Combining their German roots with an international vision, Deutsche Hospitality is a forward-looking company that inspires its associates around the globe. In this interview RLI speaks with CEO Marcus Bernhardt to discuss how the brand is moving forward with its expansion and what the future holds.

The umbrella brand Deutsche Hospitality combines five unique hotel brands, Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, MAXX, Jaz in the City, IntercityHotel and Zleep Hotels and is distinguished by its passion, tradition and vision. Today, the company portfolio encompasses more than 160 hotels across three continents, of which over a quarter are in active development. Deutsche Hospitality operates in such markets as Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Dubai, Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Tunisia.
Current CEO Marcus Bernhardt began his role back in November and quickly surmised that the takeover of the company by Huazhu in 2019 has marked a strategic milestone in the company’s history and has immediately helped them to improve their digital and commercial skills.
“In addition to this strategic partnership, Deutsche Hospitality has also acquired a majority stake in the hotel group Zleep Hotels, thus gaining entry to the Scandinavian market,” explains Bernhardt. “Zleep Hotels will be our economy brand in Europe and we have already signed Zleep Hotels in the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.”

Now with five brands under its umbrella, the future opening pipeline for the company looks solid as plans are in place to grow organically by 25 hotels per year until 2025. Beneath this organic growth, additional expansion will be achieved from mergers and acquisitions as the company edges closer to its goal of being one of the top three European hotel companies.
The future focus for Deutsche Hospitality is to continue growing in Europe and the Middle East whilst also expanding to Asia with its Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts and IntercityHotel brands in A New Dimension Of Hospitality cooperation with its shareholder Huazhu. They are focusing on their economy and midscale brands such as IntercityHotel and Zleep Hotels as they have proven to be resilient during this pandemic. However they are also looking for new destinations for resort hotels since they believe resorts will play an even more pronounced role in the future, especially once the coronavirus travel restrictions are eased.

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Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts
Davos, Switzerland

In operation for more than 90 years, Deutsche Hospitality has in that time built-up unwavering guest loyalty and Bernhardt feels this is because of the businesses long-held traditions and its established values. The guests who visit appreciate the high-quality standards, firstclass service and the passion and warmth of the staff on-site. “In addition, our brand family offers a great variety: Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts stands for luxury and hospitality in perfect balance, MAXX is a new and charismatic concept which places the focus on the essential, a perfect conversion brand, Jaz in the City branded hotels reflect metropolitan lifestyle and draw upon the local music and cultural scene, IntercityHotels offers upper mid-range urban hotels, all of which are located within easy walking distance of railway stations or airports and Zleep Hotels offers quality service, and Scandinavian design at an affordable price,” Bernhardt explains. E-commerce and social media are even more crucial to a company’s success than ever before, as Bernhardt puts it: “Because this is where the conversations with the customers and the guests are taking place.” The business has just introduced a new commercial platform, which for the first time in the company’s history is completely guest-centric with a multi-brand and multi-product approach. Through this platform, e-commerce is entirely embedded in the commercial platform as one touchpoint to their customers.

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Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts
Königswinter, Germany

As for social media, Deutsche Hospitality follows a two-way approach; one is the commercial aspect, while the other is the communitive part. “Social media is not just about showing beautiful pictures of our hotels, it is about storytelling and appreciating our guests – and attracting future guests. We invest a lot of time and creativity in these platforms, and we have the feeling that the guests and employees value this,” Bernhardt says.
Passionate hoteliers and an internationally growing company that is based on tradition, Deutsche Hospitality combines its roots with an international vision of combining complex requirements with forward looking hotel concepts. “We position ourselves not only as an excellent host for our guests but also as an attractive employer inspiring our staff around the globe. Deutsche Hospitality’s employees are the lifeblood of this company. We strongly believe in our employees, who are the core and soul of our company and of our success.”

Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts
Hamburg, Germany

The business is currently in the process of restructuring its business units to prepare the organisation for further growth. They are also implementing the new commercial and digital strategy, which will allow them to take the next steps in building one platform for all their services. Their greatest challenge is to implement this new strategy whilst facing the insecurities of the pandemic. Despite this, the business still sees the opportunities that the crisis offers them and they remain optimistic about the future.
“We are trying to see the crisis as an opportunity to successfully drive our expansion plans forward, as we are still at the very start of our transformation process that the company needs to undergo. We are very active, and we sense a mood of renewal despite the current situation,” concludes Bernhardt.