Week in Review: Travel Agency Events, U.S. Hotel Renovations

While the United States’ travel industry continues to recover, a lower-than-expected jobs report for March has U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman a bit concerned as we approach summer. Overall, the economy added 236,000 jobs in March (the lowest monthly gain since December 2020), with the leisure and hospitality sector adding 72,000 jobs—which in a vacuum is a positive, but this number falls well short of the average monthly gain of 95,000 over the prior six months.

“The drop-off in leisure and hospitality hiring reported [for March] is a concern as our industry prepares for the busy summer season and the need to fill 1.5 million open jobs in this sector,” said Freeman. “An adequately resourced travel workforce is essential to meeting demand and growing revenue in the travel industry.”

Freeman previously called “periods of high demand”—like spring break, holiday weekends and summer vacation—"a stress test that reveal the inadequacies of our current air travel system.”

Travel Agency Events

Ahead of Earth Day (April 22), Internova Travel Group and its luxury division, Global Travel Collection (GTC), will share with advisors and employees a progress report on the company’s sustainable travel journey. In addition, airline and hotel partners will remark on the steps they’re taking to help reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment. Internova is on the path to becoming carbon-neutral by the end of 2023 and has introduced two new initiatives to help GTC clients reduce their travel emissions—a Climate Action Program for leisure travelers, and one for corporate and event customers.

A bunch of people in a ballroom posing at an event
A portion of attendees for Travel Leaders Network's Orlando Spring Regional event. (Photo by Travel Leaders Network)

Elsewhere on the East Coast, Travel Leaders Network (TLN) has wrapped up its annual slate of Spring Regionals. Held in three cities across the U.S.—Orlando, FL; East Brunswick, NJ; and Philadelphia, PA—Regionals allowed TLN members to have face time with preferred suppliers and Travel Leaders Network staff, as well as network with each other. Over 300 TLN advisors attended a Spring Regional this year, as did 49 preferred suppliers.

Travel Experts, in addition, just completed Summit 3, an event with 160 advisors and 60 suppliers who gathered to learn and network. The event took place aboard Seabourn Ovation, which was chartered for five days sailing out of Barbados.

Looking ahead, Dream Vacations and CruiseOne announced that the theme of its annual National Conference, taking place aboard Carnival Celebration from November 5 – 12, will be “FOCUS.” Throughout the week, attendees will participate in informative and inspirational sessions with travel industry executives and motivational speakers; engaging networking events; one-on-one meetings with cruise, resort and tour suppliers; interactive educational workshops; and peer-to-peer brainstorming sessions.

U.S. Hotel Renovations and Openings

 Vinoy Resort & Golf Club
The Vinoy Resort and Golf Club's renovation includes its signature Veranda. (Jeff Herron, courtesy of The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club)

As domestic travel continues to thrive post-pandemic, it’s good to keep an eye on everything happening in our own backyard—and that included a slew of re/openings and announced renovation projects.

In St. Petersburg, FL, The Vinoy Resort and Golf Club, Autograph Collection has completed the initial phase of a comprehensive renovation. The project touched upon The Vinoy’s Veranda, grand lobby, guestrooms, ballrooms and meeting spaces and numerous F&B venues; it also sees the addition of a new spa and wellness area.

Heading west, The Wigwam, just outside of Phoenix, AZ, is embarking on a multimillion-dollar renovation, which will include a complete interior refresh to elevate its casitas, suites and two presidential suites. Beyond the accommodations, The Wigwam will also undergo extensive improvements to its grounds, which span over 440 acres.

The Viceroy Santa Monica has also completed its top-to-bottom renovation worth $21 million. The renovation included guestrooms and suites, common areas, an expansive outdoor space and the signature restaurant and bar, Sugar Palm. The enhancement also added a new commissioned art collection from various local artists.

Nearby, the dual-branded Moxy Downtown Los Angeles and AC Hotel Downtown Los Angeles complex opened April 12. The dual-branded hotel is located on the corner of South Figueroa and Pico streets, directly across from the Crypto.com Arena and Los Angeles Convention Center. The Moxy will offer 380 guestrooms, while AC Hotel will offer 347 guestrooms; 12 dining and entertainment venues throughout the property are available to guests of each.

Arlo Chicago
The Arlo Chicago is now open, offering guests quick access to top sites and attractions. (Arlo Chicago)

In Chicago, the former Hotel Julien on N. Michigan Ave, has reopened as the Arlo Chicago. Located in a historic tower that once served as Chicago’s landmark Atlantic Bank Building, Arlo Chicago pays homage to its heritage, which dates back to 1912. There are 218 rooms with views of Lake Michigan, Millennium Park and Anish Kapoor's “Cloud Gate,” as well as a signature restaurant, About Last Knife.

If you’re looking to escape the city, Under Canvas has debuted its new safari-inspired, luxury outdoor resort brand, ULUM, with its first location near Moab, UT. Each of the 360-square-foot Suite Tents has a king bed, a lounge area complete with a sofa-bed and lounge chairs, and a private deck. The en-suite bathroom offers a rain shower, polished concrete sink and plant-based bath products. ULUM’s Adventure Concierge can assist with white water rafting, rock-climbing at Looking Glass Arch, guided national park tours and more.

Historic Sailings

Travel Agent is currently aboard Holland America Line’s "150th Anniversary Transatlantic Crossing" by Rotterdam, which departed New York City on April 7. Once the 2,668-passenger ship arrives on April 18 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the city of the line’s founding, a litany of celebratory events will unfold. Guests onboard are treated to historic touches, such as menu and drink items from the 1920s (along with pricing from the ‘20s, too!).

MS Rotterdam
Guests aboard Rotterdam can enjoy engaging lectures about the cruise line's history. (Photo by Holland America Line)

Tip: All Holland America cruise ships have added an arts and crafts director and a sports director, we learned on this sailing. These folks lead painting, flower-arranging, drawing and other classes, as well as the new pickleball activities, operated in partnership with the Professional Pickleball Association.

Princess Cruises this week also announced it will be adjusting its 15-day ocean-to-ocean Panama Canal cruise aboard Emerald Princess in 2024 to offer guests the chance to experience a complete solar eclipse at sea. On Monday, April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible in North America—the last one for 20 years.  

Separately, the line announced its longest voyage ever in 2025: A 116-day World Cruise visiting 51 destinations in 26 countries and six continents.

A Moment of Your Time

Travel Agent’s sister publication Luxury Travel Advisor has two surveys open: One for its 2023 Awards of Excellence, which honor the top travel executives and suppliers; and the other for its Q1 “Affluent Sentiment Report,” an ongoing survey to gauge the pulse of the luxury travel advisor business.

Advisors, we would appreciate it if you took a couple minutes to fill each of these out.

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