For 40 years, Gothenburg’s large hotels have been engaged in a unique partnership in which competitors team up to attract more visitors to Gothenburg. Today, the Association of Large Hotels is comprised of Gothenburg’s 23 largest hotels and is working more actively than ever.
Kristian Andreasson is Regional Manager for Scandic Hotels in western Sweden, while Alice von Geijer is Hotel Director of Radisson Blu Riverside Hotel. But they are also colleagues, acting respectively as Chair and Deputy Chair of the Association of Large Hotels, Gothenburg.
“The association works together to promote travel to Gothenburg and develop reasons for visits and overnight stays. We collaborate up to the point where a visitor decides to visit Gothenburg, which benefits all of us,” explains Kristian.
“Of course we’re competitors, but we’re also colleagues with similar jobs. Together we address many ideas and issues of common concern, such as skills provision and how to ensure that Gothenburg and our industry continue to evolve and remain at the cutting edge. We maintain a high level of integrity and are good at keeping our roles separate,” says Alice.
The Association of Large Hotels, Gothenburg, was founded in 1980 as a non-profit association. Back then, far fewer hotels met the membership criterion of having over 100 hotel rooms. Today there are 23 member hotels with approximately 7,000 hotel rooms and 4,500 employees between them. Gothenburg also has an association for smaller hotels: the Association of Gothenburg Hotels.
Both associations participate actively in Göteborg & Co’s efforts to attract meetings and events and grow Gothenburg as a destination.
“Our partnership allows us to discuss matters at a different level than is usually possible. For this to work, it is necessary to have Göteborg & Co as a coordinating link. Everyone knows they are a neutral party with no profit-making interest,” says Kristian.
This working model allows all the hotels to be involved at an early stage in Gothenburg’s efforts to attract large scientific conferences or events. For an organiser, it is easier to have one point of contact for all hotels than contacting each hotel separately, as is common in other cities.
“We want it to be simple to do business with Gothenburg, and this method works well. The partnership is unique and causes some degree of envy in Stockholm and Malmö,” says Alice.
The business plan of the Association of Large Hotels comprises four focus areas: Cooperation, Accessibility, Safety and Skills Provision. The association deals with issues such as developing reasons for visiting Gothenburg, making the city more accessible, and conducting marketing and training.
Examples of projects supported by the hotels include Autumn City and Halloween at Liseberg, the Volvo Ocean Race, and supplementary events in conjunction with major events. Other matters dealt with by the partnership include common safety and environmental certification and attracting conferences and events to the city.
“Major conferences and events are extremely important: they bring many guests to our hotels and promote a positive image of the city. The visitors are often hugely impressed,” says Kristian.
Several new hotels are being planned in Gothenburg. There is a strong will to invest, and Gothenburg will have about 4,000 new hotel rooms by the second half of the 2020s. This is over 30 per cent more than today. Meanwhile, housing and workplaces are being built at a rate not seen in Gothenburg for many years.
“The whole city will grow, and this expansion benefits Gothenburg. Another of our aims is to actively develop new reasons for visiting. We in the hotel industry feel a need to participate and contribute in this respect,” explains Alice.
Another role of the Association of Large Hotels is to collaborate with decision-makers over urban planning and development. A hotel contributes to a lively urban environment by attracting a flow of visitors and residents. Staycations are becoming increasingly popular. This is a form of tourism where residents or visitors from the region treat themselves to a weekend in a hotel rather than travelling further afield.
“The initiatives we support and develop should also benefit Gothenburg’s residents. We want Gothenburg to be a great city to live in, both now and in the future,” says Kristian.