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Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals - This Episode: Taylor Spoelstra

“Insight; New York Hospitality Professionals”, an 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 Professional Karen Shackman, President and CEO of the Shackman Group talks to Taylor Spoelstra, Senior Manager of Groups & Tourism at ARTECHHOUSE

Karen: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. Please introduce yourself, your role in the company, and how long you have been with the company.

Taylor: Hello Karen, Thank you for the invitation. My name is Taylor Spoelstra and I am the Senior Manager of Groups & Tourism for our three ARTECHOUSE locations in New York City, Washington D.C & Miami. I joined the team in February 2020.

Karen: Congratulations on your upcoming one-year anniversary with ARTECHOUSE! What a year that has been. One year later, how have things changed for you?

Taylor: I am very lucky to be working remotely from my home. Maintaining a routine throughout the day has been vital to my motivation and efficiency. I still set my alarm clock in the morning for the same time that I did when I was commuting!

Karen: I know the New York location for ARTECHOUSE is in the Meatpacking District. For those who are unfamiliar with your brand, please explain the philosophy behind ARTECHOUSE.

Taylor: ARTECHOUSE is where creative innovation has no limits. From our immersive, interactive art spaces in DC, NYC and Miami to our extended reality mobile app, we are on a mission to produce and elevate innovative art forms that redefine audience participation. We believe in the transformative power of art, science and technology and are committed to inspiring a new generation of genre-pushing artists to create with technology, empowering artists and partners with tools and platforms to support and amplify their work, and educating the public about these new, exploratory mediums.

Karen: This concept is truly at the forefront of creative innovation. Since you have several locations in the US, how do you connect with your various facilities?

Taylor: We have team members spread out across NYC, DC and Miami but we remain connected on Slack and with regular Zoom meetings. It is wonderful to be a part of such a creative, resilient and committed team of people led by the ARTECHOUSE founders Sandro Kereselidze and Tatiana Pastukhova.

Karen: I know you are currently open to the public. How has what you are doing now changed from pre-Covid offerings?

Taylor: Yes, we are lucky to be able to safely operate our three locations! Part of the reason we are able to do so is because we always operated at lower capacity limits in order to ensure an intimate experience. Additionally, our installations have always integrated touchless interactive art. We are of course going above and beyond to ensure a safe experience including a mandatory mask policy, enforced social distancing, temperature checks at check-in, more frequent cleanings and more.

Karen: This is a good platform to share what is current and happening at ARTECHOUSE. From a personal perspective, though, how are you keeping yourself sane with all the uncertainty at this time?

Taylor: I make sure to stay connected with family, friends and industry partners, even if it is just a quick text to say hello and check in. I try to manage uncertainty by staying in the present and focusing on the things I can control. Maintaining a routine has definitely helped me manage anxiety.

Karen: So many of us are in the same situation. Especially over the holidays, it seems that people have been binging on many shows to bridge some of the isolation of celebration. What have you been doing to take you away from the reality of our world currently?

Taylor: I definitely have been watching quite a bit of television! I just finished binge watching Bridgerton on Netlfix and thoroughly enjoyed it. The next book I intend to read is Glennon Doyle’s Untamed.

Karen: Bridgerton! This seems to be on everybody’s’ lips these days. I too binge-watched and thoroughly enjoyed it! Now that the vaccine is being rolled out, and travel opportunities are seemingly a little closer, how will you celebrate once travel restrictions have eased?

Taylor: We had a family vacation booked for April of 2020 to the Bahamas that was cancelled due to COVID-19. As my grandmother was very much looking forward to it, I am hoping we get her there eventually! I would also love to eventually visit Amsterdam.

Karen: I am hoping you wil alll be on planes sooner rather than later - making up for lost time. For guests wishing to visit ARTECHOUSE, please share a bit about the installations and what guests should expect when they enter the space?

Taylor: Each of our locations and installations is unique so the production process and guest experience is never the same! From large-scale, immersive audio-visual experiences to collections of interactive art works to technology-driven art that we have yet to imagine, visiting ARTECHOUSE is a layered experience — the more time you spend with the art, the more you get out of it. No matter the installation, guests are greeted with a short introduction from a Visitor Experience team member, providing insight on ARTECHOUSE and the installation, and explaining the important features of the works. Guests are then welcome to explore the installation at their own pace, pausing to immerse fully into the pieces and using their unique motions to become part of the art themselves.

Karen: Is there a possibility for doing any private functions?

Taylor: Yes, our intention is to move forward with private functions and events once we are able to, in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.

Karen: I highly recommend a visit to any of the ARTECHOUSE locations. They truly provide for an out-of-this-world experience. Any parting words or insights you want to share?

Taylor: Art moves people intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. It deeply connects us, provides us comfort and gives us empathy. I do not take for granted how lucky I am in this moment in time to be employed by a wonderful company, in an industry that I love and I believe in. I look forward to the day that the hospitality and tourism sector is able to rebuild itself and I send my love to all of our industry partners, and all of those hit hard by COVID-19.

Karen: Absolutely! Thank you Taylor, that was very informative and I appreciate you taking the time.


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