Timmendorfer Strand is a small city on the coast of the Baltic Sea, nestled on the bay of Lübeck in Northern Germany. Its 37 hectares of beach make it a popular attraction for vacationers wanting to catch a little sea time and sunshine. In 1969 it notably attracted the founder of the first Maritim Hotel, Hans Joachim Gommolla, whose hotel was to grow into a chain famous for its coastal beach resorts but also well-known for its city, airport, lakeside family, course-adjoining golf and parkland spa hotels. The family owned-and-run company has expanded to a chain that includes 51 4 to 5-star properties (15,200 rooms), 14 of which are located outside of Germany; and employs around 10,000 people worldwide.
After their successful Seehotel Timmendorfer Strand, their initial expansion began along the Baltic coast and with resort hotels in the Harz mountains (in the Saxony region of Northern Germany), the Sauerland (in North Rhine Westphalia) and the Black Forest (in southwestern Germany). They opened wellness hotels in spa resorts such as such as Bad Wildungen and Bad Salzuflen (where their headquarters are located). The next phase of their national expansion included hotels in cities and they specialized in the conference and business hotel segment. They went on to open a hotel every major German city, including Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Dresden, Stuttgart and Munich. Once they attained nationwide notoriety, Maritim created a second business entity called HMS International Hotel GmbH with an objective to acquire management contracts for hotels overseas. Furthermore, Maritim also has an IATA licensed travel agency that is a power engine in promoting vacation packages to German tourists travelling overseas.To satisfy this demand (trend?), Maritim proArte Hotel became in 2007, the first hotel in Berlin to be certified organic by Agro-Öko-Consult Berlin GmbH., which is a European Union control unit for the ecological production and processing of agricultural products. In order to make sure that their coffee and chocolate comes from places where workers are treated humanely, they acquire their coffee and chocolate from reliable faire-trade sources and give priority to locally grown produce, thus eliminating greenhouse gas from transport. Whilst still remaining a luxury hotel chain, they have recently introduced a marketing strategy that is similar to those of an SaaS (Software as a Service) model or pay-what-you-use model that is very popular in the IT field. Maritim will allow their conference clients to custom compose their own packages and consequently, pay only for what they choose to consume. René Halla, Director of Global Sales, states “Past experience has shown that customers have very specific expectations when it comes to the set-up and catering services of their events. These expectations are often different from the pre-determined conference packages that are on offer. In response, we have introduced a basic conference package that can be supplemented with individual service components to suit the customer’s exact requirements. Early results are showing that the concept is already being very well received.” Having introduced this policy at the end of last year, Maritim is optimistic about the future: the hotel chain expects an 8.6% increase in turnover in 2011.These two factors contributed to a particularly rapid expansion abroad in the last ten years. Maritim’s 14 international resorts are located in seven countries: Egypt, China, Latvia, Malta, Mauritius, Spain, and Turkey. However, their expansion strategy is not limited to management contracts signed by HMS, but also include ground-up construction. One particularity about Maritim is their choice to keep an in-house construction staff, from the architects to the engineers. The company considers that any savings concluded from bidding are lost through the lengthy process of tender notices and contract negotiations. All processes are streamlined when working with in-house partners and the savings are concretely seen in time and money. Their strategy earned them a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for having built their Bonn property in a record nine months. On an international scale, Maritim expanded to the Mediterranean island of Malta in 2003 by securing a management deal with a hotel that opened its doors a year earlier. The company also has a presence off the coast of Africa with a pro- perty on the island of Mauritius (former home of the dodo bird). This hotel was recently modernized and reopened its doors in late 2009. Maritim is also present in the capital of the Baltic state of Latvia. Spain has two properties in Fuerteventura and Teneriffa and Turkey tallies three properties in Alanya, Marmaris, and Belek. All three Turkish locations are on the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Turkey.In 2007, Maritim expanded into Egypt and currently operates five hotels in the North African country with a single hotel in both Luxor and Alexandria. The five-star Alexandria property is the newest addition to their Egyptian portfolio, having opened in summer 2010. Their other three Egyptian properties are located in Sharm El Sheikh and have a total of 1,157 rooms, suites, and villas. The latest phase of Maritim’s global ambitions is the Asian continent. On 1 July 2010, the German company was proud to add China to the list of countries where it is implanted with its Maritim Hotel Wuhu, which was completed in February of the same year. The five-star luxury property is located in the southeastern part of the Asian country, and is only the first of three scheduled operations in the People’s Republic of China. The other two are scheduled to open this year and are located in proximity to Beijing and Shanghai.They are scheduled to open in May 2011 and autumn 2011 respectively. Once all three hotels are open, Maritim will have a presence in China that spans over 1,521 rooms. Despite this exemplary success, the Group was not immune to the crisis that hit the hotel industry in 2009 and 2010. Their average room rate increased by a whopping 12% from the previous year to 87.51 € whilst their company-wide occupancy rate laid low at 56.4%. They were nonetheless able to attain “satisfactory results” with a 2010 turnover of 445.2 M€, +7% from the previous year and revpar for Maritim went up by 8.25€ to 49.36 € in 2010. They attribute this result to the “consistent implementation of a strengthened sales and marketing strategy” according to their 9 March 2011 press release.It should be noted that Maritim has satellite sales-offices in the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and the United States. Key players in the tourism industry in Germany agree that the lowering of the VAT to seven percent in the beginning of 2010 had a positive impact on sales and Maritim is no exception. Furthermore, the economic situation in Germany improved immensely. Managing Director, Gerd Prochaska, stated, “Both developments have greatly contributed towards Maritim emerging from the crisis in a favourable position and being able to continue its international expansion.” Their development strategy goes beyond expansion and also goes into the realm of sustainable development. The Bonn Maritim property earned both a Green Globe Certification and a Seal of Approval from the European Association of Events Centres by taking ecological measure such as sorting their trash in 17 different receptacles before having it collected and redoing their lighting. Even their damaged dinnerware finds a new life as road foundation for the city. Whilst staying in touch with their already faithful business clientele, through participation with five airlines’ frequent flyer programmes, Maritim has also developed clever marketing techniques to target consumers outside their business clientele.For example, they have decorated certain rooms with Hot Wheels and Barbie themes to attract families. In Berlin, they decorated one of their properties with trendy artwork from contemporary artists to attract a more alternative crowd that would normally opt for a boutique hotel. Knowing that younger travelers might be more inclined to use social media and hand held devices, Maritim has decided to stay connected to these new forms of sales and marketing. They adopted a policy that favors social media by linking their individual hotels’ websites to a website where users can leave opinions about hotels. “As Germany’s largest hotel group, this measure is intended to further improve the quality of our services and to show just how seriously we take our guests’ comments,” said Managing Director, Gerd Prochaska. They also created applications destined for hand held devices. This younger clientele also likes to eat organic.
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