Event venue news for January 2022

We’re bringing together the biggest venue news of the month, in one convenient place. Do you have any advice? Get in touch!

In case you missed it
At BizBash, we recently highlighted the most anticipated event venue openings in 2022 across the United States and Canada, from luxury new hotels in New York and Los Angeles to exciting convention center expansions in Kentucky and Seattle. new cultural spaces in Boston and Edmonton. We also explored how the rise of legalized sports betting is fueling the growth of sites across the country.

Here are seven more things you should know this month…

1. The travel trends of 2022 are starting to take shape.
As the hospitality industry eagerly awaits the full return of business travel, a number of media outlets have recently shared some thoughts on what it might look like. This week, Condé Nast Traveler reported an article on the top 10 travel trends for 2022, which offered some interesting insights for the events industry. The publication predicts that all-inclusive resorts will see a surge in popularity, perhaps to alleviate some of the stress that comes with COVID requirements and associated red tape, as well as growing interest in wellness-focused retreats and personal development, adventure – targeted expeditions and destinations that allow workcations.

A recent story from TravelPulse, meanwhile, sees experts predicting that hotels will continue to adopt the work-from-home model, offering things like free Wi-Fi and use of conference rooms, as well as increased demand for local experiences and greater emphasis on engaging room service options.

2. Hilton provides free continuing education resources to its employees.
Starting this spring, staff at Hilton owned and operated properties and corporate locations in the US will be able to earn a wide range of new debt-free education credentials through a new partnership with Guild Education. The continuing education platform will offer a variety of learning offerings, including high school completion, college degrees, English language learning, digital literacy and professional certifications in career fields high demand such as cooking, business, data analytics and technology.

“At Hilton, we’ve come a lifetime to build an inclusive culture of continuous learning for all,” said Laura Fuentes, Hilton’s executive vice president and chief human resources officer. “This partnership with Guild Education, a first of its kind in our industry, is another way for us to better meet our team members where they currently are in their educational journeys and help them achieve their career aspirations.”

3. A Florida hotel has hired what it calls a “robot employee.”
Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport has hired what it bills as its first “full-time robot employee.” Betty Bot, trained by the artificial intelligence company Bear Robotics, will act as a busser at the hotel’s Radiant166 restaurant, where she can bring food, drinks and dirty dishes between the tables and the kitchen. Kitchen employees will help load food and drink orders onto Betty Bot and send her into the dining room to deliver them, allowing human employees to continue to focus on customer interactions. Armed with 3D sensors, the robot can avoid obstacles to reach the tables assigned to it.

4. Cities invest a lot of money in their convention centers.
A number of exciting new convention center openings are worth watching. The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center recently reopened after a 20-month expansion that increased the size of the facility to 800,000 square feet, which includes a 350,000 square foot exhibit hall. It’s part of an ongoing $1.1 billion expansion, which will grow the site to 1.2 million square feet and include a new 800-room hotel; the city hopes to unveil the final project at the end of 2025.

It’s not the only city investing heavily in convention centers right now. Central Bank Center in downtown Lexington, Kentucky is set to unveil a $300 million expansion in spring 2022, resulting in 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. At the end of 2022, the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle will launch its newest addition, The Summit, which will add approximately 250,000 square feet of exhibit space and 160,000 square feet of meeting room space. And a new convention center is coming to the Midwest in April 2022, when the 41,000-square-foot Terre Haute Convention Center is set to open next to Indiana State University.

Longer term, the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee has paved the way for a $420 million expansion. Scheduled for completion in early 2024, the new space will feature 445,000 square feet of convention space and 52 meeting rooms. Meanwhile, the Fort Worth City Council has approved $500 million expansion plans for the Fort Worth Convention Center, which will create more than 97,000 square feet of total exhibit space, along with flexible meeting rooms and a new 60,000 square foot ballroom. Other new projects on the horizon include a $21 million expansion of the Sharonville Convention Center in Cincinnati, as well as a $38 million refresh of the Tampa Convention Center and a $6.1 million facelift for the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Phew!

5. Check out these tips for effective communication between hotels and meeting planners.
The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) recently outlined eight ways to improve communication between hotels and meeting planners, and it’s definitely worth reading for event venue operators of all kinds. There are tips to ensure flexibility on both sides, especially in terms of COVID-related cancellations and to offer clear information on food stations, sanitation and other amenities. Another interesting tip? To perform ongoing post-contract (but pre-event) checks, to keep abreast of any changes and prepare for possible cancellations. Discover the whole story here.

6. Marriott offers new travel insurance options.
In response to today’s slightly unpredictable travel environment, Marriott has a new initiative that allows customers to seamlessly purchase travel insurance from Allianz Partners. Plans can cover everyone staying in the room, including friends or family, and can provide reimbursement for prepaid, non-refundable expenses such as airfare, expenses incurred during covered travel delays, and medical emergencies. When a guest chooses to purchase travel insurance, the cost is added to the total cost of their stay and is billed in one transaction.

7. Hospitality veteran Richard J. Ferris has died at 85.
Richard J. Ferris died after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. The renowned hospitality veteran is best known for serving as Co-Chairman of the Pebble Beach Co. Board of Directors for more than 20 years. He began his career in the 1960s as a staff planner for Westin Hotels (then Western International Hotels), before rising through the ranks and eventually becoming president of the Food Service division of United Airlines after its acquisition of the hotel group. In 1975, he was named president of United Airlines, then CEO of Allegis Corp., the parent company of The Hertz Corp., United Airlines, Westin Hotels and Hilton International.

In the late 1990s, Ferris and his business partners acquired Pebble Beach Co. from Sumitomo Bank and Taiheiyo Club, returning the Pebble Beach Resorts to American ownership. The World Golf Hall of Fame plans to honor Ferris with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award on March 9.

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