Tech-Driven Hospitality: Deutsche Hospitality Group
As the pandemic’s effect on hospitality starts to ease, and technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, the 160-hotel strong Deutsche Hospitality is reaping the rewards of focusing on what comes next.
Hospitality was one of the sectors arguably hit hardest by the pandemic, with international travel all but halted at times and many travellers putting plans on hold indefinitely. That said, as 2022 ushers back widescale travel across the globe, Deutsche Hospitality is seeing some big projects coming to fruition, with 40 hotels under construction – some of which are now opening their doors.
This momentum is propelled by the action of management throughout the pandemic – while it was slow going in terms of heads in beds, the ‘downtime’ was used wisely, with a focus on what they would need to have ready when business began flowing back. For Deutsche Hospitality, two key areas of investment have been IT and its loyalty program, which will be rolled out internationally within the next few months.
Digitising our stays
Deutsche Hospitality hosts eight unique brands under one umbrella; from luxury segment offerings, brands such as Steigenberger Icons and the Steigenberger Porsche Design Hotels, to economy brand Zleep Hotels.
All of these segments experienced the same significant drop in occupancy through the pandemic, so management used the time to prioritise digitalising their processes.
Participation in the German Government-led Digital ID pilot program, which allows guests to use a digital identity to check into its hotels, is just one example of this increased focus on digitisation.
The top-level aim was to pool various pieces of identity, such as personal identity cards, driving licences, healthcare cards, company IDs and student IDs, to create a ‘digital eco-system’ to reduce bureaucracy in everyday lives.
Deutsche Hospitality’s initial focus was on guest check-in via smart phones, with an ‘ID Wallet’ being developed for business travellers. The wallet allowed automated checking in and the transferring of registration addresses for the bill. Over 40 Steigenberger Hotels are taking part in the program.
At a broader level, it is currently determining which of the tech solutions that it has successfully employed across the mid and economy-level hotels can be bought into upscale and luxury segments as the pandemic effects stabilise.
Utilising technologies such as web voice assistance and live chat bookings are two key examples; both being important as they attract millennial customers. These customers are digital natives and leading spenders in their industry, as such, Deutsche Hospitality closely follows and explores what requirements this cohort has.
However, its approach is considered – while a tech-driven experience may be an expectation, what this looks like at each level must be tempered by the needs of the market segment itself. Luxury products bring different guest expectations; one being personalised service. These consumers expect to be recognised by name and be greeted with a ‘welcome again’.
At the midscale or economy level, however, guests expect a fast check in, fast check out, clean rooms, invoices done immediately and no mistakes. This is where features such as self-terminals for check in and out, Smart Rooms, and apps for E-breakfast and E-housekeeping, can be best utilised.
Deutsche Hospitality is also considering robots for its economy and midscale hotels within the city. It’s a move that will not only make life easier for customers, but will also offer financial benefits, given economies of scales are so important. Through innovations such as this, Deutsche Hospitality ensures it always has an eye on ensuring it continues to deliver sustainable profits to investors.
Deutsche Hospitality’s future-forward stance extends to its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability strategy, which is the foundation of its daily performance and future success.
As customers and shareholders alike are increasingly holding the businesses they spend with to higher standards of transparency and tangible results in delivering products as sustainably as possible, it is a key area of focus for Deutsche Hospitality. This is not only driven by external demand but also by the company ethos.
Its successful strategies have often come from employees, who are now encouraged and formally engaging in helping. For example, in the last year alone, it saved over nine tonnes of soap by simply switching up how they dispense it, and this was an employee-driven initiative.
It has signed on to the Responsibility Alliance and is working with partners, competitors and various departments to progress the goals of both the Alliance and the company.
Deutsche Hospitality’s CSR strategy encloses five main action areas, each backed by specific objectives. The five areas include Green Buildings, Green Services, Fair Partnerships, One Team and New Chance, the last tasked with establishing long-term partnerships and networks and enhancing the effectiveness of its activities through involving employees in its social commitment.
The goals for 2021, for example, included establishing the first carbon-neutral hotel and instigating a complete ban on hard soap and foie gras. It increased its vegetarian or vegan offerings by 30 per cent last year in Europe, while endangered fish species will no longer be served, and sustainably certified and Fairtrade coffee will be introduced (with takeaway coffee cups abolished in all hotels).
Deutsche Hospitality is listening to both its customers and employees to not only thrive post-pandemic, but to ensure that it can continue to do so sustainably.
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