Meet the “Vibe Manager” at NYC’s Hard Rock Hotel

  • 43-year-old Michael Tello is the “Vibe Manager” at the Hard Rock Hotel in New York City.
  • His duties include curating playlists, welcoming celebrities and “vibe-checking” guests.
  • He also prepares the “rockstar suite” for VIPs staying at the hotel such as Vance Joy and Halsey.

Michael Tello, the 43-year-old “vibe manager” at the newly opened Hard Rock Hotel in New York City, is used to dealing with rock stars.

A self-described entertainment “everything bagel”, Tello has founded record labels, organized music festivals and toured the world as a DJ. Today he continues to play in an electronic music band called PillowTalk.

In an interview with Insider, Tello said this industry perspective allows him to form strong relationships with the celebrities who perform and stay at the hotel — a skill that doesn’t come easily to most.

One of his various duties is fulfilling the litany of unique requests that visiting artists list on their hospitality rider, part of their contract. Tello said one he received this summer was 22 pages long — several pages of which were food allergies.

“I have to get my runner out three days in advance to find this very specific yogurt or this specific type of snack they want or a $300 scented candle,” Tello said. “A lot of these riders are for festivals or giant arenas that have the staff. I’m a one-man department.”

Hard Rock hotel rockstar suite

The “Rockstar Suite” at the Hard Rock Hotel in New York City.

Courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel New York

But being able to provide those special details is also one of the most rewarding parts of the job, he said.

When Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy played at the hotel in May, Tello customized the “rockstar suite” for the artist with a ukulele and curated selection of vinyl records. And in June, when Halsey played a private show at the venue and brought her infant son, Tello’s team set up a separate room for the child and his nanny, complete with a baby monitor and other amenities.

“It was very nice to see her traveling with her family,” he said. “We really want to make sure they leave being like, ‘wow, they went above and beyond to make sure the artist had the best experience.’

Of all Tello’s celebrity encounters at the hotel, he said his all-time favorite memory was Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary in May. At the after-party, he became close with Ciara’s backup dancers, he said.

“I’m really good friends with all the artists now,” he told Insider. “There is always someone to bond with, everyone who comes here is so nice and genuine.”

Ciara and Didi Richards dance on stage during Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Celebrates the Launch of the 2022 Edition and the Debut of Pay With Change at Hard Rock Hotel New York on May 19, 2022 in New York City.

Ciara and Didi Richards dance on stage during the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2022 launch party at the Hard Rock Hotel New York on May 19, 2022.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit

On days when the hotel doesn’t have a big concert, Tello said he starts the morning by doing a “mood check” of the entire building. This usually involves rearranging furniture, adjusting the music volume in the lobby, bathrooms and elevators, and checking in with guests, he said.

Being a vibe manager requires you to see “music as an experience, and how it affects people’s moods,” he said, a process he described as “almost scientific.”

“The volume has to be right, the music has to be on brand, the lighting and aesthetics have to be right,” Tello said, adding that the weather, time of day and day of the week all influence what music he decides to play.

The Vibe manager works Tuesday to Saturday. For the first two days of the week, Tello said his business hours are roughly 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, he said he arrives at the hotel around noon and leaves whenever the evening event ends.

His main responsibility is to run hotel events, or “activations”, as employees call them. This usually includes freestyle poetry in the lobby on Monday, “Gin and Jazz” in the steakhouse on Wednesday, and DJ rooftop parties on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The hardest part of the job is being in multiple places at once, and having enough energy at the end of a 10-hour shift to be “on vibe” for guests and artists, Tello explained.

“The flexible hours are demanding – I’m happy to do it, it’s what I love,” he told Insider. “Splash water on your face, put on a happy face, because no matter how you feel inside … it’s basically like being an entertainer. You put away what you’re feeling and make sure the guest has a good time and then take a deep breath afterwards.”

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