Marcus Bernhardt, incoming CEO at Deutsche Hospitality, was interviewed at this year’s ITB Berlin NOW Convention on the future of the German hotel market. After his chat, we asked him to tell us more about the “example” of Deutsche Hospitality.

Deutsche Hospitality is currently reinventing itself to bring our vision of becoming one of the top three hotel companies in Europe to life. Our aim is to grow from today 160 hotels to a portfolio of 600-700 hotels by 2025. 

Organically, we plan to grow by adding at last 25 further hotels per year to our portfolio. Our growth focus is on brands such as IntercityHotel and Zleep Hotels offering attractive services and strong margins. Leisure hotels are also a crucial part of our strategy. 

We are positioning ourselves in the current market consolidation process as a solid partner for small hotel companies, family run hotels businesses and other hotel brands.

In addition, we are establishing our brands in the Asian markets working closely together with our shareholder Huazhu. To reach our vision of becoming a key player in Europe, all our services are based on the idea of becoming a platform provider, bundling our commercial and digital forces, and restructuring our operations. Synergies with our shareholder are playing an important role in fulfilling our vision.

When it comes to technology in the hospitality industry, what can Deutsche Hospitality learn from Huazhu?

Huazhu is one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world. This is partly due to their self-perception as a platform provider who enables their partners and their General Managers to be the best local hoteliers in the world by bundling know-how and making the best possible use of synergies. We are adopting parts of this successful platform concept and are integrating their ideas into our strategy: the digitization of the customer journey through standardized systems, the consolidation of 160 million Huazhu and Deutsche Hospitality customers in the global loyalty program H Rewards.

How does COVID-19 change customer demands?

The pandemic accelerated processes that we had already started. We implement a new franchise strategy and are reorganizing our business units by structuring our organization in segments and not by our brands. Furthermore, we are experiencing strong growth in demand for new business models such as long-stay and shared living offerings as well as broadcasting studios meeting the needs of hybrid events which we will consider as part of our offer in the future. Restructuring our strategy will help us when business picks up again.

What were your thoughts on the ITB Berlin NOW convention? Why is this kind of thought leadership important today?

It is important, especially in the current times, that we exchange information within the hospitality industry on the necessary safety standards and protective measures as well as inspire each other to new opportunities and possibilities. We need to stand together as an industry and support each other wherever possible.


Marcus Bernhardt – CEO at Deutsche Hospitality

In November, 2020, Swiss-born Marcus Bernhardt, associated with the hotel industry for many years through various management positions, became CEO of Steigenberger Hotels AG/ Deutsche Hospitality. This new leadership pairing creates a wealth of international experience at the helm of Steigenberger Hotels AG, which brings together five separate hotel brands under the umbrella brand of Deutsche Hospitality.

“I am one of more than 11,000 members of the #DHfamily. I have been CEO of Steigenberger Hotels AG/Deutsche Hospitality since November 2020 and I look forward to being part of a future which is full of promise. Our vision is to become one of Europe’s top three hotel companies within the next five years. This is a very ambitious plan, but I like ambitions. We have a multitude of strong and talented people. Their commitment is driving our endeavours to shape the fortunes of the company and those of our shareholder Huazhu. With their assistance, we will achieve growth and will also thrive in the hospitality industry in terms of quality, technology and sustainability.”

Upon taking up the new role, Bernhardt stated: “Deutsche Hospitality brings together a unique brand portfolio which is both steeped in tradition and geared towards the future of the hotel industry. Our task as Board Members is to work in conjunction with our staff to open up a new chapter in the history of the company and to move in the direction of reinventing ourselves. Especially given the challenging nature of the times, we are prepared to embrace the courage which is needed to pursue new pathways together. The company has already undergone a very successful transformation, and we will take an even more robust approach towards establishing it as an international player.”

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