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These are people who care, they are great at what they do and are down right passionate about it.  It is hospitality.  And it is the greatest investment any business can make in customer loyalty.  On the heels of my experience last weekend, this is even more breath taking to me.  The Roger Smith Hotel didn’t spend an outrageous amount of money or time…and this gesture pictured below meant the world to me.  This photo they e-mailed me a week after I left was a brilliant stroke of follow up.  Simple, sincere, sweet.   I’ll continue to sing the praises for my permanant New York City hosts, the Roger Smith Hotel.  Thank you gentlemen.

Jamile and Paul work at the Roger Smith Hotel in mid-town Manhattan.  They were part of the extraordinary team of hosts for me weekend there in early February.  This was not a singular experience.  Roger Smith Hotel is hospitality.

 

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Every commercial for travel, wine, restaurants, tourism, etc. all end up being about lifestyle, hospitality and the extraordinary lengths to which the hosts will go to take care of you during your stay with them.  Once you have the essentials met, a comfortable bed, room essentials (iron, mini fridge, mini bar, toiletries, wifi, i-home …) it becomes a matter of not just making your stay comfortable, but extraordinary.  To me, this includes anticipating your needs, going the extra mile, and a kind of unassuming kindness that’s subtle and authentic.  If you’re heading to New York that place exists in mid-town Manhattan.  That place is the Roger Smith Hotel.

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The bar & restaurant, Lily’s, looks like an avant garde art gallery and feels like that artist’s family room.  The bartender Paul (see smiling bartender, Paul, pictured below) makes you feel like most great bartenders and hair dressers…you can tell him anything and he’ll not only have humor, compassion and words of wisdom, he’ll know exactly what cocktail to make for you.  I couldn’t get enough of the house plum infused gin and tonics he made for me.  Brunch on both days were delightful twists on traditional fare:  I had granola crusted french toast one day, vegetable frittata with fingerling potatoes the next …I’m not admitting to any morning cocktails.

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The weekend I was there also happened to be the start of Social Media week in New York:  A set of meet ups, openings, releases and social media focused gatherings that includes Twestival NYC and the regular Social Media Breakfasts at…you guessed, The Roger Smith Hotel.  So on Sunday, Mr. Hospitality (see Brian Simpson pictured at top) hosted a Tweet Up (#tweetuprsh)…and since @ChrisBrogan was also staying at the RSH for the week, we amassed an impressive gathering that went for over 12 hours including a raucous, impromptu Grammy watching party to close out the evening.  Some attendees include: @coffeewithian (going for 100 hugs by Feb 14 and documenting them all on twitter via i-phone), @sukifuller (completing her MBA), @emilyspearl, @rachelreuben, @nexeus (NYC DJ, U-Streamer), @robbin_g (East Coast wine goddess), @hvwinegiddess (managing the Hudson Valley Wine Competition this spring), @chazfrench (winner best T-Shirt at the meet up…ask him),  @davekerpen (ZBuzz Marketing), @sandraschubert, @robblatt, @nadiapayan, @daveyarmon, @chrisbrogan, @bsimi, and me…@winedivergirl.  Though there were 20+ tweeters there, if I missed you, please let me know and I’ll add you right into this list!

cbroganrshAn additional set of concierge services from RSH pointing me to fabulous shopping, restaurants, great bars and transportation back to the airport  made my weekend overflow with something beyond satisfaction.  New Yorkers are the friendliest f*cking city people ever (RSH and beyond).  While I was in NYC for an Art Opening at the Walter Wickiser Gallery, my time there was jam packed from end to end with the best of what New York could offer me in a 3 day weekend with only 10 hours sleep total.  I made the most of it.  Now it’s your turn.

Photos from my Blackberry Storm

P.S.  I didn’t even get to Henry, the RSH mascot (see below left…)  That will be it’s own post altogether!

Yamile, Chief Restaurant man at Lily’s…demonstrating hospitality pictured below right.

For the best photographic pictorial : visit @BSimi ‘s Flicker page.

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Proof of ROI in Social Media:

That’s for the boss’ bottom line.  But I think the real ROI isn’t measured by the bottom line.  The most valuable investment we all make in social networking is our time and ourselves.  Without those two things invested…and invested authentically, there is no real return.  How do you measure and put a dollar value on connecting, shared information, generating ideas, developing conversations?  I’m sure there are social scientists that will study and follow these activities and endeavor to measure the trail and where it leads.  And as soon as the numbers are in black and white, I think the measure will have already missed the essence of the most valuable return from social networking.

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In this particular case, however, I have been VERY lucky to have a short, direct trail with a couple people in the chain to point to a measurable outcome.  Brian Simpson, (F & B at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City) and Shannon Marshall,  (Northeast Divisional Manager for Hahn Family Wines ).  Through the power of social media, twitter and 12seconds.tv, Brian & I have connected & have been posting 12 second videos of the RSH daily lunch special paired with wine.  We started in early November.  By request, I connected Brian with Shannon & by early December we have the menu above :  5 wines from Hahn Family Wines by the glass with 3 more by the bottle.

For me the return is in the relationships and connections I am allowed to cultivate world-wide through social networking.  The bottom line ROI is a secondary result I am grateful for…but not my primary pursuit.  The connections are.  Which brings me back to wine.  I feel the same way about sharing a bottle with someone.  Happy New Year everyone.  Cheers.

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There’s just no question when you’re in the presence of creative lightning.  It is a sharpness, a clarity and, well, a lightning like electrification of the moment.  It feels to me like that first note the first violin strikes before the symphony begins.  That moment where you know something profound and ephemeral is happening and you are not just the witness, put part of the action, the experience, absorbing every moment into every cell.

That is what visiting Layla Fanucci in her artist studio in St. Helena, California is like.  She is not only the most amazing creative artist in the Napa Valley, she may well be in the art history books our grand children are reading when they look back at turn of the 21st century American artists.  Her Gallery work posted above hardly does the work justice.  Her pieces are large, huge, human size pieces that burst with images city size, or even bigger, with moments between a Mother and Daughter or the workings of a Zinfandel Mind (wine lovers know).  How she compresses the grandeur and majesty of her subjects onto the canvass is only outdone by the breathtaking awe the viewer is participant to when standing before an original Fanucci.

Substance, divine-creative inspiration, appreciation for awe-inspiring art is one of the best core values humans possess.  I find for myself, I don’t nurture that value enough in my life.  But oh the vitality and passion is can stir.  Ms. Fanucci is also fascinating to me because she picked up her first paint brush just 8 years ago.  She was not formally trained to paint.  Before Layla was inspired to become a world-class visual artist, she taught music, in schools!  I’m not sure exactly why I find that leap so magical, but as Layla describes it, she “…was at the end of my rope.  I kept losing my patience.  And when I lost my patience with a student one day, I had to leave the room.  I came back and apologized to the student.  But then I knew I had to do something else.  And I didn’t know what that was going to be.”

The profound part is that most of us have had that kind of “end of the rope” experience.  And here Layla has landed in the middle of her divinely-inspired purpose.  I find her art moving, powerful, and human.  Wine lovers might also know that Layla’s husband, Robert Fanucci is owner & winemaker at Charter Oak Winery.  Her work graces several of their amazing Zinfandel magnums .  As if you needed another reason to visit the Napa Valley.  And don’t let distance stop you:  Layla just completed an exhibit in Toronto and will exhibit again in NYC, North Carolina, Morocco in 2009.

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A Kiss on 12seconds.tv

I’ll “study” this deal more closely over the next week or so and report back to you…but 12Seconds is a share site where you can post 12 sec. video pieces to share…duh. But it is so supremely easy, fast and may I say a FABULOUS addition to Social Media. More Soon!

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California Wine: 30 Seconds of Wine 2.0 Live from New York City

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Wine 2.0 featuring Gary Vaynerchuk at Webster Hall in the Village marked the East Coast’s debut of the convergence of Wine & technology. What a fortuitous blend. Techno-philes’ brilliance met the savvy social skills of the wine set and discoveries abounded.

The fabulous old theatre hall hosted 40+ HD screens featuring wine video content from previous Wine 2.0 events, Hahn Estates Winery (that’s us!) & others. Sponsors also hosted wine related web sites including the Twitter Taste Live…an online texting community. You have to see it to believe it. It is very cool.

Here’s what it looked like:

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