Stefan Renziehausen and Alexander Wessels from SABA Hospitality in Macau, China develop “technology tools” for unforgettable hotel experiences. In an interview, the founders and executive directors give an insight into starting a business and studying at IUBH.
Stefan, how did the idea for SABA Hospitality come about and what does the business model look like?
Stefan Renziehausen: To be honest, the business idea came to us during a nice get-together over a couple of beers. We then took a sober second look at the idea and developed it further. The result was SABA Hospitality: a company which develops tailor-made technology solutions for the international hotel industry. Our tools provide unforgettable experiences for guests, enhance a hotel’s online and offline reputation and improve the efficiency of employees and the entire operation.
What does the name SABA Hospitality stand for and what is special about your company?
Alexander Wessels: SABA consists of the first initial of the founders, so Stefan, Alexander, Byron and Alex. What sets us apart from our competitors is that we have a total of fifty years of experience in the hospitality sector and know what the hotel industry expects from our solutions.
What is your current daily working routine?
Alexander: As with many young companies, everyone actually does everything: from product development and customer acquisition to installation and after-sales service. In general, however, we have different focus areas and therefore I mainly look after our partners and existing customers, Stefan takes care of the organisational side, Byron deals with sales and marketing and Alex looks after our IT systems.
Stefan: We start the day with a check-in call, where we discuss the results of the previous day and to-do lists for the current day with our partners. I then take care of hotel support and the further development of products.
Alexander, how and where did you meet and was it clear from the start that you wanted to work together?
Alexander: Stefan and I met in the first week in student halls of residence. In the second semester, we moved into a flatshare. Even during our studies, we complemented each other well in joint projects and presentations. However, we didn’t know that we would work together one day. After graduating, I ventured to Asia to start a job, while Stefan worked in Frankfurt. Our paths crossed again in Macau in 2012, when we were both working at the Sheraton Grand Macao, the biggest Marriott hotel in the world with 4000 rooms. At that time, we moved back into a flatshare and six years later we founded our company.
What did you learn during your studies at IUBH that has proved useful in your current job?
Alexander: A lot! Besides the internship semesters, the time abroad left a lasting impression, which now helps us to understand different cultures and to position our products on the market. Over time, other topics, which were not necessarily important in our previous jobs, come to the fore again: Accounting and break-even analysis for example – unpopular with many people, but extremely important.
Stefan: Yes, the international experience influenced me a lot too and prepared me well for my job. In recent months, I’ve been thinking back to the lectures and courses in Bad Honnef, because I need to recall more and more theoretical knowledge in order to incorporate it into our company.
What are your plans for the future?
Alexander: For the near future, we will continue to develop our products and establish SABA Hospitality on the market.
Stefan: We can only achieve this with a good team; so expansion is our second goal for the future. For example, as we have already supported an IUBH student with her Bachelor thesis on “Gamification”, we hope to continue to build on our partnership with IUBH.