October 22, 2018: Travel Industry Takes Steps to Draw the Instagram Crowd, Chrissy Teigen Expands Her Culinary Brand Into Events, How Voice Technology Is Benefiting Hotel Operations

By Ian Zelaya October 22, 2018, 9:07 AM EDT


1. TRAVEL INDUSTRY TAKES STEPS TO DRAW THE INSTAGRAM CROWD: In the age of Instagram, the travel industry is taking steps to attract those who travel with the priority of posting photos, and it's also using the social media platform to gain new travelers, as well. Airports are redesigning their interiors to become more Instagram-friendly, hotels are introducing photo-worthy elements such as a 10-pound doughnut, and tourism bureaus are using images posted by travelers on their Instagram accounts. The New York Times: “Where travelers go may seem brighter and better designed today. Murals and other graphic art often act as shutter bait. With Instagram in mind, the remodeled 1926-vintage Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles features a tropical mural covering the 13-story back wall. In Miami, the high-end shopping mall Brickell City Center installs living walls and neon signs in front of empty storefronts to encourage posts. Places long beloved for their design are finding new audiences through Instagram. In Marrakesh, the stylish riad El Fenn, whose light-filtered rooms frequently appear in guests’ posts as well as in its own feed in magazine-ready shots, says its guests have changed in the past five years from majority British to more global, and younger by 10 to 15 years. ... Digital attention is driving real life traffic. The Arlo NoMad in New York said it regularly sells out its most expensive room category, window-walled Sky View rooms, based on the popularity of photos featuring guests seemingly embedded in the skyline. Travelers headed to Louisville next May for the Kentucky Derby may have to book earlier than before at the Brown Hotel, which sold out in December last year, the earliest in 16 years. Management credits the rush to its Instagram campaign. Instagrammers may also receive special attention from the places they post. Marriott International, for example, monitors public posts from its hotels globally. Using geolocation technology, the system knows when guests post a photo from a property that, say, announces their engagement. It then directs that information to the hotel staff, which may send a bottle of Champagne." https://nyti.ms/2NR106B

2. CHRISSY TEIGEN EXPANDS HER CULINARY BRAND INTO EVENTS: Model, Internet personality, and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen took her first foray into experiential with CravingsFest, an event at the New York City Wine & Food Festival that allowed Teigen to interact with her fans and bring her culinary brand to life. Adweek: “CravingsFest, which was hosted as part of this fall’s New York City Food and Wine Festival, is one of Teigen’s first ventures into the experiential. Her willingness to interact with fans, particularly on social media, was a major catalyst for the event. 'I’ve always felt the entire Cravings brand should be interactive, whether it was the ability for people to ask me cooking questions on Twitter or people sending me photos of their meals on Instagram,' said Teigen. 'I always loved being able to connect with fans in every way possible. CravingsFest was just that: bringing those same people I already love interacting with, all in one place.' Bryan Icenhower, president of IMG LIVE, part of Endeavor Global Marketing, who put on the event, said that as Teigen’s cookbook was half recipes and half an inside look at her life, doing an event like CravingsFest was a natural way to pull back the curtain on Teigen even more. 'Bringing it to life is not something all celebs could do, and she was able to do it with ease just by being herself,' he said. The event was deeply personal, too: Icenhower said that Teigen was involved in nearly every aspect of designing the event, from the decor to the menu to the programming—which included a cooking demonstration with Teigen, Legend and her mom, Vilailuck Teigen, that Chrissy Teigen called 'hysterical and so perfectly us.' ... But for Teigen, the event wasn’t just a way to expand the Cravings brand, but a way to show her appreciation for her fans. With that, making it affordable was important to her—general admission tickets cost $50, while a $125 V.I.P. ticket got you a photo opportunity with Teigen. 'I wanted people to really feel like they stepped into my world,' she said. 'It was a thank you to all the wonderful people who have been on this journey with me, some for eight long years on the Twitter, some for even longer on my very first blog. It was really a room full of love and friends, eating our way through the book.'" https://bit.ly/2R2cW7A

3. HOW VOICE TECHNOLOGY IS BENEFITING HOTEL OPERATIONS: Many hotels have recently introduced voice technology to help with guests' requests. But certain hotels, including the Motif Seattle, are using products like Alexa to help with back-of-house tasks done by hotel employees. Skift: "'The entire hotel team, from the housekeepers and the bellmen to the engineers to guest services managers, are also using Alexa to manage their daily life tasks,' said Steve Sasso, general manager of the Motif Seattle A Destination Hotel. 'For example, they can use it to notify the system if the room is ready for room service or check-in, to set a pick-up request, or use it as a tool to request items as well.' The 319-room Motif Seattle, as well as its sister property, the 158-room Thompson Seattle, have partnered with Seattle-headquarted Amazon and Volara to integrate Alexa for Hospitality in each guest room, making it one of the largest single-property deployments of Amazon Echo devices. Volara works with Two Roads and Amazon to develop custom skills for the Alexa platform for use at Two Roads’ properties. The devices were placed in the Motif Seattle in September. Eventually, by 2019, parent company Two Roads Hospitality expects to have Alexa for Hospitality in 15 hotels. Two Roads was not able to disclose the cost of placing the devices in its rooms or the cost to be a part of the Alexa for Hospitality platform. Sasso said he and his staff have seen plenty of guest engagement with the in-room devices; in fact, 30 percent of guest requests are now being delivered via voice. And having those requests come through Alexa for Hospitality is also making it easier for Sasso’s staff to respond more efficiently.  ... IDeaS Revenue Solutions has developed its own smart speaker skill that actually integrates with the company’s own revenue management system, making it easier for its hotel clients to tap into the data they need, by using simple, recognizable voice commands. 'They can ask questions about performance—such as occupancy, room rates, competitor rates, forecasts, or revenue details, and even use voice to control their software—all driven by analytics and delivered via smart speaker,' explained Klaus Kohlmayr, chief evangelist for IDeaS. He added, 'The best part is that hoteliers can have access to this data whether they’re running from the office into a sales meeting or checking their property’s performance from home. This is the beauty of voice technology; it’s available where users want to be and can bring multiple technologies together.'" https://bit.ly/2OGtJQD

* LOCAL NEWS *

CHICAGO:  The inaugural Halloween Hound Parade will take place October 28 in historic Long Grove. Several prizes and awards will be given to pets in costume. 

LOS ANGELES:  The Indio International Tamale Festival will take place December 1-2 in Old Town Indio. The festival, which is produced by KevaWorks in partnership with the City of Indio, will feature 200 vendors. 

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/losangeles

NEW YORK:  Brooklyn Music School’s St. Felix Centennial Gala will take place October 25. 

The Martina Arroyo Foundation’s 14th annual Gala, honoring Simon Estes and Rufus Wainwright, will take place October 29 at JW Marriott Essex House.

Halloween party Hospital 849 will take place October 31 at Second at Kimpton Hotel Eventi. The event will be hosted by Sonja Morgan, Sophia Lamar, and Amanda Lepore, and feature performances by Lil’ Kim and Countess Luann de Lesseps. 

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame red carpet gala and induction ceremony will take place November 8 at the Space at Westbury. 

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner: http://www.masterplanneronline.com/newyork

TORONTO:  This year’s One of a Kind Show & Sale will take place November 22-December 2 at the Enercare Centre. The event will feature products from 800 makers. 

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  Richard Hudock is the new communications director for NBC News, a role he begins on October 29. He previously worked in public relations at CNN and the Wynn Las Vegas. 

YOUR NEWS: What are you doing? Tell us: tips@bizbash.com

JOB BOARD: Post a job or find a job: http://jobs.bizbash.com

With contributions from Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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