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What's New in Event Venues: LGBTQ+ Travel, the Power of AI, Netflix's New Venues, 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 July 2024
Enchantment Resort, a 218-room resort nestled amidst the red rocks of Boynton Canyon in Sedona, Ariz., has opened its new 9,300-square-foot pool deck featuring an all-new poolside restaurant, The Edge. Designed by Frank Trujillo with Design One Studio, the space features seating for up to 60 guests, plus three cabanas with natural wood finishes, plush couches, personal safes, coolers, built-in fans, and overhead lighting. Slider doors are placed on the side walls to allow larger groups to combine cabanas for expanded space, with rentals available for half and full-day reservations.
Photo: Courtesy of Enchantment Resort

In Case You Missed It

We recently rounded up new venues in New York, ChicagoOrlandoDallas/Fort Worth, and Boston; stay tuned for more cities throughout the month! We also explored how to host a meeting or event in Western Montana, and learned how a company called HowGood is working with venues and event organizers to add carbon labeling to event menus

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

1. Travelers are looking for LGBTQ+-friendly destinations.

Booking.com’s LGBTQ+ travel research reveals that more than half (59%) of LGBTQ+ travelers have experienced discrimination when traveling. More than half also agree that being LGBTQ+ has made them more insecure and self-conscious as a traveler; this is of even greater concern for those who identify as transgender (64%), intersex (57%), and non-binary (56%). As a result, the research shows, more and more travelers are seeking destinations that have protective legislation in place. (Read more of Booking.com's research here.)

In 2021, Booking.com launched its Travel Proud program that provides free inclusive hospitality training to help staffers better understand the specific challenges faced by LGBTQ+ travelers. “At Booking.com, we believe everyone should be able to travel and experience the world in their own way,” says Arjan Dijk, chief marketing officer and senior vice president at Booking.com. “As a gay man, I unfortunately know firsthand the challenges that persist in many parts of the world. Despite this, I am incredibly inspired to see LGBTQ+ travelers resiliently embracing their lived experiences, both at home and during their trips.”

2. A tech expert shared his tips for harnessing the power of AI in the hospitality industry.

How should the hospitality industry be using generative AI? John Duffield of Signal Two, which helps brands leverage next-generation technology, recently presented on the topic at HD Expo + Conference 2024 in Las Vegas. Duffield shared his go-to educational resources, showcased how tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney can generate design information and act as virtual assistants, and more. “This is my thought partner,” he said. “This is my virtual assistant. This is not particularly trained on hotel trends and design styles and themes, but I’m using my narrowing focus and avenues of interrogation to help it think specifically.” Check out a full recap—and a video of the presentation—at Hospitality Design

3. Netflix plans to open two permanent entertainment venues.

Netflix has announced plans to open two immersive entertainment venues in 2025. Both called Netflix House, the 100,000-square-foot venues—taking over former department stores in Dallas and King of Prussia, Penn.—will feature shopping outlets, eateries, and immersive activities, building on previous live experiences for popular Netflix series like Bridgerton, Money Heist, Stranger Things, and Squid Game. Outside the venues, visitors will find sculptures and murals featuring characters from Netflix titles, while inside, they can engage in experiences such as dancing to an orchestral cover of a Taylor Swift song on a replica Bridgerton set or competing in the Squid Game's Glass Bridge challenge. Visitors can also enjoy F&B inspired by Netflix shows and shop for exclusive merchandise.

4. The "hotel within a hotel" concept continues gaining steam.

You’ve probably come across the idea in Las Vegas: an ultra-high-end hotel located inside a larger, more affordable resort, like the Four Seasons Hotel housed within the sprawling Mandalay Bay Resort. It’s a win-win for high-paying guests, offering access to the larger property’s amenities while also letting them feel like a true VIP in a private, exclusive space. 

Since the concept launched 25 years ago, more properties have followed suit, according to a recent article from Travel & Leisure, which explored the trend. “High-end travelers demand ever more space, privacy, and comfort. They’re finding all three at a growing number of nested resorts, such as Camp Sarika by Amangiri, a 10-villa retreat that’s part of—but separate from—the iconic Aman hotel in Utah. 'It gives you two vacations, two experiences within the same resort,' explains Luca Franco, the founder and CEO of Luxury Frontiers." Check out the full story here.

5. Luxury gyms are becoming full-service hospitality hubs. 

That's according to a recent article in The New York Times, which explores the trend of high-end gyms becoming full event spaces, hotels, and workspaces. In addition to examples like Equinox’s hotel in Hudson Yards, the article explores examples like Life Time’s child care and co-working facilities. “Gyms, many of which used to be an amenity attached to a hotel or an office building, have now turned the tables and become the star attraction, offering hotel rooms and workspaces as part of their appeal,” says the article; check out the full story here

6. Wyndham has debuted its new guest engagement platform.

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has launched Wyndham Connect, a new guest engagement platform powered by Canary Technologies, at no extra cost to hotel owners. Designed to enhance the guest experience, this AI-driven, mobile-centric tool is already being used by nearly 2,000 hotels in North America. Wyndham Connect aims to improve guest engagement and operational efficiency by offering features such as AI-generated messaging, smart mobile check-in/check-out, upsell options, online review boosting, and integrated mobile tipping. 

"We always put our franchisees first, and investing in innovative technology like AI sets them apart from the competition," says Scott Strickland, Wyndham's chief commercial officer. "With access to powerful solutions like Wyndham Connect, our franchisees can manage their businesses more efficiently and curate guest experiences to help make stays more meaningful than ever. The result? Happier guests, higher chances for repeat business, and money in franchisees' pockets."

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