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Lean Luxury: Using Tech to Streamline Guest Experience

Founded in 2013, Munich-based Ruby Group claims to be breaking new ground with its Lean Luxury philosophy of hotel operations. Led by founder and CEO Michael Struck, Ruby Hotels have a lean organisational structure that aims to deliver a contemporary, affordable form of luxury for the modern traveller.

Ruby Group currently has four hotels in operation, three in Vienna and one in Munich. The company has plans to rapidly grow its portfolio in the near future, with eight hotels in the pipeline across mainland Europe and the UK.

We caught up with Michael Struck to talk about his entrepreneurial spirit, the personality of Ruby, and how the group is using technology to remove friction from the guest experience.

Michael-StruckWhat led you to launch your own hotel brand?

In student days, I started working as an entrepreneur, and roughly around the same time I also fell in love with the hospitality industry. To combine these two passions became a natural target. I only felt ready, though, once I had learnt how to run much larger companies, both in the hotel industry as well as in the real estate industry.

How does Ruby as a brand reflect your own personality?

I do not know. To me, Ruby is like a beautiful, sensual, intelligent and happy woman, who knows what she wants and causes a stir.

And how does each Ruby hotel reflect the market in which it operates?

Each Ruby Hotel is shaped by and therefore reflects its locale. We want each of our hotels to have its own character, its own story, its own personality. The place, the local area, the design, the furnishings: these are all part of that. They are an indispensable part of that story.

Who is the Ruby customer? And how do you profile and segment them from a marketing and pricing perspective?

Our guests are first and foremost typified by sharing similar views and preferences to our own: they are looking for something unique and original, they appreciate character and edginess and want the things around them to have real soul. Our guests are also cosmopolitan: they feel at home in global cities. That goes across age groups, gender and income classes.

In terms of guest personalization, how do you bring the online and real world together?

Every room has a personal tablet PC as well as a personal smartphone which both serve as individual online concierges, providing information on the hotel as well as the city, and increasingly also personalized recommendations and offers. At the moment, we are also finalizing our mobile key app, so our guests can check-in on their smartphone and use it as keycard to their room.

Ruby is designed to be cost and staff efficient. How have you reinvented the technology stack to make the guest experience as frictionless as possible?

We offer our guests the option of a time-saving self check-in, for example. Guests can pre-fill their details online so that, upon arrival, it takes less than one minute in the hotel until they have their room key in their hands. They simply enter their name on a tablet, check their details, sign the form on the tablet and receive their key. We also save our guests the check-out process. Our guests receive their invoice via email and payments are done with the details that our guests provided upon check-in. It’s all automated.

What friction points did you identify and improve with the help of technology?

We travel a lot and we’ve always wondered why some processes in hotels have to be so overly complicated while taking up so much time. In line with our Lean Luxury philosophy, we want to simplify processes and make them easier for our guests. Therefore, we consistently use IT where it makes sense. For example, we decided to let technology handle the standardized parts of the check-in process by asking for a name, address etc. Meanwhile our hosts can concentrate on the most important part: bonding with our guests and providing them with some insider tips regarding city hotspots and current happenings.

How important is it to make technology solutions that integrate and work together?

It is essential. Due to the comprehensive interface between Duetto and our PMS Hetras we are able to bring a higher grade of automation to our system.

What technology constraints still exist and what innovations do you hope to see in the near future?

One of the main issues that is holding us back is the lack of open interfaces between the different systems or technologies. I hope future innovations will address the easy and open-ended use of “Big Data” through artificial intelligence.

And finally, what does the future of the guest experience look like?

Effortless personalization and convenience.

Catch Michael Struck discuss what drove him to launch a hotel company and the personality behind the Ruby Hotels brand at Revenue Strategy Forum London 2018. 


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Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Marketing Communications

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA, and in 2022 promoted to Director of Marketing Communications. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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