Lois Eida is the President of Lois Lane Travel, Inc., a travel agency that has been based in the Flatiron District for over 40 years.
Having been in business in the Flatiron District since 1978, I have seen our neighborhood and our city go through some difficult times. The early 2000s stand out to me as the time when I was most uncertain about the future of my business and our neighborhood.
Two decades ago, Flatiron was filled with internet-related companies. When the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, I feared the worst. But the uncertainty created opportunity. Tom Arbuckle, manager of the former International Toy Center at 200 Fifth Avenue, recruited our company to move into the building and handle travel arrangements for the toy industry tenants and buyers. I decided to really focus our business on our home neighborhood and began developing stronger relationships with the hotels and other market buildings in the area.
That was before September 11, 2001. Beyond the personal devastation we all felt, the terrorist attack was a major blow to the travel and hospitality industry. Business travel didn’t resume until six months after the attack.
I find that the personal touch is always important, but especially so in times of uncertainty. That’s why I visit every hotel I work with, and the surrounding restaurants and shops. And, when you call our office, you speak with a real person. Establishing relationships with your suppliers and colleagues is so important.
After 9/11, we gave our clients first-hand information about what was happening in the neighborhood, so they felt comfortable and knew what to expect. We’ll need to do that in the coming months as we bring the neighborhood back from this crisis, too.
New York is iconic. I call it an “Instagram City,” and Flatiron is the perfect Instagram location. There may be a paradigm shift. We may serve a new population at first, but the shopping, parks, and restaurants will still be here. And so will the people who make New York such a welcoming city. Once people come to New York City and the Flatiron District, they will love it.