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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » December 21, 2011
Destination Warsaw
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Contributing to Warsaw’s History
December 21, 2011   
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Peter Bierwirth, board member at Syrena Hotels, and Alexander Huschka, general manager of the Polonia Palace Hotel, talk to Jolanta Wolska.

Is managing a historic hotel in Warsaw different to a similar kind of job in other European capital cities?
AH: The Polonia Palace Hotel has a great and remarkable history. After a complete two-year restoration and renovation period, the hotel was reopened in 2004. Thus, the hotel offers all the requirements of the modern times and meets customers’ expectations, including the appreciated perfect downtown location. Especially the historical facade gives its unique appearance and contributes the history of Warsaw. The success of providing service is very simple. You provide international standards combined with a personalized atmosphere and local mentality.

PB: But because each country is different you have to take into account local customs. In Warsaw I have to think Polish—for example, how my staff will react, how I manage them.

What makes a Polish person different from other nationalities?
PB: Poles have a real sense of belonging; they are patriotic and are very proud to be Polish. They are conscious of their history, their traditions and their religion. As a manager here I know I have to respect that so much, more than for example in Germany where these aspects aren’t so important to people.

AH: Polish staff are very supportive among themselves; they are cooperative and help each other, which is very important, particularly in a medium-sized hotel such as ours. And our size is to our advantage—we can personalize our business, find solutions to improve customer service and involve our associates in new developments. Additionally, a small independent hotel is more flexible and can adjust faster to market changes.

What does Polonia Palace offer that other hotels don’t?
PB: More personality. We offer the same good service as all the reputable international chain hotels. But then it is the soft factor, that personal touch that makes the difference. Because we are smaller and have a special environment, I feel that we are more credible to guests that we will fulfill our promise. It is also the hotel’s history and its flair. We know each of our employees by name, and the many guests who return to our hotel.

AH: We also provide very individual service for our conferences, which are accessible for up to 120 people. And we are very successful in private events, especially weddings.

Has the Polonia Palace Hotel been affected by the economic crisis?
AH: Only very little, and not as much as perhaps the bigger hotels, which organize larger conferences. We have seen a shift in the guests’ nationalities during the peak of the crisis—surprisingly the Spanish business went up, so did that from Scandinavia, while the UK business went down.

What was your perception of Warsaw before you came here?
PB: Before I came to work here I was a little apprehensive as to how a German would be welcomed in Poland. And I was very surprised to experience how positive the relationship between Poland and Germany has become. I also wondered what to expect, as we know that Warsaw was destroyed during WW II. I was glad to see that everything has been rebuilt, the Old Town, Nowy ¦wiat Street, the nice buildings, the parks; there are so many green areas. I was impressed that there are so many smiling and happy young people in Warsaw.

Have you seen much change in Warsaw in the four years that you have been here?
AH: Over that time I feel there has been a growth in leisure activities in Warsaw. And some of the travel business has shifted from Cracow to the capital. Also I think that the economic crisis hasn’t hurt Poland as much as other European countries. I really like Warsaw. I see the enormous potential of young and well-educated people here, who are flexible, know languages, present themselves well, and believe in a better future.

PB: But Warsaw—and Poland in general—is underestimated abroad and needs more up-to-date marketing. With the Warsaw Tourist Organization (WOT) and the Warsaw Destination Alliance (WDA), we hope it will change.
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