It all started with intelligent heating control systems. Today, Betterspace offers an extensive portfolio for the digitalisation of hotels. The portrait of a start-up that continues to be in demand, even in times of corona crisis.
Coronavirus and the associated state safety measures have hit the hotel industry hard, forcing it into hibernation. The tourism business has come to a near standstill. Business trips have been cancelled, beds remain empty, conference rooms as well. One might assume that the telephone at Betterspace would be silent and the e-mail inbox would be empty due to the situation. But precisely the opposite is happening at this company, which launched like a missile with its concept of making hotels more cost- and energy-efficient through digitalisation. More hotel owners than usual are calling to seek advice from this model start-up from Thuringia. The key question: how can we become more digital after the crises and thus save money?
Betterspace has been offering this type of consulting service for five years now. The company with 75 employees now has over 1,000 customers in 15 countries. This includes large hotel chains as well as owners of holiday rentals. They all use applications from the Betterspace portfolio, which, in addition to smart solutions for guest communication – like digital guest folders – also offers the appropriate infrastructure with wi-fi and telephone systems. But customers especially swear by the innovative energy management.
It works via the better.energy digital room control. This new technology saves up to 31 per cent of heating costs. The heating system is linked to the hotel software to achieve this. It can thus detect when the heating is on at full blast in an unoccupied room, for example. It also sounds an alarm if the room temperature remains low despite the heating being on – probably because the guests have left the windows wide open. Better.energy can also be used to make sure that a room is comfortably warm when guests arrive. better.energy can also control air conditioning systems and convector fans. The bottom line is that the clever heating system equally ensures both energy efficiency and comfort.
Read more under the image gallery.
Better energy, the digital heating control system from Betterspace, controls room temperature and helps to save energy. The system is able to detect, for example, if the heating is on at full blast in an unoccupied hotel room.
How hotels can control the heating of guest rooms independently of staff and save energy in the process is shown in our video from the year 2017, in which we first reported about Betterspace (KfW Group/n-tv). This video is only available in German.
Betterspace hit a nerve with this product: “Digitalisation is a major theme in the hotel industry, but many still find it a challenge,” says CEO and co-founder Gerhard Weiß. And Benjamin Köhler, Sales Manager at Betterspace, adds: “We want to be an allround service provider and do more than simply create isolated solutions.” Building long-term customer relationships is more important to him than making fast deals. Even during times of crises like these.
At the beginning of this success story, there were two ideas from two start-ups in two cities. Their intentions were the same: advancing digitalisation in the hotel and catering industries. In the north Hessian city of Kassel in 2015, Gerhard Weiß and Benjamin Köhler, the founders of Betterspace GmbH, came up with the product idea for intelligent room control; Weiß developed its heating component at Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems (IWES) in Kassel. Back in 2014, Alexander Spisla and Robert Böhl launched SD Concept GmbH in the Thuringian town of Ilmenau, offering digital guest folders on tablets, hotel apps, and interactive lobby displays. Both teams were able to profit from one another. In order to be able to offer a comprehensive digitalisation solution for the hotel industry, the companies merged in 2017 to become Betterspace GmbH and are headquartered in Ilmenau today. Now digital guest folders and heating controls are the core components of the joint effort.
“The idea evolved, became more and more concrete, and then we already had our first customers,” remembers Gerhard Weiss, 28, looking back on the early days of Betterspace. “We quickly grew into a team because we left departmental thinking behind,” he explains.
Exchange amongst staff members is of the utmost importance in a company that develops as dynamically as Betterspace. A ritual that has been used to cultivate this process is the “stand up”. Once a week, all staff members get together – standing room only, of course – and discuss what is going to be happening in the coming days, any issues to be resolved, and any recent successes. “We learn so much from one another,” says Benjamin Köhler.
As early as 2016, Betterspace was able to win over the jury of the KfW Start-Up Champions Award with the idea of smart hotels – and was awarded the title of state champion for Hesse. “KfW Group has been presenting this award for almost 20 years to companies that have turned forward-looking trends into actual practice,” says Christian Buhr, KfW Managing Director for Corporate Finance, Start-Ups and Education. “Betterspace in particular notably unifies KfW’s three priority areas – energy saving, start-ups and innovation.”
Betterspace GmbH has definitely been on a growth path since then. But the start-up mindset should not be abandoned. “If you don’t live it, then you won't be successful,” Gerhard Weiss is convinced. “If we and our employees were working a nine-to-five job here, we never would have got so far.” Co-founder Benjamin Köhler has a similar perspective: Exchange amongst staff members is of the utmost importance in a company that develops as dynamically as Betterspace. An example of one ritual they use to encourage this culture is the “stand-up” meeting.
The start-up Betterspace is part of the "Our entrepreneurs" photo gallery in the CHANCEN spring/summer 2017 magazine "Success in the Digital World".To German edition
Once a week, all staff members get together – standing up – and discuss what is going to be happening in the coming days, any issues to be resolved, and any recent successes. “We learn so much from one another,” says Benjamin Köhler. The young company wants to use this team spirit to make their company the first port of call for all hotel operators worldwide who want to make a start on the digital transformation of their company and want to begin after the coronavirus crisis.
Published on KfW Stories: 9 August 2017, last updated 6 April 2020.
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