We live in an era of buzz phrases and neologisms to represent just about anything the human mind can imagine. More specific to hotels, we are also living in an age of embracing the ‘local authentic experience’ and all that that infers. Combine these two ideas and we arrive at the word ‘Brooklynization’ which has recently been making waves in the more erudite presses. This catch-all can mean a lot of different things depending on the context, so let’s make sure we are on the same page with regard to its meaning for hospitality.
To start, why Brooklyn? It’s less about the historical relevance of this two-and-a-half-million-strong borough and more about what it stands in the shadow of – Manhattan. With the nearby island as an archetypical representation of capitalism, corporate imperialism and unchecked greed, Brooklyn has sought to be the exact opposite with a focus on small-batch production, artisanal craftsmanship and all-round bohemian vibes. Brooklyn as a brand also connotes local sourcing, manufacturing by hand and niche hobbyist entrepreneurship.
This has, of course, only been made possible by the mass migration of the creative classes out of Manhattan and onto Long Island neighborhoods with significantly cheaper costs of living. A similar pattern of exodus has been documented for San Francisco to Oakland and, closer to home for yours truly, Toronto to Hamilton, with countless other past and present examples occurring all around the world. That said, this trend didn’t start in New York City, but given the borough’s dense clustering of these artistic folk and its recognition as a cultural nexus, nobody does Brooklynization better than Brooklyn itself.
While you would be remiss to adorn a giant “Made in Brooklyn” label atop your hotel and on your website (unless you are in fact located in the borough), the Brooklynization trend is one that flows down the same trend as the current push for property differentiation via the embrace of the authentic local experience. For starters, performing a Brooklynizing audit on your hotel will reveal aspects both large and small where you can transform the ordinary or cookie-cutter into something chic and with a little edge. Local producers should be on your radar as sources for restaurant ingredients, the gift shop, lobby art, in-room décor and spa inventory.
But the spirit of Brooklynization is more than just shifting contracts from one massive producer to a much smaller one. It also denotes the empowerment of the creative class in your area to help grow your local identity. That is, a hotel property has the resources to be an active community leader and a champion of the young entrepreneurship that will shape the future. This means opening your doors to the neighborhood for events – for instance, a local tech business social in your banquet hall or a farmers’ market in a cordoned-off area of the parking lot. This also means hiring visionary young minds, and then giving them a bit of leeway to help steer the ship towards what’s functional and actually ‘cool’.
Many of us are already well on our way towards a process of internal Brooklynization under the guise of boutique or lifestyle branding or the semblance of an artisanal, crafted, curated or local hotel environment. Guests increasingly yearn for these authentic experiences, so keep heading in that direction, and when in doubt about where else you can differentiate, look to the Long Island city that epitomized the movement.
About the author
Larry Mogelonsky ([email protected]) is the president and founder of LMA Communications Inc. (www.lma.ca), an award-winning, full service communications agency focused on the hospitality industry (est. 1991). Larry is also the developer of Inn at a Glance hospitality software. As a recognized expert in marketing services, his experience encompasses Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, as well as numerous independent properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Larry is a registered professional engineer, and received his MBA from McMaster University. He’s also an associate of G7 Hospitality, a member of Cayuga Hospitality Advisors and Laguna Strategic Advisors. His work includes three books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012) and “Llamas Rule” (2013) and “Hotel Llama” (2014). You can reach Larry at [email protected] to discuss any hospitality business challenges or to review speaking engagements.
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