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Interview with Carolin Hüter, Hotel am Steinplatz, Berlin

Interview 8 Minutes
Located in the vibrant Berlin-Charlottenburg neighborhood, the Hotel am Steinplatz is the ideal place for stays that combine history, culture, culinary delights, and lifestyle. Opened in 1913, the hotel continues to shine as a jewel in Berlin's hotel history. In an interview with ADDITIVE, Carolin Hüter, Director of Sales & Marketing at the hotel, provides insights into the marketing of this Berlin cult hotel.
The Hotel am Steinplatz is part of the Autograph Collection, a brand of Marriott International. Can you tell us more about the Hotel am Steinplatz?

The Hotel am Steinplatz is an exclusive 87-room boutique hotel and part of the prestigious Autograph Collection by Marriott International. Our hotel is the perfect choice for all visitors to Berlin who want to experience the unique flair of Charlottenburg, including families with children. We also offer a variety of amenities for business travelers, including a beautifully appointed conference area.

The hotel was built in 1913 and was once owned by the Zellermayer family. In the 1920s, it was a popular meeting place for film industry celebrities. About ten years ago, Marriott took over operation of the hotel to provide guests with a memorable experience in a historic setting.
Could you tell us more about the Autograph Collection by Marriott International?

Marriott International is our prestigious hotel company that we work closely with and are part of. The Autograph Collection is a brand that Marriott introduced here in Germany about ten years ago. As the first Autograph Collection hotel in Germany, we are proud to be part of this unique hotel brand.

The Autograph Collection consists of a variety of hotels that are visually and conceptually unique. We all represent the high standards of Marriott International and are subject to regular inspections, yet we retain our individual personality. Each property is unique and has its own standout feature.

Our hotel was designed by August Endell, the architect of the famous "Hackesche Höfe". Our heritage-protected facade gives us a special atmosphere and sets us apart from other hotels. Most notably, our service staff does not wear uniforms. Although this may confuse some guests, it expresses our individuality and is part of our identity.

Ms. Hüter, what are your core responsibilities in marketing currently?

I am the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Hotel am Steinplatz. Specifically, I am responsible for areas such as revenue management, reservations, event sales, sales, acquiring new guests, and marketing. I am the point of contact for these areas and maintain close contact with all employees working in various departments, who contribute their expertise to the detailed work.

I enjoy this role as I have worked in various departments in different hotels. My team is made up of many young and motivated people, and it's great to watch them develop. We also put a lot of emphasis on continuous development and staying up to date.
How do you position the hotel in a competitive market? What are the benefits of being part of the Autograph Collection?

The hotel benefits from the support of the Marriott Bonvoy program. Many of our guests enroll in the program and earn points, upgrades and other benefits. In addition, they can book directly through the Marriott app or website, where they can also sign in directly and enter special codes.

That support is very valuable to us. In addition, we have our own digital marketing department called Digital Field Marketing, which handles digital marketing for all Marriott properties, including Autograph Collection and other brands. We get a lot of support from them and they are directly responsible for online marketing. They organize special campaigns that we then implement and manage in the field. We are currently working on structuring and improving these processes.
In marketing, are there any specific guidelines or restrictions on how you work on a day-to-day basis?

Marriott as a brand gives us some guidelines to ensure a consistent look and feel. For example, our websites must have a similar look and feel to help customers navigate. This makes sense and we are happy to support these efforts.

In addition, there are certain brand standards that we must adhere to. In my experience, this is true of every hotel chain I have come across. This does not mean that we are not flexible. On the contrary, we have a certain structure that we have to follow, but otherwise we have a lot of freedom and we stand out as an individual hotel. I see this as the ideal compromise. The word "compromise" may sound negative, but I mean it in a positive way. Marriott has found the right approach because that's what guests want. They want to experience the soul, character and individuality of each hotel without compromising the standards they are accustomed to.
How important is online marketing for the Hotel am Steinplatz? How are marketing and sales activities coordinated?

Online marketing is not strongly focused in every hotel or hotel company, often it is even neglected. Personally, it is very important to me because we need to be easily found online and have a strong interest in our image and brand presence. It's very important to us that all of our online channels, whether it's social media, our website or the distribution of PR material, work smoothly and that our reviews on the various platforms are positive. This is crucial for our brand image to shine in its entirety.

As a small 87-room boutique hotel in Berlin, we operate in an extremely competitive environment. If we did not present ourselves as something special, we would not be as successful. Therefore, it is very important for us as a hotel to express our uniqueness in order to stand out in the market.
To what extent are review platforms such as TripAdvisor relevant to the hotel's sales strategy? Are they actively integrated into sales efforts?

Reviews play a pivotal role. Again, we have strong support from Marriott. Clear goals are defined within the brand standards, which include reviews and related issues. Individual performance is measured against these goals. There are guidelines for responding to reviews within a certain timeframe, and these are integrated into internal processes. Our top priority is to satisfy our guests and encourage them to recommend us. That is our primary focus.
Online marketing in the hotel industry is often perceived as a "black box" because it is difficult to track the success of the efforts. Is this also an issue at the Hotel am Steinplatz and how do you assess the relevance of measurability in online marketing?
The measurability and traceability of marketing activities is an important topic in every business-oriented company. It allows us to verify the success of our investments and justify our decisions.

From my own experience in marketing, I know that it can sometimes be difficult to ensure measurability, especially for activities that are intended to have a positive impact on the company's image. However, we are constantly working to find ways to measure the effectiveness of our efforts. There are several approaches and tools to help us do this. We place great emphasis on achieving measurable results, not only to justify the budget, but also for our own motivation and to be able to explain our successes.
What metrics do you use to measure the digital success of your sales efforts?

We use marketing and online marketing metrics provided by Marriott to ensure comparability across hotels. Our Digital Field Marketing coordinates these reports to keep track of the KPIs. In addition, we have implemented our own KPIs internally, which I developed with my marketing team. They motivate us and show us that our daily work, especially in social media, is bearing fruit. It is important to see the success and benefits of our efforts as we invest a lot of time and effort in our online marketing activities.

We also have different priorities that we are focusing on. These include direct bookings through our app or website. We also try to promote the direct booking market, although OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) also play a role. In terms of distribution, they can sometimes be helpful, depending on the market situation and guest preferences. It is important to note that OTAs are generally very successful due to their budget and online marketing efforts, and it is difficult for an individual hotel to compete with them in terms of budget and reach. In such cases, it may make sense to launch a brand campaign to compete with the OTAs as an independent brand. However, this can also lead to cannibalization. If we launch a brand campaign, there is always the possibility that guests will ultimately choose to book through an OTA rather than directly with us. This is a topic I often discuss and consider.
One last question for you, Ms. Hüter: Is there a person from the tourism industry (or any other field) that you always wanted to meet? Why, and what would be your central question to this person?

Outside of tourism, I am particularly interested in visionary personalities. It doesn't necessarily have to be related to our industry. In general, I am a fan of people who lead the way and have a clear vision. Whether it's someone like Steve Jobs, who unfortunately we can't ask anymore, or other inspiring minds. I am fascinated by how these people pursue their vision and do not get distracted no matter what happens.

I want to hear from them how they have managed to hold on to their vision and not lose faith in themselves. Especially in times of resistance, whether in small areas or over the years in large projects. There is a lot of resistance in life. I am interested in how they kept their courage up and motivated themselves and their team. Because if you are motivated and positive about things, you can also inspire the team.
Photos: Hotel am Steinplatz Autograph Collection®