center Hotel in 2010 (one of the primary justifications for building the hotel was that it would drive more business to the convention center and stop its losses). Some of the most interesting observations, however, came from reader comments to my post. Former city council member and the executive director of the Dallas Arts District, Veletta Lill, made the following observations:

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Family Visit to Dallas Results in Nightmarish Vision of Roving Gang of Pegasuses

Travel blogger Kari Haugeto writes today on the Huffington Post site about her recent family trip to Dallas. She’s complimentary of our city’s friendliness, skyline, decorative sidewalks, and walkability. (Yes, really: “Dallas is a walking city.”)

Granted, her trip was confined almost exclusively to downtown, aside from a jaunt out to the Texas Horse Park. Which also explains why she devotes a good amount of attention to our local fascination with the Pegasus, including the nightmarish photo illustration that her family composed (seen above).

You know, the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s campaign of setting up giant “B”s and “G”s for folks to pose for photos with is pretty well played out. I suggest they begin building giant, demon-eyed winged horses to stand beneath as the creatures glower down menacingly.

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Kiwi Edition

Stuff, a news and entertainment website in New Zealand, offers its readers tips for visiting Texas:

All the stereotypes you associate with Texas are typically accurate: cowboy hats, cowboy boots, conservative, Republican, meat lovers – with one exception, Austin. In sharp contrast to the rest of the state, this city boasts one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, many of whom are more “alternate” in their habits and include a stack of vegetarians.

Do they mean “alternative”? And how many vegetarians constitutes a stack?

Then there’s this:

Texans rarely walk anywhere. Neither do they all drive “pick-ups” or utes (Austin, in fact, has a lot of Smart cars). It’s rare to see someone taking a stroll, and they will insist you don’t either.

Yep, they nailed us.


Jordan Spieth Is Going To Bankrupt the Morning News

There was an interesting story on Poynter last week about how the Morning News covers golf. Faced with a shrinking travel budget, the paper didn’t send golf writer Bill Nichols to the Masters. Well, we know what happened there. Jordan Spieth happened. So the paper sucked it up and sent Nichols to cover the U.S. Open. The Poynter story posed an interesting question:

Will the Morning News staff the British Open at St. Andrews if Spieth wins the U.S. Open? The answer should be yes given the hype for him going into that tournament. However, the expense of sending a reporter for a week in Scotland could make the U.S. Open trip seem like small change.

I can confirm that the paper will send Nichols to the British Open. My source? Our own Nancy Nichols, who happens to be one of Bill’s sisters and who is right now teaching Bill how to get his passport expedited.

Ron Kirk Joins Company That Wants to Bring High Speed Rail to Dallas

Former Dallas Mayor and former U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk is now a senior advisor to Texas Central Railway, the private company that hopes to bring high speed rail to Texas. The news comes via a statement Kirk posted on the company’s website:

I have seen just about all of the high-speed rail systems throughout Europe and Asia, and the competitive part of me feels that if the rest of the world can do this, why can’t we right here in the United States? This along with the practical attraction to having an alternative transportation mode between two of the fastest growing economic zones in the country sparked my interest and compelled me to join the Texas Central Railway team.

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How Government Subsidies Are Hiding the Omni Convention Center Hotel’s Losses

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the financials of the Dallas Convention Center, prompted by Philip Jones’ announcement that he planned to borrow a quarter billion dollars in public money to expand the facility. To summarize, I discovered:

  • The city of Dallas is currently subsidizing the facility to the tune of roughly $53 million per annum; and
  • Three years and $500 million later, the construction of the adjacent convention center hotel hasn’t had any discernable impact on the convention center’s bottom line.

Today, I’m taking a look at the financial performance of the convention center hotel itself.

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Do Southwest Airlines’ Nice-Guy Tactics Cost It Millions of Dollars in Profit?

Ryanair is famous for its extremely cheap fares accompanied by exorbitant fees, like charging $115 to print your boarding pass for you. The airline even once proposed charging passengers to use the onboard toilet. By contrast, Southwest has resisted the industry trend to charge bag fees. Ryanair’s profits last year were 40% higher than Southwest’s. Says travel-planning website Flightfox:

In the league that Ryanair plays in, Southwest is simply too nice. Southwest maintains wholesome traditional values that when added together, end up costing them millions.

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Spirit Airlines Flight from DFW Explodes, Lands Safely

A Tuesday flight from Atlanta to DFW Airport from DFW, headed to Atlanta, had an “emergency situation” that this reporter describes as an engine exploding. The flight returned to the airport and landed safely, but before that passengers were texting loved ones (and filming without turning their phones sideways). Part of one message read, “…I love […]

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