Jiří Gajdošík of Asten Hotels: directly contacting guests is more expensive, but profitable in the long run

6 minutes

Asten Hotels was established with the aim of creating a chain of attractive boutique hotels in the Czech Republic. It focuses on locations in Prague and Spindleruv Mlyn, where it operates several hotels. According to Asten Hotels, what is the most important strategy in today's hospitality industry? We asked managing partner Jiří Gajdošík.

Has your clientele changed over the pandemic? Are their spending habits any different? How have you had to adapt to it? 

Our company operates hotels in Spindleruv Mlyn and Prague. Not much has changed in Spindleruv Mlyn. Roughly 70% of our clients were and are Czechs, and a large number of them are regulars. So we haven't seen much change. However, our guests' spending habits have changed slightly - they are looking for quality even more than before, and they are happy to pay extra for quality accommodation and meals. Our hotels in Prague are a different story. Hotels in Kampa, Klárova and Nerudova Street are typical tourist locations. We had to adjust our pricing slightly, but the adjustments were not dramatic because we were able to benefit from our good reputation in Spindleruv Mlyn. Thanks to it, we did not have to charge the so-called "Czech prices" like most hotels in Prague. As far as our Bistro in Kampa is concerned, we have not moved away from our focus there, on the contrary, we are now going to improve our offer and service even more. We are convinced that continuous quality is the basis for long-term success.

What do you think is the most important strategy in the hospitality industry today?

Quality, quality and quality again. And in every way. Quality food, quality drinks and above all a good team. Whether in the kitchen or in the service. Both are extremely important.

Which current trend in the hospitality industry do you think will not last long and which, on the other hand, will persist?

Anything that does not have a solid foundation will not survive or last. I think that takeaways have become something of a symbol of the pandemic, but in my view it is only a temporary solution. People will again want to eat great food from fine china and enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner as an experience. It is therefore necessary to stick to the strategy that has been set and to work to enforce it.

What is your current and desired ratio of direct bookings from the website to bookings through intermediaries?

I'll break it down again here. Our hotels in Spindleruv Mlyn have up to 70% of reservations directly. In Prague, it's a bit different, because there you have to work more with intermediaries. Even so, we have about 30% direct bookings in Prague, which is not bad at all given the size of our hotels.

„I think that takeaways have become something of a symbol of the pandemic, but in my view it is only a temporary solution. People will again want to eat great food from fine china and enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner as an experience.“

What are you doing to achieve direct bookings?

The quality of your own website and its daily maintenance is essential. Photos, texts, keywords and many other small things. However, in addition to this, direct sales support is necessary. This means advertising campaigns mainly on Google, which we do both in the Czech Republic and abroad. The quality of our booking department is also quite crucial. Unlike other companies of the same size, we invest quite a lot of money in our own reservations department, which of course contributes to the fact that guests end up choosing to book directly. At the same time, we also limit our sales channels, we just don't give our sales capacity to anyone who asks for it. There are all sorts of marketing sites that would like to work with us, but we refuse out of principle. We prefer to take the long-term approach, which is to find and keep clients directly. It's more expensive in the short term, but definitely the right way to go in the long term.

What do you think is the accommodation experience of the future?

Same as today. I don't see any fundamental difference. Quality bed, personal attention to each guest's stay. Smiling maid and receptionist. I don't believe in a complete replacement of current services through modern technology.

Get an e-book full of inspiration from leading hospitality professionals.

Read 5 exclusive interviews with hospitality industry leaders. Explore 6 specific tips to help you drive your business forward.