Recovery on way as bookings take off at airport hotel

A Steigenberger room

ALFRED Kupper, general manager of the Steigenberger Airport Hotel, Frankfurt, spoke to KIM THOMSON about the challenges of running an airport hotel and 2010’s continuing upturn.

What facilities do you offer your guests?
We have 570 rooms and banquet facilities for up to 1,000 people which can be split into smaller rooms – 28 in total. We have three restaurants – one fine dining, one traditional, located outside, and one all-day dinning. All the restaurants have terraces and a garden. We also have a wellness and fitness area with a  swimming pool.

You have different towers, what are the differences?
We have three buildings in one. The original building is 40 years old and has 320 rooms, however it was totally renovated in 2003 including pipes and wiring, so in fact it is like new.

The first annexe is the executive tower and in 2003 the other annexe, of 250 rooms, was added. Therefore, we have different types of rooms – basic, executive and deluxe. The executive annexe has 100 rooms with an executive lounge. These rooms are larger and have a contemporary design.


What is the difference between running an airport hotel compared to a city or resort hotel?
Well, in an airport hotel you have to be more flexible. City hotels have more constant business in terms of advance bookings. In an airport hotel, it is very fast with a very quick turnover. You have to be aware in the morning you can have 200 rooms suddenly empty and by the afternoon fully booked again.

I think we here in Frankfurt have an excellent location for an airport hotel. We have forest nearby and we are close to the city. This is not a typical airport location. Airport hotels are usually farther out, one hour or more, and not in such nice surroundings such as our gardens etc.

Do you get many visitors from the Middle East region?
Yes, of course, with our location near to the airport but also close to the downtown area. We have a number of guests who choose to stay with us even if their meetings are downtown as they are near town and can get quickly to the airport. Normal airport hotels are far out and mostly in industrial areas. However some Middle Eastern visitors do like to stay in town closer to the shopping.

How did you fare in 2009 and how does the first quarter of 2010 look?
I was a bit worried when we had a tough 2009 as everyone did, so we were prepared that the beginning of 2010 would be tough too, but just the opposite has happened. We have been really very happy with the first quarter and it seems set to continue. So I guess people have decided that it is time to do business again and also conference and exhibitions are up. Imex, which is going on now, is one of the smaller exhibitions but, having said, that we are fully booked because of it.

What are your main source markets and are you looking at new ones?
Our main markets are Germany, Europe, the US, the Far East and then the Middle East.

China , Russia and India are the new markets we are looking at as emerging sources. You can never say there is enough, you have to continue to look for new business.