A long standing favourite travel destination for a wide range of tourism markets, Germany is transitioning alongside global modernisation with grace. Emily Millett discovers.
Germany has long enjoyed a well-established position on the list of top global ‘must-visit’ destinations and, while the list grows and lengthens, Germany works hard to keep its star shining and its industry up-to-date.
“Germany is one of the most attractive tourist destinations worldwide,” coordinator corporate communications, Steigenberger Hotels AG, Mona Wattendorf told TTG. “Current trends are the beautiful German coast region as well as major cities such as Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin. Berlin was just recently voted as one of the most interesting places to see – similar to London.”
And the destination is proving popular amongst both the business and the leisure crowd as general manager, Villa Kennedy, a Rocco Forte Hotel, Georg Plesser commented: “The tourists visiting Germany either travel for business purposes or are mainly visiting the biggest cities such as Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt for a city trip. When looking at Frankfurt, 70 per cent of the tourists visiting come for business reasons.
With 45 per cent international guests, Frankfurt is the most international German city. Even though the proportion of leisure guests is only 30 per cent, this target group is very important to the destination as well as to our hotel.”
The poster child of up-to-date tourism trends, Germany is seeing the continued influence of technology on its travel industry developments.
“One of the major trends is the growing influence of social media and mobile communication,” said market director of sales and marketing, The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin, Jana Hoefer.
“Travellers are more and more used to modern apps and real time communication and don’t want to wait in line during check-in. We accommodate those needs with our Ritz-Carlton mobile app, offering an easy and comfortable mobile check-in and check-out. Furthermore, guests can easily order in-room dining with the app and share their best memories with us on our numerous social media platforms.”
This is not a new trend however, with the influence of mobile technology in Germany rising steadily according to CEO, HRS GROUP, Tobias Ragge, who added: “A look into the HRS data reveals that the mobile share of total bookings in 2012 were six per cent, 12 per cent for 2013 and 20 per cent for 2014 (2015 data is being evaluated right now but we are expecting a further rise). We expect this rapid growth to continue for the foreseeable future.“
About half of HRS GROUP’s bookings are set to be made via mobile devices within the next few years, a statistic which Ragge said makes sense from a business traveller perspective, as mobile provides the flexibility needed when appointments are cancelled or postponed on short notice.
“Smartphone users use their device on Mondays to make a booking, tablet users do so on Sundays. In addition, bookings via smartphone are more shortterm and for shorter stays; more than 50 per cent book for the same or the following day, while tablet users use their device more than 40 days in advance of their stay,” said Ragge.
Industry insiders across Germany are using this growth in the use of technology to benefit loyal customers, as general manager, Hilton Frankfurt City Centre, Marc Snijders explained to TTG: “Fast evolving technology will remain one of the key trends and at Hilton Frankfurt City Centre we respond to that with a great digital offer. HHonors member have the possibility to digitally check-in and select their room of preference prior to their arrival. We will continue to invest and enhance our digital offer and in the future, guests will be able to use their smartphone as a room key.
“For Hilton Frankfurt City Centre, 2016 will be an exciting year with great product enhancements and a refurbishment of the Executive Lounge and hotel restaurant. It will also be an exciting year for our HHonors guests, who will now benefit even more from their membership in this club. From free WIFI, to great discounts, many added values are exclusively reserved for our most loyal members.”
Villa Kennedy, a Rocco Forte Hotel is also responding very quickly to these trends, with website updates occurring on a daily basis, offering special benefits to guests who book online.
“One trend which can be noticed in the German industry is, of course, the importance of the Internet. We’re launching a mobile app, where guests can order their in-room dining menu easily via their smartphone,” said Plesser.
In addition to complimentary WiFi in the hotel, Jumeirah Frankfurt now provides all hotel guests complimentary access to an in-room digital entertainment and information tablet, according to regional vice president, Europe, Jumeirah Group and general manager, Jumeirah Frankfurt, Doris Greif.
“At the touch of a button, guests can find lots of hotel information including the room service menu, guest directory, Talise spa brochure and city information,” Greif told TTG. “The details on the tablet inform guests of what to do in town, popular sights to visit and interesting events to book. Guests can schedule appointments at Talise Spa, stream videos or read the content of the online media library. This new service is available in all rooms and suites, and we are one of the first in Germany and only hotel in Frankfurt to offer the service.”
And while constant evolution in the world of technology tightens its iron first of influence around the travel and tourism sector, Germany is also tuning in to the trend for more genuine, authentic cultural travel connections.
“New ‘Culturally Connected’ experiences support the city’s arts and culture scene,” Greif explained to TTG. “Jumeirah Frankfurt offers a number of cultural packages during the year to highlight the city’s attractions. The Arts and Culture package includes entry to 34 museums for two days. In addition, we are working closely with cultural institutions in Frankfurt to support the local community and have an upcoming partnership with the Alte Oper Frankfurt where we will have limited seats in a private box for our guests.”
Further updates at the hotel include innovative initiatives introduced to its F&B department including a new breakfast buffet set-up and enhanced seating arrangement at the Max on One restaurant.
Indeed, F&B is proving to be a useful tool in the hospitality’s mission to offer authentic cultural insights into a destination, as vice president sales and marketing, Althoff Hotel Collection, Martin Stockburger expressed: “In a more and more digitised world, F&B experiences are authentic travel motives that permit guests to experience the whole destination. It is a prerequisite to have a distinctive and unique gastronomy as a unique selling point at each hotel.”
At The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin high service standards are also demonstrated through unusual and state-of-the-art F&B concepts.
Commenting on the hotel’s offering, Hoefer said: “We do have some of the best ladies and gentlemen with us, from TeaMasters, who were trained in India, five Les Clefs d’Or concierges, including the current German president of the hotel concierge’s association to a very creative bar manager who combines the world of perfumes with mixology in his bar fragrances.”
This year the hotel is due to offer authentic Arabian food to guests with some of the best chefs from sister properties in the Middle East visiting for placements. This initiative was implemented as part of a current focus on the Arab market.
The Middle East market is also having a knock on effect on the medical tourism niche as Wattendorf explained to TTG: “Medical tourists especially from Arabic countries are currently increasing.”
Certain areas of Germany are witnessing particular interest from the medial tourism markets, such as Düsseldorf thanks to its high density of medical experts and clinics in the city.
“Medical Tourism is trending in Düsseldorf and will continue to do so,” said general manager and regional vice president, The Breidenbacher Hof, a Capella Hotel, Cyrus Heydarian. “We see a strong development and need. With two clinics in-house (internal medicine, cardiology, plastic and cosmetic surgery) with direct access from the hotel, we focused on this trend right from the beginning and will continue to grow and improve in this segment.”
With plans for the hotel to maintain its strong medical focus for the remainder of 2016, the portfolio includes fitness and detox packages, customised medical check-ups, as well as nutrition and dietary programmes offered in collaboration with the Preventicum clinic based in the hotel.
“We recognise a strong trend in the medical wellness section and receive more and more inquiries for the topics of wellbeing, nutrition and how to maintain a positive lifestyle,” Heydarian concluded.
A steadfast leader on the global travel and tourism scene, Germany is rolling with the times, evolving its product in tune with the changing needs of an ever-more tech and wellness savvy travelling public.