The wonderful thing about a family business is that you grow into your responsibilities. And you get the chance to learn how to do it differently, or even better. We interviewed Christina Binder-Egger and her father Hans to find out how their family life changed with the ZillerSeasons.
JOURNAL: What were guests like in the past compared to today?
CHRISTINA: Tourism was different in the past. In the past the hotel mainly lived off group tours. Skiing clubs from the Netherlands or Germany came over, let’s say they consumed a lot and pampered themselves and stayed once or twice a year. Guests used to stay for much longer, now they come more frequently but for a shorter stay.
HANS: They also had lower expectations. These days, a guest expects everything to be perfect. Guests would look the other way in the past and only complained when something really wasn’t up to standard.
CHRISTINA: Before, a guest wanted the personal touch and to be looked after. Today, they expect a much higher level of comfort from the rooms. Back then, the requirement was a basic room with running water which later became a shower and restroom. Now we are on a completely different level, and the expectations have increased.
How has your relationship with guests changed?
CHRISTINA: Guests still want to be greeted warmly and be looked after. Of course we do our best to make each guest feel comfortable.
HANS: But the need to be entertained by your host like it was before has changed, because people’s jobs have become so busy that they simply want to switch off and enjoy their time. The guest wants to be left in peace to relax.
Looking back, how have your hotel staff changed?
HANS: The working times have become shorter, staff take their lunchbreaks, so you need more people. Before, you just had one work shift and it was always a long one. Six days a week, nine and a half hours or more each day. You had a few hours off in the afternoon, but you were back to work in the evening. For staff, it wasn’t always the best.
CHRISTINA: These days it’s possible for hotel staff to have time for a life outside of work. But the work we do is still demanding. Previously you had to do a lot of manual labour, today you need to be qualified and do qualified work. I can’t really work with unqualified staff. These days, staff have to have the right skills in each area of their work, whether it’s the reception desk, the kitchen or housekeeping.
HANS: In those days you had a much higher percentage of unqualified staff. The family did the majority of the work, everyone else rather “helped”.
What are your visions for the future? Will the ZillerSeasons remain a family business?
CHRISTINA: My daughter Marie-Theres is training to qualify in hotel management but it’s her decision what she would like to do with the qualification. We of course would love for her to carry on the ZillerSeasons but if she decides otherwise, we will definitely find another solution. As for our vision: we trust our instincts. We will continue to do for our guest what we would expect ourselves. At the moment we are technically up to date and don’t have necessary investments outstanding. But we love to develop ourselves and implement new ideas. We have raised the standard of our HeLeni restaurant even higher. The Martinerhof is a wonderful addition to the HochLeger Chalet Resort and we just finished our new TreeLofts. We will keep ourselves busy [laughs] – but it was the same for my father.