Author: Olivia Browning (page 1 of 2)

MeetingPlay’s app brings technology to event and hospitality industries

FREDERICK, MD — Some 25 years ago, Joe Schwinger was pushing his uncle’s lawn mower up and down the major streets of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Today, however, he is providing technology solutions to major corporations.logo

Mobile event and hospitality technology solutions, to be exact. But what is that, and how did the young entrepreneur make the transition from mowing lawns to providing mobile app platforms?

Schwinger’s company, MeetingPlay, provides both mobile guest engagement platforms and indoor venue wayfinding apps. One of MeetingPlay’s most popular products is its mobile event app platform, designed to build and support event and conference attendee engagement- providing tools such as live audience polling, pre- and on-site event registration, and analytics to track and gauge the success of the event.

Schwinger’s entrepreneurial spirit began blossoming around the age of 12, when he took a summer job working for his Uncle’s recycling company. The early mornings and high temperatures got him thinking that there had to be a better way to make an income.

As the next summer approached, he heard his uncle mention that it had been awhile since he had mowed his lawn. Living in Florida, Schwinger realized most lawns need to be moved twice a week due to heavy rains. It was in that moment that Schwinger started his first business. He offered to mow his uncle’s lawn and then used his mower to find other clients. By the end of the summer, Schwinger had about 70 percent of the neighborhood as clients and was mowing 45 lawns a week.

“I came from an environment where I was never given anything and I had to work hard for what I wanted,” Schwinger said. “This led me to have an entrepreneurial spirit in everything I did.”

A passion for technology

Schwinger began to take an interest in technology in college. He said before and after class he would go to the bookstore and read every book they had on technology, teaching himself the world of design and programming. To pursue his passion, Schwinger left Florida to finish school at George Washington University, where he specialized in design and development.

Schwinger was introduced to Marriott International after graduation, as he was working for one of his professors in the world of technology development. Marriott provided him with an entry point into the hospitality and events industry.

There was no such thing as ecommerce at the time, so he took on a specialist role developing ecommerce solutions for Marriott in 2004. He eventually worked his way up to director of global ecommerce services, in which he his team of 75 individuals oversaw ecommerce in North America.

While working for Marriott, Schwinger saw an opportunity to provide solutions to hospitality providers and other customers in the technology realm. He decided to leave Marriott and start MeetingPlay in 2011.

Using his knowledge of events, hospitality and ecommerce, Schwinger created a mobile event app for the Marriott Corporate Partnership Conference, which showcases hospitality technology and other solutions.

“Marriott continued to invite me back and it was my starting point in getting an opportunity to work with the company,” he said. “I then officially created MeetingPlay as a product and a company, and over the next couple of years we doubled, tripled and continue to multiply.”

The mobile event app focuses on attendee engagement, driving social activity and networking between attendees. It includes features like questions, quizzes and surveys, live polling/ARS and gamification. The app also delivers post conference data that provides clear and concise feedback.

Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Frank Leonard said that while there are about 50 to 100 competitors in the mobile event app space, MeetingPlay is unique in that it transforms its app platform to match each client’s specific needs and personalized brand.

“Most providers don’t customize the app, but we’re solution driven so that our product is very tailored to our client’s needs,” he said. “Client’s like that we are customizable and scalable, we can handle the simplest to the most complex apps.”

Some of MeetingPlay’s customers include PepsiCo, Georgia-Pacific, Marriott International and The Ritz-Carlton. Its products range in price from $2,000 to $40,000.

On Jan. 13, MeetingPlay filed a form D with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing that it had raised $1.65 million from investors. Leonard said the company is expecting another $350,000 to bring the investment to $2 million total.

“We’ve moved offices and hired seven employees since the raise,” Leonard said. “We now have 30 employees overall, with a goal to have between 45 and 50 by the end of the year.”

From events to navigation

Schwinger said as MeetingPlay is growing as the company is always on the cutting edge of technology, recently introducing tracking capabilities and iBeacon technology to its clients.

On March 7, Gaylord Hotels became the first hospitality brand to introduce MeetingPlay’s AppAtlas across its four resorts. The app utilizes iBeacon technology and indoor 3D mapping to provide guests with directions in navigating the expansive resorts, which range in size from 1,500 to 3,000 guest rooms.

Guests simply download the free Navigate Gaylord Hotels app to find step-by-step directions to their room, fitness center or the nearest restrooms. They can also use the app to find services like restaurants and shops, and to make dining reservations.

“Navigate Gaylord Hotels represents a combination of technology and ease that fits with our goal of providing flawless service to our guests,” said Mike Stengel, senior vice president of Gaylord Hotels. “The app is innovative, interactive and impactful, especially when it comes to enhancing guest satisfaction in getting from point A to point B with ease.”

The future of MeetingPlay

Based on Schwinger’s understanding of events, he knew that MeetingPlay had to take a different approach in getting people excited about attending meetings. Today, the company still faces the challenge of introducing new technology to its customers.

“If you don’t push the edge of technology in the events world you lose,” Schwinger said. “Every one of my competitors is moving at 110 miles per hour, so we need to move at 120.”

Schwinger said every other competitor has a cookie cutter approach, that one size fits all.  He believes what wins MeetingPlay the business, and what will perpetuate the company’s success, is when they ask the customer, “What problems do you have that we can solve?” Taking a step back and listening to customers has been an integrative tool to the company’s success, he said.

“MeetingPlay was started out of customer demand for products, nobody specifically said they wanted to use gamification to keep attendees involved in conferences,” Schwinger said. “I see the future where our customers need us the most. Our customers will determine our growth as we will scale to meet their needs.”

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.

Lockheed Martin’s shares fall after lower-than-expected first quarter revenue

BETHESDA, MD — Lockheed Martin Corp.’s shares dropped as much as 4 percent after the company reported first-quarter revenue of $11.06 billion,  which missed analysts’ forecasts of $11.23 billion for the period due to lower-than-expected sales.Lockheed Martin

The U.S. defense contractor’s net earnings from continuing operations fell to $763 million from $806 million in the year ago period. Adjusted earnings per share was reported as $3, topping Wall Street forecasts of $2.79 per share.

Net earnings from continuing operations were impacted by a $120 million charge for a loss program to design, integrate and install an integrated air missile defense system for an international customer.

“While our net earnings were impacted by certain adjustments, we increased our outlook for full year cash from operations by $300 million to at least $6.0 billion and we continue to position the company to deliver outstanding value to customers and shareholders,” said president and CEO Marillyn Hewson.

Lockheed lowered its full year earnings outlook to between $12.15 per share and $12.45 per share from its previous view between $12.25 per share and $12.55 per share.

The defense contractor’s shares, which have climbed nearly 11 percent so far this year, 4 percent in pre-market trading to $265.32 Tuesday morning after the announcement. They were trading at $268.36, down $7.85, in midday Tuesday trading.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing can be found here.

This is a story from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.

Senseonics CEO Goodnow’s compensation increases 84 percent

GERMANTOWN, MD — Medical technology company Senseonics Holdings Inc.’s chief executive officer saw an 84 percent increase in total compensation in the company’s 2016 fiscal year due to an increase in base salary, stock awards and annual bonus, according to the company’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Timothy T. Goodnow’s compensation totaled $1.38 million, up from $750,213 in the company’s 2015 fiscal year. Goodnow’s base salary rose from $365,791 in 2015 to $475,998.senseonics-holdings-inc-logo

Goodnow was awarded $586,871 in stock options, more than double his previous award of $231,704. He also received a bonus of $318,150.

R. Don Elsey, the company’s chief financial officer, received total compensation of $981,200 during the 2016 fiscal year. This includes a base salary of $355,625 and $472,275 in stock awards.

Chief medical officer Lynne E. Kelley received $1,064,645 in total compensation for the 2016 fiscal year. Kelley assumed the position of chief medical officer in January 2016 and received a base salary of $365,000.

Senseonics is a medical technology company focused on the design, development and commercialization of glucose monitoring products for people with diabetes.

Company revenue for the year was $300,000, compared to no revenue in 2015. Due to clinical trial costs, research and development expenses increased to $26.3 million, compared to $18.3 million for 2015.

Senseonics’ stockholders meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 24, at 9 a.m., at the Courtyard Marriott Gaithersburg Washington Center in Gaithersburg.

The company’s shares were down 2 cents to $1.66 in Monday afternoon trading.

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism

Under Armour CEO Plank’s compensation decreases 19 percent

Under Armour, Inc. Logo.  (PRNewsFoto/Under Armour, Inc.)

Under Armour, Inc. Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Under Armour, Inc.)

BALTIMORE, MD — Under Armour Inc.’s chief executive officer saw a 19 percent decrease in total compensation in the company’s 2016 fiscal year as he did not receive incentive compensation, according to the company’s proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kevin A. Plank’s compensation for the fiscal year totaled $2.03 million, down from $2.43 million in the company’s 2015 fiscal year. Plank has a base salary of $26,000, unchanged from 2015, and received $2 million in stock awards.

Plank did not receive incentive compensation for fiscal year 2016. In 2015, he received $400,000. After a disappointing fourth quarter, Under Armour determined that it was unlikely that Plank could achieve the company’s target level of performance in 2017.

Under Armour’s fourth-quarter net income fell 1 percent to $105 million, well below Wall Street predictions of $113 million. Revenue for the quarter was reported as $1.31 million, also falling short of the expected $1.41 million.

Lawrence Molloy, who assumed the position of chief financial officer Feb. 3, received total compensation of $6.72 million during the 2016 fiscal year. This includes a base salary of $633,462 and $5.8 million in stock awards.

For the year, company revenue grew 22 percent to $4.38 billion and saw a 19 percent increase in wholesale revenues to $3.1 billion. Under Armour has predicted 2017 net revenue of $5.4 billion.

The company’s stockholders meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 31, at 10 a.m., at the company’s office located at 2601 Port Covington Drive in Baltimore.

Under Armour’s shares were down 10 cents to $17.76 in Thursday morning trading.

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism


Laureate Education posts fourth quarter revenue, earnings that beats expectations

BALTIMORE, MD — Laureate Education Inc., a higher education provider, announced fourth-quarter revenue of $1.18 billion, surpassing Wall Street expectations of $1.16 billion due to an increase in enrollment.

The for-profit higher education supplier posted net income of $41.3 million in the period, according to a Securities and Exchange filing. Earnings came to 33 cents per share, beating analyst forecasts of 29 cents per share.Laureate

Total enrollments for the quarter were up 2 percent from fourth quarter 2015, reflecting strong performance in certain Latin American markets. Fourth quarter financial results also benefited from a change in the academic calendar which shifted the timing of revenue and profits from the second and third quarter to the fourth quarter.

“Laureate is pleased to report strong operating and financial results for our fourth quarter and the full year of 2016,” said Doug Becker, Laureate founder, chairman and chief executive officer. “Our performance reflects our track record of delivering positive outcomes to our students while prioritizing accessibility and internationality, key factors for our continued success.”

For the year, the company reported profit of $371.8 million, or $2.76 per share. Revenue was reported as $4.24 billion.

Laureate Education expects full-year 2017 revenue in the range of $4.29 billion to $4.35 billion.

The company also announced Tuesday the departure President and Chief Operating Officer Enderson Guimarães.

Eilif Serck-Hanssen, Laureate Education’s chief financial officer for the past nine years, will assume the role of president and chief administrative officer. Ricardo Berckemeyer, a 15-year veteran of the company who heads the Latin America region, will assume the role of chief operating officer.

Guimarães, who joined the company in September 2015, will be leaving to pursue other opportunities following a transition period over the nest several months.

“I have tremendous admiration for Laureate and its many impressive educators and leaders and am confident that the company will continue to be successful in the future,” he said.

Laureate Education is a large global network of degree-granting higher education institutions, with more than 1 million students enrolled across 70 institutions in 25 countries at campuses and online. Some of the company’s institutions in the U.S. include University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in Florida, Kendall College in Chicago and Walden University in Minneapolis.

The company’s shares closed Tuesday at $13.90, a new high for the stock, up $1.23 from that morning’s opening of $12.67.

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.



LaSalle increases CEO compensation by 5 percent

lasalleBETHESDA, MD — LaSalle Hotel Properties’ chief executive officer saw a 5 percent increase in total compensation in the company’s 2016 fiscal year due to an increase in base salary and share awards, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Michael D. Barnello’s total compensation for the fiscal year totaled $5 million, up from $4.75 million in the company’s 2015 fiscal year. His stock awards grew from $2.08 million in 2015 to $2.16 million.

Barnello’s base salary is $831,000, up $16,000 from fiscal year 2015. The increase was credited to the company’s financial and business performance.

Kenneth G. Fuller, who was hired April 25, 2016 as the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, received total compensation of $1.28 million during the 2016 fiscal year. This includes a $200,000 bonus and $536,973 in stock options. Fuller’s base salary is $274,359.

Bethesda-based LaSalle Hotel Properties is real estate investment trust that owns 45 hotels. The properties total approximately 11,300 guest rooms in 13 markets in nine states and the District of Columbia.

LaSalle grew net income by 90.1 percent to $234.6 million in its 2016 fiscal year, due in part to a $104.8 million gain relating to the sale of the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. The company’s adjusted earnings was $396.8 million, an increase of 2.7 percent over 2015.

LaSalle’s annual meeting will be Thursday, May 4, at 9 a.m. eastern time, at the Sofitel Washington.

The company’s shares were trading at $28.51, up 7 cents, or 0.23 percent, Friday afternoon.

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.


Fiber-optic giant Ciena’s stock falls 8.5 percent after missing expectations

HANOVER, MD — Ciena Corp.’s stock fell 8.5 percent in trading Wednesday after reporting first-quarter earnings and revenue that missed Wall Street expectations.

The fiber-optic networking provider said it earned 26 cents per share on revenue of $621.5 millCiena-logoion. Analysts were forecasting revenues of $632.29 million, or 29 cents per share.

Net income for the period ending Jan. 31 was $3.9 million, after reporting a loss of $11.5 million in the same period last year.

“Our overall first quarter performance demonstrates our ability to grow and capture market share across geographies, market segments and product lines, reflecting the investments we’ve made to diversify our business in these areas,” said Gary B. Smith, president and CEO, in a statement.

For the second quarter, Ciena expects revenues of $680 million to $710 million, compared to the $690 million consensus estimate.

Hanover-based Ciena is a global supplier of telecommunications equipment, software and services that support the delivery and transport of voice, video and data service.

Its products are used in networks operated by telecommunications service providers, cable operators, governments and enterprises. Some of the company’s top clients include Verizon, Sprint and Comcast.

Ciena’s shares were trading at $23.95, a loss of $2.22, or 8.5 percent, Wednesday afternoon.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing can be found here.

This story is from the Maryland News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.

Enviva reports fourth quarter loss, misses expectations

BETHESDA, MD — Enviva Partners LP, a wood pellet producer, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $7.9 million, or a loss of 34 cents per share, missing Wall Street expectations by 62 cents.

The Bethesda-based company posted revenue of $126.50 million in the period, compared to analysts expectations of $116.60 million. Its revenue was up 8.3 percent compared to the same quarter lastenviva_400x400 year.

On Dec. 14, Enviva completed a drop-down acquisition of a fully operational wood pellet production plant in Sampson County, North Carolina, for $175 million.

“We completed the Sampson drop-down acquisition earlier than anticipated, setting the stage for robust growth in 2017,” said John Keppler, chairman and chief executive officer.

For the year, the company reported profit of $21.4 million, or 91 cents per share. Revenue was reported as $464.3 million, an increase from the 2015 revenue of $457.37.

“Strong plant performance and reduced costs across our operations enabled the partnership to deliver solid financial results for the year,” Keppler said.

Enviva Partners shares have increased 5 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has risen 51 percent in the last 12 months.

Shares were trading at $28.85 on Thursday, up 90 cents or 3.22 percent.

Enviva Partners is a master limited partnership that aggregates a natural resource, wood fiber, and processes it into a transportable form, wood pellets. The partnership owns and operates seven plants with a combined production capacity of approximately 2.8 million metric tons of wood pellets per year in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi and Florida.

The Securities and Exchange filing can be found here.

This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.

DiamondRock Hospitality misses revenue expectations

drhlogopressreleaseBETHESDA, MD — DiamondRock Hospitality Co., a lodging-focused real estate investment trust, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $206.6 million, missing Wall Street expectations of $212.3 million.

The Bethesda-based REIT posted funds from operations of $48.4 million, or 24 cents per share, in the period, beating analysts expectations of 23 cents per share.

Funds from operations is a key measure in the REIT industry that takes net income and adds back items such as amortization and depreciation.

The company reported fourth quarter net income of $23.9 million, or 12 cents per share, also surpassing analysts expectations by 1 cent per share.

“In 2016 DiamondRock implemented rigorous cost controls, resulting in zero growth in total hotel expenses, a record for the company,” said Mark W. Brugger, chief executive officer of DiamondRock Hospitality. “The company also executed on its strategic priority to create $450 million of investment capacity through asset sales and financings in 2016, which positions DiamondRock to be opportunistic headed into 2017.”

For the year, DiamondRock Hospitality reported funds from operations of $206.3 million, or $1.02 per share. Revenue was reported as $896.6 million.

The company owns a portfolio of 26 hotels and resorts throughout North America and the U.S. Virgin Islands that consists of over 10,925 guest rooms. Its primary business is to acquire, own, asset manage and renovate full-service hotel properties in gateway cities and destination resort locations.

DiamondRock Hospitality expects full-year funds of operations in the range of 92 cents to 97 cents per share.

The company’s shares are trading Wednesday afternoon at $11.36, down 12 cents or 1.09 percent.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing can be found here.

This is a story from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism.

Marriott earnings beat expectations

BETHESDA, MD — Hotel operator Marriott International Inc.  reported a fourth-quarter profit of $244 million, or 85 cents per share, surpassing analysts expectations after realizing gains from its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in

The Bethesda-based hotel company’s fourth quarter net income was 21 percent higher than the year ago quarter. Earnings beat analysts expectations of 84 cents

The hotel company posted revenue of $5.46 billion in the period, which also topped Wall Street forecasts of $4.82 billion.

Marriott repurchased 8 million shares of its common stocking totaling $573 million, which includes 4.3 million shares for $348 million in the fourth quarter alone.

“The company delivered record high fee revenues in 2016, boosted by significant unit growth,” said Arne M. Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott.

On Sept. 23, Marriott completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels for $13 billion.

“We added 11 leading brands to our portfolio as a result of the acquisition and welcomed the 6,000th hotel to our system,” said Sorenson. “Together with owners and franchisees, Marriott and Starwood added more than 68,000 rooms during the year and, despite a tightening credit market, drove our pipeline of hotels under development to more than 420,000 rooms.”

Marriott expects full-year 2017 earnings to be $3.79 to $3.97 per share. Analysts had been projecting slightly higher results.

Marriott has more than 6,000 properties in 122 countries and territories.

Marriott’s shares closed at $89.46 on Wednesday, up $1.57 or 1.79 percent.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing can be found here.

 This story is from the Maryland Business News Wire, a service of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism

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