In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Jeffrey Yau, Senior International Tourism Sales Manager at Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) shares his insight on the recent development of Philadelphia’s hotel industry
Travel And Tour World: Kindly share with us about the recent development in Philadelphia’s hotel industry.
Jeffrey Yau: Philadelphia has 14,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, providing visitors with a huge variety of hotel brands to choose from for accommodation and event venue purposes. By the end of this summer, five new hotels will have opened in Philadelphia since the start of the pandemic. The blog section on our Discover PHL website provides travellers with a comprehensive list of all the new hotel openings and recently renovated hotels.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about the MICE and leisure tourism activities in Philadelphia.
Jeffrey Yau: Philadelphia is such a vibrant city, continuously developing and expanding its tourism attractions. A few of the new additions to Philadelphia’s tourism landscape include the Neon Museum of Philadelphia which opened in January, adding to Philadelphia’s vast collection of art museums. Whilst the Philadelphia Museum of Art underwent a Frank Gehry-designed renovation in Spring this year. Restaurateurs Steven Cook and Michael Solomonov, whose restaurant group includes acclaimed Philadelphia restaurants such as Zahav, K’Far and Laser Wolf, have also announced plans to open a new private event space in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. Named Lilah, the event space will occupy a former industrial warehouse and will be able to accommodate up to 250 guests.
Travel And Tour World: What are new hotel additions in Philadelphia for 2021-2022 tourism seasons?
Jeffrey Yau: Philadelphia has continued to add to its extensive collection of hotels this year, making it easy for future travellers to find something that suits their travel needs and budget. New hotel openings in the city include Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia which opened in October and features 332 stylish rooms and over 5,000 square feet of customisable meeting and event space; Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, which brings 200 guest rooms and entertainment space within walking distance of the city’s Stadium Complex in South Philadelphia; Philadelphia’s first W and Element hotels in Center City, marking the first dual-brand adventure for the hotels anywhere in the world, and the soon to open luxury boutique Guild House Hotel, featuring 12 rooms and suites named after history-making women.
Travel And Tour World: What are the safety guidelines for tourists or the meeting delegates visiting Philadelphia?
Jeffrey Yau: As of 11th June 2021, all of Philadelphia’s ‘Safer at Home’ restrictions have been lifted, including capacity and density limits on group gatherings and physical distancing guidelines, as well as the 11pm deadline for dining orders and indoor and outdoor mask requirements. Mask wearing, however, will remain in hospitals and health care facilities, on public transportation, and in educational settings.
Travel And Tour World: What are the technological updates the hotel industry and the convention centres have taken to make the stay and the events or the meetings safer and more hygienic?
Jeffrey Yau: Many hotels have instituted contactless services for guest check-in and meeting rooms. Philadelphia’s premier meeting and event venue, The Pennsylvania Convention Center has used the past year to make a number of improvements, such as UV handrail sanitation units on escalators throughout the building, as well as enhanced air purification systems and upgraded HVAC filters. For an overview of new health and safety protocols, PHLCVB’s ‘Tips for Meeting in Philadelphia Right Now’ profiles many of the upgrades and renovations.
Travel And Tour World: Tell us about your marketing strategies to allure more event planners and tourists.
Jeffrey Yau: Now the City of Philadelphia has lifted all of its ‘Safer-at-Home’ restrictions due to the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since late September 2020, we’ve launched a new campaign called ‘Meet the Moment’ that encourages both local and regional corporations and businesses to hold meetings, conventions and sporting events in the city in 2021-2022.
Philadelphia has shown that it is prepared to bring back in-person meetings. Earlier this year, PHLCVB hosted the East Coast Volleyball’s 2021 Northeast Volleyball Qualifier (NEQ) tournament, making Philadelphia the first major Northeast city in the US to host a citywide event at a convention center in over a year due to the pandemic. Over three weekends, 21,650 attendees visited the Pennsylvania Convention Center for NEQ. More than 11,000 room nights were generated at 27 hotels throughout the city, leading to an overall economic impact of $14.3 million. PHLCVB created a case study on the event detailing all of the health and safety protocols leveraged to keep attendees and organisers safe.