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What's New in Event Venues: An Eclipse-Related Travel Boost, the Country’s First Carbon-Positive Hotel, and More

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

Event Venue News for April 2024
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Manchester United's historic 1998-1999 Treble-winning season, Marriott Hotels and the soccer club are letting one lucky fan stay overnight at the Old Trafford stadium in the "Suite of Dreams," which overlooks the renowned pitch. The suite has fun touches evoking the 1990s and the club's journey, and the winner will get an exclusive tour of Carrington training ground, Old Trafford, and the Manchester United Museum; the chance to dine with a Manchester United legend and prepare Manchester United kits in the home dressing room; and more. Marriott Bonvoy members can bid through Marriott Bonvoy Moments, the experiences platform where members can use points earned from travel and everyday activities.
Photo: Joel Knight

In Case You Missed It

More and more event venues and destinations are becoming Certified Autism Centers. We recently wrote about what that means—and some inclusivity practices all event and hospitality professionals should keep in mind. BizBash's editors also recently wrote about Kansas City's exciting new soccer stadium, chatted with Amplify's Bonnie O'Hara about her favorite event venues, and explored how the Cherry Blossom Festival took over a busy train station for its 800-guest party.

We've also been rounding up the buzziest new venues for events in cities around the country. Click through to see new event-friendly spots in Atlanta, AustinBostonChicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, HoustonLas Vegas, Los AngelesMiamiNashvilleNew York, Orlando/Central Florida, Phoenix/Scottsdale, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle—with more to come! 

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

1. The travel industry is booming right now.

Observing leisure travel trends can be a good way to predict what's popular on the travel side—and in some good news, the travel industry is booming in 2024, according to new research from MMGY Travel Intelligence. In the latest edition of the firm’s "Portrait of American Travelers" study, 76% of Americans plan to take a vacation in the next 12 months, an increase from 70% observed at this time last year. MMGY Travel Intelligence also reports that the Traveler Sentiment Index (TSI) has shown a slight increase from February 2023, rising from 109 to 113. This increase reflects growing optimism related to both domestic and international travel, despite inflation pressures in the U.S. and a slight decrease in the perceived safety of international travel.

"Despite travelers reporting increased safety concerns for international travel, overall interest and intent to travel continue to rise," said Chris Davidson, executive vice president of MMGY Travel Intelligence. "Travelers are continuing to prioritize spending on experiences, and people's travel decisions are increasingly affected by values such as commitments to environmental sustainability."

Other interesting findings? Hawaii (67%), Florida (66%), California (57%), and Colorado (56%) are the top states drawing interest among leisure travelers, with Las Vegas (59%), Maui (58%), and Honolulu (58%) leading as destinations of interest. Meanwhile, 56% of travelers (particularly millennials and Gen Z) rank sustainability especially high when making travel decisions, and 3 in 10 leisure travelers have reported using AI tools for travel planning. Click here to purchase a full copy of the report. 

2. This year's James Beard Awards finalists have been announced.

Last week, the James Beard Foundation announced its full list of finalists for the prestigious James Beard Awards. (Winners will be revealed at a gala in Chicago on June 10.) Eater has the full list of finalists in top categories like Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Chef, Emerging Chef, and Best New Restaurant; check it out here.

3. The country’s first carbon-positive hotel is now accepting guest and event reservations.

Populus, which bills itself as the country’s first carbon-positive hotel, is opening in Denver this summer—and is now accepting guest and event bookings for September 2024 onward. The 265-room property has two restaurants—including a rooftop one offering unobstructed views of the mountains and city skylines—and 3,135 square feet of event space.

But the real highlight is its eco-friendly measures: The hotel’s embodied and operational carbon footprints are being offset through reforesting efforts and agricultural collaborations that sequester more carbon than the building emits throughout its lifecycle—ultimately having a net-positive impact on climate change.  Populus has planted over 70,000 trees in Gunnison County, Colo., in partnership with One Tree Planted, and plans to uphold its carbon-positive status throughout its lifetime by tracking, reducing, and offsetting the carbon emissions of its operations, including energy use, team member and guest transportation, food sourcing and transport, and more. Event Venue News for April 2024Drawing from nature, Populus’ design evokes the growth process of Colorado’s native Aspen tree, Populus tremuloides. The interiors also pay homage to the Mountain West with warm colors, natural materials, and undulating forms, which the team says is inspired by the feelings evoked by sitting among an Aspen grove. Photo: Nephew

Sustainability is proving to be a lasting trend in the hospitality industry. Boston's Hotel Commonwealth, for example, has become the first hotel in the city to implement a new system to divert 100% of its food waste and repurpose food that otherwise would have been wasted into a high-value, sustainable natural resource. This system—the National Circular Food Waste Partnership with BioGreen360—aims to enable groups to effectively achieve zero-waste meetings and offset their carbon footprints through an environmentally friendly, fully circular process. As of January, Hotel Commonwealth has diverted a total of 8.02 tons of food waste, the equivalent of 38.37 tons of carbon dioxide sequestered. 

4. Hotels and other travel businesses got a big boost from the eclipse.

Upward of 3.7 million people were estimated to have traveled for Monday's eclipse, with most heading to states like Texas, Indiana, and Ohio, reports economic news publication Quartz. Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio were the most popular cities on the path of totality, the 60- to 70-mile-wide stretch that saw complete darkness for more than four minutes during the cosmic event. 

"Travel-related businesses have been seeing major boosts in those areas as a result. Airbnb data shows a 1,000% increase in searches for stays along the solar eclipse path of totality in the U.S., touting that it has 15 times more listings than there are hotels in the total eclipse’s path," writes Quartz reporter Rocio Fabbro, adding that searches on Expedia grew more than 1,100%; hotel prices were up 48%; and car rental company Hertz reported a 3,000% rise in bookings in cities on the eclipse path. In total, visitors were expected to spend up to $1.6 billion on lodging, activities, food, and gas, according to reporting from Business Insider.

5. Event tech company Bizzabo is now offering room block management.

Bizzabo recently introduced integrated hotel room block management to its Event Experience OS. Powered by Resiada, the integration enables event organizers to streamline the attendee hotel booking process and monitor their room block natively within Bizzabo. Event participants can now move easily from event registration to hotel reservation by clicking through to the event’s branded, mobile-friendly booking site, where their personal information and ticket number are auto-filled. And with dashboards updated in real time, organizers can easily view reservations, manage inventory, and track who’s registered and booked. This reporting can be shared with stakeholders at the organizer’s preferred cadence.

“As the resurgence of in-person events continues, we know that event experience is paramount. That experience begins long before the attendee steps foot into the venue and continues long after they return home, which is why Bizzabo remains committed to delivering a personalized, low-friction experience throughout the entire event lifecycle,” said Alon Alroy, CMO and co-founder of Bizzabo. “This collaboration with Resiada not only simplifies a key part of the in-person attendee’s journey but also delivers real-time insights and enhanced efficiency for our busy customers.”

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