From trained chef to Head of Global Sales at Vienna House. True to the motto that “everything is possible”, Michael Kral has come to know and love many different perspectives in the tourism sector. Find out how and why in this Face-to-Face blog article.
1. Let’s start at the beginning: Where and how did you get your start in tourism?
I still have to laugh about that today. My family certainly was speechless when, after finishing school, I told them that I didn’t want to study and that I was going to become a cook. I absolutely loved my apprenticeship and was a high flyer in the vocational school. I even received a special diploma from the school board for my good marks – who would have thought that! Then I started as chef at the Kremslehner Hotels in Vienna, specifically at the Hotel Regina. That was a truly fantastic time.
2. And how did it go on? When did you start heading in the direction of sales?
I spoke to my boss at the time and explained to him that I really wanted to transfer to the front office. To this day, I think, he still can’t understand why I wanted to do that. He kept praising my abilities as chef [smiles]. But in the end he gave in – and it was a good decision, because that’s where I discovered how much I loved working directly with the guests. Later, at the Hotel Edelweiß at Arlberg, I spent a season being in charge of Reception, Reservations and Guest Relations. That same season I was given the position of Conference Sales Manager – once again at the Kremslehner Hotels in Vienna. Back to my roots, so to speak. I had found my calling.
3. That sounds quite planned and structured – or not?
Well, not quite. In between I also tried my hand at being Managing Director of the Wein & Wasser wine bar in Vienna. But I quickly realised that I prefer focussing on selling tourism services. I soon switched to NH Hotels, starting as Sales Manager for MICE & Key Accounts and leaving the company 8 years later as Assistant Director of Sales for Central and Eastern Europe. I then gave myself eight months off to discover the world. Which brings us to one of my greatest hobbies: travelling!
4. So you left the hospitality business to become a globetrotter?
For a short time, yes – I really needed it at the time and it did me a lot of good. You discover the diversity that’s out there, interesting cultures, and many fantastic people. I can recommend it to everyone. If I hadn’t discovered the job offer from Vienna House, I would probably be working for the Austrian postal company now – not exactly the right thing for a design aficionado like myself [laughs].
5. Speaking of free time – how about it?
Anyone reading this should check out my Instagram profile, which is worth more than a thousand words: “Vienna – base, ny – passion, tel aviv – love, berlin – inspiration, the sea – place of rest, paris – desire…”. A little background: Over the past few years, I have visited over 41 countries and more than 160 cities – and I still haven’t had enough of travelling. Apart from that, I love riding my bike on Vienna’s Danube Island and working in the garden at my house. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to cook – but I love long breakfasts at the weekends. Trends and a certain lifestyle are also important for me, so regular shopping sprees are a must.
6. Last but not least: What is your Vienna House insider’s tip for our readers?
Head for Croatia to our Vienna House Bristol Opatija hotel– the best time is in the spring or autumn (there’s lots to discover then – let’s not forget the truffle and chestnut season!). This historic imperial-era seaside resort is a great place and a warm and hospitable environment in which to relax.
Thank you for the interview!