My plants are confused. I hear there’s a lot of that going around. A week ago in Central Florida temperatures averaged 60 and the evenings dipped into high 30s or 40s. This week the lows are in the 60s and the highs in high-70s to high 80s. My plants don’t know whether to hibernate or bloom, as some are doing. Just spoke to someone in Texas who was in the midst of that horrendous below-freezing weather a couple days ago and today her area is in the high-70s. The rapid variance of temperatures is just like the world news. Recovery is imminent, airlines and cruise lines preparing for tourism crush, and COVID-related infection and death numbers are plummeting. Those stories contrast sharply with other current news that says tourism won’t recover until 2022 or 2023, and the new U.K and African viruses are more deadly and spreading quickly. What, and whom, to believe. I think the solution is: we believe what makes us feel better. So, my advice is to find something positive on which to focus and just do your best to make it happen.
Grab your family or friends in your bubble and check out the promotion for the 10-bedroom, sleeps 20 Villa La Datcha in Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (after first reading the new regulations for re-entering the U.S, posted below under COVID’S impact on venues, hospitality/meetings & events) Get seven nights for the price of six. Booking availability for all of 2021 except during high season. Blackout dates and holidays may apply.
Seating is first-come, first served, and you can only access it from a dedicated elevator, but the Sal Y Mar rooftop bar has opened atop the dual-branded Aloft and Element Hotel in Midtown Tampa, FL “It was a tremendous team effort and we couldn’t be happier with the way everything came together to create this exceptional new rooftop experience here in Midtown Tampa,” said Evette Torres, Dual General Manager for Aloft and Element Hotel. “The views are even more spectacular than I had hoped.” Drawing on Mayan influences from the Mexican coastal town of Tulum, the space is dressed in earth tones and coastal organic finishes. Executive Chef Stephanie Bisogne showcases local ingredients from seafood to authentic Spanish tapa dishes. There are handcrafted cocktails and local brews. The 4,900-sf Sal Y Mar easily accommodates up to 71 guests inside and 118 outdoors.
The Louisville Sports Commission and Louisville Tourism (KY) are betting that new and renovated sports venues will entice teams and events, aiding in the city’s recovery. The new Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center joins two other new facilities in Louisville, including Lynn Family Stadium and the developing soccer training facility. Also, the Louisville Slugger Field is receiving a facelift. The $53-million Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center is a 24-acre, multi-sport complex located in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood. The facility features 90,000-sf of floor space with a 4,000-seat, 200-meter banked indoor track and competition areas for all jumps, vaults and throws. The indoor track’s Mondo hydraulic floor can be lowered to provide space to add a stage and floor seating to host concerts and other events, such as robotics conferences. Additionally, the complex includes a four-lane mini-bowling alley, an interactive rock-climbing wall, and a multi-purpose space to be used for educational programming for the Louisville community. The Russell neighborhood was chosen purposefully to encourage investment and growth in Louisville’s West End, a historically black neighborhood. SportsTravel Magazine has ranked #2 among world-wide venues to “keep an eye on.” The Louisville Slugger Field has undergone a $7-million renovation, adding amenities such as additional bars and concession areas, social area offering multiple entertainment options, four-tiered lawn seating area down the right field line, expanded playground, wider concourses, and a new premium seating area with padded theater-style seats behind home plate. Also, new LED boards and extended netting to the field, which is more than 20 years old. All improvements should be completed by summer. Although the opening for the Lynn Family Stadium was delayed, the $65-million facility is now open, with 11,600 seats for a capacity of 15,304 guests utilizing the safe-standing supporter section, expandable to 20,000 with additional construction. The stadium is home to both Louisville City Football Club and a new National Women’s League Soccer team. Sometime this year, Racing Louisville will also be based there. The stadium has 18 luxury suites and premium seating amenities. The Soccer training facility should be completed by spring of 2021, housing the operations for both Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC, as well as serving as a site for a youth soccer academy. The center will encompass 30,000-sf with three natural grass fields and four turf fields. Stadium lighting will allow for play at night, and the club plans to make the facility open to other community events. In addition to locker room spaces for the pro clubs, the facility will include gym and workout areas, a kitchen, dining hall and media room.
COVID’S IMPACT ON VENUES, HOSPITALITY/MEETINGS & EVENTS
Nashville, TN’s Music City Center has become a vaccination site for the COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments are required in advance and walk-in appointments are not permitted. The convention center features a 353,143-sf exhibit hall, 57,500-sf Karl F. Dean Grand Ballroom, and the 18,000-sf Davidson Ballroom. The building includes an art collection featuring local and regional artists, a covered three-level parking garage with 1,800 spaces and is LEED Gold certified.
As of January 26, travelers entering the United States from Mexico above the age of two must show proof of a Negative Viral Test (PCR and Antigen Test NOT Antibody test) within 72 hours of their departure from Mexico. Proof must be presented at the departure airport within Mexico prior to boarding. Those who have tested positive for the virus within the past three months before travel can bypass the test requirement if they bring proof that they have recovered from the virus and are cleared to travel by a licensed healthcare provider or health official. Journey Mexico, which plans trips and rents out luxury villas, said in consideration of the new regulations, the travel company will collaborate on behalf of guests booked through them for hotels, villas, and resorts to facilitate these tests prior to departure. Journey Mexico said (subject to exceptions and change), tests generally cost between $150-$300 USD and guests will need to go to a testing facility where the test will be administered. In-hotel / villa testing is also possible in most (but not all) destinations subject to availability and additional cost. Results are typically available 24-72 hours after samples have been taken. Zachary Rabinor, Founder/President/CEO said that if a guest tests positive and is unable to return home, Journey Mexico will work closely with guests, travel advisors, suppliers, and health facilities to organize the best possible care and services.
See for yourself how the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek (Orlando, FL) has put safety first for meetings and events. The resort has created a 2:30-minute video showcasing health & safety protocols in place. From physically distanced room set ups and hybrid capabilities to F&B adjustments, safety measures included in Wyndham’s Count on Us initiative, and overall resort amenities, can be viewed and shared with clients to assure best practices are being followed.
TECHNOLOGY FOR VIRTUAL EVENTS
Baltimore, MD technology innovators Pixilated have created a tool simplifying calculating the ROI for virtual events, meetings and conferences. Planners and event hosts input expected revenue and expenses into the appropriate fields. Instantly, the profit and return on investment is calculated. This tool can be used for past and future events.
After a few months of beta testing to figure out the best pricing model, we landed on something crazy – making our full-fledged products free. That way, Run The World can align incentives and help event organizers make money, and reducing risks.
Run The World has come up with a unique plan for your company to host free events for up to 500 people and you are only charged for the service if you make money. If that sounds “too good to be true” just know that I searched the internet and found no unfavorable comments or complaints. CEO Xiaoyin Qu says this way, the company can ensure their product cycles are spent in developing new features to assist hosts monetize better. Run The World makes their money with a 15% revenue share on ticket sales. The free plan includes single and multi-session events; ticketing and registration management; event recording; social polling; Cocktail Party for speed networking; group photo booth; and more.
What if you had a tool to make designing your PixiWeb Virtual Photo Booth simple? Knowing that not every company has a graphics pro on staff, Pixilated has created an easy way for their designer to get your company logo on each picture, or to assist a designer of your choosing.
SINGLE DURING A PANDEMIC
My bad. I meant to have personal-finance website WalletHub’s latest report, 2021’s Best & Worst States for Singles, out before Valentine’s Day but I was just too busy eating my way through chocolate. So the search for love goes on all year anyway, right? So, after comparing 50 states across 27 key indicators of dating-friendliness, here’s what the company discovered. WalletHub clarified that the data set ranges from the share of single adults to online-dating opportunities to COVID-19 restrictions. So, where do singles fare best? Florida tops the top-10 list. It’s followed by Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, California, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri. Worst states for singles? Leading up to #50, which is New Mexico, are Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, Kentucky, Delaware, Arkansas, Hawaii, North Dakota and West Virginia. Here is some of the rationale. Louisiana has the highest share of single adults, which is 1.3x more than Utah, the state with the lowest number. Californians love their fitness and recreational facilities more than 10x the number who do in Hawaii. North Dakota has the lowest unemployment numbers and the highest number of jobless are in Mississippi. I could tell you more, but I’m sure by now you’d like to check out your state’s statistics for yourself, or maybe to decide where to move to. To see the full report,
BLACK HISTORY CELEBRATED IN LOUISVILLE, KY ATTRACTIONS
Black History Month wa celebrated in Louisville, KY as tributes to the impact the African American community has made to the city’s history, heritage, and culture. Beginning February and often lasting indefinitely, new exhibits have focused on the bourbon and horse racing industries, and on Mohammad Ali’s influence. New visitor experiences are a result of partnerships with several local attractions, along with organizations such as the National Civil Rights Trail, Black Bourbon Society, Kentucky Department of Tourism and the African American Travel Conference (which expects to hold their annual conference in Louisville, March 30-April 1). Here is a brief synopsis of seven attractions and experiences that are ongoing. The Unfiltered Truth Collection takes visitors back in time, to explore the stories of some extraordinary people who built the Louisville experience as now exists. There are new tours that vary by dates offered and pricing. Evan Williams: The Ideal Bartender Experience steps back to the final days of Prohibition and into the secret Speakeasy at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Guests will meet Louisville native and renowned bartender, Tom Bullock, the First Black American to write and publish a cocktail book (in 1917). During the 45-miute presentation, guests taste premium whiskeys as well as one of Mr. Bullock’s most famous creations. The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage presents the first of The Soul of Walnut Street Experience Series, Songbird of the South. It examines the history of R&B singer Mary Ann Fisher, from her traumatic childhood in Henderson, KY to Carnegie Hall. It all began when she won a 1941 talent contest at the Lyric Theatre on Walnut Street. Before her death in 1959, she performed with Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, James Brown, Hank Crawford, Jackie Wilson, Percy Mayfield, Bobby Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday. As the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™, the Frazier History Museum examines how African Americans turned bourbon into America’s Native Spirit. From Enslaved to Empowered: Kentucky’s African American Experience through Bourbon begins its story post-WWII. Visitors accompany the Croghan family’s enslaved laundress and enslaved distillery assistant through the Locust Grove house and outbuildings. The 90-minute tour immerses visitors in 1816, revealing the realities of enslaved life on a 19th century farm. The Kentucky Derby Museum has two experiences that examine the impact African Americans have made on horse racing. Few people outside Kentucky may know the greatest horsemen of the 19th and 20th centuries: the jockeys, trainers, farriers, and grooms, were all Black. In the Proud of My Calling, An African American Experience in the Kentucky Derby, their stories are told through costumed actors, historic paintings and photos, and authentic artifacts. Join the African Americans in Thoroughbred Racing Tour and journey through historic Churchill Downs Racetrack. Roots 101 African American Museum – The Sankofa Experience showcases local and national artifacts dedicated to telling the story of the African American journey from Africa. And did you know Louisville had a famous Black baseball team? Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory- The Best Black Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of – An Interactive Discovery explores the team’s dominance in the face of racism. Cleo Battle, Chief Operating Officer for the Black Tourism Advisory Council who helped shape these programs, said “Although these leisure tourism experiences began two years ago as an effort to curate the rich cultural assets involving Louisville’s Black history and heritage, they are coming to fruition at a very timely moment, on the heels of a national social justice push, further increasing our urgency and sense of purpose.” Karen Williams, President & CEO of Louisville Tourism, noted that “Travel and tourism has long been a vital tool in helping change perceptions and bring people together across cultures. Our city’s economic health demands that the spirit of hospitality Louisville offers is to and for everyone.”
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of International Live Events Association, Meeting Professionals International and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is now serving on the 20121-2022 MPI Independent and Small Business Owners Advisory Board. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com; www.karenkuzsel.com; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.