Claus Sendlinger (engl.)
I started my own travel and events agency in my twenties. I was traveling the world organising events with musicians, DJs, artists, and other creative minds. Finding hotels that offered creative surroundings for my clients was a major challenge back then. That was the point when I decided to bring hotels like this together under one umbrella.
What was the first «design hotel» from your perspective?
It began in New York with Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell – the founders of with Studio 54 – who opened the Paramount and the Morgans Hotel in 1984. Then it really took off with the Philippe Starck designed Royalton in 1987. There were a couple of bright people out there who were ready for different types of hospitality; people from nightclubs, restaurants or bars, who helped to re-invent the industry and create a new culture.
What has changed since then?
When Design Hotels was founded in 1993, we sensed that design would play an increasingly significant role in the hotel world as more and more travelers began to seek out alternatives. At the time, the concept of combining design and hospitality was new – it was the point of differentiation of those first 10 member hotels. As this evolved, so did our business model. Now, because of a shift in societal values and our increasingly connected yet nomadic world, a new set of factors has risen which have contributed to the evolution of the company and our core values.
What’s the biggest challenge for hoteliers today?
The guest and customer profile is constantly evolving. Today’s travelers are savvy, value-conscious, and looking for authenticity – hotels and brands need to adapt their strategies to meet societal and lifestyle trends to target and reach out to new customers. Big hotel chains are launching new lines, especially in our boutique/luxury niche. At the same time, online travel agencies such as
Booking or Expedia are creating powerful algorithms that give consumers instant access to a vast global platform of hotels. All of these developments pre sent challenges for any independent hotel that’s not connected to a larger consumer network, database, or loyalty program. More than ever, it is vital to connect with the guest and be aware of their needs and expectations – before, during and after the stay. Recognition and customization are the key drivers for guest satisfaction today.
First of all, we have kicked-off the biggest communications campaign in the history of the company, «Original Experiences». Experiences, mindfully crafted by an Original hotelier. This campaign is centered in the personal, powerful, unexpected, and lasting moments that you take with you, long after you checked out. Continuing our evolution in hospitality testing grounds, we have launched La Granja, Ibiza – a Design Hotels Project. Centered around a centuriesold farmhouse and 10 hectares of working farmland in the pastoral north of the island, this gives a great opportunity to connect directly with our Community base. The property is a laboratory of sorts — an experiment and platform for collaboration, the learnings of agro-tourism, and the bonds of nomadic kinship.
Zum Hauptartikel «Design als Argument»
Claus Sendlinger was born in Augsburg, Germany, in 1963. He began his career in 1987 with the founding of an events agency specializing in sports and music. In 1993 he established Design Hotels. The company went public in 1999 and has been headquartered in Berlin since 2004.