Editor's Letter: The Appeal of the New New York

I follow a Facebook group called New York City Travel Tips, which is run by a tour guide company called Free Tours by Foot. The group has more than 32,000 members and is filled with questions and answers all based around what visitors should do while in New York. There is a travel advisor on there who jumps in occasionally as a member to offer her intel and her services, but otherwise, this is very much a DIY, crowd-sourcing group where prospective travelers post their itineraries for feedback. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Guggenheim, the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty all in one morning? Maybe rethink that. Other repeat questions are, “Where can I get the best pizza? Where can I get the best bagel?” (My answer: It’s all good, you don’t survive in New York with bad bagels and bad pizza.)

The appetite for New York City seems insatiable worldwide. It’s the dream for many and once members of this Facebook group finally experience it they immediately start planning their next trip. That’s some real crowd-sourced intel I’m sharing.

Ruthanne Terrero
Ruthanne Terrero, VP Questex Travel and Meetings Group

Other patterns? Most feel they have to stay in Times Square, a.k.a., where the action is. If they book anywhere else, they post that they’re anxious they’ll be too far from the center of things. The theater, Radio City Music Hall, Ellen’s Stardust Dinner, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, a stop-over at DUMBO and Grand Central Station all seem to be “must-dos” when in New York, but Hudson Yards is also now appearing at the top of their lists. The main attraction here is the Edge, a 100-story-high observation deck, with a glass floor, a bar and 360-degree NYC views. Competing with the Edge is Summit One Vanderbilt, located on the 91st through 93rd floors of the new One Vanderbilt, next to Grand Central Station. (Reviews I’ve read say that this sky-high attraction provides the best photos of New York, but there are no bad views here, either.)

Now, if you’re like me, and you think you know New York pretty well, you might be shaking your head that you’ve never experienced these two attractions (which are now strong competition for the Empire State Building) and know nothing about them. Trust me, they’ve peaked the passion of travelers across the world and are contributing to a new New York that travel experts must get to know better.

As a purveyor of luxury travel, you might be surprised that the bucket list items for New York are fairly basic but remember that one’s first trip to the city (and other metropolises of note) has to include the iconic attractions they’ve seen in movies and dreamed about seeing all these years.

These visitors to big cities also want to live like a local. One great tip I read in the New York Facebook group this morning was to visit the local pubs. Sit at the bar and strike up a conversation where your fellow drinkers could range from a heart surgeon to the doorman for the apartment building down the street. Both will have brilliant tips to share based on their lifelong romance with New York.

How can travel advisors tap into the market that is so thirsty for this city? You likely have a New York expert within your own agencies. If you don’t, send someone here to become a specialist. Let them decide whether the Edge or Summit One has the best views and when to book to get the best vistas of the sunset. 

As for all these DIY travelers, you need to get them to understand what a travel advisor can do for them. What are the costs of using you? What perks can you provide? How can you ease their anxieties about their first visit to the Big Apple?

I’m writing this in late December as New York is being challenged by the Omicron variant and it’s not fun to listen to the news. But I know the appetite for New York will never diminish; travelers are just fine going through the highs and lows of this city and you should be there for the ride.

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