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RALEIGH INNS HAVE ROOMS AS WAL-MART CANCELS CONVENTION

RALEIGH INNS HAVE ROOMS AS WAL-MART CANCELS CONVENTION

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The cancellation of Wal-Mart Stores merchandise convention - billed as the largest corporate meeting ever in Raleigh - has left the city with plenty of room at its inns.

Eights hotels had reserved big blocks of rooms to host people attending the convention at the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center. But two weeks ago those hotels received word that Wal-Mart was canceling the event.The convention was to have generated an estimated $1.6 million in spending at hotels, restaurants and other businesses, according to a Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

An average of 420 hotel rooms in Raleigh had been booked for each night from Feb. 5 through Feb. 19.

But the Bentonville, Ark.-based company decided early this month to abandon its traditional strategy of holding regional meetings for store managers and assistant managers every February.

``We just felt that, because of our size, we could no longer effectively have two-way communications between management and the field at these conventions,' said Don E. Shinkle, Wal-Mart's director of corporate and public affairs.

Wal-Mart notified the Raleigh convention bureau of its decision Jan. 8. The company intends to reach settlements with the civic center and the hotels to make up for at least a portion of lost revenues.

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