“Hello, I’m Anna Fedl, general manager at the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, which is the greenest hotel in Vienna and the first SDG hotel worldwide and this is my SMACK story. We’ve made it our mission to communicate the importance of sustainability to our guests transparently but also with humour and charm. In order to achieve this, we renovated 17 rooms in 2020 and dedicated each of them to one of the UN’s sustainability goals. This offers a creative way of getting familiar with the topic.
We want to show that sustainability is lived in our company. This starts with the rooms and extends to our organic breakfast, where quality and plant-based food play an important role. We want to create diversity here, pick up everyone and offer various options to all guests. We also have a beautiful garden in the inner courtyard, which is of course very popular, especially in summer, for having a coffee outside in the afternoon or a glass of wine in the evening. For many guests, this is a highlight, because they say, the peace and quiet that they have with us is quite unique for a big city. It makes the guests happy and that, in turn, makes us as hosts happy.
The idea for the SDGs rooms was brought to us by an association, called “gabarage”, who helps people to reintegrate them into working life. They approached us and asked whether we had already heard about the SDGs and if we would like to design a few of our rooms according to them. We were excited about the idea, especially since we didn’t know anything about these goals at the time. Funnily enough, we had been thinking about renovating a part of the building anyway, which was now just a little older than 10 years. The idea sounded exciting to all of us, especially because the topic is so important and it’s actually insane that so few people know about the SDGs nowadays, when the goals are set to be fulfilled until 2030! If no one knows about the goals, how can we all help to make them work? For us it was clear that we wanted to implement them, in order to be a knowledge mediator. We don’t want to lecture anyone, because the guest is on holiday, but it is perhaps a charming way to sensitise and raise the awareness.
Most guests are very enthusiastic about it, even if there are a few exceptions here and there. Mrs. Reitterer, our owner, has spent many, many hours talking to “garbarage” and thinking about how best to implement each SDG and what furniture and elements are necessary to understand the goal. Bed and bathroom should be equipped with elements only, because the guest wants to sleep well and that is very important to us. Elements were for example, a side table from a suitcase, two chairs from an Austrian Airlines plane, a chair lift from Doppelmeier Lift or old skis redesigned as a wardrobe. So, all in all, really funny ideas!
There are many school classes that take a hotel tour at our property now, as the teachers are really happy to make the subject matter more tangible for their students. We ourselves have also dealt with the content of the SDGs in depth. For example, we publish a meaningfulness report every year and I, myself wrote a thesis on corporate management according to the Sustainable Development Goals, which of course allows you to delve deeper. We further decided that there should be SDG ambassadors in the hotel, for employees as well as guests to get more familiar with the importance of the goals.
The communication of the SDGs globally can and should be improved if we want to achieve the goals everywhere by 2030!
Speaking of sustainability: We love to invest in our staff and try to keep them longterm. We are a relatively small house and currently have 28 employees, many of whom have been with us for many years. Our house technician, for example, has been with the company for over 25 years, so of course he knows every socket and every corner of the house. Or one of my employees, Klara, who started at the reception, then took over the reception management from me and later became my assistant. She has been with the company for almost 10 years now. Victoria, another example, started as a trainee and we have kept in touch with her during and after her studies. After she graduated, we asked her if she would like to start working at our reception, which she accepted. When Klara then became my assistant, Victoria took over as reception manager. She is now 23 years old and for that age I really have to say “My greatest respect!”
I, myself started in service and housekeeping at the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle in 2009. Mrs. Reitterer said at my job interview: “I don’t have a job for you, but I’ll take you anyway.” At the time, I really liked the hotel and Mrs. Reitterer, so I thought to myself, “OK, I’ll just do it now”. Shortly afterwards I was allowed to move to the reception. After a few years, I took over as the reception manager, where I got to learn what it’s like to manage staff, which I really enjoyed. I find it incredibly nice to accompany people on their way and help them grow. After a few years, I left the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle for 2 years because I wanted to see something different. Mrs Reitterer called me in 2017 and asked whether I would like to come back and take over the management. Of course, that was a great compliment for me! And I actually always had the dream of running a hotel.
Of course, the last two years were very hard and it wasn’t easy for the staff either. But we quickly received feedback that they missed being hosts after a few months and then asked me if there wasn’t something to do again. During this time, we introduced a digital regulars’ table for us to be able to communicate with everyone at home and stay in touch.
Naturally, a lot has changed during this time and I hadn’t seen many of the staff for a long period. Therefore, this time, I did my staff performance reviews, which I always do at the beginning of the year with the department heads, with every staff member. This has really helped to find out where everyone stands individually, and I think I will always do it that way from now on. This gives me the opportunity to find out promptly what the staff needs are and where I might be able to support them.
Corona has not left us unscathed and has taken a lot out of us. 16.03.2020 will always be a black day in my career, because we also had to dismiss some employees. And without the short-time work and the support from the state, it would have been extremely difficult, and I don’t know if we would still be open today. Nevertheless, the time has also given an impulse for change, and we have taken the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink our structures and to question the processes as a whole. We used this time to clean up and make room for something new.
That’s why we now have only three big departments, the house management, where housekeeping and house technology fall in. Then the hosts’ department, which consists of the breakfast team, reception, marketing and sales, and the administration department, where, for example, I fall in as well as Klara, my assistant, and Mrs. Reitterer, our owner. For each area of responsibility there should also be a deputy for the respective heads of department. On the one hand, we want to be able to communicate more quickly and, on the other hand, all employees are of course more versatile because their area of responsibility expands. This fits very well with our team because we are comparatively with people who also likes to take on diverse challenges. Not everyone wants that, of course, but the right people who also fit our philosophy usually find us. The right fit and a positive organisational climate is very important to us.”