In each issue of GRANT, the "Commitment to Society" section highlights special initiatives from the hotel and tourism industry. When it comes to helping others, tourism companies act quickly and in an unbureaucratic manner. The initiative #TOURISTIKHILFT was launched under the leadership of HSMA and V.I.R.. Many tourism partners join forces to arrange accommodation for refugees from Ukraine via the portal touristik-hilft.de. Anna Heuer (Managing Director) and Zeèv Rosenberg (Deputy President) of HSMA Deutschland e. V. share in this interview how commitment to society is part of the industry's toolkit.
GRANT: Two years with the pandemic have hit the industry hard. Does the hotel industry still have the strength to help?
Zeèv: Absolutely. We are countering the lack of perspective that we have been given by policymakers over the past few years. A lot of people have been robbed of their perspective by the war in Ukraine. We want to prove that things will continue. We want to show who we are: We are hosts. We want to help.
GRANT: The #touristikhilft initiative was launched within a few days. Is helpfulness in the DNA of the hotel industry?
Anna: Above all, spontaneity and confidence are in our DNA. The hotel industry has not made money for two years. Even those that had full coffers before the pandemic have nothing now. And yet, when we asked the first hotels in Munich and Berlin for #touristikhilft, the answer was immediate: "Of course we're in!" To this day, I don't know of any hotelier who asked for funding first. The Hotel Berlin, Berlin, for example, spontaneously made a large part of its rooms available to refugees.
Anna Heuer is Managing Director of HSMA Deutschland e.V., the leading trade association for distribution, (online) marketing, sales, technology, revenue management and HR & employer branding in Germany. In addition to her work in the association, she is studying business law part-time. Anna has her roots on the North Sea island of Norderney, where she spent the first 20 years of her life before moving to Düsseldorf to train at hotel nikko düsseldorf.
There, the then 22-year-old stayed in sales for a few years before moving to the East Frisian hotel chain Upstalsboom, where she was responsible for sales and revenue management for eight years.
GRANT: Don't talk, act....
Anna: In my 17 years in the hotel industry, I have never seen it any other way.
Zeèv: In theory, we have it pretty easy. For now, we just have to provide the rooms. But a hotelier also has to look ahead. Catering costs money. And if I give rooms to refugees, that means a loss of revenue. After more than two years, bookings are finally coming in again, and we can and must earn money. We want to help. But that should not mean that a hotel loses its reputation if it can no longer accommodate refugees or if it has to find other accommodation. The industry is finding many ways to help. Some hotels make their employee housing available. Others give away toys and donate food.
This is an excerpt from the recently published first issue of GRANT, the new hotel magazine specifically for property and revenue managers.
Anna: And great respect is also due to the people who spend their days and nights working their butts off because they handle hundreds of calls, are there directly for the people and are constantly on standby!
GRANT: How did the initiative come about?
Zeèv: The initiative was started by Anna...
Anna: ... together with Michael Buller, the board of V.I.R. e. V.! After a short brainstorming session, we first set up a simple website where we listed all the important links. And we went public with the hashtag #touristikhilft so that all important info could be found immediately. The initiative quickly gained momentum. The Düsseldorf-based company Peakwork provided us with an online booking system free of charge. The response to date has been enormous, because everyone is willing to do something. touristik-hilft.de has grown into a centralized service to bundle activities and help refugees.
Zeèv: HSMA is particularly flexible because we are very close to the grassroots. Our association managing director Anna embodies that. The initiative is also an important signal for the industry. We are getting to grips with it. We have proven this time and again in recent years. For example, even during the first lockdown, we spontaneously organized online barcamps. We didn't wait for external support, but immediately took the initiative and brought people together to exchange ideas.
Zeèv Rosenberg: experienced hotelier, project lead at AMANO Group, board member at HSMA, author and podcaster, featuring many industry personalities.
GRANT: What can society learn from the hotel industry?
Anna: It doesn't matter which hotel you go to. Every hotel supports social projects. Sports clubs, kindergarten and school projects, hotels have also always been active in helping refugees. After the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley, nearby hotels immediately opened their doors to those affected. The hotel business means hospitality. We can't exist any other way.
Zeèv: There is this famous phrase by Horst Schulze. "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen." That is our basic attitude. In crises as well as in normal life. We want people to feel comfortable. We are not better or worse than other industries. We are more flexible, and more is expected of us. We do what we can.
www.hsma.de | www.v-i-r.de | www.touristik-hilft.de | www.zeev.de
This is an excerpt from the recently published first issue of GRANT, the new hotel magazine specifically for property and revenue managers. Do you like to read more?
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