POST LABOR DAY SCHOOL START STUDY UPDATE The Task Force to Study a Post Labor Day Start Date for Maryland Public Schools will meet on September 17, 2013, November 12, 2013 and February 5, 2014. Final Task Force recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly are due on or before June 30, 2014. THANK YOU AMERICAN EXPRESS Judy King's outstanding service as facilitator at the recent MH&LA Strategic Planning retreat was made possible by a grant program at the American Hotel and Lodging Association that is funded by American Express. A special thank you to American Express for their support on this very worthwhile project. CASINO REVENUE TO THE STATE EXCEEDS PROJECTIONS The state received $608.3 million from Maryland's casinos in the fiscal year ending on June 30 -- $76.8 million more than projected. Total payments to the state from all legalized gambling (casino payments plus revenue from traditional lottery sales) were up 35.1% despite a 2.2% drop in traditional lottery sales. GOOD NEWS FROM HOTEL GUEST SATISFACTION SURVEY J.D. Power’s latest North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study shows that guests were more satisfied with their hotel stays in 2013 than any other time since the study’s current methodology was introduced in 2006. On a 1,000-point scale, guest satisfaction improved to 777, up 20 points from 2012. INTERNET SERVICE IS STILL A PROBLEM FOR MANY GUESTS The J.D. Power’s Study also reports internet service difficulties remain the top problem for hotel guests. Among those guests who experienced problems, 31% had issues with connection and/or speed. Their overall satisfaction scores were 133 points lower than those who did not experience such problems. A LESSON LEARNED FROM THE HOTEL GUEST SATISFACTION SURVEY The study found that the number of guest interactions with hotel staff influences overall satisfaction. Overall satisfaction scores were highest among guests who interacted with four or more staff after check in. Satisfaction scores dropped when guests had no other interactions beyond the front desk staff.