Veteran hotelier and night-life impresario, Ian Schrager positions new hotel as industry’s answer to upstart Air BnB. Enter the Public, a full service, 300+/-room hotel that opened this summer on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and it quickly becomes apparent that certain features are nowhere in sight. The lobby has no front desk staff, no reservationists, no concierge, no baggage attendant. Guests check in via a series of self-service tablets where they find their reservations, create their own room keys and proceed up an elevator to their rooms. Have a question? A small, roving band of jack-of-all-trades staffers known as “public advisors” is there to help.
These cost-cutting efficiencies are all part of an attempt by Schrager to fight back against Airbnb Inc. on behalf of the lodging industry. In Schrager’s view “Airbnb is a mortal threat to the U.S. hotel industry. The only way you can compete with a strong idea is by having another strong idea.” Mr. Schrager’s aim is to compete with Airbnb on nightly rates (starting at $150) and offer superior amenities like bars and other places for guests to gather and socialize. The full article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Section B: “Business News”, Monday, September 18, 2017. www.publichotels.com.