Make money for having the right vibe.
Having good vibes could pay off.
Companies and hotels are hiring vibe managers – well connected, self-starters who have their finger on the pulse of lifestyle and industry trends – and paying them up to $85,000 a year or more to throw celebrity-filled parties, make playlists and orchestrate office outings like scavenger hunts and lavish sushi dinners, in addition to doing some actual work.
San Francisco-based company Bateman Group, a public relations tech agency, put out a job posting two years ago seeking a “Talent and Vibe Manager,” described as a “self-starter who thinks outside the box.” The firm needed someone to help recruit talent and also balance producing innovative events for the staff.
The job requirements sound like a glorified recruiter or executive assistant gig, including planning monthly birthday celebrations and happy hours; brown bag professional development lunches; stocking the kitchen “with a variety of healthy snacks” and researching activities such as “lunch-time yoga and chair massages.”
“You need to be plugged in enough to find us the right venues, connected to the right people at the right hotels and basically able to leverage the very best of what Brooklyn and San Francisco have to offer,” Fred Bateman, CEO and founder of the bicoastal Bateman Group, tells Moneyish.
Bateman also believes having the cool title is a fun incentive to get new hires invested in the company for the long haul.
“The title enriches what might be viewed as more of an administrative role at an organization. I wanted new staff to feel like they could move up at the organization,” he says.
“Adding vibe to their responsibilities gives them something more meaningful and gives their job more respect. It’s not just answering phones or planning parties, they have to be thoughtful about it.”
Since then, Bateman has implemented an entire “vibe squad”. The team of 10 — a mix of millennials and Gen Xers — handles the fun tasks, but also helps with balancing budgets, completing spending reports and seeking out charities to team up with. For a recent team builder, the squad planned a scavenger hunt through the Mission District using a tech app. It ended with a sushi picnic.
As a manager, he says you can get paid between $75,000 to $80,000 a year, and some employees at the VP level who are doing more management level tasks in addition to vibe can make $140,000 and up.
The silly title could be a subtle way to boost office moral. Seventy percent of U.S. workers are not focused on their work, according to Officevibe.com, a website that provides software to companies to help boost employee engagement.
Bateman is hardly the first to come up with the idea. Native New Yorker and millennial Melissa Rosenfield got a trademark for the title “Director of Vibe,” and has built an entire business around it. It all started when the ultra ambitious, self-proclaimed lifestyle maven took a six-month consulting gig in Anguilla with the Viceroy hotel in 2011 to escape her job in the fashion and beauty industry in Los Angeles, which felt like “a sorority from hell.”
Attending cool parties and rubbing elbows with celebrities while working long hours in La La Land, however, did help her establish a high profile rolodex of hospitality contacts, which is how she connected with Brad Korzen, the founder of Viceroy Hotels.
“When I started, one of my first assignments was ‘make sure the lighting is cool.’ I was physically lighting tiki torches at the resort to set the mood. My clothes were covered in citronella oil,” Rosenfield recalls.
The millennial was doing everything from camp counseling to party planning at the resort, but it was hardly all fun and games.
“I was working 22-hour days delivering cheese plates to hotel rooms in 80-degree heat, handing out coconut water on the beach and carrying trays of champagne on New Years. I didn’t have people doing my heavy lifting,” she says.
During her six months, she was paid a hefty fee of $50,000 to transform the hotel into the ultimate island vibe. She called a DJ in LA to help curate a different playlist for every outlet in the hotel and got boutique fitness brands like Barry’s Bootcamp at the resort before New Yorkers even knew it was cool.
Now she gets paid six figures to consult with companies like 1 Hotels, GM and Samsung to set the right vibe at parties. That means making sure there’s killer talent, music and free swag. She’s hosted parties with the likes of Derek Jeter, Chelsea Handler and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
“People say ‘you’re living the glam life,’” she says, admitting it has its perks, but Rosenfield is quick to point out, “I was never too good to carry suitcases to a room.”
Speaking of rooms, Molly Ford, 43, started working night shifts at the front desk of the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal in Orlando 15 years ago after her day job as a creative publishing company.
“They said, ‘You’re kind of wasting your talents here,’ so I moved into an administrative position and then I became the special events coordinator.”
But when she started delving into setting mood music, they eventually created the title “Vibe Manager” for her.
The pink-haired coolness curator now selects and programs all of the music that’s heard throughout the resort and hand picks rockstar talent like Brett Michaels and Lita Ford to perform at the 400 live shows she plans. She just set up a show with Howie Day.
She also gets to dabble in the culinary space. She helped come up with a program called “Wine Riffs,” a five-course wine dinner that mixes food and music. One of her favorites was a Beatles-themed party featuring songs off John and Paul’s solo albums for a more mellow vibe that escalated into energetic sounds from the “Revolution” album.
“It’s a pretty fun job,” Ford admits. “I have a lot of people who say what do you do? Sometimes I literally get in the pool and have to replace speakers.”
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