Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Berlin's Asylum Hotel Idea

If you go to the topic of immigrants and refugees in Germany.....there are about a hundred sub-topics.  One of the sub-topics is shelter issues.

Germany had....state-by-state....an average amount of decent shelter operations until the 'surge' of 2014.  They could typically handle 250,000 a year without a lot of hassle....with the BAMF usually approving or disapproving the visa within six weeks. Presently, with the 1.1 million from last year and a long waiting list (sometimes up to eight months) on the BAMF approval or disapproval....there isn't enough shelter or accommodation

Some folks have been rather creative.  Over in Mainz....they had one political figure who suggested they (the state) rent a soon-to-be-retired cruise boat (this has yet to be accepted).  Over the hill from where I live.....they rented a long-term deal with a modular building.

Yesterday.....I noticed via several news sources that Berlin had finally worked out a deal with a hotel chain (22 hotels within the city) which could be used for 10,000 refugees/immigrants per day.

The deal will revolve around 50 Euro per bed, per day.  You can do the math.....1,500 per month.....18,000 Euro for a year.  N-TV figured the deal to be worth 600 million Euro over the space of a year.  The Berlin state folks didn't come out and say that the Federal government was paying the whole thing....but I'm going to take a guess that the massive bulk of this (probably ninety-percent) will be covered from the German federal pot of money.

How this works?  There are a significant number of hotels in Berlin.  If you ever go there....especially from May to October....as you walk around, you start to notice an awful lot of hotels.  Last year, they reported a one-year statistic of 28-million visitors.  This is one of the reasons why more and more hotels are being put up.

There's odd factor though about this visit statistic.....in a normal period....the hotels are only operating at 60 to 65 percent (N-TV's report).  Using this deal with the 22 hotels....they'd be able to help the hotel chain bounce up to 95-percent occupancy.  Profit?  Well....at 50 Euro a night....there is probably still some minor margin of profit for the company managing the 22 hotels.  It will help to show good numbers within their data sheets.

When summer comes?  That's the curious thing that was left out of this report.  Frankly...if I were running the hotel and May arrived....and I had the potential to charge my normal rate of 120 Euro a day (for a decent 3-star place) then I'd kick the refugees and immigrants out.  No one says much from the city or hotel chain management side on how this higher summer period would work with this deal.

Presently, with the old hanger operation at Tempelhof Airfield and 50 gymnasiums being used.....they've hit absolute maximum occupancy with emergency accommodations.  

What happens in March/April if the refugee crowd picks up with winter ending, and more asylum seekers start to arrive?  That's one of those forbidden topics because no matter where you look in Germany.....it's full and no one wants to imagine another one million refugees arriving in 2016.

I went looking at the GCH Hotel chain in Berlin.  Some are modern hotels....some are aged hotels.  Pricing?  Right now in January, I could get some of these rooms at 44 Euro a night....one offering was for 192 Euro a night (a historic hotel).  Two of the operations are two-star in nature.....the rest are a mix of three star and four star.  One of the hotels is way up on the Kurt-Schumacher Platz.....a pretty hefty distance from the center of Berlin.

For some reason, I don't see this hotel deal working well.

First, the minute that hotel guests start to notice that there are asylum seekers or immigrants in their hotel....it'll get noted in reviews (like Trip-Adviser or such), and then people will say it's an immigrant hotel.  If you wanted immediate bad reviews....with people staying away in droves....getting a couple of reviews like this would start a bad trend.

Second, magnet for troublesome right-wing radicals?  It would be stupid, but presently....there are some such nuts out there.

Third, it would be odd if some immigrants arrived and thought this was a long-term deal.....only to discover three weeks later that they have to move because the hotel has better-paying customers on the reservation list.  So the refugee moves to the next hotel on the list....staying there for ten days before they hit some peak operating period, and thus forcing the movement again.  No one brings up this scenario but I just don't see how you'd create a long-term stay situation.

Fourth, some type of stupid behavior by a couple of the immigrants and destruction of hotel property?  I'm guessing that wording was inserted into the agreement.....where the city is responsible for all damages.  No one said much about it......but a smart business guy would have written that into the deal.

While the Berlin political guys may be patting themselves on the back, and the hotel chain might have some extra money coming into the operation....I just don't see this as a positive and innovative idea.  Maybe some hidden aspect of the deal exists where if business did go south.....the city government would offer to buy a hotel or two and make them into permanent refugee centers.  If you had a hotel with a negative cash flow and no hope for recovery.....maybe this would be a decent strategy of getting the government to pay a premium price for a hotel of marginal value.

Bottom line?  Maybe it is the obvious next step to take, but I don't see much success coming out of this idea.

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