Roger Smith Hotel Helps Develop NYC Artists

This guest blog is by John Knowles as part of our themed content hosted the first week of  each month, with December focusing on hotels and resorts. John serves as Director of Digital Marketing of Roger Smith Hotel, New York City.  

In a time of economic insecurity and unprecedented social connectivity and interaction, we have a seen the birth and cultivation of the pop up shop phenomenon.    Harnessing our collective short attention spans and our need for instant gratification, the pop up shop appeals to consumers and vendors alike for its temporary/time-sensitive, location specific business model.

Ironically, the pop up concept appears to be a model that is neither temporary nor fleeting – but established and growing.  One of the earliest examples of an industry or sector that developed successful popup points of sale in New York City were the army of food trucks that we’ve been hearing so much about.   Rather than promote one brick and mortar physical location, food vendors took the show on the road, changing location, travelling to the consumer or neighborhood creating an culture of urgency…if you don’t buy it now, today, it may not be here tomorrow.  The Rickshaw Dumpling Truck was the first one I followed on Twitter…they would let us know where in the City they’d be that day and the news would fly…They enlisted us to spread the word…and magically, the public swarmed to the new pop up location as it was announced.

At the Roger Smith Hotel, we created the RS Pop Shop, adapting a Lexington Avenue street-level retail space into a resource for this wild new market of transient vendors, businesses and entities who are either motivated by the seasonality of their product/service or who are interested in test driving the market as they weigh the opportunity costs involved in signing a permanent lease.   In developing the business model, we bundled together a series of services including access to the street level space, marketing expertise, media strategy and brand coaching.

In thinking about the formula for a successful Pop Up operation, the following points occur to me.

• Work with synergistic clients who understand the value proposition inherent in this business model.

• Create urgency through scheduling and offering time-limited access to the product or service.

• In thinking about the design and layout of the actual shop, keep an open mind and don’t limit yourself to what has been done before.  It should please the eye and engage foot traffic.  With that in mind, we developed a space that can be easily adapted to the needs of a diverse group of businesses and entities.

• Leverage other people’s networks – We promote each pop up client to our local network of loyal supporters and help to create local buzz for them in the New York.  We also work together to create opening and closing events for the vendor in order to punctuate the dates of the particular shop.   These events range from cocktail parties to runway fashion shows.

• Create and strategically distribute excellent marketing materials and video content that they can then use as needed for future promotions.  Good for us, good for them.

Here are some examples of clients who have passed through the Roger Smith Pop Shop and why they stand out.

Gail Travis is a knitwear designer who owns and operates NFP – New Form Perspective.  Her sweaters have a transformational consistency that allows for her clients to wear one article in several different ways. When she first came to the pop-up shop her business was brand new and she was looking for online guidance and hopefully an experience that would launch her brand.  Our marketing strategy with Gail was to showcase the many ways in which someone could wear the same article of clothing through a series of video demos. We built a  catalog of videos with different articles and their variations that she could use as a reference for clients. During the process we explored and explained the benefits of video as it relates to SEO and her brand began to get traction on line. The most encouraging part of the story for me was to see that she had invested in the video making process and has begun to make her own content.  Gail has returned to the RS Popup shop two times since then and will be retuning in 2012.


Jensen Martin is a jacket company started by two brothers with a business model surrounds an affiliate marketing strategy. Their business primarily existed online. I think that Jensen Martin was a good example of a brand looking to test out a concept and we were a perfect experimental retail opportunity. We have built a strong relationship with them and have hosted a series of fashion and networking events that have yielded new business relationship for both of us. The value of having a physical location and learning new methods of marketing along side your peers. 


In collaboration with the Mayor’s alliance of New York, we hosted a pop up that combined a showcase of pet accessories and a pet adoption component.    It was an uplifting experience with the objective of saving the lives of New York City’s homeless animals.The New York City’s Mayor’s alliance hosted weekly cocktail meet ups and festive parties to engage people and spread the information about the adoption process.


In my role as Director of Digital Marketing for the Roger Smith Hotel and the Co-Director of the RS Pop Shop, I am constantly looking for ways to take advantage of and reinvent what I refer to as “under-utilized” spaces in and around the hotel.  The Pop Shop in one of the most exciting initiatives that we’ve come up with…we’ll see what happens next!