Step into the heart of Munich, and you'll uncover the roots of a coffee revolution that started as a family affair in 1999. Founded by Kathrin and Stefan Tewes, Coffee Fellows GmbH has grown into a uniquely German concept, with a strong family touch that's been the key to their success. Based in Unterföhring, this coffee shop chain has blossomed into a franchising phenomenon, boasting over 230 coffee spots across the continent.
But Coffee Fellows is more than just a coffee destination. Their knack for new business ideas and a passion for growth led them to new adventures in 2018. They introduced their first hotel in Dortmund, a fresh approach that blends coffee culture with hospitality. This fusion has extended to Trier and Munich, with more locations in the works, seven properties in total. It's a harmony of great coffee and welcoming stays.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ramona Wolters, Head of Revenue and Sales Hotels at Coffee Fellows Hotels to uncover the secrets behind their journey and understand the magic of their blend of coffee and hospitality.
Challenge: Lack of easy & remote property management for all departments
As the Covid era took hold, Coffee Fellows Hotels found themselves on an unfolding journey to revamp their property management approach. Managing outdated one-way interface systems was a huge challenge, demanding manual updates for each reservation. The call for remote management across departments emerged as a pressing need, driving them to seek a user-friendly property management platform providing 2-way, real-time, integration capabilities. Their existing systems, intricate and outdated, clashed with the demands of the changing business requirements.
Ramona concludes: "Managing properties in today's fast-paced business landscape is a challenge, especially with changing demands and limited staff. With staffing constraints, the importance of a two-way interface for seamless operations, including yielding and reservation checks, cannot be overstated.”
Solution: Simplified remote access enabled by a cloud-native property management platform
Coffee Fellows Hotels found their solution in the cloud-native property management platform offered by Apaleo, as it enables seamless communication and data exchange between their external systems, such as online travel agencies (OTAs), central reservation systems (CRS), or revenue management systems. This strategic choice also empowered them with seamless and remote access across various departments, eliminating the need for cumbersome VPN connections. With Apaleo's open platform, Coffee Fellows Hotels unlocked a new level of accessibility, enabling swift and efficient management from any location.
Result: Remote property roll-out with all rate plans achieved in a day
Building on their success in launching six previous properties, the team achieved a remarkable property roll-out with 175 rooms within a single day. This included the comprehensive setup of all rate plans and additional features in Apaleo.
In addition, the introduction of seamless remote working capabilities has opened the doors to a centralised reservation department, bringing together skilled personnel regardless of their geographical location. Streamlined processes have significantly accelerated operations, allowing more time for direct guest communication. At the same time, the improvements in efficiency have accelerated the process of opening new properties for Coffee Fellows Hotels.
Challenge: Managing too complex systems with staff constraints
Coffee Fellows Hotels encountered a challenge as their on-site staff, primarily without much training, struggled to navigate various hospitality systems, causing a slowdown in operations. To address this, Coffee Fellows Hotels was dedicated to identifying essential third-party apps that would empower their non-trained staff for seamless operations.
Solution: Easy connectivity with third-party vendors
Coffee Fellows Hotels took strategic action finding a robust solution in Apaleo, which stands out with its easy-to-use interface, especially for individuals transitioning from larger hotel chains and groups, a testament underlined by Ramona's experience and insights.
"Coming from larger hotel chains and groups, Apaleo has proven to be an incredibly user-friendly property management platform. Unlike many others, it doesn't impose unnecessary restrictions, making it an excellent choice for those accustomed to larger hospitality environments. It provides the essential functionalities in a straightforward manner, catering even to non-trained staff with its simplicity." - Ramona concludes.
Apaleo also enables Coffee Fellows Hotels to effortlessly integrate third-party apps to their digital ecosystem. As a team, evaluating what is needed, they integrated carefully chosen third-party vendors to create a seamless guest journey, uniting reservations, check-ins, check-outs, and payments.
Straiv plays a crucial role in the digital guest journey of the strategy of Coffee Fellows Hotels. With staffing challenges in mind, Simon Schlereth, the COO of Coffee Fellows Hotels started to transition all of their properties to leverage straiv's capabilities for contactless check-ins and check-outs.
On the payments side, Coffee Fellows Hotels found relief through payment links enabled by Apaleo, a game-changer in their financial landscape. By offering diverse payment options that can be conveniently dispatched via payment links, the need for cumbersome email exchanges and additional forms was eliminated.
Result: Digital check-ins bring about the end of late shifts through significant time savings
Facing the challenge of limited staff and the inherent risk of errors associated with manual processes, the team of Coffee Fellows Hotels opted for a digital check-in solution. This decision not only saved valuable time, but also eliminated the necessity for signed registration forms and the manual distribution of invoices.
The seamless connectivity with straiv and the implementation of check-in terminals at their properties proved particularly beneficial in areas with restricted late-hour staff availability. This solution made it feasible for the hotel group to run without a late shift, showcasing the transformative impact of these advancements on daily operations.
Streamlined payment links also yielded time savings that could be redirected towards core operations and guest interactions. Furthermore, by broadening their payment options to include a variety of avenues accessible via payment links, Coffee Fellows Hotels diversified their guest base, and tapped into a demographic that may have otherwise been lost due to credit card limitations.
Challenge: Manual revenue management takes a lot of time
Coffee Fellows Hotels faced a complex challenge in managing revenue, where staff had to manually update rate plans, making it cumbersome to plan strategically and report effectively. Relying on manual reports also slowed down getting instant insights, delaying quick decision-making.
Solution: Enabled automated revenue management
With an extensive property portfolio and numerous rooms, Coffee Fellows Hotels recognised the need for diverse applications that could complement Apaleo's offerings. Among these partners, Coffee Fellows Hotels leverages the dynamic duo of HQ revenue and happyhotel, both proving to be game changers for them. With this powerful combination, these systems are seamlessly integrated across all properties, requiring only a daily check. This empowers Coffee Fellows Hotels to make timely rate adjustments in happyhotel, and competitor comparisons via HQRevenue. The seamless connectivity of applications ensures Coffee Fellows Hotels’ agility and competitiveness, regardless of busy periods or staff limitations.
"happyhotel empowers me to optimise rates effectively, ensuring I secure the best possible revenue at the optimal moments. When necessary, I can swiftly adjust rates manually/overwrite to capitalise on even the smallest gains, all while maintaining a competitive edge, increasing our RevPAR." - Ramona adds.
Result: Increased RevPAR and extended 365-day projections for seven properties
The harmonious interplay of third-party apps has amplified Coffee Fellows Hotels’ prowess in forecasting, budgeting, and optimisation, significantly boosting their revenue management capabilities and increasing their RevPAR.
Since the implementation of HQ revenue and happyhotel, all seven properties can now be projected 365 days ahead on a daily basis, allowing the team of Coffee Fellows Hotels to swiftly respond to changes in demand throughout the day. This strategic pivot has translated into heightened efficiency and a remarkable surge in booking numbers, underscoring the power of modernising financial systems to enhance both operational flow and guest satisfaction.
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