Cultural Places recently welcomed Andreas Keese, Manager of Hotel Sacher Wien, as the guest for the first edition of our newly launched webinar series. Together with Patrick Tomelitsch, CEO of Cultural Places, they discussed the challenges and changes due to COVID-19 and how digitalization and new projects can help to face them.
Tomelitsch: Mr. Keese, why is digitalization an essential process for Sacher?
Keese: The COVID-19 pandemic just showed us what’s possible. We are a 5-star superior hotel and aim to be pioneers in our industry in all areas – and that’s what we are in the end. At Sacher, we have always followed the trends of the time and try to take them up and implement them in the best possible way. Technological trends and digitalization are important to us. We use them mainly to optimize internal processes – virtual meetings and online seminars have become an integral part of our employees’ daily work.
Tomelitsch: You mentioned a few steps and some exemplary stories – what are the most important requirements for partners in the course of digitization?
Keese: As part of our internal project management, we are always looking for digital solutions. We have implemented a chat function on our website, making it easier for us to communicate with guests through direct chat. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been working increasingly with QR codes; an example is the digital menus in our restaurants. In addition, we are also using guest registration software which can be activated via QR code.
The most important requirements are user-friendly efficiency, ease of work, and interface compatibility. Thanks to the efficient use of digital media, many employees are relieved of other tasks, and the working time saved can be used for other activities. In this way, we manage to focus entirely on our guests to personalize each guest’s care and look at their experiences individually. In addition, a digital cash register system in our confectionery helps to increase sales through simple and therefore faster processes.
Tomelitsch: That all sounds very interesting. What is the Sacher Group planning together with us, Cultural Places? Can you already reveal something about it?
Keese: We are planning something extraordinary: an interactive Sacher Pop-up Welt. The idea came to us when many of the rooms in the Hotel Sacher Wien were empty. We used this time to create an innovative concept for guests to experience the hotel in a new way. The aim is to create a pop-up museum telling the story of the Hotel Sacher Wien – from 1832, when the original Sacher-Torte was made, until tomorrow. Cultural Places supports us in producing the audio guide for this tour. We are also creating a virtual tour together, which will be available online for our guests. In this way, our international Sacher fans will be able to experience the Sacher Pop-up Welt in times like these when they cannot be there in person.
Tomelitsch: That sounds very exciting, and we look forward to starting this project soon.
Next, we are interested in how the Sacher will digitally adapt to the ongoing changes caused by COVID-19 in the future? How does your company deal with the current uncertainty and constant changes like lockdowns and closings?
Keese: Sacher has been dealing with the most important topics of digitization a long time before Corona – a number of employees have been working on the Sacher app project since 2014. We all work with the internal communication tool Hotelkit, and, in addition to the classic guest directories, SuitePads are available in the suites and rooms for our guests. Of course, our employees work every day with digital programs such as Microsoft Opera or Symphony. We use another program for our restaurant reservations, which ensures efficient reservation management. Guests can also conveniently make table reservations directly via the website.
Tomelitsch: Thank you very much for these explanations. The last and final question relates to the digitalization process in general and the start of the project with us. When do you think the first results can be seen?
Keese: Since the start of the Sacher Pop-up Welt has been postponed due to the extended lockdown, we hope to begin on January 7th*. We are really looking forward to opening on this day. Of course, we will be careful, and we will certainly continue to focus on hygiene and safety measures with our ‘Safety at Sacher’ program. Ultimately, safety is the top priority.
Tomelitsch: We see it the same way, and our whole team is looking forward to the project’s presentation. Thank you for answering these questions and the interesting input!
The interview was originally conducted in German – the video can be watched here:
Stay tuned and find out more about this exciting project! Soon you’ll be able to visit the Sacher Pop-up Welt in Vienna and learn everything about the hotel’s history and the Original Sacher-Torte. The accompanying audio guide tells this from the point of view of Anna Sacher, the legendary long-time manager of the hotel. If you cannot visit in person, you can still immerse yourself in the world of the Hotel Sacher: the virtual guide from Cultural Places can be experienced from the comfort of your home or wherever you may be.
Stay tuned, stay safe!
* Due to the prolonged lockdown the opening was postponed to the end of January.