The New Generation of Independent Hoteliers
A young entrepreneur and a seasoned hospitality expert connect over their passion for people, the fun of the creative process and the perfection of a budget!
Our partners, Severs+Jansen, The Hospitality Studio, spoke with Tijmen Receveur, co-founder and co-owner of Hotel Not Hotel and Eric Toren, director and owner of Hotel TwentySeven, , at Toren’s Bar TwentySeven, an environment filled with freshly roasted cocktail herbs and silky smooth wallpaper with amazing views at Dam Square.
Tijmen: When I see this hotel, I know you must be a real perfectionist. The investment costs of one of your rooms are probably the investment of our entire hotel!
Eric: I always p.ersonally train my team, it is as a team that we create a dream environment for our guests. Each role is equally important.
That interaction sets the tone for the rest of the conversation, we feel the passion in every fibre for both men.
Please share your holy grail for hospitality with us.
“Always work from the inside to the outside” is Eric's motto. If the team has the right vibe and the communication with the guest is genuine, the guest feels welcome and that's what it is about.
Eric’s outlook is tried and tested, taking over his father’s hotel at the age of 24, he has worked his way up through every department in a hotel. However, he believes one is never too old to learn. His second motto being “Life is a lesson, learn from what you have done and develop your entrepreneurial skills as a hotel owner.”
The conversation grows on creativity and adding ‘soul’ to a hotel. According to both gentlemen, this is an absolute must for entrepreneurs in hospitality.
Tijmen started his career at Hans Brinker hostel in Amsterdam, a place is known for its authentic and humorous communication with the guest. So he feels his motto is more "manage the expectation of the guest" – exceeding the expectation that fits the budget of the room is what every hotelier should do.
Was there a concept (storyline) the development of your hotels?
Tijmen and his business partner Bruno Bont have seen their hotel prosper from a creative process where thanks to the collaboration of various artists an utterly unique identity have emerged.
Both without hotel school education, but with a hefty dose of guts, they have seen Hotel Not Hotel grow into a location with a unique identity and (not unimportantly) an average room occupancy of 96%.
“This was not without a struggle, because importing the Volkswagen VW from Brazil, which was given a prominent place in the hotel, turned out to be totally inconvenient, but hey, it was a beautiful adventure.”
Do you see in the current competitive hotel market permanent space for independent hoteliers?
Independent hoteliers will always force their space between the big global hotel brands. Big brands often follow trends, rather than creating them, according to both men - Eric speaks from experience - as an entrepreneur you work 24/7. You wake up with your hotel and go to bed with it. But as a team member of a large Asian organisation, he spent more time at the meeting table than in the daily grind.
Yet it makes sense that if you are successful, it tastes sweet and you may create more hotels with the same identity, that eventually develop in a brand that is of interest to a large chain. But there are always entrepreneurs who start over and start doing things differently - the hotel industry benefits significantly from this.
It is not easy to keep asking our questions as both gentlemen share a great conversation where even personal reflections come to the table. Zooming in on the role of their partner in the energy-consuming process of developing a hotel plus the topic "a crash-course positivity for the millennial" is extensively discussed!
Suppose we ask you to manage each other's hotel for a week, what would the guest or team see and feel?
Eric immediately focuses on reviews - that is his main focus as Hotel TwentySeven boasts one of the highest customer ratings in Amsterdam.
Filter the hotel reviews based on the personal wishes of the guest or the technical imperfections and address that. Measuring is knowing, where it always starts with the analysis of yourself. Tijmen sincerely wonders if he would do better ... yet Eric thinks that Tijmen's youthful enthusiasm will do well with his staff. Nice conclusion. The gentlemen have not spoken to each other for the last time, Tijmen is very interested in the Procs software system, of which Eric is co-developer. And Eric promises to come to visit Hotel Not Hotel soon.
What does the future of Hotel Not Hotel look like?
After looking at a church in Noord and other some other options in Amsterdam, Rotterdam is now on the radar at Hotel Not Hotel. The new property will not be a copy of the Amsterdam location - more a 2.0 version but still with art and creativity as a starting point.
We know that Rotterdam appears to be gaining interest for a number of hoteliers. The city was also part of our discussion during our conversation with Tom & Mirjam Espinosa from hotels V and The Lobby. Amsterdam takes many measures that do not make it easier for entrepreneurs in hospitality.
So, is hotel TwentySeven the cherry on the cake for Eric Toren?
He does not hesitate with his answer: his ambition is to develop a complete brand around hotel TwentySeven. We have a suspicion that Eric will not rest on his laurels for very long...
Eric Toren joins Sander Allegro, Gariella Esselbrugge, Rene van Schie and Samantha Mardkhah for 'The Year in Review', 11.00am - 11.45 on the Hotel Vision Stage at Independent Hotel Show Amsterdam next month.
Tijmen will likely be found at our Social Business Space networking sessions on 'Expansion Plans', request your own spot here.