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What’s New in Event Venues: Updates on the Industry's Recovery, Cool New Wellness-Focused Experiences and More

Rounding up the latest news from hotels, convention centers, meeting spaces, restaurants and other event venues across the United States and Canada.

‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach
The ‘Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach on Oahu is on track to become the first carbon-neutral hotel in the state of Hawaii. Named in honor of Queen Lili’uokalani, the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, the newly renovated property is now powered by 100% renewable energy. The resort has also pledged to plant 100,000 indigenous trees with the Hawaii Legacy Reforestation Initiative, and a $5 “tree fee” is added to every guest’s stay. In addition, there's a new sustainable food and cocktail happy hour series centered around locally sourced products. The hotel boasts a 17,000-square-foot seascape pool deck, plus a 28,000-gallon Oceanarium filled with more than 1,000 protected marine life.
Photo: Courtesy of ‘Alohilani Resort

We're rounding up the biggest venue news of the month—in one convenient place. Got a tip? Get in touch!

Here are five things you should know this month...

1. Travel industry experts told us their 2022 predictions.
In case you missed it, BizBash recently caught up with several travel industry experts, who weighed in on the current and future state of business travel—from intimate off-sites to large conferences. Their main predictions? A rise in in-person events for remote team members, plus gatherings for more intimate groups, tweaks to cancellation policies and of course, an important focus on safety. Check out the full story here.

2. The hotel industry is continuing to move towards recovery. 
According to the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA)’s 2022 State of the Hotel Industry report, the industry will continue moving towards recovery in 2022, with hotel occupancy rates and room revenue expected to approach 2019 levels this year. The report does note, though, that the path will be uneven and that full recovery may still be several years away. Some more tidbits? Leisure travelers will continue to drive recovery, and roughly 58% of meetings and events are expected to return in person. See the full report here.

3. Venues continue offering out-of-the-box twists on group experiences.
As groups do return in person, event organizers and venues are looking for unique new ways to keep them engaged. The W Fort Lauderdale, for example, is about to launch a colorful new group experience called "Sprayed In Style." Available as an add-on for events, groups will be able to book a local graffiti artist to come to the hotel and customize items for attendees with graffiti decor, like suitcases, a computer case or even a blazer.

Wellness-focused experiences also seem to be having a moment—after all, “wellness is no longer a luxury to include—it’s a must-have,” said Peter Scialla, president of global wellness and real estate tech company Delos, in an interview with BizBash last month. And venues are taking note that wellness goes well beyond the group fitness class. Arizona's L’Auberge de Sedona, for example, has created a “Crystal-Clear Intentions” experience, which guides guests through holistic health experiences ranging from intentional journaling to exploring the famed Sedona vortexes with a professional guide. The city of Palm Springs, Calif., meanwhile, recently launched a digital wellness pass. Available through March, the pass provides a guide to some of the destination’s best wellness and spa experiences, while also providing deals and offerings to the groups.

4. Some convention centers are creating dedicated spaces for attendees with sensory-processing issues.
As conversations about diversity and inclusion continue to gain traction in the event industry, one group occasionally overlooked is attendees with neurodiversity and other sensory-related issues. But in reality, about one in six individuals struggles with a sensory-related need, Uma Srivastava, executive director of KultureCity, a nonprofit that focuses on creating sensory accessibility and inclusion, told BizBash. We recently chatted with Srivastava about how she's worked with venues like the Overland Park Convention Center in Kansas to create dedicated on-site sensory rooms—and what steps other venues should be taking, too. Check out the full story here.

5. Radisson Hotel Group Americas has a unique new guest messaging platform.
Venues continue using technology to improve the guest experience. For example, Radisson Hotel Group Americas recently rolled out Medallia Zingle for all hotels in its portfolio. The guest messaging platform allows hotel teams to engage with guests with real-time, personalized communications for everything from pre-arrival and check-in, to service requests, to service recovery and checkout. Zingle will be deployed at all hotels across the Americas in waves, with the goal of completing the system-wide implementation by May 2022.

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