In this episode of Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals Karen Shackman, President and CEO of Shackman Associates interviews Jackie Galea, Area Manager / Director of Sales & Marketing at the Archer Hotel.
“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.
Karen Shackman: Thank you, Jackie, for being available for this interview. My team and I have come to know you as a forthright and solution-oriented professional who lives and breathes hospitality, which we truly appreciate. The high-end program we planned together last September, seems so long ago now - a completely different world. I know Maarika and Tobias loved working with you and your team to develop some truly unique and fun New York experiences.
Karen: What is your current situation? Are you still in lockdown?
Jackie Galea: I prefer to look at it as more of an opportunity to keep my family and community safe vs. a lockdown.
I’ve been working from home in Brooklyn for the last two months but will begin working on property soon.
Karen: That is a great perspective. You are absolutely correct. It is a safety-first situation. Please let us know when you anticipate being back on property again. For now, how are you organizing your daily routine, shopping, meals, workout etc.?
Jackie: I still wake up on the earlier side and am at my “desk” by about 7:30 AM. Meals consist of a lot of leftovers and some Grubhub ordering (with contactless delivery, of course).
Some mornings include a jog (if you can call it that — perhaps more of a fast walk) while wearing a mask. Online shopping is always a convenient way for me to shop, but groceries have a long wait time, so I’ve been venturing out every other week in the evenings to tackle the grocery list. I have a 2-year-old and blueberry pancakes are a necessity.
Karen: I can only imagine the balancing act with work and a 2-year-old! The blueberry pancakes sound like a great treat for all. Is your current work routine the same as when you were in the office? How have you set yourself up?
Jackie: I am a creature of habit, so my routine is relatively the same: early start, lots of coffee, conference calls and client calls. My wife and I switch “office” space throughout the day based on our schedules. I have my laptop, cellphone and headset and can be productive anywhere. If I can connect with clients and guests while delivering the service levels, we have prided ourselves on, I can manage.
Karen: It all sounds like a negotiation for space to conduct business in this “new normal”. How do you connect with your team?
Jackie: Zoom, email and phone.
Karen: What do you find the most difficult about the change in your work situation?
Jackie: Not being able to see my team in person or any of our guests. I miss the comfort and connections that come with that routine.
Karen: Do you participate in work happy hours or webinars?
Jackie: Multiple happy hours — which, of course, require a better attire than my usual outfit on days with no video calls. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the Zoom happy hours but it’s amazing how connected you feel after seeing someone’s face, even if only on a screen.
The webinars are all mostly focused on the same thing — travel outlook, what happens next. I’ve attended multiple and they are all insightful and the participants well-respected in the industry. I am grateful that so many organizations are taking the time to host webinars and panels and provide such relevant information.
Karen: What are your three personal essentials at home to get through this?
Jackie: Disney + (My 2-year-old lives at Mickey’s Clubhouse).
My Nespresso machine.
My family. This time at home, the stresses we face due to the uncertainty, etc., wouldn’t have been as manageable without them. When you have a little kid running around who doesn’t understand what’s happening, you’re reminded of simplicity and the joy inherent in many things. It keeps me positive.
Karen: I totally agree. This seems to be the time for us all to pause and take the time to focus on the joy and pleasure of the “little” things we too often take for granted. What are you doing from a wellbeing, mental health perspective?
Jackie: Giving myself a break. Other than the efforts I make to support our partners and generate business, as well as the things I can do to be socially responsible during this pandemic, I understand that there’s not much that I can control during this crisis. So, I need to take it day by day and look at the positive. There is always a silver lining — you just have to see it.
Karen: That is a great positive perspective - I think I may have to “quote” you. I think after the COVID crisis hit we were all in a state of shock at the suddenness of it all. The day to day information updates are so overwhelming, that it is important to find a way to incorporate a “mental health and wellbeing” aspect every day
Is there any book or series you are reading or watching at the moment that transports you away from the current reality?
Jackie: Lots of series: “Unorthodox” was amazing. Also liked “Dead to Me,” “Ozark” and “Succession,” and we’re currently watching “The Last Dance,” which I’m really enjoying.
Karen: All great series. It is interesting that many of these same series are resonating with a number of people we are speaking to. What is the first place you are going to go after the travel restrictions have eased?
Jackie: THE BEACH! The Beach and then the beach again. Any beach, anywhere.
Karen: Haha! Yes. I think we all could use some beach time - especially now that it is getting warmer. Are you still dealing with cancelations, rebooking?
Karen: This still seems to be the same across the board – and changing day-by-day and week-by-week. How are you coping with this, and what are you doing as you look to the future?
Jackie: Thinking outside the box. Our industry has been significantly impacted, as we all know. It’s going to be a while before the demand for hotels rebounds, both for business and leisure travel. Duty of care is an even greater concern than it has been in the past, so we need to be even more mindful of the guests’ comfort and concerns. Luckily, that is at the heart of who Archer is as a host.
Karen: When ready, please share with us the new health and safety protocols being put in place forward by Archer. We too are looking for ways to create a safe environment for our clients, when they return, and to assure them of what our colleagues are implementing to boost confidence in travel and events again.
Thank you for your time and for sharing your personal insights, Jackie. Now, more than ever, it is important to stay in contact with our colleagues and to share our experiences. It is so important that that our industry emerges from this challenge stronger than ever – and we look forward to continuing our partnership.