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What's New in Event Venues: Staffing Updates, Summer Cocktail Experiences, and Sustainability

Rounding up the latest news from hotels, convention centers, meeting spaces, restaurants, and other event venues around the world.

Event Venue News for June 2023
Following the seven-year, nearly $400 million restoration of Book Tower, Detroit-based real estate developer Bedrock and hospitality company Method Co. officially opened the 117-room ROOST Detroit June 1. At the same time, the team unveiled Anthology, Book Tower’s special events program, which features a seasoned event planning, culinary, and beverage team that can curate a wide variety of events throughout the tower. Event spaces include the 2,800-square-foot Conservatory Ballroom (pictured) with a glass skylight, the 150-capacity Linden Room, an activated alleyway space called Graystone Lane, and food and beverage spaces on the main level and rooftop. Anthology is now accepting inquiries for events beginning in September 2023.
Photo: ODA

In Case You Missed It
BizBash's editorial team recently rounded up all the fun (and philanthropy-focused) ways cities and event venues are celebrating LGBTQIA+ pride this month. We also recapped some of the creative ways venues are leaning into events—including a San Diego Padres fundraising gala in the middle of a homestand and the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center's gourmet lunch inside a dumpster—plus highlights for groups at the sprawling new Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

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

1. Hotels are still experiencing staffing issues...
Here's a stat that surprised us: 82% of hotels are still reporting staffing shortages. That's according to a new survey of hoteliers conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), which notes properties are increasingly offering new incentives like increased wages, greater flexibility, and expanded benefits. (The most critical staffing need is housekeeping, with 40% ranking it as their top hiring need.)

There's some good news: The number has improved greatly since this time last year, when 97% of survey respondents reported staffing shortages. And since the pandemic, average hotel wages have increased faster than average wages throughout the general economy, and hotel benefits and flexibility are better than ever, notes the AHLA. “The need for workers throughout the lodging industry continues to drive historic career opportunities for hotel employees, who are enjoying record wages and better benefits and flexibility than ever before,” said AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers

2. ...but American hotels support nearly 1 in 25 U.S. jobs.
Despite the shortages, American hotels support a whopping 8.3 million American jobs—which is equivalent to nearly 1 in 25 U.S. jobs, according to an economic analysis released last month by the AHLA and Oxford Economics. The new research highlights the hotel industry’s significant economic impact: Hotel guests spend a total of more than $691 billion on lodging, transportation, food and beverage, retail, and other expenses—and for each $100 they spend on lodging, guests typically spend another $220 during their trip. The top five states in 2022 for hotel guest spending? California, Florida, New York, Nevada, and Texas. “Hotels are investing in our workforce to create good jobs that power local economies, and this analysis is proof of that,” said Rogers. 

Event Venue News for June 2023NoMo SoHo’s Rose Garden is open Mondays to Fridays from 4-7 p.m.Photo: Courtesy of NoMo SoHo3. Venues are getting creative with their summer cocktail experiences.
’Tis the season for drinks in the sunshine—and hotels are getting creative this year. InterContinental New York Barclay, for example, has teamed up with Veuve Clicquot for a special themed terrace; the 1,300-square-foot space provides views of the Chrysler Building and features pops of Veuve’s signature yellow. Also in New York, the NoMo SoHo hotel has opened its Rose Garden patio, which is surrounded by pink roses and lush greenery and offers garden-inspired drinks like the SoHo Spritz rosĂ© or the Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro blend La Vie en Rose.

Up in Canada, the Fairmont Empress in British Columbia has debuted Sunset Sips, a new evening cocktail and culinary experience that plays off the hotel's long-running afternoon tea service. There’s a robust cocktail menu with drinks like the "Mad Hatter" (featuring fresh dill-infused tequila, Cointreau, raspberry lemonade tea syrup, and lime and pineapple) and the "Lady Whistledown," inspired by the popular Netflix series (blending gin and chamomile tea syrup, and garnished with a rolled cucumber and served with a side carafe of prosecco). A menu of tapas is served on a classic three-tiered tea stand.

And in a modern twist, The Hampton Social’s nine restaurants in Illinois, Florida, and Tennessee are celebrating National RosĂ© Month with 30 days of rosĂ© programming, pink-themed happy hours—and even a ChatGPT hotline. For the past two years, beverage director Greg Innocent has developed a national hotline to answer burning questions about rosĂ©. (What food pairs best with the pale-pink drink? What are some rosĂ© cocktail recipes? Is there a difference between light and dark rosĂ©s?, etc.) This year, the hotline is the ChatGPT-inspired RosĂ© Bot-line. Prompted by Innocent and his team of bartending pros, the digital bot-line uses information shared by real human bartenders and generates responses to rosĂ©-related questions.  

4. Sustainability is staying in the spotlight.
Sustainability continues to be one of the hottest topics in the venue world, and there were several noteworthy new advancements this month. At BizBash, we recently chatted with the teams at Allegiant Stadium—home of the Las Vegas Raiders—and nZero, a near real-time carbon accounting and management platform that will provide 24/7 tracking and management of carbon emissions and water consumption data. The new partnership makes the Raiders one of the first professional sports teams in America to track their carbon emissions.

Other venues hopping on board the trend include The Beverly Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, two of Los Angeles' most popular properties for events, which have teamed up with Nostromo Energy, a provider of breakthrough energy storage solutions for commercial buildings. Nostromo’s sustainable energy storage system, which will serve the two adjacent hotels, is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable the hotels to reach their sustainability goals while saving on energy costs. 

5. Graduate Hotels is paying recent grads to travel.
Graduate Hotels recently began accepting applications for its inaugural Victory Lap program. The new initiative will offer four recent graduates a salary starting at $20,000 to travel to 16 Graduate properties—from Nashville to the United Kingdom—to capture content highlighting the true magic and spirit of each university town. The 10-week gig will provide graduates with a unique opportunity to hone their content marketing skills while exploring new destinations. Those with a passion for travel, social media, and storytelling can apply here by submitting a 60-second video showcasing the spirit of their college town. Applications are open until July 7.

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