This year, the virtual ITB Berlin NOW 2021 celebrates its premiere and BWH Hotel Group will be represented at the digital event with its family of brands, including Best Western Hotels & Resorts, WorldHotels Collection and SureStay Hotels. Carmen Dücker, CEO at German-based BWH Hotel Group Central Europe, shares her insights on these challenging times for the entire travel industry and the path to recovery with lessons learned. We asked her to tell us more about the group’s participation in ITB Berlin NOW.

As a global hotel group, we are participating in this year’s ITB Berlin NOW with our family of brands, including Best Western Hotels & Resorts, WorldHotels Collection and SureStay Hotels. During these difficult times, we have all learned to adapt to new ways of connecting, so we are pleased to be joining our customers and partners virtually this year. 

The devastation of the Covid 19 pandemic on the worldwide travel industry has been greater than any crisis before. As a leader in hospitality industry, how did BWH Hotel Group manage these challenging times?

There have been lessons to learn from this crisis and we have even found some positive changes which we will take with us into our future strategies…

Certainly, the pandemic had and continues to have a tremendous impact on all our hotels worldwide. As we expected, the recovery is a long and difficult process and has progressed more slowly that any of us would have liked. Many of our hotels’ occupancies during this crisis have fallen precipitously. Despite the incredible hardships we have faced, there have been lessons to learn from this crisis and we have even found some positive changes which we will take with us into our future strategies.

What kind of initiatives did you implement in the face of the Covid Crisis?

Carmen Dücker: Even as a global brand, we have never lost our connection and identification with the regions and cities where our hotels are located. This is now benefiting us in the increased importance of local marketing opportunities. Facing the global pandemic, BWH Hotel Group has remained committed to keeping its guests healthy and safe through its comprehensive cleaning program, We Care Clean. We also had some changes at our loyalty program, Best Western Rewards.

Can you give us an outlook of the recovery of your markets?

The pandemic has hit the hotel industry worldwide, but we are sure that the markets will recover, because travelling will come back as soon as travel restrictions are loosened. BWH Hotel group offers hotels and resorts across all market segments in over 100 countries and territories worldwide, appealing to all kinds of travellers. Understanding the evolving needs of today’s traveler in the light of the Covid pandemic, our hotels remain committed to reliability, safety and hygiene. 

What kind of experiences can be seen as positive aspects?
As a hotel family, this crisis is likely the most difficult obstacle we have faced professionally. It has forced us to operate in a climate of immense uncertainty for an extended period of time. Each day, many of us have had to develop strategies and implement plans to ensure our survival with no blueprints or prior experience to guide our decisions. We have seen how important flexibility, speed and creativity are in times like this.

Carmen Dücker

CEO BWH Hotel Group Central Europe GmbH, Eschborn

Carmen Dücker is the CEO of the dual leadership team at BWH Hotel Group Central Europe GmbH. The company based in Eschborn / Germany supports around 300 hotels of Best Western Hotels & Resorts and WorldHotels Collection in ten countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. 

Dücker, a 25-year-Best Western-veteran, started her successful career in the Best Western Marketing department and was soon promoted to Manager of the Customer Loyalty Program, Gold Crown Club (now Best Western Rewards). In one of her later functions, Dücker led the company and all its subsidiaries into the online world. Under her leadership as Head of E-Business, the German Best Western website rapidly gained a substantial share of the overall electronic revenue.

Today as CEO, Carmen Dücker directs all customer and market-focused departments including Marketing, Sales, Distribution & Revenue Management, Reservation & Web Technology.

Dücker is a top-level speaker at industry events and conferences in the hotel industry and has been honored with a number of awards, including the HSMAI European Award in 2015. She serves as Chairwomen of the German Amadeus Hotel Industry Forum and is member of the steering committee of the German Travel Industry Club, a Think Tank focusing on the future of mobility, digitalisation and customer satisfaction.

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