Work-life balance is the word on the street, and for many people it’s a personal ideal that you plan skilfully into your career. And it’s even more helpful when you get good examples of these ideals played out before you in your own working and personal life. As Vice President Commercial, Bart Beerkens is responsible for many hundreds of employees, and he’s already managed to convince dozens of them of the beauty of leading a healthy lifestyle. Bart shared with us his views and experiences of both aspects of the work-life balance concept. We talked about the present and the future of the hotel industry and how to avoid stress in a smart and healthy way.
Bart, you’ve been with the GCH Hotel Group for eight years. You’re responsible for Corporate/MICE Sales, Leisure Sales, Revenue Management & Distribution as well as Digital Marketing, Central Reservations Office, PR, Franchisor Relationships and Development. This means that a lot of the company’s managerial tasks are in your hands. In the hotel industry, the present and the future are a constant challenge.
1. Thanks to your career and your extensive experience, you know the industry like the back of your hand. How has the hotel business changed in the last ten years?
Generally a lot has changed. The hotel industry has moved away from autocracy and a somewhat prevalent narcissism to productive collaboration and constant change – well, mostly (laughs).
2. Regarding the here and now – what new challenges and exciting projects will 2018 bring for the GCH Hotel Group?
The first big project involves implementing Salesforce in all of our departments and work processes. The contracts have been finalized, and the aim now is to integrate it in order to further optimize our working processes.
What’s more, we don’t rest on our laurels after opening a hotel:continuing to successfully position the Excelsior Hotel Nuremberg-Fürth and the Ibis Styles Gelsenkirchen are essential elements of 2018. Another important and exciting project is the reopening of our hotel in Ahlbeck, as are numerous other renovations. And, of course, generating the ROI in each case.
3. Thank you for sharing your point of view with us. You’re also rather ambitious when it comes to exercise. What was it that originally motivated you to take up running and how do you combine your stressful job with your training?
During a certain stage of my life, I needed a distraction. The benefit of running is that you can do it any time, anywhere – whether you’re at home, on a business trip or on holiday. Thanks to this lack of restriction and with a little self-discipline, I manage to run regularly and prepare myself for big challenges both at work and in my ‘running career’.
4. What has been your greatest success as a runner?
My greatest success was the Salzburg Marathon in 2017. My aim was to run the marathon in under 4:00:00. I made it in 3:55:53 and took this as an incentive to set myself higher goals. This year I’ve already run a 48.5 km ultramarathon and I’ve registered for three more marathons. For me, the training, the incentive to reach goals and then actually reaching them is the best work-life balance and also allows me to apply my competitive spirit at work.
5. Over the last few years, you’ve taken part in quite a few sporting events with GCH teams. Do these events fill you with pride?
It’s fantastic and inspiring to meet colleagues from all areas and be on the same level. You have a common goal and, in the run-up to the event, you share encouraging words when you meet your team mates in the corridor or between meetings. I enjoy seeing how much fun these kinds of activities bring to our working life. Participating together in sporting events brings us all together and we all benefit from it. And, yes, I’m also quite proud of the great teamwork that I see here at GCH – both in the offices and on the running track.
6. Final question – which of our hotels do you think has the best running route?
I actually have a great tip: IHG has put multiple running routes online in the immediate vicinity of two of our hotels, Holiday Inn Berlin City West and Holiday Inn City East. They cover a range of distances and are perfect for anyone travelling to Berlin.
Thank you for the interview, Bart. If you’re interested in the running routes Bart mentioned, you can find out more here.
Editor: Christina Hahn