Catching Up With the Walt Disney of Hospitality, Ian Schrager

Co-founder of Studio 54 and real estate mogul launches new Public hotel.

June 10, 2017 5:00 am

Populism isn’t just a popular political platform these days, apparently.

Ian Schrager, the co-founder of disco-era hot-spot Studio 54 and a hospitality industry mogul, has launched his new Public hotel, which advertises itself as “luxury for all.” As The New York Times notes, Schrager’s promising “celebrity-class digs on an Airbnb budget.”

The Public isn’t just a hotel, but a small city, with two restaurants, a market, co-working spaces, and of course, an entertainment venue.

In the Times piece, Schrager offers up some lessons in how to successfully run a business. We’ve included some of our favorites below:

1. Give Customers Only What They Want – “At Public, we’re getting rid of bellmen, getting rid of porters, getting rid of concierges. People have suitcases on wheels. Nobody wants bellmen.”

2. Hotels Need to Evolve – “The hotel industry is in denial about Airbnb, the same way they were about the online travel agencies. But you can’t compete by playing politics. You can’t stall progress.”

3. Trust Your Gut When It Comes to Marketing – “Every other hotel company is obsessed with millennials. You think Apple is obsessed with making phones for millennials? If something is good, it resonates with everybody.”

4. You’re Only as Good as Your Next Party – “I still think I’m going to throw a party and nobody’s coming. I think a lot of creative people are driven by that same thing—it’s not so much the drive for success as it is the drive to avoid failure.”

5. Being Nice Counts – “If I had to choose a hero, that’s easy, Walt Disney. He’s the perfect combination of art and commerce. I could say Steve Jobs, but I would have been a nicer Steve Jobs.”

6. Know When to Bow Out – “People would always say that I left Studio too early and Steve left too late. Steve would stay there because he loved it. I mean, to the bitter end. I was like Greta Garbo; I liked not being a part of it.”

7. If Basquiat Gives You a Painting, Don’t Give It Away – “I remember Basquiat, when he was doing the Mike Todd room at the Palladium. He gave me the study of one of the paintings, and I gave it to a girl. One of his paintings just went for $110 million.”

8. Money Only Goes So Far – “You can’t be driven by money. Money is a perversion of the process. You have to be driven by an ideal. Then, money is a consequence.”


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