To Ruby Hotels, luxury means laid-back comfort instead of formalities, inspiring people instead of expensive facades and character and soul instead of polished surfaces. In this interview, RLI sits down with company CEO & Founder Michael Struck to learn more about the brand as it embarks on its largest expansion pipeline to date.
Munich-based Ruby Group is breaking new ground with its ground-breaking philosophy. By incorporating a lean organisational structure and concentrating only on the essentials, Ruby has created a contemporary and affordable form of luxury for the current cost- and style-conscious customers.
Founded just seven years ago, Ruby Hotels already has 27 hotels under contract, of which eight are open and operating, with the remaining 19 either in the planning or the construction phase. As well as its hotel portfolio, Ruby also operates Ruby Works, a five-strong collection of perfectly equipped workspaces in major cities. Sites are already open in Munich and Hamburg, with upcoming openings due in Düsseldorf, Cologne and Vienna, with each offering a creative ambience to inspire office communities. Of the 27 hotels, five of them are across China with the rest in Europe in cities such as Vienna in Austria, Munich, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart in Germany, Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland and London in the UK.
“The past year has been a very intense one that has involved us signing more deals than we have in any other year,” explains Michael Struck, CEO & Founder of Ruby Hotels. “I also took on board another shareholder which brings us up to six. This latest one is the largest we have ever signed and will hopefully assist us as we look to enter the US market.”
In the future Struck also wants to grow and extend the brand beyond hotels and they have taken the first steps to this with the workspaces, but they are also working on some more extensions and brand extensions. In the next 12 months the target is to open three to four properties in Europe and an additional three to four in China. As well as wanting to expand in the US, Australia and Japan are also locations the Group have been working hard to bring to completion in the last couple of years, but they are not in a rush to expand and want to establish a presence in the US before moving onto these additional locations.
An unusual aspect of Ruby Hotels is that when searching for new properties, the buildings they usually select are not already existing hotel buildings. The company normally starts with an office building, a retail building or even a green field development as it is the location that attracts Ruby and not the building itself. When talking about peers in the market, Struck explains that this is essentially anyone in the lifestyle segment with the price point that is below ultra-luxury because that is the clientele the company caters to. What it is that Ruby Hotels does though is offer its beds, showering facilities, multimedia and connectivity offerings, aesthetics, ambience and ergonomics, but they do all this in a smaller footprint, utilising a lot of what they’ve learnt in the last seven years to perfect this lean style.
“The main target group that we cater for is anywhere between midscale and upscale, the psychographic of the Cosmopolitan Avantgarde. What we try to do is understand this psychographic better than our competitors and deliver on the expectations of the individuals to a greater extent than our peers in the field,” explains Struck. The company’s choice of target guest was one that was consciously taken, also because of this particular section of the population is extremely active online and one that the business was best able to converge with in relation to for direct and online bookings. There is a team behind-the-scenes that run all the social media platforms, keep dialogue open with guests and build relationships even after the door is closed on their stay at Ruby.
To conclude the interview, we asked Struck what he would say is the ethos of Ruby? “I would say that Ruby has five values, the first of these is joy. The second is authenticity, we don’t ask staff members to say and act differently than they would outside of our properties and this goes through to design, there will never be cheap materials in a Ruby Hotel, it is true vintage. The third is diversity, I believe that our character is having a multitude of assets, being true to ourselves and that attracts people from all walks of life. The fourth is courage because we always try and do something new and you have to have the courage and the ability to make mistakes. Finally I would say community, because we strive for the family spirit, for people to feel like they belong when they stay in a Ruby Hotel.”