With 2021 just around the corner, meeting planners and destination marketing organizations are preparing for the eventual return of business travelers, who will want affordability, ample room to spread out, and reassurance that the latest cleaning and sanitation measures are in place. In a recent EventMB survey of over 1,000 meeting planners, 45 percent of respondents said that concern over the safety of attendees and stakeholders was the biggest obstacle to resuming events.
Up-and-coming meeting destinations like Kansas City, which boasts expanded room inventory and lodging renovations in a series of developments that have made the city into an ideal location for business events, wants planners to know the city is ready when they are.
Visit KC is providing the latest information on health and safety standards, current city guidelines, and tips for planning safe meetings on a new Safe Meetings landing page, and over 100 hospitality businesses, from international luxury brands to boutique urban oases, have pledged their commitment to safely hosting meetings and events through the KC Clean Commitment. This pledge bands together Kansas City’s hospitality businesses under a common goal to protect the region through common-sense health and safety measures.
New and renovated hotels are bringing more diversity to the city’s hospitality landscape, which already includes over 34,000 rooms.
Loews Kansas City: An Unconventional Convention Hotel
A new anchor for Kansas City’s meeting infrastructure opened earlier this year: Loews Kansas City Hotel, the first new major convention hotel built downtown in 35 years. Loews’ new brand message, “Welcoming you Like Family,” is also the name of the company’s new and enhanced health and safety protocols.
“We want to reassure guests that we care for them as we would care for our own family,” said Brian Johnson, managing director, Loews Kansas City Hotel.
In addition to more frequent cleaning procedures, especially in “high-touch areas” such as telephones, door handles, elevators, and light switches, the hotel has introduced a number of contactless experiences.
“In order to support physical distancing without sacrificing human connection, we’ve implemented Chat Your Service, a hotel-wide texting service that makes it easy for guests to request whatever they might need during their stay. Whether a guest needs a restaurant reservation, the AC turned up, or extra hangers, they can be in touch with a team member immediately via text.”
A new brand-wide approach to virtual gatherings, StreamLine by Loews, offers “innovative solutions for groups to connect,” Johnson said, with virtual, in-person, and hybrid options.
The new hotel also offers plenty of space for social distancing, with approximately 60,000 square feet of function space that includes 22 column-free meeting and banquet rooms, 6,000 square feet of outdoor terrace, and the largest hotel ballroom in the city. A climate-controlled bridge leads from the hotel’s fifth floor to the main ballroom in the Kansas City Convention Center, providing meeting planners and convention attendees with a convenient accommodation option.
“The ease of movement and the ability to have a consolidated meeting package with a large block of rooms is something new that is positioning Kansas City as a stronger contender for new business,” said Mark Champa, director of sales and marketing for Loews Kansas City Hotel.
In addition, the hotel is centered within a reemerging culinary and cultural scene that includes award-winning restaurants, top-notch cocktail bars, more than 40 craft breweries, an exciting art scene, a dynamic artisanal and maker culture, and world-class museums and performing arts options.
Crossroads Hotel: At the Heart of Kansas City’s Art Scene
The Crossroads Arts District, home to more than 65 galleries, is also poised for a comeback.
“The Crossroads has long been an arts hub for Kansas City, but over the last five years, the development here has just been fantastic,” said Jeremy Bennet, director of lifestyle for Crossroads Hotel, which also pledged to the KC Clean Commitment. The hotel opened in 2019 in a former Pabst Blue Ribbon bottling plant right in the center of the district.
With new social distancing measures in place, the neighborhood is continuing to host First Fridays, a community arts event on the first Friday of every month involving galleries, local cuisine, and street performances late into the evening. The event brings energy and excitement, which translates into a fertile environment for the area’s critically acclaimed restaurants and beloved bars, many of which are now offering curbside pickup, carryout, and delivery.
“It’s definitely an epicenter of food and drink,” said Bennet. “We’ve got three James Beard nominated or award-winning chefs within walking distance. And the cocktail game in the Crossroads is very, very strong.”
Crossroads Hotel is deeply embedded in its local environment, building in a uniquely strong focus on the people, character, and culture of the Crossroads Arts District and Kansas City in general. The hotel has its own art gallery in which artists-in-residence from the city and region present original works and installations. Local musicians and DJs play in the hotel’s venues regularly, and local groups often host events, classes, and workshops in the hotel’s public spaces.
Energetic newcomers like the Crossroads Hotel and world-class mainstays like Loews Kansas City Hotel are great examples of how the hospitality industry is stepping up its response to traveler sentiment surrounding Covid-19.