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Hotel Report: Embracing A New Normal

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The Sunday Series is published weekly to share inspiring stories about our creative partners


Jennifer Rutkowski, Vice President of Brookfield Property’s Hospitality Practice, lends insight in this week’s Sunday Series, Hotel Report: Embracing A New Normal.

New practices and what to expect from travel when life returns to a new normal post Covid-19.



What we’ve gained. What we’ve lost. What to expect.

Jennifer Rutkowski is a travel and hospitality veteran.

With 28 years of experience, Rutkowski has launched and managed some of the world’s most prestigious hotel brands and experiences. As a Vice President among Brookfield Asset Management, a leading global asset manager, she manages sales, marketing, branding and PR for the company’s global hospitality portfolio.

Rutkowski is directly responsible for ensuring Brookfield Hospitality delivers on its commitment to investor profitability among their hotel investments and that these assets achieve top line revenue budgets. She travels often for work and leisure and relishes working among different cultures.

Now working remotely from her home in New Jersey, Rutkowski is in daily contact with her corporate and property-based colleagues around the country. She strategizes, listens, evaluates, assesses and gives support to teams in an industry in transition.

Lifestyle Photography + Video Production by 5th Street East for The Duniway Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Photography Boone Rodriguez.

Optimistic but Realistic

Rutkowski is optimistic but realistic about the times ahead. It’s time to embrace a new normal.

“These are truly unprecedented times. I’ve lived through 9/11 in New York City as well as the financial recession of 2008 – but there is no definitive playbook for this. We are working diligently to protect our assets as we navigate this crises. We have a distinct responsibility to our investors. However, we are well aware of the human element and have hotel teams giving back to support first responders, families of their team members and the local communities.”

Giving Back in A Covid World

From donating to the Ronald McDonald House to delivering food to medical workers, employees at The Duniway Hotel in Portland, Oregon believe in this true spirit of hospitality in our Covid world.

The Duniway Hotel, Portland, Oregon. Purchased and rebranded by Brookfield Properties. Lifestyle Photography Production, Signature Property Video, Social & Web Videos by 5th Street East. Photography by Boone Rodriguez.

Determine New Best Practices

Now is also the time to reconsider best practices in the new hospitality reality. When restrictions are lifted and people can travel again, what will they need to feel comfortable on property and ensure a positive experience?

Rutkowski encourages her teams to take a breath.

Things Will Look Different

“Travel will be there in the future,” she says, “however, it will look a little different.”

“Whether it is for leisure or business, the notion of travel is always a gift and a journey of discovery. Travel awakens the human spirit.” 

Jennifer Rutkowski, VP Brookfield Hospitality 

The Estate Yountville, comprised of two luxury hotels on 22 acres in Yountville, in the heart of Napa Valley. Lifestyle Photography, Signature Property Video & Social Video Production by 5th Street East. Lifestyle Photography by Boone Rodriguez.

From Baccarat to Brookfield

Introduced to her career “completely by chance,” Rutkowski worked in hotel sales and marketing after receiving a master’s degree from New York University. She then embraced the niche of opening hotels and launching brands.

Prior to joining Brookfield, Rutkowski most recently launched the Baccarat New York, the ultra luxe, Forbes five star hotel, paying homage to the legacy of this coveted French luxury brand.

“After managing hotels for others, Shai (Zelering) extended an opportunity at Brookfield I consider to be an honor and approach hotel sales and marketing from an ownership perspective.”

The Villa at The Estate Yountville, a private, luxurious five-bedroom home on the property’s 22-acres in the heart of Yountville, Napa Valley.

Every detail matters – now more than ever

In what now seems like a nano second, the industry has changed. Consumer expectations have changed. However, travel will return in stages, and as it does, details will matter more than ever.

This ownership group doesn’t take the path of least resistance when launching, rebranding or running a hotel. They believe it is fundamental to understand the expectations of the demographic, the lure of  location, and the unique value propositions of a brand story as the underpinning of a positive guest experience.

“There are ownership groups that focus on the bottom line with minimal attention to the path of achieving the objective. Brookfield is not about extravagance but rather a continued focus on smart, pragmatic decisions,” says Rutkowski. “It’s about best practices, albeit in revenue generation, controlling expenses or brand distribution. There’s an understanding that every detail matters.”

“Details will matter even more in the new reality, from additional cleaning protocol, to the maximum elevator occupancy, to how large format meetings are constructed.” – Jennifer Rutkowski

“Many hotels are engaging in virtual site inspections right now, whether through Zoom or Facetime because event planners are unable to travel. Going forward, meticulous and impactful virtual site inspections will become one of the primary tools of influence.”

Large banquets with tables of ten to twelve will most likely be temporarily halted and capacity cut in half. Outdoor events and open-air venues offered by properties such as The Estate Yountville in Napa will be optimal. Guests will need to feel safe, cared for and celebrated. Nothing can be taken for granted.

Vintage House at The Estate Yountville.

Content is Invaluable

As the world plans remotely, devouring social media scrolls round-the-clock, Rutkowski anticipates that every hotel or property will need to take stock of their existing visual assets, including photography, video and social.

“The business of the Hotelier will be different now, and true sales and marketing professionals that strive for excellence are using this time to rethink their arsenal and how they can fiercely differentiate themselves from competitors.”

The Estate Yountville Signature Property Video by 5th Street East

“If hospitality sales and marketing professionals did not value the importance of visual assets or their relevance before, they will embrace it now. They need to be thinking, How am I going to bring my hotel experience back to the market quickly, impactfully and with sensitivity?

How to bring the hotel experience back to market

The market is going to open up. And Rutkowski believes the consumer is going to come back.

“I believe we all acknowledge we are working through an incredibly challenging time. However, there is much to accomplish during this finite moment. We have the opportunity to reflect on the future of travel, to recalibrate formerly accepted norms and (when appropriate), reignite human connection through travel.”

The Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood, Florida. Lifestyle Photography & Video Production by 5th Street East.

Diplomat Hotel. Lifestyle Photography by Conor Doherty. Production 5th Street East.

Jennifer Rutkowski

Jennifer Rutkowski, Vice President, Brookfield Hospitality

The Sunday Series is published weekly by 5th Street East to celebrate, highlight and share inspiring stories about our creative partners and collaborators

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