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Only with a concept

Design Hotels raises its demands - An event in Vienna

Logo Future Forum Wien

Berlin/Vienna (September 29, 2006). Claus Sendlinger can only laugh about Ian Schrager's most recent comments about "design hotels being no longer in demand," and judges them as self-promotion. The CEO of Design Hotels in Berlin receives new applications every month, but two out of 30 become a member of this hip hotel and lifestyle association at most. In the case of another eight, the cooperative probably senses the potential for a design concept. But in future, no applicant without a concept will benefit from the cooperative's marketing power. Next week, the "Future Forum" in Vienna will bundle this new demand and will clear the way for ideas at the same time.

Five years ago, Design Hotels showed first signs of a multi-brand strategy. However, such considerations have long been put aside. Sendlinger and his team now concentrate solely on the one brand and want to see its realisation as a universal concept in each individual hotel. "Lifestyle companies like 25hours have realised that it does not make any sense today to place a copy of the Hamburg hotel in Frankfurt," he comments on one of his new consulting clients in Germany. Design Hotels aims at polarising with its architecture and interior design - but these components have to "tell a story" in a consistent way.

That is why today, Design Hotels analyses the thoughts of all participants of the concept more than ever: the owner's, the architect's, the interior designer's and the operator's. "The key is to bring together their creativity with an experienced classical hotelier," explains Sendlinger further. Only then would Design Hotels be a success. For years, only the outward appearance has been of importance. The young creative hotels have been ridiculed due to their inadequate expertise.

Claus Sendlinger
Claus Sendlinger, 
CEO Design Hotels
This is also why Design Hotels with its 140 members separated itself from ten member businesses. Moreover, another five "compromises" are to be settled this year. Obviously, the gap between the design worlds has become too big: demanding travellers from New York, for example, did not find their expectations fulfilled in Frankfurt...

The paying guest counts, after all. That is why the marketing cooperative has changed its own structure. It abolished insistent and exchangeable sales calls that were mentioned at "mini fairs". In seven cities all over the world (Chicago, Boston, New York, St. Petersburg, Vienna, Munich), Design Hotels collects the travel agency salespersons in order to meet the hoteliers. In this way, an incentive for personal talks in a small market place is created.

In Singapore, another sales office was opened in addition to the offices in Berlin, London and New York. Apart from this, the group falls back on branches in Tokyo, Barcelona and on Bali.  

Today, one Revenue Manager is in charge of selling 30 hotels each in the Berlin headquarters - and the members do not pay any additional fee. In the hotels that comprise about 75 rooms on average, there are no sales and turnover specialists most of the time so that these (medium-sized) hoteliers are grateful for outsourcing. "Although we take some risk, we benefit from stronger sales," says Sendlinger. 

For 2005, Design Hotels has recorded black figures for the first time in its business report. Between 2003 and 2005, turnover rose by 100 percent while the total number of hotels remained the same. Today, the achieved average room rate is 250 USD. Sendlinger specifies: the 40% of member hotels that belong to the segment of "luxury and super-luxury" (5 stars), achieve rates of 200 USD and more. As regards the remaining 60% in the segment of "new luxury" (3 and 4 stars), the rate achieved is between 120 and 180 USD.

Claus Sendlinger is satisfied with the technological connection to the Synexus booking system belonging to Sabre. The agreement has just been extended. Since this month, there has also been a newly created website - with a simpler booking procedure and less visual twaddle. As mentioned before, Design Hotels wants to talk more about concepts (and figures) than about outward appearance.

At the "Future Forum" in Vienna next week, Design Hotels will meet with its investors, owners and operators, and will contribute to the conception development of the design issue with a public panel discussion (see links). / Maria Puetz-Willems  


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