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Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals - This Week: Anna Karnowski

“Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals”, a weekly interview series with professionals from the MICE industry in New York.


These are uncertain times for our industry – yet we believe that now is the moment to bring our industry closer together by strengthening our ties and relationships on a more human level. It is for this reason that Shackman Associates is undertaking a series of interviews with other New York hospitality professionals to learn how they are managing during this time.

In today’s episode; New York Hospitality Professionals Karen Shackman, President and CEO of Shackman Associates interviews Anna Karnowski, Senior Director of Sales at One World Observatory.



Karen: Hello Anna, Thanks or agreeing to participate in our series. For our readers would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your current situation?


Anna: Thank you Karen, I am Anna Karnowski and I am the Senior Director of Sales at One World Observatory. I have worked at One World for almost 2 years.

I have continued working full time since the pandemic started. We started working remotely in March. I am currently in Astoria, Queens, but I spent my summer working from Boise, Idaho, my hometown. Having the ability to work from anywhere allowed me to spend some quality time with my family in Idaho and I was able to get out and explore on weekends. I love the flexibility of this new remote life but am definitely missing human interactions.


Karen: Welcome back to the city! There are many pros and cons to our current situation, and it is so important to focus on the positives at this time. Being able to spend quality time with family members is certainly a big asset. How is your current situation transitioning now that New York has opened in Phase  4:


Anna: We are still waiting on final approval to move forward with opening. We keep having the finish line moved, but we have been prepared for quite some time to open. We had our safety protocols and guidelines established early on. The health and safety of our staff and customers remains our top priority.


Karen:.  While New York has become one of the safest cities in this country, it also has maintained some of the strictest physical distancing rules. And in speaking with so many hospitality partners over the past few months, I understand the challenges we are all facing to keep the heart of the city beating while trying to establish trust through safety protocols for our clients and visitors alike. What is the norm for you these days?


Anna: I try to keep as much of a routine as possible. I am usually on calls by 9am which helps start the day. I spend a ton of time on Zoom calls. I would say my days are probably 60-70% Zoom calls and then the rest of the day is spent on client phone calls and catching up on emails. I try to take internal calls outside when the weather is nice. I am definitely cooking more than ever at home. Early on during the pandemic I would get in my car on weekends and just go and explore a different neighborhood by doing my daily walk in another location.


Karen:  It seems so many of us are now taking the time to explore our city, and various neighborhoods around town – focusing on what is at our fingertips. Of course, having a car adds another dimension specially since there is so much to see and explore even just 60-90 minutes away from the city. How is your team coping with this new environment?


Anna: We have all learned to be flexible and understanding of the ever-changing situation. We have Zoom calls regularly and we utilize Microsoft teams to stay connected. This has been key for document sharing and a great way to chat and ask each other any quick questions that come up. Additionally, I have 1/1 meetings with everyone on my team on a weekly basis to touch base personally too. We used to do a Friday Happy Hour each time with a different theme. Although we stopped them during the summer and will probably start them back up again.


Karen: The collaboration tools that are available are truly amazing now - not to mention the host of webinars being offered by many organizations every day. Is this something you have been involved with as well?


Anna: In the beginning I was attending so many webinars and it was a little overwhelming. I am much more selective these days on what I attend. Our group sales team has been hosting virtual open house Zoom calls for clients. This has been a creative way to stay engaged with past clients and potential future clients. I recently attended my first digital trade show with SYTA, Student Youth Travel Association. It was 1 day of speakers and then a huge Zoom room for networking. It was so great to see so many familiar faces and it even made me tear up a bit because I was so happy to see everyone!


Karen: We are all missing the human interaction piece so much. Our industry thrives on personal relationships and on being engaged in person, and yet it is interesting to see how the large trade shows are repositioning themselves. It is hard to believe that we should all have been preparing for our trip to Las Vegas for IMEX next week. We were all hoping that this pandemic would have been a thing of the past by now. Imagine the reunions when we are all back to traveling! What are three personal essentials you have depended on at home to get through this period? 


Anna:

  1. Phone calls/Zoom calls with friends. I definitely experience Zoom fatigue but seeing family and friends in a casual setting makes me so happy!

  2. My Echo Show. Alexa plays the weather, daily news, podcasts and most importantly plays my Spotify. Music keeps my spirits up. I am sure there is science behind it, but my mood improves whenever I listen to music.

  3. Foam Roller – I sit a lot in front of the computer and this has been a life saver for my back.


Karen: I too find that music soothes the soul and uplifts my spirits. And what are you doing to keep your mental and physical wellbeing in a good place as we work through this recovery period? 


Anna: I personally have found it is essential for me to get out of the house at least once a day and go on a walk. I like to walk down to Astoria Park and then I sit on a park bench and listen to my Calm meditation app with my eyes closed. I do the 10 minutes of meditation and take time to remember the things I am thankful for.


Karen: It sounds like you are very well-grounded person. Taking time out to breathe and meditate is so important and being grateful for what we have is another avenue to maintaining positivity during this time. Is there a book or series you are reading or watching that has had an impact on you? 


Anna: My two favorite series of this past summer were, “Lucifer” and “In the Dark.” Both are great binge watches. I am also a huge podcast fan and love “This American Life.” It’s usually pretty positive and has uplifting stories of every day Americans.


Karen: That sounds like an interesting podcast. I am learning about so many viewing options from our guests in this series and am going to have to add this to my growing list. Any thoughts about what you want to do, or where you want to go once travel restrictions have eased? 


Anna: Domestically I would love to just eat at a restaurant again. I have been supporting local spots through take out or delivery, but I haven’t physically dined in that many restaurants yet. I am also ready for an international trip in the near future. I was supposed to go to South Africa in November, but that is definitely canceled.


Karen:  It is a shame about your trip to South Africa. Hopefully, it will just be a postponement and not a definite cancel. It is, however, great to see how many New York restaurants are reinventing themselves with outdoor dining options. Over 70 miles of closed roads and more than 4000 restaurants with outdoor dining permits – it feels a little like Europe in some parts of the city. Hopefully the coming weeks and months will see a return to a version of indoor dining as the seasons change. Is OWO still dealing with cancelations? 


Anna: We gave all our clients the option to move the date and rebook. We made sure we were understanding of each individual situation and l ong-term relationships were more important to us than short term wins. If they were unable to move to a future date we offered a full refund. Now more than ever excellent customer service is key to keeping clients.


Karen: And in terms of future bookings, any thoughts about how OWO will be set up going forward?


Anna: We have been working on some really creative out of the box ideas for private events as well as new programing. Details haven’t been released yet, but expect to see it soon. We also created a Private View Package that gives up to 10 people private access to our restaurant for 90 minutes. They choose 3 appetizers and it includes a 1-hour open bar (beer/wine) with the appetizers. We are getting a lot of interest for this package that has an exclusive vibe at a very affordable price.


Karen: That sounds like a truly exclusive experience! I am so pleased you mentioned that. We would love to know more about the Private View Experience. Please also make sure you provide us with an update when the other new ideas are released. I know you mentioned earlier that you have been working on new health and safety protocols for some time now. Please can you share more information on that?


Anna: Yes, One World Observatory has implemented enhanced health and safety protocols positively impacting the entire guest experience from start to finish. We will operate at a reduced capacity through our timed ticketing. All guests and associates will be required to wear masks. We are abiding strictly with the guidelines outlined by the CDC as well as state and local officials. Here is a link that helps outline all the steps we are taking: https://www.oneworldobservatory.com/en-US/healthandsafety


Karen:  What will your pricing structure look like going forward?  How flexible are you being with regard to booked/postponed events, and, hopefully, new bookings?


Anna: We are all eager to return to booking business again. Our pricing structure has always been tailored to the precise requirements of the event so pricing always varies by event.


Karen: Thank you Anna. And we hope to partner with you soon on an upcoming event! Do you have any parting words or insights you want to share?


Anna: Thank you, Karen! New York City is filled with some of the most innovative, creative and resilient people in the world. I am confident that we will rebuild and we have to rise up together and lift up those around us. We must continue to be flexible both professionally and personally. It is such a privilege to work in this industry with so many incredible people. I would love to invite you and the team to One World Observatory once we open. We look forward to welcoming guests from around the world soon!