Successful with three stars.
With the FJORD HOTEL at Potsdamer Platz Emil Lindemann laid the foundation for the LINDEMANN H O T E L S 15 years ago. Today his son Lars heads the holding company with currently four hotels and aprox. 70 employees. Top Hotel spoke to the 29 year old Managing Director about the new LINDEMANN'S which opened in August in Berlin-Schöneberg, the cooperation with the hotel property expert Christie + Co. as well as about the philosophy and further development of the privately owned company.
Top hotel: There are four LINDEMANN H O T E L S currently in Berlin – have you reached the critical number now?
Lars Lindemann: Certainly not. We want to expand further – but in proportion, step by step. A few parameters need to come together: the right project at the right location and with the right size. Maximum are 100 rooms.
Top hotel: What makes a LINDEMANN H O T E L ?
Lindemann: Our products are 3-Star-Garni-Hotels in a concise location or in a building of notable architecture which promotes a hotel business in the long-term. We concentrate on an excellent room product and offer standard dining with Coffee Shop.
Top hotel: How did you get your most recent hotel property, the LINDEMANN'S in Berlin-Schöneberg? There were a few other bidders…
Lindemann: The long-time leasehold between the investors and us has been arranged by Christie + Co.. Indeed we succeeded against a few other applicants. As we usually set up lease contracts and bring in the movable inventory we also involve our self financially.This perhaps distinguishes us from our competitors who often just act as operators. By taking on risks as well we are more interesting for owners and investors especially since we are thinking long-term.
Top hotel: Was it helpful to have an advisor like Christie + Co. for such a project on your side?
Lindemann: Definitely. They are committed professionals. Having such experts on your side makes many things easier during such deals that would be normally very hard and time consuming. We saw it as a big advantage that we had a professional negotiator in Torsten Scholl from Christie + Co. who was able to achieve the best for both sides.
Top hotel: How did you get to Christie + Co.? Have you been in contact before?
Lindemann: We have been in good contact with the hotel and property specialist company Christie + Co.for many years. In 2002 Christie valued the FJORD HOTEL for my father. After our good experience from the past it was almost self-evident that we turned to Christies again when we decided to operate a further hotel. In the case of the new LINDEMANN'S the owners did not know for a long time what to do with the property. Only when Christie was contacted by the investors did the idea to transform a residential building from the 60’s into a Lifestyle-Hotel came up. And we came aboard. The new LINDEMANN'S with 65 rooms is our flagship and complements our portfolio perfectly.
Top hotel: Are you working differently to your big competitors, the international hotel chains?
Lindemann: I would definitely say so. It is important for us to get along with each other well. The vibes between the contracting parties have to be right – between owner and operator as well as between negotiator, owner and operator. In the end we want to do good business with each other for many years.
That’s why emotional factors play a role. Torsten Scholl knew just how to match both parties – the medium-sized business and the private business.
Top hotel: How is your administration organised?
Lindemann: We have transferred our head office, which currently has six employees, to the new LINDEMANN'S in Schöneberg. They provide services like reservation, administration, book keeping and HR to all hotels. The centralisation holds an enormous saving potential. The transfer is cost intensive and connected with high investments at the beginning but the synergies show in numbers. We actually have almost 55 employees in all hotels.
Top hotel: What is the philosophy of the LINDEMANN H O T E L S?
Lindemann: We have neither the best nor the most beautiful hotels, on this we are realistic. But product and the price-service-ratio are in proportion as well as the working atmosphere. We practise open communication and a transparent management style. At recruitment we value know-how, character and personality as important. Our team is young, service orientated and very quality concious. Of course we also train apprentices.
Top hotel: How is your sales marketing positioned?
Lindemann: Our target-group is a good mix from all segments, conference and business guests as well as Berlin tourists. Of course all LINDEMANN H O T E L S are bookable by the common GDS-systems. In addition to that we are creative and active in the internet. Revenue- and Yield-Management are part of our daily duties. Therefore we don’t need to be part of a hotel cooperation. The capacity utilisation of our hotels is far over 80 percent, the net rate in FJORD HOTEL is around 60 Euro.
Top hotel: And what is coming next...?
Lindemann: We would like to successfully bring Three-Star-Hotels in Berlin to the market and build a network. All our plans and decisions are for the long-term. We are not under pressure to grow and so we can select the best projects for us. Currently we are in negotiations for a further project which is not ripe for decision yet. It will be Berlin again which we know best.
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