The Future Of Travel, with Robert Klein of Marriott’s AC Hotel
An interview with Candice Georgiadis
…A sustainable and simplistic approach in rooms, like laminar wood floors instead of carpet, and refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles placed on walls rather than individual bottles of shampoo and conditioner set in the bathroom.
As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Klein, Director of Sales and Marketing at AC Hotel New York Downtown. Prior to opening the AC Hotel New York Downtown for Concord Hospitality, he was the Area Director of Sales where he was responsible for several properties including the Renaissance Meadowlands, the Residence Inn East Rutherford, Residence Inn Secaucus and Fairfield Inn East Rutherford.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My love for connecting with people from different parts of the world has attracted me to the hospitality industry and has landed me at AC Hotel New York Downtown. I’ve developed close relationships with regular hotel guests who constantly stay at AC New York Downtown.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I served as a representative to the AC Hotel’s Sales Managers Advisory Council, Peer Group Program and its selective Task Force initiative, providing strategic counsel to properties across the country in order to improve their sales training and development skills. I share my passion for the hospitality industry by speaking to sales, marketing and business students at local universities, including Fairleigh Dickinson and Montclair State.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A silly mistake that often occurs in the hotel industry is overbooking rooms. I have done this in the past and worked quickly with the brand’s sister properties to transfer transient guests to fulfill the group block.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The distinctive geometric design of AC Hotel New York Downtown’s façade sets the building apart from the surrounding Seaport District neighborhood. The movement of the nearby East River inspired architect Peter Poon to incorporate a wave-like pattern throughout the tower. Guest rooms will be situated on an angle for exceptional views of Lower Manhattan, the East River and Brooklyn as an added bonus. Similar to the exterior, the interior design of AC Hotel New York Downtown by Kyi Gyaw, Phillip Poon, Jude Smith, reflects the personality of the neighborhood. Upon entering the hotel, guests will notice the purposeful design and thoughtful placement of artwork throughout the property. From the impressive suspended Italian marble staircase at the entry to the art installations by local artists Rachel Weiss and Thomas Hammer; the interiors are meant to evoke positive energy vibrations and organized chaos within an urban environment.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
Hotels run on a 24/7 timeline so it is important to maintain a work life balance by knowing when to leave the office, prioritizing your needs, and delegating tasks efficiently amongst peers as running a hotel is a team effort!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Helene Okabe, Concord’s Regional VP of Sales, is extremely intelligent in the hospitality industry. Learning from her and assisting AC Hotel New York Downtown’s owners and managers with various properties and projects helped me learn and understand my own role.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
I try to be proactive and think of creative solutions to amplify guest experiences by working with the hotel team on brainstorming and executing creative activations, menus and cocktails while developing relationships with different companies and vendors in the neighborhood for potential partnerships.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
AC Hotel New York Downtown provides a simplistic approach to the guest experience by providing basic necessities for the traveler and emphasizing local experiences in the neighborhood. The rooms feature an in-room safe, coffee maker, and a spa-like bathroom with a waterfall shower head. Guests can also casually lounge in AC Lounge as the bartender handcrafts cocktails or enjoy the hotel’s 24-hour fitness center. AC Hotel New York Downtown is a great alternative to AirBnB as the hotel offers affordable rates and is a prime location in Downtown Manhattan.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
AC Hotel New York Downtown is perfect for those who want to get away from notoriously overcrowded neighborhoods like Times Square and Rockerfeller Center. The hotel offers a European twist to the typical New York hotel stay with tapas style plates at AC Kitchen and European amenities in the room.
Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?
- Mobile key check in and access to rooms using phone technology
- With so many attractions to explore, light bites and tapas would be a great option for people to grab and go
- Open style lounges with signature cocktails with tap wine, beer and cocktails
- Call pods — guests can press a device for service in restaurant
- Eateries that use market items and local ingredients
- A sustainable and simplistic approach in rooms like laminar wood floors instead of carpet and refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles placed on walls rather than individual bottles of shampoo and conditioner set in the bathroom
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
A hotel or resort that offers a seamless check-in experience and a warm, friendly backdrop complete with a line up of unique entertainment and relaxation options.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
With a positive attitude and welcoming personality, I ensure that everyone around me is comfortable and happy at AC Hotel New York Downtown.
AC Hotel New York Downtown donates room stays for select charitable causes. The hotel also participates in soap recycling by donating unused soaps to Clean the World, a social enterprise with a mission to protect the environment and save millions of lives by leading the global hygiene revolution.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d encourage everyone to volunteer at a charity for at least 3–4 hours per month. I’ve volunteered at several nonprofit organizations over the years and can attest to how this small act of kindness and support can go a long way for the greater good.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!