Sunday, November 28

Hotel industry: new beds in uncertain times

Status: 10/27/2021 8:23 a.m.

Never before have so many hotel beds been left empty as in the pandemic. At the same time, new hotels are still being planned or opened. A bet on the future – with an uncertain outcome.

If the demand falls, so does the supply. This principle is no longer in force on the hotel market in Frankfurt am Main or in Berlin. Although the demand from guests has fallen sharply due to Corona, many hotels are being opened and more and more are being planned or are already being built. Specifically: In the coming years, almost 30 new houses with almost 7,000 rooms are to be built in Frankfurt. In Berlin there are more than 60 hotels with around 11,000 rooms.

The supply is increasing. But demand, i.e. the number of hotel guests, is only slowly recovering. And whether there will ever be as many business travelers as before Corona is more than doubtful. “Of course people want to meet again,” says Julius Wagner from the Hessian Hotel and Restaurant Association (Dehoga). “But purely digital or hybrid variants will also be part of everyday business life as a matter of course.” Every fifth business trip could be omitted – forever.

Potential for private travelers?

Frankfurt is preparing for this scenario. Nevertheless, there should be as many overnight stays as before the crisis by 2025 at the latest. How is that supposed to work? “We still have room for improvement when it comes to private travelers,” explains Thomas Feda, Managing Director of Frankfurter Tourismus- und Congress GmbH. So far, two thirds have come to Frankfurt for business reasons and one third as private travelers. Ten years ago the proportion of private vacationers was much lower. Marketing boss Feda asks rhetorically: “Why shouldn’t we succeed in attracting even more people on a city trip to Frankfurt?”

New offers should help – new hotels. One of them is the “Design Hotel Ruby Louise” near Frankfurt’s Opernplatz. The new building with 215 rooms was opened in March in the middle of lockdown. “Not opening a finished hotel makes no economic sense at all,” explains Ruby Marketing Director Felix Härtel. The concept is called “lean luxury” in the most beautiful marketing German: The rooms are of high quality with expensive mattresses.

What can be dispensed with is saved

On the other hand, savings are made which from the point of view of the hotel chain can now be dispensed with: no minibar, no restaurant, no reception. “The check-in works digitally within a minute,” says Härtel. “Likewise, payment by credit card, so that the guest no longer needs a reception and can simply leave the hotel at the end of the day.” All of this saves expensive personnel costs. The result: the average price per room is around EUR 40 cheaper at 109 euros compared to other hotels with similar room facilities.

On the one hand, Dehoga managing director Julius Wagner is pleased about such new and modern offers in Frankfurt. But the hotel boom also has another side for him: “We will have an oversupply of hotel beds,” said Wagner. “Existing hotels are coming under very special pressure.”

Traditional houses had to close

His colleague from Berlin, Thomas Lengfelder, knows these fears. In the capital, a number of traditional hotels have closed their doors forever in the pandemic. But looking into the future has seldom been as difficult as it is now, as the Berlin-based Dehoga managing director makes clear with an example: Berlin, like Frankfurt, will be able to welcome fewer trade fair guests in the future. “If, however, hybrid trade fairs require less space,” says Lengfelder, “they can then take place directly in the large hotels instead of on the exhibition grounds.

Whether Berlin or Frankfurt: The belief in well-filled hotel beds in the future exists in both cities. In the past, German hotels were a good investment for international investors. This is another reason why the construction boom will continue. This is good news for the guests: In the future, travelers – whether for business or pleasure – will be able to choose from an even greater variety.

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