Emily Venugopal and her PR team at C&R recently moved offices in New York City and found a new home in Blender’s luxury coworking space. We were thrilled to speak with her about her journey from London to Miami to New York City to pursue a fulfilling career in Public Relations.
“I’m a strong believer in loving what you do.” – Blender member Emily Venugopal
Emily Venugopal’s passion for PR is rooted in a clear knack for creating and telling stories. A deep listener and strong communicator, she fosters relationships, picks up on the tiny details, and weaves those into the communication strategies she creates for her clients.
Emily launched her career in London, where she found her niche in Travel, which naturally led her to Hospitality. She’s been immersed in the Hospitality industry since, having worked on several high-profile hotel launches in New York, Miami, Costa Rica, Marrakech, and Hawaii.
It was here in New York City that Emily became Vice President of C&R, an award-winning Public Relations & Marketing Communications Agency specializing in full-service PR for premium Travel, Real Estate and Golf brands.
You’ve had quite an impressive career—can you tell us a little about your journey?
I’ve always known I wanted to work in PR, even more so after I met the head of Public Relations for Clarins when I was in my teens and realized her job was the greatest. I pretty much decided on the spot that I wanted to break into the industry in some capacity.
I started my career at a large global PR firm in London and was working in the Corporate division, which wasn’t very me. Thankfully, I was connected with the team in the Travel division at the same agency, and when there was an opening I went for it.
I’ve always had dual citizenship in the U.S. and U.K., and I knew that at some point in my life, I would like to work in the U.S. for a while. I left London in 2005 and arrived in Miami with one suitcase, no job, nowhere to live, and the cell number of one person—who I actually never called in the end. Luckily it all worked out! [side note: Emily found a position at KWE partners in Miami]
I intended to stay in the States a couple of years, but it turned into 14, so I guess I’m staying put for now.
What do you think it is that makes you great at your job?
I’m a good listener and I genuinely love the work that I do, as well as the hotels, resorts, and clients I represent. I try my best to be personable and positive in everything I do, which I hope resonates with my fabulous colleagues, clients, and press contacts.
Photographed in Blender’s luxury coworking space, Emily Venugopal, Vice President, C&R. Photo credit: Alexander Kusak
What is one of the most personally fulfilling projects you’ve gotten to work on?
I really love working on hotel launches! The client brings you in nice and early and you get to be involved in all the different layers of a successful hotel launch. You’re part of the process from the very start, you start to build characters around everyone you meet: the design and interiors team, the staff chefs, the clothing designer who creates the staff uniform, the teams who select the signature-scent bathroom products, and all the brand partners involved.
Every design element and thoughtful detail becomes part of the hotel’s overall story: from the restaurant concept down to the music being played in the hotel lobby and the fragrances in the public areas.
Each launch is completely different you always learn something new.
Have you run into any major PR disasters—what’s your approach to averting/alleviating those?
I’ve definitely had my fair share of crisis PR moments. Being proactive, nimble, accessible, and calm are a useful combination of characteristics to channel, without a doubt.
What are some of the challenges of working in NYC specifically?
In London, everyone says it’s a work-overloaded culture…then you come to New York and it’s like London on steroids. New York’s a great place to be, it’s ever-evolving, all-encompassing, and truly global. It’s also a heck of a lot smaller than London so easier to navigate.
As someone with experience in hospitality, what changes have you seen in the industry in the past decade?
So much has happened in hotels in the last decade. Technology obviously continues to impact the industry, from the way hotels operate to how guests interact in hotels. Ten years ago, the only way to complain about an errant item missing from your minibar was to call the reception desk downstairs. Now, guests hold the reigns: they can use social media to voice issues in a heartbeat—so hotels have to be more responsive and proactive.
Creating ways to engage with guests across social media is something that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. Now hotels and hotel brands are offering alluring and highly-Instagramable, interactive rooms and suites with lighting to best suited to showcase and snap “postable” items, like cocktails and food being enjoyed on property.
The way guests use hotel spaces to interact with others continues to evolve as well: Shared social and lobby spaces are becoming more popular, along with pared-down food and beverage offerings that fit in with a more accessible atmosphere. Creating authentic experiences for guests continues to be a priority: Years ago, spas used to be a trend, now they’re commonplace, supplemented by mindfulness and wellness offerings.
It’s also interesting to me that many super high-end hotels have embraced the times and are appealing to a wider and younger demographic than in the past. There is definitely more of a blurring of the lines between ultra-luxury and lifestyle hotels today.
What does hospitality mean to you?
Treating guests well. Allowing them to experience the best of the world they’re in, whether it be via the restaurant and bar, the hotel itself, or its spa. It’s inviting them to experience something new and fabulous while understanding what the guest wants without them having to ask for it.
If you had to pick a hotel to live in temporarily, which would it be, and why?
La Mamounia in Marrakech. It’s honestly hotel perfection.
Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
Traveling as much as I possibly can—the further away the better. My kids. My friends and family. Barre workouts. Eating great food in interesting places. I also volunteer for some great organizations: Project Community, my kids’ school, and the Pelham Youth Hockey Association. It keeps me busy.
How did you find Blender and what do you appreciate about being a member?
One of our co-founders found Blender through a mutual friend, and when I joined C&R in May 2019 we moved our NYC office to this beautiful space. I’ve learned that the best thing you can do for your business is not to spend a million dollars each month on office space and maintenance. Blender has great coffee too 😉