My name is Max-Merlin Ries and I currently hold the position of People and Culture Coordinator at the Hotel Telegraphenamt Berlin and this is my SMACK story.
I began working in the hospitality industry at a young age as a part-time dishwasher in a retirement home before moving on to become a bartender at the Park Plaza Hotel in order to earn some pocket money. It was then that I realised the excitement that came with working in the hotel industry, leading me to pursue a dual study degree in hotel management. By interconnecting theoretical training with practical work, this degree allowed me to already gain professional experience during my studies. I did so through two internships; one at the Abion Spreebogen Waterside Hotel for the majority of my studies,one at the boutique hotel Canal House in Amsterdam for six months. Both experiences taught me the intricacies of the industry, but most of all the importance of a close relationship with both guests as well as your team.
After earning my degree, I was forced to leave the hotel industry due to Corona. I managed to remain in hospitality, however, through jobs in restaurants and at the front desk. Eventually, I was finally able to pursue my dream job and got accepted at my current position last December, facilitating the opening of the Hotel Telegraphenamt Berlin. So far it’s been an equally rewarding and rather challenging experience! The hotel is set to open in the autumn of 2022, but there’s still an unfathomable amount of things to organize and prepare. In addition to the hotel itself, there is a restaurant in the courtyard and other Food & Beverage outlets such as a coffee shop, a small café and a salad bar, all of which need to be taken care of and fully staffed.
The hotel itself is a high end property, with a very central and well connected location near the Museum Island in Berlin. It is a historic building, providing nearly 100 rooms, divided into eight different categories, a hotel bar and event spaces with 230 seats each directly connected to the bar area as well as many other amenities. The versatile hotel complex also holds a Japanese bakery with homemade specialities, a fitness area with over 1200 square meters (also accessable for our club members), a barbershop and hair stylist, an exceptional “living room” as well as our extensive event area with 1000 square meters of space directly in the inner courtyard of the hotel, covered with a glass roof and basked in natural sunlight. For those interested in experiencing authentic Bavarian cuisine, there is also a restaurant with newly interpreted traditional dishes, including the chance to order your own wooden keg. Incredibly diverse and versatile, this location is not just tempting for tourists, but also a great spot for an after-work beer.
As for myself, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity of participating in a hotel’s opening, least of all one of such magnitude. Everything from watching a construction site turn into a fully fledged hotel to the staff recruitment on my team’s part has led to an incredible journey. For me personally, the whole recruiting process is very exciting. Being new to the department myself, it’s an incredible opportunity in a position that allows me to determine what and who works or does not right away, as we have a diverse range of applicants. Some of which join our team directly from the hotel industry while others do so in order to change careers entirely.
It’s been an exhilarating, yet exacting journey as, we too, are struggling with the shortage of skilled workers, albeit more on the operational level rather than the administrative one. While it’s wonderful to see that, despite the pandemic, there are still people who are as enthusiastic about the industry as we are, it’s not easy to find the necessary new hires. That is precisely why we want to position ourselves in an interesting way for potential employees. In August, for example, we ran a promotion for applicants who could win a whole year’s vacation with full pay. The winner could use said paid vacation to go on trips around the world, gain new impressions, further their education or simply do with their new-found free time whatever they wish.
It is one of our aspirations to create, and continue to offer, a work environment in which everyone can contribute individually and actively participate in decision-making. As the product is still new and being established, creative involvement is not only appreciated but encouraged. There is so much excitement in the process of opening a hotel, including the stages of fine-tuning and detail-work, which are made all the better by all departments being in close contact, contributing and bouncing ideas off each other. Individual feedback is extremely important, be it on the staff’s clothing being designed or ideas on how to optimize certain procedures. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for us to hire the right people for this undertaking. We’re looking for service-oriented personnel, eager to work in a dynamic team and grow along with it. We also strive to give opportunities to those, who are new to the city and possibly industry, trying their best to gain a foothold in Berlin. As long as you’re willing to work with people and are of the right mindset, you’re welcome to join our team!
My colleagues and I currently operate from inside the café Petit Bijou before moving into our own office. This unique set-up has allowed us the opportunity to remain close to the action and observe a lot of the operational business, which allowed shorter communication channels and better availability, something I found particularly valuable, being the contact person for everyone. One of our current projects is the introduction and development of a communication app, that would allow all employees to exchange information, making the entire process easier.
For the time being, however, we are all thrilled to see how the first weeks go. Come and visit us, (whether as a guest or possible new hire) it will be worth it!”