Hilton Injects Some ‘Wow’ into the Midscale Hotel Market

The reinvigoration of the hotel industry through youthful offerings and lower prices

Later this year, Hilton Worldwide will launch a new brand in the United States and Canada aimed at tapping into the midscale hotel market. But rather than sacrifice experience for affordability, Tru by Hilton will use minimal design and modern amenities as a way of satisfying both the minds and hearts of an important segment of travelers.

Today, the midscale market space in the hotel industry is between 15-20 million people, and 15-20 percent of Hilton’s customers are already booking these types of rooms, but with other companies. If Tru is Hilton’s attempt at grabbing a slice of this pie, then travelers in this market segment seem to be in for a treat.

Founded on the three key brand pillars of simplicity, spirit, and value, the Tru brand intends to enhance the hotel experience through operational efficiency, minimal design, and a vibrant culture.

One example of the cost-design dynamic comes in neutral colors that will be used in places with higher upfront costs, and bold colors will be used where things can be regularly changed to stay relevant. Fixtures will also be energy conscious and luxury vinyl tile will make for easy cleaning.

But the experience will start at The Hive, a lobby which will have various “activation zones” for a range of activities and lifestyles. Dubbed the work, play, lounge, and eat zones, here guests can take up private work alcoves, games and couches, and refuel with coffee and adult drinks.

read the full article at psfk.com

In Southern California, it takes an assortment of villages

by Joel Kotkin & Charlie Stephens

Among urban historians, Southern California has often had a poor reputation, perennially seen as “anti-cities” or “19 suburbs in search of a metropolis.” The great urban thinker Jane Jacobs wrote off our region as “a vast blind-eyed reservation.”

The Pavlovian response from many local planners, developers and politicians is to respond to this criticism by trying to repeal our own geography. Los Angeles’ leaders, for example, see themselves as creating the new sunbelt role model, built around huge investments Downtown and in an expensive, albeit underused, subway and light-rail network.

Yet the notion of turning Southern California into a dense, New York hybrid makes very little sense. Nor has it done much for the regional economy, certainly in Los Angeles. The City of Angels thrived during its period of development into a multipolar region; in the 21st century, as Downtown has gained a few thousand hipsters, the rest of the city has lagged economically while population and job growth – including in tech – has been more robust in the surrounding counties of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino.

Building off Strength

Southern California, even before the advent of the freeways, developed along the lines of an “archipelago of villages.” Even Downtown Los Angeles, the one legitimate urban core in the region, lost its central relevance by the 1930s and, despite all its self-promotion, employs close to the smallest share – well short of 3 percent – of the regional workforce of any large region in the country.

In contrast, the two fastest-growing areas in Southern California – the Inland Empire and Orange County – are arguably the largest regions in the country without a real downtown. Rather than a negation of urbanity, as some suggest, these areas are nurturing an expansive archipelago of smaller hubs, each serving distinct geographies, populations, tastes and purposes, and constitute the building blocks for Southern California’s urban future.

The advantages of such districts are obvious. They allow people to live as most prefer, in single-family homes, lower-density townhouses or apartments, while having easy access to a walking environment. In many cases, most notably Irvine, there is employment nearby, leading to very short commutes on average. This multipolarity is essentially baked into the Southern California cake; it cannot be transformed without massive economic disruption, and enormous expenditures on transit have so far done little to reduce gridlock or spur broad economic growth.

see full article at ocregister.com

Mobile Chargers Are Bringing Electric Scooters to Your City Faster Than Expected

PSFK spoke with Gogoro's VP of Communications about the company's OPEN Initiative and its global expansion

Last year at CES, Gogoro explained to onlookers how battery swapping could eliminate the challenges of EV adoption. Since launching in Taipei in August, the electric scooter maker and energy company has sold over 4,000 EV scooters and built over 125 battery swapping charging stations in the region. Now Gogoro will be making its way to Amsterdam this summer, and hit the U.S. market in late 2016.

But at this year’s convention, Gogoro unveiled two developments that will scale up adoption and even introduce sustainable transport into other smaller, progressive communities. The GoCharger can be used at home or in businesses, and the OPEN Initiative lets people nominate themselves or their communities to adopt the technology, even if GoStations aren’t yet available.

PSFK was able to speak with Jason Gordon, Gogoro’s VP of Communications, to learn more about the new GoCharger and how the OPEN Initiative will get consumers involved in the rollout process.

see full article at psfk.com

Retail and Food Halls are Revamping Southern California Communities

How retail is revamping SoCal's cultural and entrepreneurial scene

In the midst of Los Angeles’ urban resurgence, the city’s suburbs are seeing their own makeovers. An hour south of downtown, Huntington Beach is celebrating the opening of Pacific City, a retail hub and food hall that houses local vendors, a Equinox fitness facility, and social gathering spots—all right across from the beach. While the new complex, developed by DJM Capital Partners, breathes new life into the beach town, it’s just another example of a larger culture and entrepreneurial growth in the Orange County region.

With almost 60 new stores and restaurants, the complex hosts a mix of anchor tenants such as H&M and Tommy Bahama, as well as indie shops, boutiques, and cafes. Pacific City also offers free amenities, with designated hangout spots, with foosball tables, fire pits, and a movie screening section for after a long day at the beach.

While Huntington Beach may be known by locals for its surf, and known to tourists for its weather and proximity to Disneyland, the city’s culture runs deeper than the sand and the big name brands. Pacific City strikes at the heart of the community, embodying “the best of what SoCal culture has come to represent—freedom, creativity, entrepreneurship.”

see full article at psfk.com

GM and Lyft: The Chauffeurs of Community-Minded Cities

A partnership between the two firms will bring self-driving vehicles to the ride-sharing business, what happens to the social dynamics of an urban environment remains to be seen

This week General Motors announced that it will be working with Lyft to create afleet of autonomous vehicles. With $500 million already invested in the ride-sharing company and plans to rent out vehicles to Lyft drivers, GM’s move signifies a changing tide in the automotive industry. But despite the environmental benefits that come with this change, the advent of self-driving cars appears to pose a threat to the social bonds it supposedly forges.

For now, GM will begin renting vehicles to Lyft drivers. GM’s strategic shift to the “big-city business,” away from the traditional model of owning cars and having to find parking for them, fits right into Lyft’s plans for a more “democratic transport” and vision to “reconnect people through transportation and bring communities together”.

Sometime in the future the manufacturer will develop an entirely new fleet of self-driving vehicles for Lyft. Such a system would run more efficiently, allowing for seamless pick-up and drop-off and route optimization for multiple passengers at a time. But is it possible that removing the human element will work against the idea of fostering a collaborative and social community?

see full article at psfk.com

Architects and Nonprofits Rebuild the Nepal Education System from Ground Up

Since a devastating earthquake, the country's schools have been in desperate shape, but the future is looking brighter with schools that adapt to destruction

In April of this year, Nepal’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed over 8,000 people and destroyed more than 25,000 classrooms in about 8,000 schools. In an effort to rebuild the country’s most devastated regions, SHoP Architects is partnering with two nonprofits to rebuild 50 public schools and lift Nepal education standards to new heights. While the government plays some role in the overall process, this venture displays how private organizations can help initiate progressive change in communities.

In May, all schools in the Kathmandu region were closed due to aftershocks. Since then, temporary schools have been rebuilt using materials such as bamboo, wood, and tarpaulin. Kids of Kathmandu is leveraging its relationship with Nepal’s Ministry of Education and working with SHoP and Asian Friendship Network to build flexible and easily constructed schools that benefit both students and local communities.

The newly rebuilt schools will be constructed with readily available parts, including concrete foundations, steel roofs, and earth brick, and various amenities will enhance the education experience and offer services for locals. These amenities include wireless Internet, solar electricity and a water purification system—all of which will help power new kitchens and donated computers and provide a safe haven in case of future disasters.

see full article at psfk.com

Smart Cities are Beginning to Adopt Electric Scooters as the Future of Transport

As cities expand and demand for electric scooters and vehicles grows, Gogoro is trying to bring a new urban energy infrastructure to market

By 2025 the number of smart cities around the world is predicted to quadruple from 2013, from 21 to 88. Gogoro is an electric scooter and energy company that is helping to lead this transformation by making megacities more connected, sustainable, and smart. Already in Amsterdam and Taipei, Gogoro is seeking out new metropolitan regions. But what cities are fitting for this mobility technology, and what will be the long-term impact?

To get a better sense of Gogoro, it seems fair to say that it’s like Tesla, but with scooters. The company has created the “world’s first high-performance, zero emissions two-wheeled electric vehicle”, as well as an urban battery infrastructure for quick charging.

The scooter also gathers, analyzes, and shares rider data to help riders understand best practices for reducing energy consumption and optimizing performance. Vending machines called GoStations allow riders to swap out dead batteries with new ones, and are spread throughout the city for easy access.

Cities naturally seem like good locations for the Gogoro system, but other geographical, social, and political forces also help determine suitable regions for adoption. Gogoro’s VP of communications Jason Gordon gave PSFK three practical reasons as to why Taipei made sense:

See the full article at PSFK.com

Swedish Social Alarm System Is Halting Attacks on Refugees

Trygve is a collective mobile security app that's helping to identify and prevent potential harm in European neighborhoods

While Americans’ number one fear might not be crime, it’s not a bad idea to protect yourself and your family from suspicious activity. In Sweden, an app calledTrygve helps Swedes to guard against crime and crowdsource help in the event of an emergency. Used in both big cities and rural communities, the app has already saved children and gives hope for community collaboration in times of crisis—especially humanitarian ones like we’re seeing now.

Trygve functions a bit like a neighborhood alert system, home security service, and police coordination app in one. In case of an emergency, users can notify their network, prompting those nearby to lookout for suspicious activities, missing people, or runaway pets. And the police department can notify neighborhoods of local crime.

Using location technologies, the app pinpoints the place where the activity is reported, and others with the app can see the situation take place real time. And while the neighborhood service is free, users can connect the app to their home alarm system for a charge. If your alarm goes off, those in your “alarm liaison group” will be notified immediately. In towns where the police or fire station is a long ways off, relying on such nearby help for immediate attention could come in handy.

See the full article at PSFK.com

NFC-Enabled Artwork Transcends Time and Space at SCOPE Miami

As part of this month’s SCOPE Art Show, digital print and design company MOO teamed up with artist, calligrapher, and creative director Aerosyn-Lex Mestrovicto demonstrate the changing nature of business, art, and communication with CODICES, a paper-based installation.

The NFC-enabled exhibit at Art Basel Miami will take visitors on an artistic experience between paper and space, and examine a modern new way of networking in the digital age.

For a basic understanding of MOO’s Paper+, and forever-lasting Business Cards+, they are embedded with an NFC chip, so that with a tap on your smartphone you can access personal info such as a website, social media profile, or work portfolio.

You can recode your card at any time, from any place to update your information for your network. It’s the traditional paper business card, reimagined for instantaneous digital networking.

Mestrovic’s paper installation will be much the same. It encourages visitors to view and experience the installation in its physical form but is also infused with a digital component. They’ll be able to access additional digital content by tapping their phones anywhere around the exhibit, thereby transforming the physical experience into one which can be shared, experienced, and commented online, around the world.

The collaboration takes place at a mid-way point between the traditional and the digital, as the physical and digital spheres of our social experiences are evolving and blending together. But since technology is creating new channels for connecting with others and experiencing culture, what does this mean for the future of art? In a talk with PSFK, Mestrovic gave his take:

“I’m interested in how all these things relate. What if you’re making your own sheet of paper but embedding microchips into it. Or, if you’re making your own brush that then is translating its movement data and creating dimensional sculptures out of that data. I think that there’s really amazing things to be done where your merging and compressing these craft based processes with modern day, cutting edge technology.”

See the full article at PSFK.com

Congested Cities, Meet the Autonomous Tricycle for Adults

The compact, off-the-grid Persuasive Electric Vehicle encourages physical activity, less traffic, and healthier cities

The Persuasive Electric Vehicle, or PEV (pictured on the right above), is an autonomous electric tricycle that’s designed to get people to change their mobility patterns in cities. It’s self-driving, environmental friendly, and sharable but there’s a catch: you have to pedal to keep it moving.

The PEV concept would use NFC technologies to accurately navigate streets, driving autonomously as it ships packages around town and finding potential riders for ride sharing programs.The tricycle only gets up to 12mph, but it’s meant for bike lanes only.

As for the persuasive element, studies show that those using ride sharing programs were already walking or riding their bikes more than others. Since the PEV is meant to expand the market for sustainable transportation, its focus is to give automobile drivers a reason to switch over—which is, a little exercise. By pedaling, riders generate energy that is stored up and used when needed by the motor. Passengers could choose to take care of their bodies, cities, and environment at the same time.

See the full article at PSFK.com