What's New in Event Venues: Extended-Stay Properties, Authenticity-Focused Hotel Design, 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 January 2024
Aloft New Orleans Downtown—located in the heart of the city’s Central Business District and just steps from the Caesars Superdome and Smoothie King Center—has revealed a vibrant interior renovation led by Pinnacle South. The property now has a revamped open-concept lobby featuring a custom floor-to-ceiling mural illustrating New Orleans’ music scene. Other highlights include the trendy W XYZ Bar & Lounge (pictured), 188 renovated guest rooms, a heated rooftop pool, and six event rooms.
Photo: Courtesy of Aloft New Orleans Downtown

In Case You Missed It
BizBash's editorial team recently explored some of 2024's most anticipated hotel openings, along with event venues around the world that are primed for bleisure travel. We also went behind the scenes at the iconic Atlantis Paradise Island's 25th anniversary event, and rounded up some do's and don'ts of planning an incentive trip

Here are five more things to know this month... 

1. An explosion at a Fort Worth hotel has left 21 people injured.
On Monday afternoon, at least 21 people were injured in an explosion at the 245-room Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel. According to CNN, “Fire officials believe the blast was caused by 'some type of gas explosion' but are still working with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to verify the cause," Fort Worth Fire Department spokesperson Craig Trojacek said Monday.

The 104-year-old hotel, which has 6,700 square feet of event space and is located a block from the Fort Worth Convention Center, remained closed as of Jan. 10. “Emergency responders are on site and we are working closely with the authorities to understand the origin of the event and the extent of the harm caused,” reads a notice on the property’s website. “The safety and well-being of our team members and guests is our priority. We are working with those who have been injured to fully support them at this time.”

2. The hotel industry had some major wins in 2023.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association recently rounded up the results of its federal, state, and local advocacy efforts in 2023—and the resulting list showcases some major victories for the industry, including a clarification in the Paycheck Protection Program’s eligibility guidelines that will save hoteliers an estimated $14 million; the introduction of resort fee transparency bills in the House and Senate; and a $9 increase in the continental U.S. per diem rate that will generate an estimated $300 million for hoteliers. See the full list here.

3. But women are still underrepresented in leadership positions in the hospitality industry. 
That’s according to commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), which recently released a report titled "Finding a Voice: Empowering Women in Hospitality." The company reviewed the top 10 hotel companies in Europe and found that, on average, the male-to-female split was 70/30. “Empowering women in hospitality brings fresh perspectives and insights to the table,” notes the report, adding: “A study by S&P Global in 2019 highlighted there are also financial benefits when women take the helm. Organizations with female CEOs and CFOs produced better share price performance compared to the market average.”

There’s some good news, though: The report calls out several major hotel brands working to bridge the gender gap, including Wyndham Hotels and its Women Own the Room program, which was launched in 2022, and IHG Hotels & Resorts’ Journey to Tomorrow commitment, which aims to achieve gender balance in corporate and hotel leadership teams by 2030. Initiatives from Accor, Radisson, Marriott, and Hilton are also outlined in the report; read the full thing here

4. Travelers' desire for authenticity is being reflected in hotel design.
The U.K.-based publication Hotel Designs recently published an interesting look at how 2024 buzzwords like “authenticity” and “experience” are influencing hotel design. In addition to more and more spots working with local designers, “Authentic experiences housed within a hotel that reflects its location, with a design that is as much a part of the experience as the local cooking class, is now all part of the expectation,” reports the Hotel Designs team.

The story continues: “Travelers want to feel like they are actively supporting local communities and discovering something special. This immersive hospitality used to be the realm of alternative travel companies and small boutique hotels, but is becoming increasingly mainstream with the bigger brands embracing the concept. Take for example, the JW Marriott Madrid, where the history of the building—previously one of the oldest perfumeries in Madrid—has been incorporated into the design and the details, which includes giving guests the opportunity for a scent training workshop.” Check out the full article here.

5. Extended-stay properties are still trending.
This week, Hilton announced its new LivSmart Studios by Hilton brand, which offers studio apartment-style, extended-stay rooms created for long-stay guests. It’s the latest addition to Hilton’s portfolio of 22 brands, and is targeting guests staying 20 nights or more; the first location will open in Indiana this summer. “With a resilient $300 billion workforce travel market, the extended-stay segment continues to grow," said Isaac Lake, brand leader of LivSmart Studios by Hilton, in a press release. “It has never been as primed as it is now for this long-stay brand, and we’re thrilled with the initial excitement we’ve received from owners.” 

Hilton isn’t the only brand targeting extended-stay guests. Marriott and Hyatt also launched budget-friendly, extended-stay hotel brands—named StudioRes and Hyatt Studios, respectively—in 2023. According to several reports, in fact, extended-stay brands proved to be the most resilient lodging model during the pandemic. 

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