From Bad Honnef to Washington
Graduate Christoph Heyn works for a large hotel chain – and is revolutionizing the industry: his digital innovation saves the guest a lot of time
When he tested his technology for the first time, his heart was pounding: Christoph Heyn was standing in the corridor of a luxury hotel on the outskirts of Washington with a smartphone in his hand that he was holding against the door to a room. It went “click”. “That was when I knew that we had made a giant step forward”. Guests who check-in online and then open their room door using Bluetooth technology can go straight from the hotel garage to their bed. “This saves a great deal of time”, states Heyn, who, together with his team, is currently introducing this pioneering technology in Marriot hotels worldwide.
It is the mixture of the high-end hotel trade, an international role and technological innovation that makes his work fascinating: “This is a dream job for me”, says the 31-year-old enthusiastically. Six years ago he relocated from Germany to the USA to work in the headquarters of a hotel chain which operates more than 20 brands, all from under one roof. Christoph Heyn’s journey to work from his apartment in the middle of Washington, D.C., takes 20 minutes each morning. “In summer, I go by Vespa, which makes my commute into an experience in itself.”
Heyn laid the foundations for his career in the hotel and tourism industry when he was still at school: Aged just 15, he set up an Internet travel portal, specialising in travel to Sweden. Flights and hotel bookings, tips and ideas for a stay, all that and more could be found there. “That awakened my interest for the industry”, he recalls. Eventually, Christoph sold his start-up and started a business degree at a classical university. “It quickly became apparent that the content was too broad for me, as I wanted to specialise. That’s when I came across the IUBH”, he says. He does not regret having taken that step, quite the opposite, in fact. The tailor-made content and excellent teaching suited him well. “The IUBH concept of integrating practical work experience within the degree course was perfect for me!” His first internship took him to Los Angeles, in the marketing department of the Hotel Ritz-Carlton, which also belongs to the Marriott chain. After a semester abroad in Arizona, Heyn was ready for his second stint of work experience with Ritz-Carlton, this time in Washington. Upon completing this placement, he then secured a job there.
His masterpiece: The digital check-in
For Christoph Heyn, the technology for the digital check-in which he is currently working on is a kind of masterpiece: He is leading a team in which technicians, designers and hotel experts are all working alongside one another. They are currently en route from Abu Dhabi to Beijing, where they will be introducing the technology to more hotels. Heyn is still excited by the pioneering spirit that surrounds his work: “The check-in process in hotels has been the same for a hundred years. We are turning that on its head!”