NEW YORK—As the director of brand activation and partnerships for Hampshire Hotels & Resorts and Dream Hotels, Rohit Anand wears many hats, and one of them is filling the role of DJ sommelier at the Dream Downtown, the 12-story, 316-room boutique hotel on 16th St. between the Meatpacking District and Chelsea neighborhoods.
“I oversee the bookings for our branded events on property and offsite activations,” he said. “I oversee our digital musical footprint—curated mixes and playlists we are putting out on Spotify, Mixcloud and Soundcloud. And, I also work very closely on our artist collaboration for content, including our interview series, Dream Sessions, which we launched a few years ago. We feature artists from all types of genres, including hip-hop and dance, as well as some bands.”
One of Anand’s DJ sommelier responsibilities is curating customized playlists that guests can access on digital music service Spotify, which is available for the iOS, Android and Windows mobile platforms, as well through any web browser.
“The Dream brand takes a 360-degree approach to hospitality,” he said when asked what that catalyst was for creating the playlist service. “We try to create unique guests experiences through our properties and through the programming—whether that’s the art programming, the food and beverage program, etc.—as well as above-and-beyond service. Music is really an essential part of travel, and we found it to be a really great touchpoint to our guests.”
Anand finds music to include in the playlist in a number of ways. “Some of our more frequent guests are the most influential DJs in the world, and they will share their latest music with me. I also go out to a lot of festivals, and I try to catch a show every week,” he said. But, essentially, the genesis of any playlist comes when the guests book a room. “It’s a process that starts with our guest services team, who put me in touch with the guests. I really try to get a vibe for the type of experience they are trying to have while they are on property with us, and the type of music they like. I will then put together a playlist and send them a link.”
He noted that tracks in the playlists cover myriad genres, including “hip-hop, dance, reggae, electronic, alternative, sometimes rock and sometimes world music. It really varies on what the guests are trying to experience while they’re here.” He added that guests also have access to the public playlists on Spotify, Soundcloud and Mixcloud. “As far as our digital playlists go, we work with some of the biggest EDM DJs and we also work with bands. A band member will curate a list, and we’ll put it up on our channel,” he said.
Typical playlists, which are titled “Dream Downtown x (guest’s name)” and can only be accessed by each individual guest, usually include some of the more popular songs of the time. Over the last few months, Anand said, playlist entries have included “Major Lazer, which has had the song of the summer, ‘Lean On’; DJ Snake, who I think has had a resurgence this summer; Jamie xx’s ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),’ a song that I frequently use; something from the new Justin Bieber album; and something from The Weeknd. I’d say almost all these lists include one song from The Weeknd.”
Anand pointed out that the personalized playlists have gone over well with the guests who ask for the service, and they’ve even led to some publicity for the musicians whose songs are included. “I think guests are really, really loving this service. It adds to their experience while they are on property, and it is then almost like a memento for them to remember their trip and remember staying here,” he said. “A lot of times guests will reach out and say, ‘Can you send me some more tracks from this artist?’ We’re actually building a fan base for some of these artists that these guests didn’t know existed.”