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What's New in Event Venues: The World's Largest LED Screen, Plus a Hotel Worker Strike, Planning Tools, and More

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

Event Venue News for July 2023
The new MSG Sphere made a splash with its Fourth of July display, where its 580,000-square-foot fully programmable LED exterior (the largest LED screen on earth) was illuminated for the first time with visuals of fireworks, stars and moons, and a graphic reading "Hello World." The venue officially opens in September; its exterior features 1.2 million programmable LED pucks, while the inside of the venue can hold 17,600 people seated or 20,000 standing.
Photo: Sphere Entertainment

In Case You Missed It
This month, our editors explored how groups can help nurture and show respect for the islands of Hawai'i, and how a massive stadium in Las Vegas is tracking its carbon footprint in real time. We also rounded up buzzy new venues available for event rentals in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las VegasNew York, and Orlando—with many more cities to come! 

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

1. Hotel worker strikes continue in Southern California.
After returning to work last week without a contract, Los Angeles-area hotel workers are once again striking in what the Los Angeles Times says “could be the largest U.S. strike for the industry in recent memory.” Starting at 5 a.m. Monday, workers—including cooks, room attendants, servers, and bellmen—from eight El Segundo and Los Angeles hotels walked out demanding higher pay and better benefits.

The employees are represented by Unite Here Local 11, and are seeking an immediate $5 hourly wage increase, plus continued family health care coverage and “safe and humane” workloads. The union is also fighting for a fund to help pay for affordable housing for hotel workers, which would be supported through a 7% tax on hotel guests, replacing the “junk fees” they currently pay for wireless service and other amenities, Unite Here noted. This week’s strike comes after hundreds of hospitality workers picketed 21 hotels in Santa Monica and Los Angeles over July 4 weekend.

2. The state of the leisure travel industry offers a glimpse at what's trending now.
New research from MMGY Travel Intelligence gives a good look into the state of the travel industry—notably, showing that more than three-quarters of U.S. adults plan to take a vacation in the next 12 months. The survey of more than 4,500 adults also showed that travelers are concerned about inflation and rising travel costs, and that road trips remain a popular travel choice. For U.S.-based destinations, Hawai'i reigns supreme as a vacation spot, followed by Las Vegas, California, the Florida Keys, and New York City. Internationally, Europe holds the lead. And in interesting news, traveler interest in cannabis tourism is high: In fact, more than a third of U.S. travelers stated interest in cannabis-related activities while on vacation. 

3. Sustainability is becoming a bigger priority during venue selections.
The Business of Events has released its 2023 International Planner Sentiment Report. The report illustrates the current thinking of event buyers from a range of disciplines across the U.K., Europe, and North America in terms of their priorities when selecting a destination or venue. Key highlights show that sustainability is tracking, on average, 1.5 points higher across all regions, although North America is lagging slightly behind the U.K. and Europe. Data also shows that cost and value for money remain high across all buyer markets, along with accessibility and ease of travel. Download the full report here.

4. A Manhattan venue is launching an immersive hip-hop experience—and it's bookable for private events.
Hall des Lumières, Manhattan’s largest permanent center for custom-designed immersive art experiences, has announced its next exhibition: "Hip Hop Til Infinity," an immersive trip through 50 years of hip-hop. Co-produced by global entertainment company Mass Appeal and hybrid creative studio SUPERBIEN, in partnership with Certified (Sony Music Entertainment’s platform dedicated to celebrating hip-hop), the digital installation will transport guests through different eras and regions via audiovisual technology; there will also be virtual concerts, live panels, listening parties, and more. Event Venue News for July 2023Hall des Lumières features 130 video projectors, 54 speakers, and 22 subwoofers, along with cutting-edge mapping technology. It can be booked for two-level cocktail receptions for as many as 1,000 people, or seated dinners that host 275 per floor.Photo: Alexander Paterson-Jones for Hall des LumieĚ€res

5. Atlanta is getting a Michelin dining guide.
The prestigious Michelin Guide, known for highlighting world-class restaurants in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami, is coming to Atlanta for the first time. The first Michelin Guide Atlanta selection will be revealed in the fall. “We want to recognize that Atlanta is a culinary powerhouse, with a long list of styles and flavors for foodies to enjoy. One might immediately associate the city with Southern cuisine, and rightfully so, but there is much depth here that should not go overlooked,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, in a press release. “Atlanta is brimming with innovation and talent, which is evident in the dining scene, according to our anonymous inspectors."

6. Booking.com has launched a ChatGPT-based planning tool.
Booking.com launched a ChatGPT-powered trip planner on its U.S. app in late June. Travelers can ask the AI Trip Planner general travel-related questions, as well as more specific queries to support any stage of their trip planning process, including scoping out potential destinations and accommodation options; providing travel inspiration based on the individual traveler’s needs and requirements; and creating itineraries for a particular city, country, or region.

“Our new AI Trip Planner provides us with some really exciting possibilities to help our customers plan and search for travel options in a very natural, human way,” said Rob Francis, CTO of Booking.com, in a press release. “Oftentimes, people are asked to adapt to the confines of technology to do what they want, but with generative AI, we’re able to start having scalable, one-to-one conversations with our customers on their terms, much like how you would begin to talk about planning a trip with your partner or friends. It’s just the beginning, but we have lots of runway here to explore in order to innovate and connect the travel experience further on Booking.com, all in a safe, ethical, and inclusive way.”

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