I have to admit this. I am not used to have in front of me a person so ''cool'', yet so successful. I met Claus in ''New Hotel'', in Syntagma square, one of the top hotels in Greece, and member of his famous Hotel Chain, called ''Design Hotels'', as he was the guest of honour in "The Three Directions of a Successful Hotel Renovation - Design / F&B / Digital" Hotel Show 2015 Conference in Athens, an event curated by Vassilios Bartzokas from Archisearch. In my mind i had many questions coming up, but for sure it would take me a lifetime to have them all answered...
L.P -It's not gonna be an ordinary interview, because you are not ''an ordinary guy''. This is for sure! And first of all i wanna know. Are you happy with the whole procedure of your concept, so far? What more could you do after so many hotels you have accociated with?
Claus- I think we were tapping at the right time, to the right part of industry, we felt the different needs for hospitality, i have also a communication background, yet we were just following the right ''criteria'', and in general i am very happy, i feel very confident. In fact i am sure that this is only gonna grow, as the consumers are looking for more individual ''experiences''. There's gonna be a bigger and bigger demand for this kind of hotels. At the moment we are only represent in the total hospitality market 3% of it. And in this 3% maybe only the 1% are the indepedent hotels! Its just peanuts... But we are in a very good position for this. The challenge is more, not from the consumers perspective, but from the hotels. They have more and more things they need to worry about or taken care about, let's say about the first creation of the place, decoration, their marketing, their content distribution, their digital presence. This is what we need to work, because you never have enougn resources, sometimes money are missing, or it's not the right time, you need to find solutions..
L.P -''When did you conceive the whole idea, the first time that this came into your mind?
Claus- It was in the end of the 80's, i was doing a lot of travel bussiness, i was 23 years old, doing company and events productions. My love of house and electronic music made me travel a lot and playing in many different clubs as a d'j...
L.P -And you stayed -i guess -in many ugly hotels...?
L.P- I see. Now tell me.''Design''. Is it a necessity or just another global trend?
Claus- I think generally, there is a bigger and bigger influence from all the countries for good design, i mean....the world's most valuable company , ''APPLE'', is strictly based on design and they made a lot of mainstream products based on it. Design starts when you look in one of their products and you wanna know ''how does it feel".
So design is everything. Companies invest more and more in design, and believe me, they do it for a reason...Design is mainstream after all.
L.P- What's the procedure? i mean if someone has a hotel, and wants to be member of the ''Design Hotels'' ? What are the criteria to accept him? It has to do with the place of the hotel, it's the energy of the owner, what?
Claus- The criteria...well...It has to do more about the man or the woman that has the hotel.. First of all you have to find the building, the real estate, you need all those bureaucratics licences...You have to know how much money you can invest, the kind of custumers you wanna attract, what will be the concept, you have to know about all the local needs, the employess, and so many details to make your hotel long, lasting and succesful.
L.P -What kind of peope appreciate more the ''Design Hotels'' in our world? Do they understand the whole concept, or they just wanna spend a lot o money for ''show off''?
Claus- I think that there are more and more people all over the world that want to stay in this kind of environment. There are also a lot of strong opinion leaders, and many people folow them. Our main market is similar as the market of tourists that can afford to spend money, which is USA, UK, Germany, the fast growing Scandinavia, and also Australia.
L.P- Do you deliver -if i might say-the whole concept to your new partner? Do you make seminars to his employees, in order to have a specific attitude to their special clients?
Claus- Actually...We dont even want that...We want them only to provide the best as they understand it better! There are different needs in every country, if you run a hotel in Japan or in St Tropez. So people that work there, they have their own standards. But we do an annually event for our members, we invite them and of course we talk then about trends, we have people that speak about the ''changing world'', and we are always looking for new people that innovate, we always seek for fresh ideas.
L.P- The hotel you feel more ''like home'', from all those 272?
Claus- I spent a lot of time in New York, i always live in the Gramercy Park Hotel. But the only times i have a kind of relation is when i was opening our London offices back in 1995, its was the hot place then, we have a lot of celebrities,a lot of fun, it was wild! Generally, i like to mix and match, i wanna see as many hotels as possible, so i am always getting really excited if i go to a place i have never been before!
L.P- This is the ''challenge'' after all...
Claus -Yes it is..
LP -People that prefer to travel all the time, and stay more and more in hotels , are mostly ''travellers'' and not the classical tourists? Have they left behind their ''comfort zone''?
Claus- Yes! Tourism is generally growing 5 or 6 per cent every year,globally, so we think that are many people that enter in this ''circle'', you know..because it's absolutely wonderful to explore the world, nobody can take that away from us, i have seen almost every single part of the planet in this businness, so, i am lucky!
L.P- Its your own heritage, right?
L.P- If you would like to make a hotel in Greece, what place you would choose?
Claus-Righ now, I am helping my friends, in St Giorgio, Mykonos, a very succesful hotel. They are expanding now in Paraga on the right side, in a new project called ''Scorpio''. It will be ready at May, so we work on this.
L.P-There are a lot of hotels in small greek islands that for sure, they would like to be under the chain of ''Design Hotels''.
Claus- I believe that there are many potentials, so in the future we are open in any kind of cooperations.
L.P-Thank you very much for the interview. I am honoured.
Claus -Perfect Iliada ! It was nice.
(And thank you for the tea!)