Breakfast with Oscar del Campo
Europe / Austria / Vienna
“The Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria, wishes you a pleasant morning and a wonderful day!” the little breakfast newspaper announces. On the following pages the weather preview, followed by the music and culture program of the near by opera houses, the museums. Vienna at her best. The former imperial City has four of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. They are all very different, and today, upon launching our latest editions of our books HOTEL IMPERIAL and HOTEL BRISTOL I am having breakfast with Oscar del Campo, the General Manager of the two hotels in Vienna. Guten Tag, Herr del Campo, and thanks for your time. Three quick questions to warm up:
Q. What's your motto in life? Be nice to everybody, because you never know when you are going to meet them again!
Q. Where are you in ten years? Hopefully somewhere I want to be.
Q. And your preferred breakfast? Coffee, coffee and coffee – and if you push me I might go for a croissant with the coffee.
Q. Who is your idol in hospitality industry? I do not have any idols in particular, maybe because I am not a big fan of idolizing people. However, there have been a few people that I have worked with over the years that have left a very lasting impression.
Q. What makes a good hotel manager? Knowing that he or she will achieve very little without the support of his or her team.
Q. What would be more tempting for you than being the GM of the Imperial in Vienna? Being a guest at the Imperial.
Q. We are sitting where many famous people stayed and sat before… Do you like this philosophical air of history lingering all over the hotel or do you consider such strong ties with the past as a burden? The hotel has a very rich history and has also played an important part in the history of the city. It is a pleasure to be able to work in such an environment, as it adds an additional dimension – you are not only enabling your guests to experience a delightful hotel but also a part of the history of the city. It does of course also come with the great responsibility to maintain and preserve such an architectural treasure.
Q. What kind of furniture do you personally prefer? Modern designs or antiques? I am not set on any particular style, sometimes a mix of both works best.
Q. What was your “dream- profession” when you were a kid? As a kid the usual things – pilot, train driver etc. – a little later in life Journalism took my interest, preferably as a foreign correspondent in some exciting destination – until I came across hotels which offered pretty much the same excitement without having to do quite as much typing!
Q. If you had the choice, would you follow the same career or would you do some things differently? As I will never have a second chance I can only say that I have never regretted having followed this career.
Q. What was the best preparation for your new job? 18 years in different hotels in different countries with different people – it broadens your horizon and teaches you, that your own point of view is not the only point of view and, more importantly, not the only right point of view – different people have different truths.
Q. Where do you see the difference between running a famous historic hotel and a new designer hotel? Apart from the added historic dimension and the responsibility that comes with it as I mentioned before, I do not think that there is a great difference – the key to a good hotel is its staff and the service it provides, no matter what type of hotel. There is only a difference between running a good hotel and a bad hotel.
Q. Is it too much or too little courage that sometimes makes you fail? Sometimes one, sometimes the other. Q. How do you spend your holidays? Traveling, relaxing and spending time with family and friends.
Q. Do you have hobbies, and if yes, enough time for them? Reading and cycling – I try to make time.
Q. What did you change when you took over? Nothing – I do not believe in changing things straight from the start. My first priority is to get to know the guests and the staff – only once you know them both (and they know and trust you) as well as your market place can you start looking at changing things, provided it makes sense for the hotel.
Q. What would you never like to be changed at the Imperial? Its excellent reputation.
Q. Do you ever personally 'test-drive' your hotel? Absolutely – it is vital to know your product from the perspective of a guest. As such I tend to try and spend a few nights every year in different rooms as well as dining at the different restaurants. All that without overdoing it – there is nothing worse for the staff than a General Manager becoming the most regular guest.
Q. Can you give us an impression of your next month's agenda? Continuing to meet regular guests of the hotel, important clients as well as establishing relationships with the staff. At the same time we enter the time of year were we start preparing the budget for 2008. Throw in one or the other state visit and you get the exciting mix that makes working at this hotel so enjoyable. Thanks for your time!