At a time when all eyes are on Washington and the nation’s historical narrative is in debate, downtown Washington’s historic boutique hotel, The Jefferson, has launched a colorful immersion into American democracy. Presented in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, guests of all ages are invited to retrace America’s history through three Summer of American Democracy itineraries developed by hotel historian and Senior Fellow with the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, Susan Sullivan Lagon, Ph.D. The three itineraries cover how women shaped American life and culture, the pursuit of justice, and famous dogs and animals in American History.
IVY Magazine sat down with Meredith Goldberg, The Jefferson’s Director of Marketing and Communications, to learn more about the Summer of American Democracy and how hotels like The Jefferson are innovating to remain at the forefront of an increasingly competitive hospitality industry.
Meredith Goldberg, The Jefferson’s Director of Marketing and Communications, is an IVY Member (DC). Connect and collaborate with her here.
Can you give us a brief history of The Jefferson?
One of the best boutique hotels in the country, The Jefferson has presided over the prestigious corner of 16th and M Streets since 1923, when the historic Beaux Arts design building first opened as luxury apartments. In 1955, the property was transformed into a hotel to accommodate the world’s elite travelers and Washington’s most important visitors. The hotel was the first building completed along 16th St. between the White House and Scott Circle. Rich in historical details, The Jefferson is both European and Washingtonian in style, with tributes to Thomas Jefferson and his beloved Monticello throughout.
The building has always been The Jefferson because the Paris-trained architect named the buildings he completed in honor of American presidents —the Jefferson was his third building, just as Jefferson was our third president.
What was your journey to becoming The Jefferson’s Director of Marketing and Communications?
My career began in sales right after college. I was a matchmaker for a dating service — before online dating — and sold (insanely expensive) memberships. I found myself drawn to creating the promotions for the service and coming up with taglines and eventually realized that all of my interests were marketing-based, so I went to grad school for my MS in Marketing.
During my time in grad school, I took my first job in hospitality and worked as a Public Relations assistant at the historic Willard InterContinental in DC. My boss became my mentor, teaching me how to craft press releases, pitches for the media, and internal hotel communications — and I was hooked on the hospitality industry. Once I graduated with my degree in Marketing, I focused solely on roles where I would have the opportunity to create content and work in an environment where my day would never be like the one before.
Working as the Director of MarComm in a luxury property like The Jefferson is a marriage of everything that I love: creativity and communicating (via web, social, or in person) in a place where I feel like Eloise every day.
Why did The Jefferson decide to partner with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on this project?
The Smithsonian has been a treasured partner of ours over the years, so when they launched their American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith exhibit, we were elated to collaborate with them anew.
One of The Jefferson’s three itineraries, “Famous Dogs and Animals in American History.”
Are there any exhibits you’re particularly excited for The Jefferson to be hosting?
The hotel is the proud owner of eight original documents that bear Jefferson’s signature, which provide illustrations that speak to both federalism and the separation of powers. They represent his different roles over his lifetime: Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State under George Washington, President, and private citizen.
What’s the best way for people to book a spot to experience The Jefferson’s Summer of American Democracy?
Travelers may opt for the Summer of American Democracy package*. Starting at $305/night and bookable now through September 7th, it includes:
- Five-star overnight accommodations surrounded by original art, historic documents, and décor relating to Jefferson’s admiration of music, books, and horticulture.
- F&B credit of $30/day for a standard room and $150/day for a deluxe or executive suite to be used for breakfast or brunch in Greenhouse, craft cocktails in Quill, or dining in-room or at Michelin-starred Plume Deluxe or Executive Suite.
- Welcome amenity reflecting the National Museum of American History’s new exhibitions.
- An inspirational quote from a famous American each night. Also included is where to find the historical figure in the Summer of American Democracy itineraries.
*To book, insert “Summer” in the Corporate/Promotion Code space online here. Package is based on availability; blackout dates apply, and Plume is closed Sundays and Mondays. More information is available here.
The Jefferson’s Summer of American Democracy invites patrons to experience the hotel in a whole new, immersive way. Is this an attempt to respond to the competition and attract new generations of travelers?
We like to be at the forefront of trends so immersive travel has always been at the heart of our guest experience. Our Summer of American Democracy campaign was created to encourage knowledge seeking travelers to celebrate the history of our great nation and build upon its foundations as we progress into the future.
Airbnb entered the lodging scene in 2008, shaking up the hospitality industry. To what extent have you felt the impact of this new source of competition from the “sharing economy” during your time at The Jefferson?
I think that Airbnb provides a different experience for travelers than hotels. Airbnb allows you to live “like a local,” which I think is a nice option for the newer traveler who really want to immerse themselves during their travels. What The Jefferson offers is a classic luxury hotel experience. If you want a grilled cheese at 4am, you don’t have to bumble around in someone else’s kitchen; we’ll take care of that. If you want tickets to the newest exhibit, you don’t have to sleep in line; we’ll do that for you. There’s a service level that luxury hotels provide that can’t be matched anywhere else, so I think there’s always going to be a market for both.
What advice do you have for people aspiring to enter the hospitality industry?
Be prepared to work. A lot. Eight hour days don’t necessarily exist in a 24-hour machine, even if you’re working back of house in sales or marketing or even accounting. There’s always going to be reviews to be answered, tweets to be replied to, and guests who have questions — and they don’t necessarily have them between 9am and 5pm. I’d also say to try out different departments. I have friends that have started as the Engineering assistant and ended up the Director of Revenue; you never know where the hospitality industry will take you (literally and figuratively). Enjoy the ride!