Change of generations in the family-run Naturhotel Outside. For several weeks now, Daniel Ganzer has taken the helm and assumed responsibility for the East Tyrolean (Austria) hiking hotel after taking over the position from his father. As a sustainable hotelier through and through, he has some plans for the Outside that, it can be revealed, will continue to follow the established sustainable path.
Luxvisor Executive Editor Roger Hohl in cooperation with Green Pearls® interviewed Daniel Ganzer about his new challenge:
To start off and get to know you and the hotel a bit, let’s begin with an easy question: What is your favorite place in Naturhotel Outside, and what makes that place special?
Daniel Ganzer: During the summer, it’s easy. It’s the pier at the bathing lake in our hotel garden. The sun shines there the longest, and you have a great view over the entire valley. But of course, there are other beautiful places besides that.
Is this view something that distinguishes the Outside?
Daniel Ganzer: Fundamentally, our location in the Hohe Tauern National Park sets us apart. We are situated right in the middle of the national park, which is great for activities. So, being located in the virtually untouched landscape of East Tyrol is already a unique feature compared to other destinations.
Regarding the hotel itself, it’s the people who come from the region and have been with us for many years that make us special. We are a family-run business, which means we have aunts, uncles, parents, cousins in the house. There’s a strong sense of “humanity” among us. We have great staff, and as a result, we provide excellent service quality.
And the third aspect is, of course, the overall concept revolving around the theme of “Being in the Outdoors” and sustainability. In this region, we have made significant progress and pay attention to even the smallest details.
When you say you’re a family-run business, did you grow up in the hotel business? In other words, how long have you been involved?
Daniel Ganzer: That’s hard to say. Yes, being a family-run business means that you’re already involved as a child, not necessarily working, but being present. I have been actively involved in the hotel for a little over ten years now.
Why are you interested in sustainability? Was there a specific point when your attitude changed?
Daniel Ganzer: No, my motivation didn’t come from a specific event or recent movements like Fridays For Future. It has been ingrained in us and has always been clear. I’m not an environmental activist, but sustainability just makes logical sense to me, and anything else seems senseless. My intention is to lead by positive example and make an impact.
You recently took over the hotel from your father. How does it feel to be the boss of Naturhotel Outside now?
Daniel Ganzer: It’s not as if everything suddenly changes overnight. Of course, it feels different when you carry more responsibility on your shoulders. But the tasks haven’t changed much. I was involved in everything before.
How did you approach the topic of sustainability in your hotel?
Daniel Ganzer: My parents had already integrated the concept of sustainability. It’s not something I invented anew in our house. However, I have communicated it more outwardly compared to my parents. I obtained certifications such as the Austrian Ecolabel and the Eco-Label. I sought collaborations, such as with Green Pearls®, to enhance our communication. But the idea of sustainable management and the social and ecological aspects have always been part of our hotel.
Is that your plan for how you want to continue running the hotel now?
Daniel Ganzer: Yes, definitely! laughs I’m not going to drastically change things, but rather continue on the path we started. Everything we do is aligned with our sustainability concept. That means we strive to improve in all areas, such as energy technology.
Would you say that Naturhotel Outside is a sustainable hotel?
Daniel Ganzer: I wouldn’t say we are the most sustainable. We certainly are not. But we strive to consistently implement the concept and ensure that everything we do, including new endeavors, adheres to state-of-the-art sustainability practices.
There are now hotels being built as zero-emission or positive-energy houses. I think that’s great! However, we don’t have the possibility to be a zero-emission house because we have already been in existence for 30 years. Therefore, we have to work with what we have.
Is there a project that you are particularly excited about?
Daniel Ganzer: We are currently planning a renovation in our existing building to visually and energetically refurbish the facade. In the process, we are also considering the topic of wellness. We have a spa area in the hotel, and wellness is an energy drain, no matter how you look at it…
So, at the moment, we are thinking about how to address that. We will certainly continue to have wellness in the hotel, but we want to approach it more consciously and with a focus on energy.
These are actually the next major projects. The first one will probably come in the autumn of this year, and the others will follow next year and the year after.
That sounds like several ongoing projects. Do you see energy-related issues as your biggest challenges for the coming years?
Daniel Ganzer: A lot is happening in this sector. As a result, you almost have the luxury of being able to choose. So, I wouldn’t see any particular challenge in that. Each person needs to know what they want for themselves.
The biggest challenge for us at the hotel is actually the issue of employees. Staff shortages or a lack of skilled workers have affected all industries. We are on a good path, but we still need to constantly question ourselves. Are we doing everything right as an employer? What can we improve? That is the biggest challenge in order to maintain and expand our level of quality.
If we look beyond specific projects and into the future, where do you see Naturhotel Outside? What is your vision?
Daniel Ganzer: I am convinced that the path we are taking will be successful and will probably become even more significant in the future because it is relevant and important. For our hotel, I wish that we can continue consistently and that we find the right people for our team.
Basically, I want to create a positively charged, rooted place in the region that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not but lives up to its promises. A place in the middle of the outdoors, just as it says on the wall behind me. With experiences, people, and quality. That is my credo in everything I do. I can’t say exactly what it will look like, whether the building will look one way or another. Ultimately, it should bring joy.
Of course, it should also be economically successful. Often, with family businesses, family members work a lot and sacrifice a lot in their personal lives. I wish for a place that is financially and conceptually well-positioned so that the family functions well alongside the business. That is important.
What do you generally wish for the development of the hotel industry? Both in terms of sustainability and in general.
Daniel Ganzer: I find it difficult to give instructions to colleagues. In the end, everyone has to figure it out for themselves. The ball is more in the court of society or politics. Especially the latter needs to set the framework that favors sustainable practices and discourages non-sustainable ones.
And guests, too… though “obligation” might be the wrong word. Depending on which study you believe, between 70 and 80 percent of CO2 emissions are produced by arrivals and departures. Even if it’s only 60 percent, that’s a huge chunk. It is the biggest lever for reducing CO2 emissions, and only the guest themselves or the public can do it. Specifically, expanding public transportation, addressing the last mile issue in destinations. There isn’t always a suitable solution for that yet.
Of course, we look at where we can improve, where we can become more efficient, but the guest also contributes a lot to the emissions during their vacation. My ideal, regarding transportation, is that public transportation is expanded, especially in Germany, and that the last mile issue is approached professionally and sensibly, so that it works not only for guests but also for locals. That would be a big step in the right direction.
It’s about efficient use of space, not unnecessarily consuming land. It’s about balanced operational sizes, especially in our region. It’s about fundamental questions: Where do we need mountain railways, where do we not? Where does the hotel industry or industry serve a few large industries, and where does the value creation truly benefit the region?
In the last two or three generations, families in the regions have built tourism in various forms. Now we are increasingly seeing external investors, who are not inherently bad, coming in and trying to capitalize on market potential. And that doesn’t always serve the interests of the local population.
What, in your opinion, makes a sustainable hotelier?
Daniel Ganzer: A sustainable hotelier? That they don’t differentiate between their business and their private lifestyle. That it’s congruent and consistent. I can’t preach something in the operation that I don’t personally live. If someone says, “I am a sustainable hotelier,” and then shows up with a huge SUV that is completely disproportionate to the circumstances, I have to question whether that aligns. On the other hand, I find it cool when entrepreneurs, if possible, travel publicly. That exists too. In summary, what you preach, you should also live yourself. That’s a sustainable hotelier to me.
About Daniel Ganzer
- Age: 35
- Education: Tourism School in Austria, MCI Entrepreneurial School (B.A, M.A), Stellenbosch University (Management), Cornell University (Hotel Real Estate and Asset Management)
- Hobbies: Mountaineering, Climbing, Ski Touring, MTB, Music