The following post was written by junior and Tisch Center social media student worker, Haley Park. Haley is a Psychology Major and Economics minor in The College of Arts and Sciences at NYU.
On October 23, 2018, faculty and students gathered for the third and final Tisch Center Fireside Chat of the fall semester. The featured guest for this event was Jay Stein, Chief Executive Officer of Dream Hotel Group, and Professor Recep Karaburun was the moderator.
In his role as CEO, Mr. Stein oversees the evolution and expansion efforts of the company and its portfolio of brands: Dream Hotels, Time Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels. Mr. Stein joined Dream Hotel Group as Executive Vice President of Operations and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 1997.
While the Dream Hotel Group was originally a group of owned and operated hotels, it now also functions as a luxury and lifestyle management company. Mr. Stein was asked how he would define ‘lifestyle hotels’, and he answered that “it’s not the size that determines whether a hotel is boutique or lifestyle, but a feel: something that is stylish, unique and cutting edge. This includes having great rooftop bars and smartly activated technology.”
Digital and social media play a pivotal role in the Dream Hotel Group business. There are marketing managers on every property monitoring everything related to social media. Mr. Stein shared that Dream Downtown, one of their New York City hotels, was voted the most instagrammable hotel in the world. However, ironically, when they built the hotel in 2010, Instagram hadn’t yet been founded.
The conversation then shifted to Mr. Stein’s thoughts on having a loyalty program for the hotel. He admits that for certain brands, it’s fitting to have a loyalty program. However, he shared that Dream Hotel Group’s guests wouldn’t necessarily value a loyalty program. Instead, they offer black cards to valued guests which give them several advantages. For example, with a black card, a guest can go to PHD (The Penthouse at Dream Downtown) and skip the lines and crowds. Mr. Stein said, “to my guests, that is much more valuable.” The Dream Hotel Group loyalty program is instant and rewards the customer immediately, an aspect of the reward plan that appeals to the millennial penchant for instant gratification.
When asked about how Mr. Stein spends his time, he shared that when he is not in the office or working, he plays in a band as an electric guitarist a few times a month. He also makes it a priority to go to the gym about 3 to 4 times a week. Mr. Stein also enjoys playing golf, going skiing and being a good husband and father. He shared that his favorite restaurant in NYC is Katz’s.
The conversation concluded with a few questions from the audience. When asked about how each brand is differentiated and made unique, Mr. Stein shared that there is a lot of customization to each brand. Designers will, for example, include custom-built furniture and bring in elements of the city where the hotel is located – without being too kitschy or obvious. For example, one of their brands is opening in Nashville in about two months. The surrounding area, Printer’s Alley, was home to a thriving publishing industry in the 1930’s, but over the years the presses closed and it became known as the Red Light District. The new hotel design took elements of this rich history and playfully incorporated it into the design.
Mr. Stein’s two best tips for career advice is to be respectful of others and to have great listening skills. Mr. Stein’s father was a taxi driver in NYC and from a very young age, he taught his son the value of respect for those beneath you and above you. Additionally, at the age of 17, after working with an entrepreneur and making a poorly-timed comment when attending a business meeting, Mr. Stein realized it’s sometimes best to listen before you speak. Along with this advice, he encouraged students to be attentive and honest as they move in their careers.
For more about Dream Hotel Group, please visit the website: http://www.dreamhotelgroup.com/about-us-en.html.