Austin – Adding Shine to the Lone Star

Liberal & laid back… “flip-flops” are the order of the day

Julie Chase Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer – Austin Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, talks to us about “what’s new” in this fast growing southern US tourist destination.

Non-stop air services into Austin are on the rise. Condor Airlines new seasonal direct service from Frankfurt starts in June 2016. The direct British Airways route from London is celebrating its second anniversary in March 2016, introducing the new 787 with its legendary first class section. We will be the first US destination to have that plane.

you can ask a question, AS a question (the way you talk), and the search engine will find the answers.

How is the hotel offer evolving?

We now have the largest JW Marriott in America, open in Austin in 2015. A new Westin opened in 2015, and a new Fairmont opens in 2017. A year ago there were 6,000 rooms in the downtown area, currently there are 8,000 and by 2017 there will be 11,000 additional rooms.

Everyone in the industry probably knows Austin as the live music capital of the world – with festivals, and everything from Jazz through Blues and Country to Rock in downtown venues… But what else is new?

There’s the racing – the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Formula One Grand Prix. In addition, in June we have the X Games – that used to be held in Los Angeles, also at the Circuit of the Americas.

Austin is known as being “Silicon Hills” as the technology capital of the south. How is that impacting what you do?

A start up, called Wayblazer is employing IBM Watson technology. They are providing us with a tool giving consumers and travel professionals the possibility to do cognitive searches on our website. In other words, you can ask a question, AS a question (the way you talk), and the search engine will find the answers and the search engine will provide personalized recommendations. It’s quite amazing and we’re happy to be the first to leverage this technology that will doubtless go on to be broadly used in the industry in future.

 

DRISKILL UNDERGOES 8M RESTORATION

Austin’s landmark downtown hotel, the Driskill, bought in 2013 by the Hyatt group, has undergone a spectacular $8 million “restoration” project – making it more than ever a “must see” attraction. Hotel management insists on the word “restoration” rather than “renovation”; those visiting will understand why.

Built in 1886, the Driskill has a rich history that includes hosting American presidents, Texas governors and Hollywood celebrities in its well-appointed guest rooms, and was designated a national historic landmark in 1969.

Dining options include the 1886 Café and Bakery and the Driskill Grill, which has been serving diners since 1929. Its bar has been a favourite gathering place for visitors and locals alike.