A record 15 million overnight guests is likely to be exceeded this year. “In 2018, we had the 18th record in a row,” said Michael Otremba, Managing Director of Hamburg Tourismus GmbH (HHT). While the industry is generally pleased with the sustained growth, some hoteliers fear overcapacities and too low price levels. “But we need new hotels, especially international hotels, whose marketing channels are important to further growth. I am also in favour of competition and good performance prevails,” Otremba added.
Internationality, dynamism, diversity and exciting contrasts
Otremba aims to enhance Hamburg’s reputation and ensure good quality levels. The city often surprises first-time visitors. “Hamburg is not only extremely international, Hamburg is also characterised by its great dynamism, diversity and exciting contrasts”, he added. Noble villas along Lake Alster contrast with the rough charm of the harbour and lovers of culture get their money’s worth just as much as fans of subculture in St. Pauli, the Schanzenviertel or Oberhafen.
Tourism as an economic factor is also faring well. Almost 90,000 employees are employed directly or indirectly in the industry and generate a gross value added of EUR 4.4 billion and rising. Tourism is not only a catalyst of growth for the hotel and catering industries, but also for retailers, taxis and city bike rental companies. “But the real value is not in the economic indicators. The strength of tourism lies in connecting people,” said Otremba. Travelling helps to tear down walls at a time when walls are increasingly being erected again – real or in people’s minds, Otremba stressed, and quoted Alexander von Humboldt: “The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.”
“Your City, Your Hotels” initative
Apart from focusing on foreign guests, HHT is also targeting the people of Hamburg as exemplified by the Deine Stadt, Deine Hotels initiative in which over 40 hotels will showcase their establishments to local residents from November 8-11, 2019. Residents of Hamburg are invited to be guests in their own city and take a look behind the scenes at favourable conditions. This gives hotels an opportunity to tap into a new target group to present themselves as exciting employers.” However, the ongoing shortage of skilled workers still poses a problem. “The question is how do attract people, who want to be great hosts, ito the industry?”
Future digital projects
To this end, HHT has launched the #wirfuerdich training programme in co-operation with Google and other partners to ensure that tourism service providers remain abreast of digitalisation. Workshops focus on topics such as agile work, design thinking or the latest social media tools. “Digitization is also a big issue for us,” Otremba stressed and although he cannot imagine a robot at the hotel reception, the 25hours hotel is testing Robi the robot in Cologne. Many new channels are opening up new means of communicating with the rising number of guests. “Further training has launched well and we will definitely continue it in 2020.”