The Conference Hotel Re-Imagined

By Randa Tukan Senior Vice Principal & Director of Interiors, HOK | September 09, 2018

Information is easier to access than ever before. In fact, we are bombarded daily with opportunities and/or webinars to learn, collaborate, and express opinions from our desks, computers, and tablets. With demands on our time, the need to create billable hours, and, the all-important, ROI, the need to justify our "out-of-office" time is greater than ever. Do we even need to attend professional conferences anymore? The answer is a resounding yes. As our dependence on tech continues to increase, so does our yearning for the human connection. Group meetings remain a catalyst for human connections with our peers

When reviewing the reasons for attendance, face to face interaction with one's peers rises above the importance of the keynote speaker or the schedule of events. Many attendees consider the breaks in between speakers, rather than the speaker sessions themselves, as the most valuable time spent at the conference. This becomes the time when the highest level of interaction with peers occurs as well as active interaction, engagement, and activities.

Studies show that attendance at professional conferences has remained relatively consistent since 2011. While formats have changed and continue to shift to retain interest in attendance, venues seem to remain unchanged and do not accommodate recent trends of alternative formats and venues as well as sizes and additional points outlined below.

How can hotel conference spaces be re-imagined to better support trends and event formats? How might these changes affect the future of conferences and assure that attendees, business owners and planners will continue to be attracted to them as desired outlets for growth and exposure?

The Challenge

To consider what a re-imagined conference space could be, we should review some of the trends and increasingly popular formats:

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Coming up in December 2018...

Hotel Law: New Administration - New Policies

In a business as large as a hotel and in a field as broad as the law, there are innumerable legal issues which affect every area of a hotel's operation. For a hotel, the primary legal focus includes their restaurant, bar, meeting, convention and spa areas of their business, as well as employee relations. Hotels are also expected to protect their guests from criminal harm and to ensure the confidentiality of their personal identity information. These are a few of the daily legal matters hotels are concerned with, but on a national scale, there are also a number of pressing issues that the industry at large must address. For example, with a new presidential administration, there could be new policies on minimum wage and overtime rules, and a revised standard for determining joint employer status. There could also be legal issues surrounding new immigration policies like the H-2B guest-worker program (used by some hotels and resorts for seasonal staffing), as well as the uncertain legal status of some employees who fall under the DACA program. There are also major legal implications surrounding the online gaming industry. With the growing popularity of internet gambling and daily fantasy sports betting, more traditional resort casinos are also seeking the legal right to offer online gambling. Finally, the legal status of home-sharing companies like Airbnb continues to make news. Local jurisdictions are still trying to determine how to regulate the short-term apartment rental market, and the outcome will have consequences for the hotel industry. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.