As of September 2014, Rupert Simoner is the new CEO of Vienna House. Previously Senior Vice President of Kempinski Europe and General Manager of the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains St. Moritz, the charismatic hotelier and corporate leader can look back on many years of professional experience in the hotel industry. We spoke with him about his new position as CEO of Austria’s largest hotel operator.
1. Mr Simoner, Vienna House is a new challenge in your professional career. What does this mean for you personally?
This is a fantastic challenge, and one I am really looking forward to. My goal is to continue to move the company forward and to guide it successfully into a long-term future. I’m not afraid to make tough decisions and will give my full personal commitment.
2. You have experienced many different countries, cultures and working structures. How do you see the development of the hotel sector in the years to come? What is the hotel industry about?
Primarily, of course, about the product and the quality, together with the financial and operating performance. But just as important are continuity and the hard work and dedication of the people behind the scenes.
I’m a friend of creative strategies and concepts – the simpler, the better. This is often confirmed when putting theory to practice. Concepts include building up a brand and a brand promise, plus the appropriate demarcations. What is needed are innovative thinking and the ability to question the status quo. You’ve also got to understand how society is changing and you should have a nose for trends. Finally, you need a management team that is both professional and human.
3. What do you see as the decisive trends in the service industry?
The following question has been on my mind for a long time: What is luxury? For me, luxury has a lot to do with experience, trustworthiness, uniqueness, authenticity and traditions – much more than with material things.
The luxury market has become a market for experiences, which is why high prices are surely not the most important thing. Also important for me is the trend toward “New Work”. Society is moving from an industrial society to a knowledge society, and with it there will also be a change in company structures and workspaces. The point no longer is to find a work-life balance, as the boundaries between professional and private life are disappearing and the creative worker is increasingly self-employed. This, in combination with the trend toward increased individualisation – going new directions, allowing more leeway for unusual careers and experiences, giving people the freedom to take the long way – requires a new way of thinking in society and in the service sector.
4. As CEO of Vienna House, you have to make decisions every day. What is your philosophy? Where do you draw your energy from?
My professional and private lives form a harmonious whole. I live for the hotel industry and I look forward to fantastic challenges that give me positive energy every day. But when I see a mountain ridge ahead of me and I master it, when I am standing on the summit and let the serenity sink in – that gives me a very deep sense of energy. Every now and then I get the same feeling doing a few curves on the motorcycle or speeding downhill by mountain bike. I’m a great sports fan, but always in connection with the outdoors. Nature grounds me and gives me strength. And my happiness is my family.
Thank you for the interview!