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Total failure in all places

Alexander Fitz, CEO H-Hotels, on political nonsense and incompetence

H-Hotels Hyperion Hotel Dresden am Schloss, Lobby
H-Hotels, an expansive, creative group focused on quality. - How many medium-sized hotel groups will fall victim to the government's poor pandemic management? / Photo: H-Hotel Hyperion Dresden

Bad Arolsen (January 15, 2021). Alexander Fitz, CEO of the German H-Hotels and responsible for 60 hotels, is fed up with politics: senseless VAT cuts, unfair lockdowns, November lies, zero financial aid, ignorant and incompetent politicians who treat people like complete idiots ... For the entrepreneur, it's enough. He makes no secret of his frustration at this point and probably speaks from the soul of many colleagues.

H-Hotels is one of the expansive medium-sized groups in Germany that has worked very hard and successfully in recent years and put creative hotel concepts and valuable properties on the market. When asked him what demands he has towards politics, the agile entrepreneur started writing:

"For me, there is only one chronological order: Vaccinate, Vaccinate, Vaccinate, Vaccinate!

All other measures show no effect, apparently. Despite the hard lockdown measures, the numbers of people infected are still rising. Neither the closing-down of the hotel industry and gastronomy nor the retail industry and diverse other proximal and non-proximal services have had a significant effect on the infection events.

All suggestions from our industry, irrespective of how meaningful they were, are or would have been – they were and are either ignored directly or not understood at all or understood and then ignored. But our industry has provided many constructive and meaningful suggestions.

For months, we have tried individually or via the associations, to deliver these suggestions and to point out the most pressing problems. I have talked to many representatives of the Federal Government myself, in order to create some kind of realistic awareness concerning the problems on an objective level.

  Fitz Alexander
  Alexander Fitz: total failure everywhere. / Photo: H-Hotels

There were also less meaningful or even completely meaningless suggestions (e.g. the value added tax reduction), but do the decision makers in politics not have enough experts and consultants to help them to assess the intrinsic value of suggestions?

If politics do not even follow scientific facts, why should they follow suggestions of entrepreneurs, who are irrelevant to the system?

I was told twice, directly, that I and/or my business are not relevant for the system. The first time, when I was no longer allowed to bring my daughter to kindergarten. There, a lady was prioritised, who worked at a REWE (supermarket) cash register half a day and whose husband was a farmer. And the second time, when we tried to obtain information about the Economic Stabilisation Fund already in July. Back then, I was told: "Actually, you meet all requirements but I'm not sure, if you are relevant to the system." Competence sounds different to me!

10,000 euros for 60 hotels or 1 MP

Already in April, we urgently pointed out the problematic wording in the Covid legislation ("... basically, the leases remain owed …"). If there had been a fair distribution of the losses between lessees and lessors from the beginning, large parts of the "aid" for the chain hotel industry would not have been necessary. That politics continue to talk about aid funds is scornful at best. It should be called compensation, as we were given an occupational ban.

In order to calm people's tempers, they then constructed the "November lie". Again, they waved the billions in front of our noses of which we have received nothing. When we read in the Federal Government's term sheet that they wanted to pay us 75% of the turnovers of the same month last year, we first thought that this was an awkward apology for their failure in the last few months or that they simply had no clue at all, what this is all about.

If this were related to the fix costs (like in Austria, for example), the amount we applied for would have been less than half in our case, but it would have helped a lot or, in our case, even sufficed.

However, politics waited so long until even financially well-positioned groups had used up their last cent of equity capital. With the consequence that the businesses now have to deal with the respective margin grids of banks in addition to the already missing cash flow. Lower equity capital = higher interest rates, no equity capital = maximum interest rates. This is exactly what businesses need when they get in to difficulties through no fault of their own. This would have been largely avoidable if politics had relied on professional expertise.

One example shows clearly that the members of parliament have lost all touch with reality: On December 27, 2020, we finally obtained 10,000 euros as partial payment of the November aid. This is only 83.45 euros less than the compensation a member of the German parliament obtains every month (without bonuses).

Tell the truth!

Last week, we were to explain to a state secretary why we "… obtained so few lease waivers". Apart from the fact that we are talking about millions of euros, I had to point out to him that the legal basis for negotiating the waiver of leases has only existed since December 18. It is staggering to see the dilettantism and incompetence with which political players are allowed to operate.

Protecting our oldest citizens was put right at the top of the political agenda. The result: total failure everywhere. Concepts for schools, digitised lessons and day care centres? The result: maximum failure everywhere. Checking and implementing thousands of different distancing, mask, hygiene and whatever rules? The result: total failure everywhere. Digitised procedure to facilitate the handling of payments? The result: total failure everywhere.

If I were to give politicians one bit of advice today, I would suggest they immediately stop putting up smoke screens and tell the truth instead. The majority of the people in our country are able to cope with the truth and act accordingly. State Premiers who repeatedly explain lockdowns and new measures in child language are treating the people like total morons.

In the end, we have to thank Covid-19 for these bitter, but informative experiences. The next federal election takes place on September 26, 2021."

In today's magazine issue (subscription), 15 CEOs and top executives large and smaller hotel groups in the German-speaking market formulate their demands to politicians. Read "Keep the promises!"



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