The COVID-19 pandemic created an environment of unprecedented uncertainty in the hospitality industry, leading to closures and limited service. During the period of lockdown, many hotels were forced into a period of stagnation as they were unable to host guests, but at Gansevoort Meatpacking, we utilized this period to undergo a multimillion dollar top-to-bottom renovation.
In tandem with the renovation, we rebranded within the market to enter into the luxury category, redefining our target audience and expanding our customer-base. We pursued initiatives promoting our new food + beverage concepts, all of which have outdoor space which was critical in the new landscape, in order to establish them as neighborhood mainstays.
In partnership with The Meatpacking Business Improvement District (BID), we implemented programming that would incentivize local New Yorkers through strategic partnerships to better capture the tri-state area, especially as international travel was halted for an extended period of time.
Gansevoort Meatpacking Rebrand and Renovation
Having originally debuted in 2004, Gansevoort Meatpacking was credited with the revitalization of the Meatpacking District. Once known for its slaughter houses, the neighborhood in its latter glory became known as a destination for affluent residents as well as an art hub and cultural center of New York City with The Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as high-end luxury boutiques, experiential stores and new eateries and restaurants.
Relaunching after lockdown, following a full renovation and rebrand, Gansevoort became the rate leader in the area. We introduced two brand new food and beverage concepts, luxurious amenities and an elevated art program, including pieces from Bansky, Richard Hambleton and Hassan Hajjaj, tying the property to the galleries lining the streets. Reemerging within the luxury category, we adopted the tagline, "Allow Us to Re-Introduce Ourselves" The rebrand aimed to appeal to those who had come of age with the property alongside those who had not previously considered Gansevoort. Not only had Gansevoort hotel grown up, but the Meatpacking District evolved alongside it.
As the Meatpacking District evolved into an elevated luxury destination, with its wide cobblestone streets and vast outdoor public spaces such as Gansevoort Plaza, the adjacent High Line and brand new Little Island at Pier 55, this became a natural destination during the pandemic where people felt comfortable with the vast outdoor experiences.
Communicating Health & Safety Standards
Gansevoort Meatpacking doubled down on safety and health efforts to bring peace of mind to both guests and staff and position the hotel as a covid-compliant business and local leader in safety efforts. The hotel has always taken cleanliness very seriously, and how we maintain our health standards is something that we are very proud of. Knowing this, the language surrounding health and safety became integral to our early marketing efforts. We believe that our transparency regarding our safety initiatives, including the implementation of a CDC guided cleaning and disinfecting regimen using EPA-approved products, played a large role in the return of those who had led the charge in bringing hospitality back, be it diners joining us at one of our restaurants or the earliest guests.
Installing additional health and safety mechanisms, including additional hospital-grade chemicals and disinfectants and a high-grade air filtration system in our lobby space, was noted to staff and guests alike, clearly positioning Gansevoort Meatpacking as a safe place to stay and visit.
Our marketing team also took advantage of touch and contact free technology that had been implemented during the renovation to bring in guests conscious of the high touch experience often expected from hotels. We tapped into offerings such as the touchless Google Nest Hub device, which serves as our virtual digital concierge, and The MIRROR, an in-room interactive workout companion that offers streamable, premium fitness classes from the comfort of our guestrooms.
A Focus on Local Engagement
Relaunching during a time of limited travel in summer of 2021, with a slow return of U.S. travel and heavy restrictions still facing international guests, our local drive-in market had been, and continues to be, critical to our business. Marketing efforts centered around creating seasonal offers to provide New York locals with complimentary guestroom upgrades and food and beverage credits, as well as aiming to recreate the magic of a neighborhood gathering place, reimagined in Gansevoort's new energy.
Having launched two brand new food and beverage concepts in the renovation, the European inspired, al-fresco concept Coffee + Cocktails, and the intimate rooftop omakase experience Saishin, created in partnership with the renowned Kissaki Hospitality Group, to complement the existing American bistro The Chester and the beloved Gansevoort Rooftop, the team was able to build on the cache of the existing venues to draw guests back based on the existing standards of quality and atmosphere.
Because the Meatpacking District is a tight-knit community, we looked to our neighborhood to help spread our messaging and engage in marketing efforts through partnerships with our neighbors. With this method of marketing, we are able to bolster both our own business and the businesses throughout the neighborhood, which has helped to reinvigorate the energy of the area. We have been able to partner with local retailers to offer our hotel guests exclusive experiences including VIP early access, discounts on retail items, complimentary fittings and tailoring and product giveaways.
For example, following our relaunch, we tapped the local Eberjey boutique to provide a discount to Gansevoort guests who booked a staycation using our "Shop and Stay" package, encouraging guests to shop the neighborhood. We are able to offer an even further elevated experience through exclusive deals on luxurious goods, and money continues to circulate in the economy of the district.
We also turned our efforts towards the Meatpacking Business Improvement District (BID), the not-for-profit business alliance of the area whose mission is to support the business community and to keep the area clean, safe and beautiful for locals and visitors alike. The BID team also manages and maintains the district's public spaces and produces events for the neighborhood. Through the BID and local institutions, there is something incredibly exciting happening within the neighborhood. Partnering with The BID, we were able to further build out our guest offerings to include the experiential elements of the Meatpacking District. Our connections have allowed us to offer guests special experiences at the iconic Whitney Museum of American Art and its ever-evolving art exhibits, participation in fashion week pop up events, festivals and more.
Last summer, Gansevoort participated in the L.E.A.F Festival of Flowers, which is a celebration of the season, draping the district in whimsical floral arrangements alongside special community programming. To fully take advantage of the event, our marketing team partnered with Instagram famous florist and influencer, The Unlikely Florist, to custom create our own display at the hotel to bring pedestrians into the space, as well as launched a consumer package, L.E.A.F. It To Us, to draw bookings to the area for both New Yorkers looking for a unique staycation experience and travelers coming to the area for the event. The package offered an exclusive discount during this peak season, cocktails at our new F&B outlets and a floral arrangement in room, resulting in organic media coverage both locally and nationally.
Our continued neighborhood marketing efforts further tapped into the local seasonal happenings in the neighborhood through participation in the annual Meatpacking District "Treats in the Streets" event to celebrate Halloween, looking to bring in the parents of children trick or treating in the area. The team brought in brand partners to elevate the trick or treat celebration, offering tastings of Blue Point Pumpkin Ale at The Chester, apple cider doughnuts and curated fall cocktails.
Through these local activations, partnerships and grassroots marketing efforts, our team has been able to successfully relaunch and reposition the Gansevoort Meatpacking as a neighborhood icon, seeing positive results both in the press, where we have been featured by major publishing houses and broadcast networks, as well as in community events.
Despite the strong return of airline travel and international business, the marketing team has continued to lean on the neighborhood audience, maintaining efforts towards those already living in the city. This summer, the hotel is leaning into the growing on-property art program as well as the neighborhood's cultural cache and debuting an art installation in front of the hotel in partnership with renowned sculpture artist Enrique Cabrera. The piece will be available to view throughout the summer, kicking off with a Cinco de Mayo event in celebration of the artist's heritage. Our marketing efforts will look to further bring awareness to this piece through community-focused events like guided district art tours.
Marketing And COVID-Recovery
Where luxury hotels often look to the patronage of international and metropolitan-based travelers to gauge success, the pandemic provided an opportunity for hotel marketing to re-evaluate and create a strong base of local and drive market guests to support the property through the recovery period. Our strong efforts centered around guest safety and community engagement coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic have positioned Gansevoort Meatpacking strongly as travel begins to take shape in the "New Normal."
Bolstering the community in such a way has not only created a better overall destination experience for travelers, but has created positive rapport with our neighbors, carving out a space for continued success down the road.
By Anton Moore General Manager, Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel