Mittwoch, 13. Juli 2016

Noreen Chadha - General Manager of citizenM, boutique hotel in NYC

During my last trip to New York City in April, I was able to do a personal interview with the lovely and truely inspiring Noreen about her career and work at citizenM.

Has it always been clear that you want to work in the hotel industry?

Actually yes. When I graduated from high school my father was running the fashion company Mexx,
so I guess the expectation was that I would also work in the fashion industry, but I really wanted to work in the hospitality industry. I always had this love for hotels and was curious how they function and operate. I applied to hotel management schools and ended up in Lausanne in Switzerland.

What was your previous career like?

After graduating I was very into event management and catering, so I moved to London and did a couple of internships. Afterwards I worked for a company called Quintessentially, which offers luxury lifestyle management & concierge services. This was very service oriented and more focused on helping people to plan their lives, which was really interesting. Then I moved to NYC where I did an internship at Burberry in their Social Media department - so again very different. Later I studied 2 semesters contemporary art at Sotheby's.

I also worked for a co-working space called Grined and helped with building the community and the event planning. 3 years ago I joined citizenM. Helping to open up a new hotel in NYC and getting involved in so many different areas was and is the ultimate challenge. 

@citizenm Instagram Account

How would you describe the next generation traveler? What trends and upcoming changes do you notice in this industry?

Mobile Citizen – the hotel is named after that kind of next generation traveler. We spend a lot of time looking at what these mobile citizens want when they travel: What are they looking for, what do they like, what frustrates them? They want things to be easy, quick and a very friendly interaction with people -just like you would have with a friend or family member. Nowadays we are very spoiled, we want instant gratification, we want something right away.

That's why we have the self check-in so you don’t have to wait before going to your room. I think time is a big thing where we have become very protective: we don't want anything anymore that waists time. People are also looking for a more authentic local experience. They want to be in NYC but they want to see it the way a New Yorker would experience it. Of course they also want to see the typical tourist sights but then they want to know where do the locals go for lunch, how would a New Yorker do it?

Is that the reason why you founded the citizenMag where your team shares local tips and hotspots in NYC?

Yes, the citizenMag is created by local distributors. We want to share things you might not know about if you don't live here. That's what makes it very unique: We look a litte bit more off the track and also have a unique sense of humor. The brand's personality is very lighthearted so we want to give people the chance to be creative.

What is really special about the citizenM hotels?

Lobby at citizenM NYC
Lobby @citizenM Hotel NYC
citizenM Hotel at Times Square NYC
What makes us different and unique is the relationship our staff has with our guests. The way we run our hotels it that every ambassador - we call our employees ambassadors - is able to manage every different task in the hotel. There's a high sense of versatility. Because of that, and because they are not only hired for the hotel industry but more based on who they are as a person and what their personality is, you get a much more genuine connection. They want to help you make your stay special. The way they connect with the guests and the special atmosphere they create is what makes the difference.

What are your main tasks and how does a day look like in your life?

Leading a big team sometimes is like having a big group of kids to take care of. At citizenM we want to empower people so there's a flat hierarchy. We don't micro manage but it's all about working together as a team. An important task is to take care of my team, because when my team is well looked after, the guests are well looked after. My main focus all the time is what can I do for my team: making their shifts easier or providing them with all the tools they need to make the guests feel more comfortable. Of course sometimes I jump in and help out but most times I try to make sure that we keep the energy, the motivation and the inspiration high. Moreover we constantly want to improve the working procedures because the easier the shift of my employees, the more time they have to really talk to the guests. If they are stuck for two hours fixing something in our system they are missing out the opportunities.

How important are social media and especially blogger and influencer for your work? What has changed in the last years in the travel industry?

The main thing that has changed is that everything is instant and done immediately. People walk into our hotel and in one second they take pictures, they tweet them it, they post them it on Facebook. People immediately get a sense of what your brand experience is about, which is great but challenging! It's about inviting social influencers in and letting them experience what we are about.

What do you like most about your job?

It's very much being with my team. That's what I really enjoy. It's the people part that makes it exciting and the most fulfilling. No day is like the other in the hotel.

Your favorite instagram account?

@thefatjewish He is so funny, he find's the funniest things out in the internet. Usually when I use Instagram I want to be entertained.

Your favorite spot in NYC and why?

There are so many good places but If I really have to pick one I would say ABC Kitchen. It's a very beautiful restaurant that is actually inside my favorite furniture store. The furniture store alone has amazing pieces and they teamed up with a pretty well known chef here (Jean-Georges Vongerichten). Everything is organic and they also use all the things they sell in the store. Very delicious food! I really love this place.

And your favorite country?

At the moment NYC is my favorite city because I really love it here so much but I'll always have a deep connection to Holland, where I was born and to India as well. (My father is Indian and my mother is Dutch).

Thanks again for the interview, Noreen and the amazing stay at citizenM !


Rooftop Bar: Cloud Bar

photos @citizenM

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