From a recent article in the New York Times: “Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than ‘très Brooklyn,’ a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.”
Who would have thought? Brooklyn is a brand. International travelers are flocking to the New York borough, considered by locals to be the fourth-largest city in the country. And hotels are opening as fast as they can to accommodate those travelers, as well as corporate travelers doing business in Manhattan and a lot of others who want to be part of a Brooklyn environment that’s considered hip and cool -- and the home of great food.
How did this happen? Of course, a lot of it was organic. New York’s dramatic decrease in crime and skyrocketing Manhattan rents generated the classic pattern of the hip and artistic moving to neighborhoods that had been off limits. They were followed by restaurants, shops and, now, hotels.
It’s been quite a turnaround for Brooklyn. The historic nadir for the borough was the exit of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957 and for many years Brooklyn was more a comedian’s punchline than a destination.
But much of the “organic” resurgence was also part of a plan by the city to bring visitors to all the boroughs. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has initiated a five-borough economic development plan with the tourism aspect headed up by NYC & Company, New York City’s marketing and tourism organization. The result: an astonishing 50 million visitors in 2011 -- 10 million of them international. And because the city promoted all the boroughs, tourists began to find their way outside Manhattan for a more authentic and, usually, less expensive experience.
As George Fertitta, CEO for NYC & Company, said, “NYC & Company promotes travel to all five boroughs of New York City. Brooklyn is the most populous borough in the city -- with increased hotel development in areas such as downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg over the last few years, there are more reasons than ever before to not only visit but stay in Brooklyn.
“Iconic attractions such as a revitalized Coney Island and the new waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park are reasons to visit,” said Fertitta; “the opening of the Barclays Center (home of the NBA Nets) will be another key attraction in the boroughs. Overall, the borough has many cultural, recreational and dining options to keep visitors busy for days at a time.”
In fact, city tourism officials have been pushing travel to the “other” boroughs as a mandate of Bloomberg’s administration since the “new” NYC & Company was formed in June 2006 following the merger of the former NYC & Company with NYC Marketing and NYC Big Events.
On top of that, NYC & Company has a network of 18 international offices serving 25 global markets (the offices have both travel trade and public relations representation) -- these offices are charged with promoting travel to New York and they all push five-borough travel. Two-thirds of the international offices were opened in the last six years.
Lesson: a bump in visitor appeal may be happening organically but a well-executed marketing push can take that appeal and make it grow in dramatic fashion.
And looking ahead to the next hot destination; the neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens, has seen a surge in hotel development as arrivals to that New York City borough take hold.
Will we soon be hearing “très Queens” in Paris? Don’t bet against it.