For your age, you already have quite an impressive career. You are the General Manager (GM) of the Superbude in Vienna, before that you were GM of 25hours Hotels, and also worked many other jobs. Could one say that you are hotelier out of passion? How do you motivate yourself?
I am definitely a hotelier out of passion. What motivates me in my daily work is the fun I have whilst working together with people. It is not at all uncommon that I stay a bit longer in the evenings because I am having an interesting conversation. It is pretty clear that I got this passion for communicating from my mum. As a kid I had to wait for her a lot because she always got into conversations while we were out grocery shopping. Although, I considered it annoying back then, I can only understand it all too well today.
I simply enjoy being around people and helping teams to function. It would, however, be a lie if I told you that everything always went smoothly for me. In the past, I also had jobs in companies where I did not feel at ease. In the best case, however, these low points allow you to advance and inspire you to make a change. The Superbude allows me to grow and further develop myself which is something I need in my job. And since we are not part of a big hotel group, we are not accountable for the decisions we make to anyone but ourselves. This creates a good breeding ground for freedom-loving people and creativity. To say that you provide a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and take yourself not too seriously is something a lot of businesses can do. In the Superbude, this happens all by itself and without thinking about it too much.
To say that you provide a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and take yourself not too seriously is something a lot of businesses can do. In the Superbude, this happens all by itself and without thinking about it too much.
Your current project Superbude is a very innovative and young concept. Can you tell us something about the creation and the idea behind Superbude?
The idea for the Superbude came from our owner Kai Hollmann who, among other things, is also the founder of 25hours Hotels. In the Hamburg quarter St. Georg, close to the central station, stood an empty printing house that belonged to Kai’s family. The question that posed itself was: What to do with this empty building? On a business trip to Berlin, an advertisement for a hostel group caught Kai’s eye and in that moment he had the glorious idea: What if one created a hybrid of a hostel and a hotel? A place where different target groups such as backpackers, business travelers and families would meet in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. The costs of the stay would be low but in terms of quality the accommodation would be comparable to a hotel.
Our Area General Manager Jörn Hoppe also had some creative ideas and this is how a place of encounter with appealing and also unconventional interior came to be. We are very keen on DIY-projects, you might for example find a wheelbarrow that has been remodeled into a seat or raw materials such as plywood that have been integrated into the interior design. Moreover, as part of our Artist in Residence program “Imaginary Patterns”, we invite artists from around the world to stay with us for some time and help us create something even more creative. The idea behind this is that the interior of the Superbude should never be fully finished. And we are open for any disciplines – there are no limits set.
In the Superbuden, people come together just like in Vienna at the Würstelstand (sausage stand) or in Hamburg in St. Pauli at a football match. Also very popular is our regularly held event series “Sound Kuchen” (Coffee & Cake Concert) where people can attend concerts in our lobbies in exchange for a piece of cake. This is probably the largest cake buffet in the city.
A hybrid of a hostel and a hotel, a place where different target groups such as backpackers, business travelers and families meet in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. This is the idea behind the Superbuden.
The atmosphere in the Superbude is relaxed and friendly. Isn’t it rather hard to gain respect from the employees when everything is this laid-back? What does your leadership style look like?
That is a good question. I believe it is all about finding the right balance between a relaxed and a professional atmosphere. Experience has taught me that it is important to define clear rules that the employees can follow: What does the workflow look like? What common ground is there with other departments? What about cigarette breaks? All of this and much more needs to be established right from the start. Hierarchy levels are certainly justifiable. At the end of the day, somebody needs to make sure that the goals that have been set are actually achieved. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in empowerment and give my employees the opportunity to make decisions on their own initiative.
Any tips on employee motivation & retention?
When it comes to employee motivation and retention, everyone has a good solution at hand right now. Nevertheless, this is a highly complex issue and the pandemic has intensified all of this even more. There is probably no universal remedy for this problem. In the Superbude, we put the focus on two things: building a beautiful hotel and creating a good concept.
A workplace where people feel comfortable is already worth a lot. An ideal foundation to retain employees for a longer period of time is creating a workplace and working atmosphere that represents values with which they can identify themselves. A fair salary as well as a work culture where the employees feel valued, contribute to the fact that our employees actually enjoy working here. This joy can be seen on their faces, and by word of mouth, it gets around that Superbude is a nice place to work at.
The Superbude in Vienna opened in June of 2021. However, you have been using hotelkit since February 2020. How did the software assist you in the pre-opening phase?
hotelkit has accompanied me throughout almost all of my work places in the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, it is hard for me to imagine my daily work routine without using this smart intranet. hotelkit’s strength is that it improves the communication and connects the entire team in one place. On top of that, I really like that I can see who has already read which information. hotelkit is also a great help in the housekeeping and engineering domain.
Thanks to hotelkit, we were able to maintain the motivation within the team during the pre-opening phase. Via the news function, we kept our employees in the loop about any progress, for example about the arrival of special designer furniture or other furnishings. We used hotelkit Moments for our teams in Vienna and Hamburg to get to know each other. For this purpose, we organized a little challenge: A virtual relay in form of videos in which all the employees introduced themselves as well as their favorite spots in the respective city. This strengthened the team spirit between the four locations and everybody got to know the most beautiful and interesting places in Vienna and Hamburg.
We used hotelkit Moments specifically to connect our teams in Vienna and Hamburg. In short videos, the employees presented their favorite spots in the city and hid an object there. The person next in line then had to find this item and hide the object at their favorite place in the city.
What is your position on sustainability? And how environmentally friendly is the Superbude?
Resource conservation is one of the basic principles of our company. A few examples in which we are acting sustainably: We use Fair Trade linen and room cleaning and towel exchange only happen upon request. This way, we can avoid chemicals and save energy. A large amount of our furnishings were purchased online on a secondhand platform. I think that it is important to reuse or repair items instead of throwing them away. In Vienna, we also have a gastronomic infrastructure that allows us to offer food exclusively à la carte which means that less food ends up in the trash.
Do you remember a specific cool guest experience?
Children that feel comfortable here always bring me a lot of joy. In the lobby, we provide a lot of activities for them as well as small tables and chairs. The families that are staying here also really enjoy the rooms that are dedicated to a specific theme such as the gamer room. The gamer room has five beds and a five meter long blanket in which the entire family can be covered up in. A couple that stayed here told us that they had hardly any time to visit Vienna because their children had so much fun staying at the hotel.
Any plans for the future?
At the moment, I really enjoy being the General Manager of the Superbude in Vienna. But, of course, we also have plans on opening further Superbude hotels in other locations. When and where this will be, however, is still written in the stars.
3 things you would take to a deserted island?
My family, my smartphone and my AirPods, so I can listen to music and audio books.
The last app you downloaded?
Android or IOS?
Early bird or night owl?
I can usually work better at night😊.
Tea or coffee?
The main idea of Kai Hollmann und Jörn Hoppe was to combine the open and adventurous atmosphere of a hostel with the qualitative aspects of a hotel. Since the opening of the first Superbude in Hamburg’s St. Georg quarter on the 18th of April 2008, this creative idea has become a successful concept that has already won several awards. After the opening of the first Superbude, three more followed in Hamburg St. Pauli, Hamburg Altona and Vienna Prater. In a relaxed and cozy atmosphere, families, solo travelers, business people and backpackers meet whilst having a drink and listening to couch concerts all whilst feeling like they are staying with a friend. Probably the coolest living room in the cosmopolitan cities of Vienna and Hamburg. The Superbude has been using hotelkit since February 2020.
Do you want to communicate efficiently and sustainably with your team, just like the Superbuden?
About the author
Narratives about impoverished poets during his studies encouraged him to follow his passion in a secure job. In hotelkits marketing he takes care of packing the numerous ideas of his colleagues into exciting stories.