An interview with Andreas Martin
Andreas Martin, managing director of Hotelforum Management GmbH, was born and raised in Bonn. When the European Conference for Hotel and Property Experts in the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich kicks off on 7 October 2015, all eyes will be on him and on the three awards "Property of the Year", "Blue Hotel Award" and "Hospitality Innovation Award". However, the highly popular conference, which is also very much a networking event, is primarily made special by the people organizing and attending it. Being one of them, Andreas Martin explains in his interview with hetras the background of the awards, and why he will always be a "Rheinländer".
1. A harbor hotel, a "FutureHotel", and a property on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm – 2015’s finalists for Hotelforum "Property of the Year" could not be more different. What is the uniting factor that puts all three of them in the final round?
All three hotels have one thing in common: Each has a truly individual hotel concept, researched and developed specifically for its location. After only a few months of operation, these concepts have proven successful.2. Why do so many corporate city hotels take part in the competition? This year, it was eighteen of the twenty-three applicants. How can we motivate young hoteliers who would like to apply in 2016, but are afraid they have no chance against the "Big Ones"?
Let me rephrase the question: Why don´t we see more independent and/or resort hotels in this competition? With booming tourism in central Europe, we see more and more independent hotel concepts but no true "resort brand" – with a few exceptions, like Travel Charme, Explorer, and others. We would encourage all independent hoteliers to participate in this competition, whether they operate a city or a resort hotel, because, very often, they can best meet the needs of national and international travelers. Also, they are generally able to decide more quickly which concept would be best in a given location. Looking at our list of winners, we started more than ten years ago with international operators like Hilton or Accor, and last year´s winner was a family-operated resort on a remote mountain pasture in the Austrian Alps.3. There has long been a call in the hotel industry for increased environmental sustainability. Which architects do you consider to be pioneers in this area, with the best understanding of the business (please explain)?
If I may, I would like to contradict this statement. Many years ago, no one really cared about sustainability and thought a sticker in the bathroom that said, “In case you want to reuse your towels…” was enough. This is not a criticism of architects. They normally build according to their clients’ demands, which include operator and investor needs. Honestly, sustainability is still not really on the priority list of these players. Nor is it a priority of the average hotel guest, according to some recent research and polls from Fraunhofer Institut IAO. If you are looking for a sustainable hotel concept, the name “Explorer” comes to mind, with a full "Passivhaus" construction. The masterminds behind that concept are Jürnjacob Reisigl and Katja Leveringhaus – but they are only the "architects" of the young brand, Explorer.4. Which application do you consider the most outstanding up to now, and why?
All thirteen past winners were creative and outstanding!5. To be an innovative hotelier, you need to ... (please finish the sentence)
… know what the guest of tomorrow expects and who this guest is. But at the same time, you need to make sure you have a good and motivated team. The "perfect" hotel, whether it is a budget hotel or a luxury resort, does not work without the right guest approach!
6. What attracted you to the hotel industry?
I was born and was raised in Bonn; however, my parents came from Berlin and Hamburg. At Christmas time, I always liked to help my mother prepare cookies, and at some point it was entirely my responsibility to prepare Christmas cookies for the whole family. That may be one reason why I decided to apply for an after-school apprenticeship as a cook at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski, Munich. During my time as a busboy, the hotel management approached me, and I began my hotel training in areas with more guest contact. I started to become a "Hotelfachmann", a sort of hotel expert.
7. What belongs to the best things about working in the tourism industry?
For me it is the ability to travel. For three years, I was able to live and work in St. Petersburg, a vibrant European city, and ten years later, I opened a hotel in Dresden next to the Frauenkirche. This global connection is what makes our industry so fascinating. But: As a Bonner, I am proud to be able to live in reunited Berlin, but I will always remain a "Rheinländer".
8. If you were to work in any other field, what would it be?
On a professional level, I might not be too bad as a sports moderator!