The past several months have been an interesting ride of emotions for so many of us, both personally and professionally. It is encouraging when we discover the brands and individuals out there who have found ways to make the most of this very difficult situation. Brandon Berkson has certainly done this, and he has succeeded in a big way. For anyone who claims all Millennials are lazy and not willing to work for what they want has obviously not met Brandon. After being furloughed from his job as an Account Executive at a prominent Public Relations Firm in New York City, he quickly found a way to combine his love for hotels, travel and social media with the launch of an Instagram guide, Hotels Above Par.
“For me, it was imperative to succeed in the Instagram world, prior to making a website—I am so fortunate for the success Hotels Above Par has seen since its inception three months ago, and am SO EXCITED to share that a website for the Insta-guide will be launching soon,” said Brandon.
This platform provides him with an outlet to further support the hospitality industry that has been hit so hard during this pandemic. This curated hotel guide has been designed with the hip and discerning millennial traveler in mind, but it also shines a light on hotels around the globe that appeals to travelers of all ages. Hotels Above Par has already exceeded 33,000 followers, and the “Checking-In with Hotels Above Par” Instagram Live Series continues to bring great conversations for his followers with hoteliers, journalists, publishers and more. Until we are traveling again, we can at least enjoy armchair travel experiences through opportunities like we find with Hotels Above Par.
Interview | Hotels Above Par
LuxeGetaways: How did you come up with the concept, and why Instagram?
Brandon Berkson: Since I was a child, I’ve always been a “hotel nerd.” For as long as I can remember, I was confident that I was going to contribute to the boutique hotel world somehow. As a teenager, I was in charge of choosing the hotels for our family vacations—my parents were super grateful for this! When COVID-19 hit and I was furloughed from my Travel PR job in NYC, I knew I wanted to stay in the loop with hotels. I was certain this was my chance to make that contribution, while supporting hotels during a time when they need our love most.
Supplementary to a multitude of experience within the hotel world—ranging from Hospitality PR positions in Paris, London and, most recently, New York; to working at the front desk of a premier boutique hotel in San Francisco—as a typical millennial, I’ve always been glued to editorial magazines and social media. These media facets, together with my passion for hotels, is how Hotels Above Par was created. As Hotels Above Par is geared towards the hip, discerning millennial traveler, I knew Instagram was the perfect place to launch this guide for hotel enthusiasts within this demographic.
LuxeGetaways: Are you surprised by the overwhelming support your followers have shown for Hotels Above Par? What makes to relevant in today’s travel environment?
Brandon Berkson: I am wonderfully surprised and thrilled, as well as beyond grateful for the community of hotel enthusiasts that Hotels Above Par has garnered! Relevant to today’s environment, it’s beyond fulfilling to, not only support hotels amidst a period when they need to be talked about most, but also have created a platform that celebrates hotels and travel—I absolutely love the conversations and direct messages the Insta-guide receives on a daily basis! Hotels Above Par inspires so many to travel, something necessary during this time. It is SO IMPORTANT to remember this will end one day, and tourism will be back on the books!
LuxeGetaways: Tell us about the guests you have had on your “Checking-In with Hotels Above Par” series, and what is the future of this series?
Brandon Berkson: “Checking In with Hotels Above Par” has been such a fun Instagram Live series, which I started back in late May. I’ve led discussions with high-profile travel influencers, including the fantastic Christine Tran (@TourdeLust)—her pictures are so inspiring and have me itching to take a vacation; well-respected journalists who have written for Forbes, POPSUGAR, Travel + Leisure, DuJour and USA Today; as well as premier Arizona boutique hotel, The Hermosa Inn. As Hotels Above Par grows, the Instagram Live series will welcome more industry experts who are crazy about travel, just like us!
LuxeGetaways: How do you think the luxury hotel experience will change when we are traveling again?
Brandon Berkson: This question is a common one amongst avid travelers! We are going to see hotels continue operating at a minimized capacity as they have been these past couple of months. Luxury hotels will further implement sanitation measures that minimize human contact, including faceless check in, electronic room keys, and lobbies—once an area for congregating—will become a transit space constantly being sprayed with disinfectant. Luxury hotels need to earn back travelers’ trust and, to help achieve this, some brands have been arranging partnerships with leaders in the cleanliness realm; for example, Four Seasons launched their “Lead with Care” initiative with John Hopkins Medicine International.