DialogStory #7 - Steffen Schillinger

Posted by:
Antonia Quell
May 31, 2023

Earthy, natural, fresh, and simultaneously sharp

The urban luxury hotel Fritz-Lauterbad in the Black Forest leaves nothing to chance. From the LoFi beats in the lobby to the self-generated electricity and the distinctive Fritz scent, which hotel director Steffen Schillinger describes as earthy, natural, fresh, and sharp. With Fritz-Lauterbad, this hospitality professional has crafted the most precious and sought-after luxury of our time: tranquility.

Steffen Schillinger, Hotel Director of the Fritz Lauterbad

"Every guest who enters our hotel first sees the lobby area. Here, we create an industrial look through the right choice of colors, materials, and interior design, but it's crafted using natural materials like wooden floors and leather fabrics. You can imagine it like a beautiful autumn day in the Black Forest. The cognac in the leather, the green on the sofas, the brown tones—everything you see inside is mirrored in the nature outside," Steffen Schillinger describes vividly.

The hotel director and investor built the Fritz Hotel from 2016 to 2019 in his homeland, the Black Forest, in Lauterbad near Freudenstadt. The reason why the hotel is located there becomes clear when Steffen speaks about the significance of the Black Forest: "For me, the Black Forest means home. No matter where I have lived, driving to the Black Forest always means coming home. The Black Forest is honest, it welcomes everyone. All who feel comfortable here are welcome. It possesses an extreme naturalness, a totally healthy nature."

The Fritz Lauterbad near Freudenstadt

The concept behind the hotel weaves through the smallest details. Urban Black Forest—that's how Fritz Lauterbad describes the connection between urban modernity and cozy naturalness. The guests who visit Fritz are seeking peace and nature, says Steffen. They are people of all ages and quite diverse. According to the hotel director, they primarily share one thing: an open-minded attitude and a love for nature.

Nature lovers are in the right place at Fritz-Lauterbad, as the hotel does a lot to act sustainably. Steffen Schillinger explains how they use the waste heat from the self-generated electricity to heat the floors or the pool in the wellness area. The entire building is LED-based, and the lighting is highly automated. In housekeeping, Fritz uses fewer conventional cleaning products, which are mostly synthetic. Instead, they use steam cleaning—heat and water—that clinically cleans surfaces without negatively impacting the wastewater.

Fritz Lauterbad Restaurant

On the Fritz Lauterbad hotel's website, it says "Offline is the new luxury." We ask Steffen Schillinger whether this concept strikes a chord in our modern times. The hotel director knows all too well about constant availability himself: devices constantly buzzing. "Just switching off is a tremendous luxury," he finds. At first glance, switching off doesn’t seem to relate to digitalization. Yet Steffen Schillinger, who was responsible for integrating the DialogShift Chatbot, sees this as the crucial point. "The guest who comes to us just wants to switch off. If guests need information, they can briefly check our digital guest directory or our chatbot. They get an immediate response, can turn off the device, and the matter is resolved."

Steffen is always looking for ways to make his guests' stay as uncomplicated as possible. "For me, everything to do with digitalization has to be simple and it has to add value. There is an incredible amount of potential, which we always try to tap into, and I believe we are on a good path."

Chatbot Fritz

Chatbot Fritz came at just the right time for the popular hotel in the Black Forest. "Due to the high demand at the beginning, there was this incredible hype. Loads of emails—they were a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, I met Olga at the HSMA at that time. We talked about chatbots. I was immediately hooked and thought it was very good. We integrated the chatbot right away. It has been very successful. We have saved a huge amount of time, outsourced many recurring questions. We are quite happy."

Fritz has the chatbot on its website, in the digital guest directory, and in brochures with QR codes. "We get 6000 to 7000 automated responses per month. These would have all been questions that the staff would have had to answer."

Fritz is not only quick-witted but also a real workhorse. It's no wonder he's counted among our chatbot superstars with his top performance. If you want to learn more about the success story of our collaboration, we recommend the case study about Fritz Lauterbad!

When asked about his wishes for the future of the hospitality industry, Steffen is very satisfied. "I believe the hospitality industry has done its homework in many areas. People are keeping up with the times; they are investing." However, what concerns the hotel director are the debates about tax rates affecting the hospitality industry. Political considerations to raise the current VAT rate from seven percent on food to nineteen percent would, in Steffen's view, spell the end for many hotels. He wishes the government would permanently freeze the taxation at seven percent for lodging, beverages, and food. "I think everything is needed. There needs to be a simple BnB option, luxury hotels, everything. And this wide range of offerings—I really hope it remains."

Steffen Schillinger is genuinely enthusiastic about the industry he works in and wants to share his motivation. "So that young people say they want to go into hospitality. Because it's a cool job, it's great to work there. It's very diverse, there are unbelievably many opportunities, and I would like for young people to discover this industry for themselves, or 'rediscover' it."

Thank you, dear Steffen, for taking us on a little journey through your homeland!

About the Fritz-Lauterbad Hotel:

The Fritz-Lauterbad is a lifestyle design hotel located in the northern Black Forest in Lauterbad near Freudenstadt. Winner of the German Design Award 2020, the hotel impresses with an exceptional combination of urban modernity and authentic naturalness. The concept: metropolitan flair meets the coziness of the Black Forest. The Lauterbad team has been working with Chatbot Fritz since autumn 2022.