One80° Hostel have picked up yet another award – this time from Hostelbookers in their recent Awards for Excellence. I met up with some of their managers at ITB today to congratulate them of their win. Stella Lindemann, Guest Relations Manager for the property says of the win, ‘Wow, we did not expect to win anything, being new and not established….but now it feels like we made it! All the work, the blood and sweat, it all makes sense!’
Asked about the brand philosophy of One80°, she continues, ‘We are all a team. We all live and breathe One80°…it is love, positivity, kindness. It is a love for Berlin that comes from the staff, the knowledge….being informative and helpful.’
Walking into One80°, one could easily expect to be in a hotel. High spec finishes, high quality materials, vast communal spaces and am amazing basement nightclub and band room. Part of the Azure hotel group, they are quick to add, ‘we are definetly a hostel! This is part of the philosophy. We are a hostel, but from a hotel background. We bring a different perspective – a high customer focus but easy atmosphere’. Stella should know, her title says it all… Its not something that a typical hostel provides, but something found in four and five star hotels.
Asked about the biggest challenge faced when opening, Stella says, ‘It was to get people to see and recognise something new. For OTA’s to see us as a serious player. That, and the size – over seven hundred beds is big..we were so surprised at how many beds we sold…. A huge amount…even before we had opened. It was a high anxious energy when we opened. The first few days, all of a sudden it was all hands on deck….there was chaos, but in a beautiful way, where everyone worked together and it just became normal…it gelled.’
Already under an investor group of hotels, I ask if the One80° ‘hostel’ concept will be pushed further. I’m happy to know that their investors are already scouting for other locations. Where this will be is anyone’s guess, although Prague and London seem to denote a positive response. Wherever it is, the location must be central to attract a young and funky crowd – something which lent to the success of the current stand alone property in the heart of the city, Alexanderplatz. You know you are in Berlin when the looming view is the iconic TV tower ‘Fernsehturm!’
‘What about the name – there must be something in that?’, I ask. Of course there is a story which encompasses the response already given. Stella states, ‘Yes – One80° was thought of by the investors…. As they worked in hotels and wanted to open a boutique conceptual hostel, it was a one eighty degree turn on what they did, on what they thought a modern hostel should now offer…a hotel approach in a hostel environment…so, the brand is born!’
Brand?! Yes, confirming the brand again is exciting – a brand that is set to grow quickly off the back of the current success of one of the best new hostels opened in recent years. Not just in Europe, but worldwide. A feat that all Berliners should be proud of – party and highly desirable travel capital of Germany.
So what next for the current product? What has been missed that could be introduced? What other strategy is there for 2013? Both girls giggle and talk of how cool it would be to have a rooftop terrace, an infinity pool or rooftop lap pool, but these are most likely ideas for the next hostels. For now, the concept is perfect. The strategy revolves more around pushing the club facilities and promoting bands and dj’s, who they are happy to give a few free nights stay to in exchange for service and talent.
Julia Schroeder, Sales Manager adds, ‘All of us, the owners and investors, are really happy with the awards we receive. To see everything come together, from the design, to the customers, to the atmosphere created in our communal spaces where people are working, socialising, having fun….its amazing! We just didn’t realise the affect it would have.’
Chatting with the girls, I can see the passion and enthusiasm they have for the business. Julia has excellent experience in hospitality management, which she studied and worked in places such as the London Ritz Carlton and the Holiday Inn Berlin, before being snapped up by the Azure group. On the other hand, Stella comes from a teacher background, bringing the nurturing and caring side into the customer relations mix. They are a dynamic duo, riding a high wave of celebrated success.
So, who knows what is next? It seems like anything is possible for the One80° concept. Philosophy and strategy aligned, the Azure group’s next projects sound set to be touched and turned to gold…this could be the new brand to take on the likes of current ‘best chain’ winners Generator, PLUS and Equity Point in future years! Congrats!
For a full list of HostelBookers ‘Awards for Excellence’ 2013 winners – view here