Crisis period as an opportunity for growth. This is how the management of the Czech hotel brand OREA Hotels & Resorts approaches the challenging era of the past few years. During the covid pandemic, which was a stress test for the hotel segment, they did not sit idly by, but used it to transform the brand, renovate and start growth. They continue to do so successfully this year as well. And although the situation is still anything but what we were used to in 2019, it turns out that a proactive approach is paying off.
The OREA brand currently consists of 19 hotels in Prague, Brno , Mariánské Lázně, but also in Šumava, Špindlerův Mlýn or Harrachov. The offered accommodation thus oscillates between large business hotels, urban boutique apartments, spa hotels and resorts in the middle of majestic nature. And although their locations vary, global turbulence affects them all equally. The pandemic, for example, caused a fundamental change in the composition of guests in each of them.
“Initially, 70 percent of our hotels were visited by guests from abroad and 30 percent by guests from the Czech Republic. Now it’s the exact opposite. Thanks to this, we started to build the brand mainly for the domestic clientele, which we are now trying to maintain. And we perceive even negative events as more of a challenge,” says OREA Brand Manager Zbyšek Pochylý.
Photo: OREA Hotels & Resorts
OREA Spa hotel Palace Bell in Mariánské Lázně
During the pandemic, the management of the hotel chain decided to keep as many employees as possible, which turned out to be an advantage after the waters of the tourism industry stirred again – after the hotels opened, each of the individual operations could start at full capacity reversals. The outflow of tourists was also an opportunity for numerous renovations. They required large investments, but they paid off – previously overlooked locations are attracting significantly more guests this year.
But the acceleration of digitization, the first step of which was focusing on e-commerce, became an important pillar of growth. “We bet on a combination of an analytical approach supported by modern tools and effective creative in the right media,” explains E-commerce Manager Ondřej Kaftan. In the current world of the hotel business, most demand for accommodation comes through modern comparators, such as the most famous Booking.com. At OREA, however, they decided to go against this trend.
They try to bring as many guests as possible directly to their website, i.e. so that, ideally, they book accommodation directly through them. “The best offer directly on our website, a clearer and more attractive website, and the investment in the brand is paying off – today we already achieve more than 90 percent of reservations at some of our hotels directly from our website,” completes the Kaftan.
Of course, user reviews are essential for the hotel segment – you can think for yourself on what basis you decide whether to click on the accommodation offer at all. Location, level, number of stars, but also ratings on comparison servers are crucial. At OREA Hotels & Resorts, in this case, the strategy consisting of focusing on employees who have only one task – to exceed the guests’ expectations has proven to be the most effective.
Such moments are usually the most powerful when the staff takes care of a person , with which the guest comes to the place – whether it is a child, a partner or a parent. For example, when the receptionist takes care of the child for some time after the arrival of the family and the couple have some time for each other. Or if one of the guests is not feeling well and the staff is interested in how he is, even after a few days, and even has some medicines or vitamins delivered to the room.
“It may sound obvious, but it really works. And not everyone has this approach. We quickly discovered that guests are much more likely to write us positive reviews after such experiences, thanks to which the rating of our employees’ care increased from 7.3 points to 9.4,” adds Zbyšek Pochylý.
Photo: OREA Hotels & Resorts
OREA Culinary Chef Lukáš Želechovský
The brand campaign of the OREA brand called “For your convenience we do the first-last” is based on this approach, which at the same time represents a connecting link between all hotels. And the latest numbers show that guests are actually more willing to write reviews after a pleasant experience. Last year, the brand collected 16,000 ratings, during the first six months of this year it was 22,000. At the end of the year, the number could rise to 40,000.
OREA also bases its growth on the sale of experiences and inspiration. Currently, it is far from selling “just” rooms, but something that guests can enjoy only in the environment of the brand’s hotels, not anywhere else. You can have breakfast everywhere, but at OREA they figured out that when they add extra attention, for example a mimosa to the bill of the establishment or a snack counter, it really reflects in the number of stars awarded in the reviews.
Exactly According to Pochylý, together with the attitude of the employees, food is the basic building block of satisfaction. After all, this is also based on the mentioned evaluations: breakfast is mentioned in two thirds of the positive ones. In this way, guests show what matters to them, what they enjoy and are interested in. When building a strategy, OREA has something to fall back on and they know what to offer their clients.
The latest campaign with which the Czech hotel chain went out into the world is also related to this: The best breakfast far and wide. People are looking forward to hotel breakfasts. And when they’re good, it’s a reason to get up early during your vacation. “We thought about how to go beyond the traditional communication and how to bring a piece of the hotel experience to your home. And that’s how the idea of using Wolt to promote and deliver breakfast to potential clients was born,” explains Pochylý.
Photo: OREA Hotels & Resorts
Do On November 8, you can order a hotel breakfast at home
The breakfast campaign runs until November 8, and during it Prague residents have the opportunity to try the morning menu served of the OREA brand for a subsidized price of 101 crowns, while the current rating has already risen to 9.8 points. The goal is not to create a new product for a delivery service, but to convey a real experience through a creatively chosen form of communication that can entertain customers. Creating such an experience was quite a challenge, as the creative team in cooperation with the head of operations Lukáš Pliska conjured it up in a really short time.
“We prepare thousands of breakfasts in hotels every day. And no one had any idea how much of a challenge it could be to prepare 101 breakfasts outside of an established process. Also in order not to limit the operation of the often full hotels, we from the headquarters had to take the reins and prepare everything directly at the Pyramida hotel a short distance below our offices. But without the support of the hotel kitchen, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to provide so many extra breakfasts a day,” says Pliska. And he adds with a smile: “In addition to our culinary chef Lukáš Želechovský, the F&B manager also participates in the preparation, and I didn’t even miss the shift myself.”
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