Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals, a weekly interview series with professionals from the MICE industry in New York.
These are uncertain times for our industry – yet we believe that now is the moment to bring our industry closer together by strengthening our ties and relationships on a more human level. It is for this reason that Shackman Associates is undertaking a series of interviews with other New York hospitality professionals to learn how they are managing during this time.
Today we are publishing the second episode of our weekly series called Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals. This week Karen Shackman, President and CEO of Shackman Associates interviews Chris Reed, Director of Sales & Marketing at NYC’s newest luxury hotel, Equinox Hotel, Hudson Yards.
Karen Shackman: Thank you, Chris. It is good to reconnect again after our fun and informative site inspection of the hotel earlier this year.
Who would have thought then that our next conversation would be under these circumstances while working from home?
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your current personal and professional situation with us. We believe that communication is key and that sharing these insights can help other hospitality professionals going through these though times.
Karen: Chris, please tell us a little about yourself and your role at the property.
Chris: Hello Karen, thank you, I appreciate you reaching out for this interview.
I’m Chris Reed, Director of Sales & Marketing for NYC’s newest luxury hotel, Equinox Hotel, Hudson Yards. I was the second official hotel-based hire and have been with the company since the early pre-opening construction days (nearly two years now). With a background in luxury hotel sales and marketing, as well as certifications in both personal training and nutrition health coaching, the opportunity to work for Equinox Hotels and open their flagship hotel was quite honestly a dream come true for me.
Karen: I can only imagine. The Equinox is certainly a great property and it seems your personal interests are very much aligned with the company’s philosophy. What is your current situation? Are you in lockdown? And if so where?
Chris: I decided to stick it out here in the city, locking down in Chelsea. I’ve self-quarantined for nearly two months now.
Karen: Chelsea is a such a fun neighborhood and so close to the Hudson river. How do you organize your daily routine, shopping, meals, workout etc.?
Chris: Working out is one of the only outlets that’s keeping me sane through this difficult time. I’ve been rotating 5 mile runs down vacant streets every other day (masked of course), and practicing workouts at home the other days, using everything from weighted backpacks to resistance bands to get the job done. Equinox Hotels just released all of our in-room AM/PM Rituals content to the public to offer a series of breathwork, stretching and meditation practices. I encourage you all to check it out (link: https://equinox-hotels.com/nyc/the-experience/rituals/). These have been extremely helpful tools to bring clarity and balance to my ‘new normal’ lifestyle.
In trying to make the best of this time, I’ve been steadily following a low-carb diet: green smoothies, lean meats, seafood and tons of veggies from my local Westside Market. Red wine in (mostly) small doses- thank you Drizly for delivering! My goal is to come out of this healthier and stronger than ever. I’ll admit online shopping has gotten the best of me though. I’m held captive to every clothing sale imaginable!
Karen: I am sure we will all take a look at the in-room rituals content – especially for the breathwork and meditation practices, which are great tools in general, and now specifically more important than ever.
Have you scheduled some time every day or week to stay in touch with you your team and how do you connect?
Chris: We have organized daily/weekly Zoom calls and occasional ‘HouseParty’ wine nights and book club sessions. We celebrate everyday moments from sales successes, birthdays, wellness tips and general life updates. The key for me is just constant communication and check-ins through this time to ensure everyone is doing well (both personally and professionally), staying positive and focused on the future.
Karen: It is definitely different now when it comes to managing a team and maintaining communication. What do you find the most difficult about the change in your work situation?
Chris: Being in hospitality, I thrive on the energy of my industry family- colleagues, clients, friends. While I do not feel alone as we are all staying connected in new and virtual ways, I do get lonely and miss the power of ‘face to face’ interaction and physical embrace. Having traveled so much to share the Equinox Hotel brand with the world, being unable to travel has been extremely challenging. But it will just make future outings THAT much more exceptional.
Karen: Are you still dealing with cancelations, rebooking?
Chris: Yes, regrettably some companies are forced to move summer bookings into the last quarter of the year, and in some cases, 2021. It is a difficult time for everyone, and we are offering as much flexibility as possible as we’re a firm believer in maintaining strong relationships and looking at the bigger picture. I believe clients will truly remember who their partners were (and perhaps were not) during this crisis.
Karen: What are your three personal essentials at home to get through this?
Chris: Netflix, Amazon Prime and Spotify. Face masks help too. It’s all about self-care, right?
Karen: You mentioned Netflix and Amazon Prime. Is there any series or book you are watching or reading at the moment that has made an impact on you? Please share.
Chris: I started Ozark three times in the last year and could not get into it. I finally gave it another try and just finished the third season. Blown away. No spoiler alerts here! There are some powerful documentaries out as well, including Becoming, Crip Camp, A Secret Love, Circus of Books and Unorthodox
Karen: You mentioned earlier that being unable to travel has been extremely challenging. What is the first place you are going to go after the travel restrictions have eased.
Chris: Literally anywhere with a sandy beach and tropical cocktails (after we get the hotel up and running of course!).
Karen: That sounds really good right now! Let’s hope we can return to normal soon again and travel, inspire and engage with our clients, here in New York and around the world. Thank you again, Chris for your insights and the recommendations on physical and mental well-being. Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Chris: Thank you Karen, I wish you and the whole team at Shackman Associates the same. I enjoyed the interview.