Cultural Change As A Strategic Success Factor For Corporations

Hoteliers with passion

In a rapidly changing environment professionals are more connected and mobile than ever before; at the same time, they are more focussed on traditional values such as reliability, respect and mutual esteem. The future of the hotel business lies in our ability to unite opposites. Expectations with regard to technical excellence are coupled with the desire for well-being so that guests feel at home everywhere in the world and are happy to return to the hotel of their choice. To achieve this, a value based and well implemented culture is essential.


"An internationally growing company based on tradition." This is how Deutsche Hospitality has been positioning itself since autumn 2016 pooling Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts, IntercityHotel and Jaz in the City as well as since March 2018 the new hotel brand MAXX by Steigenberger under the umbrella brand. Two words link our roots with our international vision: Deutsche Hospitality is our response to the complex requirements of forward-looking hoteliering concepts.


The new umbrella brand clearly represents our commitment to corporate values. We wish to position ourselves as an international, dynamic brand family characterised by instantly recognisable features such as passion, perfection, caring, tradition and vision. This repositioning now demonstrates externally what we have achieved internally over the past few years. A change of corporate and leadership culture across the group and its holdings is aimed at positioning Deutsche Hospitality not only as an excellent host but also as an attractive employer inspiring its staff around the globe.


We are hoteliers by passion. This Whitepaper is intended to inform how a process of change can be successful. After almost five years, our exciting journey continues and our mission of bringing about change is a Work in Progress. However, our milestones are designed to motivate companies to embrace and initiate cultural change as strategic factor for success. Therefore, in the following pages we shall demonstrate, clearly and transparently, our approaches and experiences. We will also demonstrate how neglected values may be reinforced with new cohesion and vision. We will attempt to outline the transformation process as clearly as possible. We will describe why it can only be successful if it is supported and designed confidently and at all hierarchical levels for the process of change to be truly participatory.


With warm regards,


Management Board Steigenberger Hotels AG

Being aware of our great tradition we create new things
Social Trends And Their Impact On The Hotel Business

A new generation of travelers demands connectivity and possibilities for retreat, whereas the senior citizens are looking for maximum comfort. Only with a highly motivated staff, can hotels bridge the gap between scenic hotspot and comforting place to be.

Success Factor: "Culture" As Part Of The Corporate Strategy

How visions are turned into results: and how employees turn into a family fighting for the same goals.

Step By Step: The Process Of Transformation

Culture creates value. Company creates value cohesion. Anchoring both in the Company ensures competitiveness and viability – with this "strategy" being focused on the success factor ”employee”. Deutsche Hospitality demonstrates how corporate culture can be developed in practice. And how employees become hoteliers with passion.

Cultural Change As Mirrored In The Organisation

Employees and leadership teams agree: the new Deutsche Hospitality culture is characterised by enthusiasm, cohesion and esteem. Now it is important to embed the values even more deeply and to take further steps by creating a viable and economically prosperous industry leader.

Visible Change: Cultural Change In Numbers

Employer attractiveness, excellent leaders, comparable low staff turnover and sickness rates – these are the factors which are vital for the success of a company going forward. A look at the most recent history of Deutsche Hospitality shows the following: each individual division has benefited from culture change.

Propositions, Learnings, Things To Do

How did culture become the guiding spirit in Deutsche Hospitality?

Human Resources As Engine Of Organisational Development

In order for employees to be ready to provide the guests with a unique experience, an appreciative environment is required: and leaders that help them to develop within the Company.

Summary And Outlook

From theory to lived cultural change communication and transparency as well as the clear definition of additional goals are key steps for the transformation process to be sustainable.

Interview with Roberto Rojas, Vice President Group Human Resources


What is the role of leadership culture change for organisational development?

It is a key role! Our business model is fully based on people business. Our staff members offer services which are so unique that our guests wish to return to our hotels again and again – both in Europe and outside.


Did you create a slogan for this?

"As leading German hospitality we are inspiring people worldwide!" This vision has been defined by our leaders. Whether we are successful in creating the desired wow effect with our guests depends on the commitment of our staff members. Therefore, our leaders not only care for the satisfaction of each individual employee, but they also want to know to what extent an individual staff member feels bound to the Company and the individual hotel product. Only for authentic, empathetic and appreciative leaders I will go the extra mile in order to offer the best possible service to the guest. Therefore, our leadership culture directly, and not only indirectly, impacts the successful implementation of the Company strategy which is based on the three pillars of: revenue increase, expansion and quality leadership.


To what extent has Human Resources been internal propeller of this process?

Human Resources has significantly impacted the initiation of the transformation process and has taken much persuasive efforts – knowing that achieving the ambitious Company goals would not be possible without mobilising internal forces. Certainly, this did not happen over-night; the interaction of many different factors and people was required who defined a joint goal at the right time at the right place and had the courage and the power to implement this long term. Human Resources acted as a catalyst in this process taking the necessary steps to bridge the realisation within the Company.


How did you manage to move from "We should do it" to "We do it"?

With much patience and the right internal as well as external partners. According to my experience, change in an organisation cannot be achieved by a "revolutionary act", rather initiating an "evolutionary" process is required to grow from inside to outside.

Anything that is brought in from outside without having a real connection to the actual organisational needs is doomed to failure. An internal awareness and the belief "We can do it" resulted from many discussions and dealings with the question: How do we move from a culture of politics and protectionism to an organisation based on shared values, trust and an intelligent combination of individual forces?

Our CFO and Labour Director Matthias Heck and our former CEO Puneet Chhatwal have jointly realised that our success as a company will significantly depend on how we will design our efforts internally. From the very beginning, both have not only supported the process as mentors, but have actually been driving the process. However, all this would not have been possible without an external partner who designed the necessary steps, acted as a mirror and worked very closely with our organisation. I am very happy that we have had the support of Michael Franke, Managing Director of Impulse, as a partner. With his consulting firm he contributed to creating the architecture of the cultural change process. And he also managed to translate this into our reality. Eventually, it is a "cocktail" of many individual factors and people who make such a success story possible!

What were the hurdles which needed to be overcome initially?

As a first step, I had to regain the trust in our own Human Resources organisation and demonstrate by a step-by-step policy that HR is able to contribute to the success of the Company, with small steps meaning in particular to stay at the pulse of the business, the senior and middle management leadership and, in particular, of the staff members. Offering Human Resources solutions and tools which help our employees at all levels to master the daily challenges. To lift the working relationship with our Works Councils to a level of mutual respect and esteem in order to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow together with our representational bodies.


What has surprised you positively?

I was surprised to realise during the process how the behaviour of individuals and seemingly laid down dogmas changed or could be changed. The interaction between our decentralised organisation and the Group senior management and vice versa, and the organisation's perseverance, in economically difficult times not to save costs at the expense of investments into our leadership and the transformation process also came as a surprise to me. Then, the commitment with which our Board members and senior leaders have been pursuing the process in spite of setbacks and ambiguities has been a pleasant surprise. No doubt, the success of our Company based on our growth and revenue increase strategy helped. I dare say that there is a causal link between these factors.


For you, what characterises good leadership?

The ability to inspire people for an over-riding objective by providing an environment for each individual team member where the individual is able to achieve fulfillment in a personal and meaningful way as part of a clearly defined goal. For me, this is the essence of great leadership.


What are the key skills required to achieve this?

The ability to define goals effectively, always questioning oneself, establish resilient relationships and consequent result orientation.


What is your long-term goal for Human Resources management?

Establish Human Resources as a recognised partner for all strategic organisational questions while at the same time offering best possible service for daily routine questions as internal service provider. This, in turn, requires development of practical Human Resources solutions and consistently questioning status quo. Observing the development of the business and the market. In addition, realising the resulting challenges ahead and offering HR solutions proactively. Being internal engine of continuous change and natural consultant of everybody - Board members, leaders and staff members. In particular, this needs to be established in the organisation long-term and sustainably in a manner which is effectively independent of people.