September 25–27, 2019



Tbilisi, Georgia


Purpose has become the catch-cry of future-faced travelers and hospitality brands alike as the travel sector increasingly takes on all things impactful and mission-driven. This means embracing new technologies, innovations, and modes of disruption at a time when “big issue” topics are being hotly debated: climate change, over-tourism, jet-flight restriction, racial diversity, gender equality, and how to engage with a new generation of travelers who demand that brands be purposeful, civic, and culturally fluent.

For this year’s Arena*, which took place in the ascendant Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Design Hotels looked towards New Horizons, asking ourselves as we approach the third decade of the 21st century how we can capture the imagination of the purpose-driven traveler of the future. We discussed the “New Promadic Traveler,” a pan-generational, conceptually driven consumer who is looking for purposeful and mission-driven travel. What will they expect from the brands of tomorrow—in hospitality and beyond? How can we provide “big issue” moments in ways that still keep fun at the core of the hospitality experience? With an eye to 2030, we examined the long-term prospects, challenges, and opportunities within the travel sector And the big-picture trends impacting our industry, guests, societies—our world.

Throughout the conference, presentations and talks looked at the innovators and market disruptions that are inspiring change, revolutionizing industry models, and delivering thought-provoking ideas in the worlds of service, food and drink, wellbeing, and technology. This year our second conference day, in collaboration with our friends at The Future Laboratory, engaged our audience to co-create ideas and opportunities for the future of hospitality through strategic workshops sessions that assessed more particular impacts and tactical applications, while immersive spaces helped us experience insights, and additional speakers, performers, and guests entertained, challenged, and informed.

Speakers & Artists at Arena* 2019

This year’s panel of experts, speakers, and artists explored concepts & trends around the purpose-driven traveler of the future.



On the Attribute of a Good City

Your Arena* Workshop Results

The impact of future traveler expectations

Over the next decade, society will be reframed by a series of influential social, cultural, and technological changes—from climate change and over-tourism to aging populations. These shifts will shape how, where, and why people travel in the years to come. With these thoughts squarely in mind, fellow hoteliers assembled at Arena* to discuss the present and future approach to “Food and Drink”, “Technology”, “Wellness”, and “Experience Programming”.


Please download here the results of these brainstorming sessions.




September 25, 2019

Opening Ceremony at
Rooms Hotel Tbilisi

In the industrial green courtyard of Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, breathwork facilitator Sascha Zeilinger and cellist Lihla guided guests through a session of meditation and conscious breathing techniques, kicking off Arena* in a transformative and open-hearted manner.



September 25, 2019

Welcome Cocktail at

This year’s Arena* Welcome Cocktail took place at Lolita, an eatery located in a stunning 19th-century building, where we celebrated getting back together for our annual members conference, danced to a live performance of M.RUX & The Drums and wandered through a curated artist exhibition by Propaganda.




September 26, 2019

Conference Day I at the
Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater

A multitude of inspiring talks, presentations, and performances were held at one of the oldest opera houses in Eastern Europe, the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater. As we came together in this neo-Moorish landmark, our speakers invited us to dive deeper into the needs of the traveler of tomorrow.



September 26, 2019

Dinner & Party at
Stamba Hotel

Chockablock with nostalgic references to the 1930s, Stamba Hotel played host to us on the stunning, newly-opened rooftop as we dined under the stars, danced for hours, and the long evening stretched until early morning.




September 27, 2019

Conference Day II at
Stamba Hotel

Through interactive workshops and clinics, guided by world-leading trend forecaster The Future Laboratory, we engaged in thought-provoking conversations about the expectations and value shifts in key areas, such as Food & Beverage, Guest Experience, Wellbeing, and Technology.



September 27–29, 2019

Owners Weekend at
Rooms Hotel Kazbegi

This year’s Owners Weekend at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi brought together many of our Originals to the Caucasus mountains to share special moments, get inspired, and grow even closer bonds over a program that explored psycho-social health, nutritional sciences, esoteric practices, and Georgian traditions.