What do we care about?

Following this thought, my team and I packed our backpacks with our stuff, and our questions, in September and headed out to the FAQ forum in Vorarlberg. During the long train ride, inspiring conversations and creative ideas were born. The warm hospitality of Vorarlberg’s people was already evident on the train.

You leave the bustle of everyday life behind and suddenly a space is created. Your thoughts can move freely. The FAQ forum in the impressive Bregenz Forest is a platform with a festival feel, culinary delights and loads of discussion material. People with completely different backgrounds come together. But one thing matters most – HOSPITALITY is a top priority! Guest service is the focus. The variety of locations, be it nothing more than an impressive wood-scented carpentry workshop, made for many surprising moments. The warmth of the FAQ team was noticeable everywhere. Whether it was the team members’ smiles at the welcome reception, or the friendly chef, who sparked heartfelt conversations while he cooked delicious slow food, you could immediately see that everyone involved was on fire for the event. These are exactly the values ​​that we like to convey to the companies we host, so that they can then trigger that feeling in their customers.

We were particularly fascinated by one discussion topic: "Are you the pilot of your own life?" Let’s pause on that. I’d like to encourage you to reflect on that. What goes through your head? What do you care about? What would you like to change about your life? During the FAQ, my team and I came up with new ideas. Creative thoughts were stimulated and one thing is sure... we’ll be back next year! I look forward to any exciting ideas that you’d like to share with me. Have you already participated in the FAQ forum? Tell me about your experience.

Our Brand Identity

Making the simple complicated is common practice.

Making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

One face? Two faces?  Two brackets? The letter F? When it came to our brand identity, it was important to me to find something out of the ordinary. An uncommon brand that’s simple yet memorable. Something that didn't yet exist. Many people have wondered: how can you survive on the market for four years without a logo or any online presence and stay one step ahead of the competition?

Our brand building process began in 2013 and was finally created and fine-tuned at the end of 2017. Just as with our naming process, in the end, I decided for a "less is more" concept and a brand that conveys simple elegance. Something crucial for projects where we deal with both customers and guests was the ability to focus on the essentials. It's a people's business. We deal with people every day. We strive to be the common connecting bracket. We want to support you in becoming a good host. On the one hand, we’re the link between you, as organizers or companies, and your guests or customers. On the other hand, we’re here to support you as the host. So we put ourselves out there, living hospitality for you and with you.

What about events? Here’s where the connecting bracket can be seen as a curtain opening up to the guest. Friedreich or F in the bracket? Friedreich. Like many, I had about 500 names for my company. I wanted a coined word made up of two compound words that means something positive. After various brainstorming and creative meetings, FRIED and REICH gave us just that. Peace, contentment, tranquility.... with a plethora of guests, hospitality and friends. Those are the values ​​we want to live by and offer to the world!

Hospitality Ambassador

In 2019, the HLF Krems, where Christine went to school, founded an alumni association. Christine was chosen as the association’s chairwoman. She had the opportunity to share the story of her career path—from her graduation from the HLF Krems to where she is today—in an article on the school’s website. You can read the article in English below, or in German on the HLF website under “Absolventenstories”.

Christine Friedreich - Hospitality Ambassador

As the daughter of a business owner, Christine Friedreich knew from an early age that she wanted to be self-employed, and her dream was to start her own business one day. After graduating from the HLF Krems, she went on to study Sports, Culture & Events Management, laying the foundation for her current expertise. After working different jobs within the fields of  tourism and event management, Christine landed her first job in hospitality after completing her studies working for the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. As part of her role, she organized the social program and individual VIP events at various match venues in Switzerland and Austria. She then worked for Milka, managing guests at the 2009 Alpine ski world championship in Val d’Isère, and at the Austria House at the 2012 and 2014 Olympic games in London and Sochi.

In 2012, Christine finally took the plunge and founded her own company, “Friedreich Hospitality,” offering hospitality consulting services to help organizations and businesses focus on the well-being of their guests and customers. She realized early on that “there are many good events, but the needs of the guests and customers are sometimes neglected.” The importance of placing guests and customers at the center of event management and business has become a guiding principle of her company. Her first project as an independent business owner was working with the prestigious “viennacontemporary” art fair (formerly “viennafair”). For the past seven years, she has been responsible for everything from catering and decorating, to selecting and training hosts, and managing collectors and the hotel selection.

Christine and the World of Soccer

After the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship and other smaller projects related to soccer for the SKY television network, FIFA reached out to Christine with an exciting opportunity at the end of 2017. “I have always been focused on the question of what hospitality is and what it means. What kind of atmosphere makes guests and customers feel welcome and feel good? As a hospitality specialist, I like to slip into my client’s shoes to figure out what they are thinking, how they feel, and what their needs and wishes are. This allows me and my clients to work together to create a welcoming atmosphere for guests.” This way of thinking combined with Christine’s expertise and her willingness to go the extra mile for guests and clients all came into play when FIFA called her in to address the dire situation at the 2018 World Cup VIP areas in all 12 Russian stadiums. Christine sprang into action, developing design concepts, service guidelines, training programs, and catering plans to ensure that the quality of the VIP areas was just as high as the level of play on the field. Her success working on this high-profile project and other engagement even led to an exciting request from Mumbai, India. One of the key puzzle pieces that led her to where she is today, and where it all began, was the time she spent at the HLF Krems.

Enthusiastic Lecturer and Passionate Educator

In addition to being a regular lecturer at universities (including IMC Krems, University of Azerbaijan, Vienna University of Economics and Business Executive Academy, and others), Christine has been sharing her expertise in lectures and workshops since 2017. Her aim is to not only share her knowledge about hospitality, service, and event management, but also to inspire enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. In one of her more recent speaking engagements, she was invited to participate in a podium discussion on “Hospitality the Vorarlberg Way” as part of the 7th annual Vorarlberger Convention Forum. Although Christine is passionate about teaching, she believes that there is no better teacher than practical experience on the job: “I always worked in addition to my studies, ever since my school days. Education gives you a foundation, but this has always been true for me: The best way to learn is to learn by doing, and to learn from experience. That is my personal belief.”

Christine Friedrich is the chairwoman of the alumni association “HLF Krems Alumni.”

My Favorite Spot for a Summer Retreat in Austria

Every summer, city dwellers flock to the countryside for a summer retreat... and I’m looking especially forward to it this summer. After spending most of the summer of 2018 in Russia due to my contract at the World Cup, I am delighted to be able to spend this summer in Austria. Creating and developing new ideas is easier on the mountain and at the lake than at my desk. Fresh air and lush landscapes somehow clear my head, giving me time to reflect on other perspectives and ideas. This is my plan for summer 2019. I’ll be exploring some of Austria's new top spots, and will be testing out whether being constantly accessible through iPads and Smartphones is a curse or a blessing.

On foot or by bike...I’ll be trading the city heat for cool mountain air. My favorite places to do this are Salzkammergut, the Schladminger Tauern or the Bregenz Forest. After an active day on the mountain, a jump in the lake is the perfect refreshment. My insider tips are the Hintersee near Fuschl, the Duisitzkarsee near Schladming and the Thiersee near Kufstein. One highlight this year is that I’ll be fulfilling a long-term dream of mine, climbing the Grossglockner and ascending the pass to the Fischer Törl with a road bike.

If I run out of time and cannot visit the more refreshing areas of the Alps, I’ll hit my favorite spots around Vienna. The Neusiedlersee can be found in the south, along with many good wineries and cellar alleys inviting to you to stop and indulge. My favorites include the cellar alley in Purbach, the Breitenbrunn bathing beach—where guests can be spoiled at the Hollerkoch pop-up bar—and the Seejungfrau restaurant in Jois. After a relaxing day on the bike or sailboat, there are many opportunities in the Neusiedlersee region to enjoy a nice glass of wine, watch the sunset behind the Leitha Mountains and get lost in your thoughts. North of Vienna, about one and a half hours by bike,or 30 minutes by car, are the Stadtflucht Bergmühle and refuge. Founded as a cooking and leisure club in the countryside, it’s not far from Vienna, but far enough from the city to offer guests a relaxing, countryside retreat. Here, there’s more than enough time to enjoy... eating, drinking, chatting, lying in the sun, pedal boating, and simply doing nothing at all.

Before kicking off the fall with the viennacontemporary air fair, I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces at the Alpbach economic talks again, before paying a visit to the FAQ Festival in the Bregenz Forest. Culinary delights, inspiring discussions and the pure experience of Vorarlberg nature await me there. Come along with me on summer vacation through social media, especially Instagram! Where are you heading this summer? I’d love to hear about your personal favorites.

Our Corporate Design

Life-affirming. Feminine. Stimulating.

These were the virtues we had set when Pantone announced in December 2018 that coral would be the trend color for 2019. Not just any coral – exactly the coral tone that we have adopted for our CI. And what does Pantone say about the trend color? It’s a feminine tone. “A stimulating and life-affirming orange with a golden undertone” writes the renowned Pantone Color Institute.

Life-affirming? Feminine? Stimulating? These words make us feel so good that we have decided to devote our own blog post to color. Living Coral is a charming and simple color that can be casually and easily integrated into an existing design as an accent hue. It’s a color that wants to be seen and staged. It’s not overbearing, but subtle and with targeted highlights. We achieve this with small fine details on our printing and documents, for example, on our business cards, where only the edge and the logo are highlighted in a radiant coral tone.

2019 the color has also found its way into people’s homes and was recently showcased at some of the booths at the Salon del Mobile in Milan, ushering in spring and summer. It’s bright, uncomplicated and cheerful, and we look forward to seeing these accents in living rooms and offices. This color can be combined with neutral tones such as white, midnight blue and steel blue. Why blue and white? Private, personal preferences. Maybe unconsciously because the HLF Krems school uniform was also blue and white! Write me and let me know what your go-to colors are and why! I look forward to hearing from you!

The Best of both Worlds - Part 2

Simple but effective

Creative thinking isn’t the only thing that can boost a company’s success. Plain old structural changes and clear guidelines can help to improve quality and the customers satisfaction. Corporations and larger companies in Finance and Business have clearly defined areas of responsibility. Each of these areas have their own important and specific tasks that contribute to the company’s overall success. 

One of my former clients, the Labstelle in Vienna, is already quite large for a restaurant: two CEOs who are responsible for the business’ vision and success. The office manager is responsible for administrative tasks and and for event management. The marketing agency handles PR. The head chef is responsible for logistics, purchasing, and planning in the kitchen, and the restaurant manager is responsible for HR and scheduling employee shifts. And let’s not forget the servers and the employees working in the kitchen, who are also responsible for taking care of guests on-site and their experience in the restaurant.

Most small restaurants outside of major cities might have two owners who share tasks and responsibilities. That means that just two people are responsible for logistics, purchasing, the kitchen, event management, communications, and marketing. This sounds impossible, and in most cases it is, especially when small business owners are not aware of all the tasks they need to take care of. This is why I often advise my clients with small businesses to have a look at what larger companies are doing in areas like Marketing, for example, so that all of the tasks involved are on their radar. Then, they can decide to focus on the most important ones, or they can look for external support.

Another easy way to increase quality is to create guidelines and workflows. For example,  for the viennacontemporary are fair, which takes place for one week each year in Vienna, we created an employee guide for the people we hired, many of whom would only be working with us for the week of the event. Our goal was to ensure that all of the employees would be on the same page and would have the same essential information. We wanted to get to know our standard of service orientation and to know what we think is an outstanding guest experience. The 50-page guide covers the entire week of the event in detail and addresses FAQs. It also includes important information such as opening times, lists of all of the individual events taking place throughout the week, dress code guidelines, and a guide for how to interact with guests. This helps our employees with their tasks because they know what is important and how we would like certain things and services to be done. Of course, a small event with 100-200 employees doesn’t need a 50-page guide. But even a mini manual can be helpful for small events and can improve quality. For a pop-up event that we did for the Viennese art dealer Anton Hofstätter, we had a 2-page guide that covered: how to greet guests, how to explain the auction system, how the barista at the event could help the guests feel more welcome. Although steps like these may not be particularly exciting or revolutionary, they are easy to implement and have a significant impact. Once you’ve defined the guidelines once, you may just have to tweak a few things for different events.

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The Best of Both Worlds - Part 1

What Small Companies Can Learn from Big Ones.

We’ve all seen lists like these: “10 Things That Large Companies Can Learn From Startups.” These days, startups are synonymous with innovation and flexibility. Because their organizations don’t have rigid, fossilized structures and hierarchies, they can react quickly and stay agile. Large organizations would do well to break up old structures and get some inspiration from the way young startups are doing things. But what about the other way around? Can small companies also learn something from large ones? Absolutely! Especially whenever small companies are feeling overwhelmed by their day-to-day tasks, if inspiration from their own field seems to have dried up, or if they just can’t seem to get off the hamster wheel, they can benefit from larger companies’ know-how and learn from their business structures:

- Have the courage to think outside the box and look to other industries for inspiration.
- Define clear areas of responsibility based on the principles applied in larger corporations and organizations.
- Create guidelines and workflows to improve efficiency and quality.

As a hospitality consultant, I work with companies from all kinds of industries. I often learn things that inspire me, that give me a new perspective on my work, or that I can apply in other industries. The business consultancy Förster & Kreuz shared a great example of how companies can benefit from being open-minded on their blog. They tell the story of a leading Swiss mattress producer that supplies luxury hotels. The company recruited a CEO from the automotive industry. This may seem like a strange choice at first, but the former automotive CEO had a brilliant idea: He knew that some car parts had built-in microchips that would alert the driver when the part needed to be changed. The CEO transferred this idea to mattresses. High quality hotel mattresses were then equipped with a built-in chip that carefully monitored the wear and tear, which ensured that only worn out mattresses were exchanged. The mattress producers stood out because of the unique service they offered, and the hotels saved money. In the second part of this blog article you will find out how structural changes and clear guidelines help to improve quality and customer satisfaction.

Anything but Ordinary

That's the title of Anja Förster and Peter Kreuz’ book, which was published in 2007. This book—their first joint publication—managed to inspire me like none have before. Maybe it's because it was the first coaching or business book that I read, at the ripe age of 25. It's about being different. Thinking outside the box and doing business differently than the mainstream. This book, and the subsequent books written by the pair, also played a definite role in encouraging me to start my own business in 2012.

Their newsletter is also anything but ordinary, and is the only newsletter I’ve been subscribing to since my beginnings. I curiously await every issue. It gives me the opportunity to think outside the box and to learn with or from them. In 2018, they presented the idea of ​​writing a manual for managers and employees, because how can you expect your colleagues to know the right way of how you are "functioning" if you don't reflect on it and write it down yourself? I've had this idea in mind for a while now, and in July 2019, I turned it into reality. We welcomed a fresh face for summer 2019, and took the opportunity to present our own personal user guide to each other. I’ll keep you updated on how it was received by the team, and I’ll be sharing any AHA moments we’ve had with it.

Something else that was anything but ordinary was how excited I was for my first face-to-face meeting with Peter. I finally had the opportunity to meet him in mid-June 2019 in Vienna as part of the "Rebels at Work" breakfast, an initiative of Austrian Airlines. A room filled with people who want to make a change! The energy in the room was pulsing and contagious. We heard stories that touch and inspire. Each and every story was heartwarming and offered a lesson of its own. It all started with our name tag: instead of just writing our name, we were asked to also write down a question that would be a surefire conversation starter. I am grateful to have met so many like-minded rebels in Vienna through Anja and Peter. Become a "Rebel at Work" yourself! Together we can change the framework of how we work together. If you’d like to get to know some of the participants in person, subscribe for our newsletter and receive regular invitations to our Gastspiel networking events!

Which people, newsletters and blogs inspire you? What would you like to get from our newsletter? Which newsletter should I subscribe to in the future? I’m always looking for new inspiration.

Sometimes the Things That Go Without Saying Actually Need to Be Said

At first, it might seem obvious that being polite and friendly to your guests is something that goes without saying. But maybe exactly because these things are expected and taken for granted, it’s easier for rude or unacceptable faux pas to sneak into the way you present yourself to your customers or guests without you realizing it’s happening. People often neglect to put in the extra effort or add that special something that could really make them stand out as hosts and improve the guests experience. At large events with VIP and VVIP areas, for example, at sporting events like the World Cup, guests don’t just expect exquisite food and drinks, they also expect an impeccable, elegant setting and exceptionally friendly and competent service.

This is why it is absolutely essential to be consistent in every detail if you want to make a good impression on your guests and satisfy them! To put your best foot forward as a host or event organizer and leave a positive impression on your guests, it is important to provide the staff for the event with the right training regarding service orientation. Don’t forget, it’s the staff who will be representing the host and their values— be it a company, a brand, or an organization. If the staff behaves consistently and in a way that meets the guest’s standards, the guests will have a more positive memory of the host. Of course, a big part of successfully pulling this off is ensuring that the staff is wearing appropriate, uniform clothing. Too much makeup or jewelry can be seen as jarring or inappropriate, or a beard might not meet the hygiene standards. Communication and body language, which also includes the outward appearance of the staff,  are equally important. Gestures and facial expressions are an integral part of how we communicate with others, and we often pay more attention to these physical aspects of communication than we do to the verbal aspects.

Which situation would you make you feel more comfortable? If someone kept their hands in their pockets and told you how to get to the stadium with a bored look on their face, or if someone told you with a friendly smile where you could go to enjoy a nice dinner? Learn more about the nuances of excellent service and the do’s & don’ts for hosts, wait staff and kitchen staff in our next post!

Why Should Companies Think About Hospitality?

Think of an event that is geared towards the purchase of a particular product or service: Perfectly organized from start to finish, a consistent concept, flawless execution, excellent music, catering and venue, and the event’s logo features prominently. So far, so good. Then, I arrive as a guest. I notice how perfectly everything was set up, and savor the excellent sparkling wine  that is handed to me at the entrance. Clearly, the organizers spared no expense. But I don’t really feel comfortable in this bright foyer. I start wondering when the evening’s events will start.

This is the moment where the concept of hospitality comes into play. What do guests and/or customers really need in a specific situation? Rather than just having someone check my name on a guest list, I would have wished for a warm welcome and for someone to briefly tell me what the evening would look like. Someone who would introduce me to another, equally lost guest,  helping both of us move beyond that first awkward moment. At this point I should admit that I also used to see things a little differently. Objectively speaking, guests are spoiled and pampered at events like these, with the highest quality sparkling wine and other delicacies. If the guests need something or if something is bothering them, shouldn’t it be their responsibility to speak up and ask? Nobody is forcing guests to accept or like things that are offered to them. Whatever the guest or customer accepts must be good, right?

Wrong! After years of working in this field, I now believe that you really need to go the extra mile to make a lasting impression on your guests and customers and create an memorable experience. That being said, I also believe that sometimes less is more! It doesn’t need to be the most expensive sparkling wine—or at least, not just expensive wine alone. As a host, it’s my responsibility to create “hospitality moments” for my guests and for my customers. These are moments when my guests feel comfortable and at home, or when my customers feel like their needs have been fully understood, when they feel hospitality. Little moments like these are what make an experience, an event, or a point-of-sale experience unique and unforgettable. These are the moments that my guests and my customers will be talking about for a long time to come, because they were special and different from the rest. Creating memorable moments and experiences that stay with your guests and customers is possible in any field and any situation. Think beyond  big events. I believe you can create these moments in every individual interaction you have with your customers!