Christian Reitbauer, General Manager, Austria Trend Hotel Bratislava


He joined hospitality industry to travel around the world and he certainly took the advantage of it by working on 4 continents, in many interesting countries from Europe to USA, followed by exotic destinations such as Egypt, Kenya or Bali. Couple of years ago he settled down back in Austria to join Austria Trend Hotels & Resorts. In 2009 the company offered him the general manger position in newly opened hotel in Bratislava. He gladly took this offer to face new challenges in our capital city. Let us introduce Christian Reitbauer.

After finishing a hotel school, Christian Reitbauer started his career in South Africa in 1989. In the next years his career path took him from USA to Kenya, Egypt, back to Europe to Germany and again to exotic destination of Bali in Indonesia followed by emerging market of Bucharest in Romania. His international career is connected to well known hotel brands such as Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts.

Due to family reasons he came back home to Austria where he took a position of general manager in one of the Austria Trend´s hotels in Vienna. In September 2009 he was asked to manage newly opened Austria Trend hotel in Bratislava. And as Christian Reitbauer says himself, he is glad to be here in this ´fantastic new property´.
Christian Reitbauer has always appreciated the benefits of international career that hospitality industry allows: ´You can see the world and you don’t need to pay for it. This is a perfect thing and only two career options can bring you the best advantages of it - you can be either a diplomat or a hotel manager. My international experiences helped me a lot with building my management skills as well. It is the fact that the world is becoming smaller and smaller. In hotels you have people from many countries working for you. Those are people with different religion believes and from different social levels. And you can build the best team of employees only if you are able to work with these people.´
Christian Reitbauer sees managing hotels in various countries of the world in a very similar way: ´In Africa I was working for Holiday Inn. Managing hotels in Africa or Asia is always the same. You have to provide the guests with the best possible service and deliver results for the owners.
The only difference is in the way that you communicate this vision to the team of your employees. The challenges of achieving these goals are pretty much the same. You can only achieve the goals with your people and through your people. For that you need to have excellent management skills.
Leading a hotel team in Africa or Asia is no different than in Europe. Once you understand the way that the people think, how to get the maximum from them and how to motivate them, the rest is a given thing. As a foreigner you have to respect the culture and the people you work with and then they will respect you in return. It is about giving and taking.
If you go to a country as a foreigner and you think you are something better because you are from Europe, if you give this attitude and feeling to your staff, you are lost. If you lose your staff you can only pack your bags and go away. You have to understand the culture, respect it and lead the people according to it.´
Christian Reitbauer: Tips how to be a successful hotelier

The hotel business is not a rocket science. As a hotel general manager you are working for people with people. Some of the management skills which you need to have you can only get through the experience. You have to build people management skills, because in hospitality you are dealing with people and you need to know how to get the maximum from your employees. If you are working with international team you have to respect and understand different cultures. And of course your boss wants you to make money, so you have to have some financial knowledge to understand the revenues and cost effectiveness. If someone wants to be a successful hospitality manager, he has to be open to new things, be creative. He or she has to understand the importance of quality management in the competitive market.

Sometimes the only thing you can do different from the others is providing your clients with better quality of service. The cheapest form of marketing is when the client is leaving satisfied and he tells another 10 potential clients about it.

Also this is not a 9 to 5 job, you have to be willing to work long hours. However, for young ambitious people I think there is not any other area where they can grow faster than in the hotel industry. In hospitality you can go from a dishwasher to the manager. This is still possible. There are not many industries where you can make a career like that.´



Christian Reitbauer: The key elements of a successful hotel


 ´I don’t think that it is the general manager who determinates the success of the hotel. The success of the hotel depends on the guest. We are here to offer service and the clients are telling us if we are running the hotel successfully or not. It all comes from the feedback you receive from your clients.
The second important thing is the hotel´s financial statement, costs and revenues. If you take these elements together, the financial aspect and the quality reflected in the feedback from your clients at the end of the day you can see if you are running your business successfully or not.´

Christian Reitbauer: Bratislava hotel market

´The market in Bratislava has changed dramatically. Couple of years ago, the market here was booming. The demand was far greater than the supply. But situation has changed. In last 2 years we increased the number of rooms more than twice. However, the increase of the demand was only minimal and therefore the market became thicker, everybody is fighting for every guest and rates have dropped.
The airport has not contributed positively either. The bankruptcy of Sky Europe has also hurt us badly. Very positive thing was the Ice Hockey World Championship. If we had more events like that it would help us a lot.
We also need decent congress facilities. We are unfortunately surrounded by three other capital cities- Vienna, Budapest and Prague. Therefore the destination marketing has to be driven more effectively if we ever want to compete with these destinations.´


Christian Reitbauer: The future of Bratislava destination

´I am a strong believer and I see Bratislava as a positive destination. Otherwise we (as a hotel chain) would not be here. But here are some facts: The biggest competition we have is Vienna. For the tourists Bratislava is only good for a one day trip. Our problem is that the client stays in Vienna, coming to Bratislava for just a day so there is no business for hotels.
In the MICE sector we could do far more if we have decent congress hall and decent exhibition premises. It is also about destination marketing. This needs to be established, people from the city have to go out and tell the potential clients how beautiful and fantastic Bratislava is. It is a great city, but we are not telling the world about it. Sometimes I feel that we keep Bratislava a secret, nobody knows us and we are not benefiting from this.
To compensate the oversupply of many new hotels, we have to create new demand. And to create the demand we need the destination marketing to put Bratislava on the map. We need people to know, that there is a country called Slovakia, a city called Bratislava. We need to go out to develop the contacts abroad, cooperate with travel companies, agencies, with the people who have the ability to bring guests here.
We have fantastic hotels, great staff, fantastic clean city, night life, opera, theatre, shopping malls, we have almost all the facilities. But we have to tell the world about it.´



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