The NALA is owner-run. It is the pet project of Martin Baldauf.
Without specific knowledge of the hotel business and on his own initiative, Dr. Martin Baldauf, a lawyer and real estate developer, has built up the NALA together with partner Armin Ennemoser and a great creative team.
Here are some excerpts from an interview from the magazine “Lust und Leben”:
Extraordinary things often happen unplanned. To make them work in the long run, you cannot get around a healthy degree of professionalism. This inspiring mix of joyful creativity and serious professionalism has distinguished Dr. Martin Baldauf for many years now. He has worked as a lawyer in Innsbruck since 1988 where in 1995 a real-estate office joined his private office. Although primarily he has the commercial aspect of real estate development on his agenda, he was able to bring in his love of architecture as well.
In conclusion, the NALA came to life. Originally planned as a student residence, the object´s objective changed in the process. Why not make and work up an exceptional individual hotel?
Together with co-owner Armin Ennemoser Baldauf developed a coherent approach, which was implemented with great love to detail. It has been one year now since the NALA has opened.
L & L: You have an eventful professional life: you work as a lawyer, then as a real estate developer and operators, and now you are a hotelier. How does this work out?
Martin Baldauf: I have great staff which is always the most important thing, no matter in which area. This is particularly important in the hotel, of course, where the building itself is only the stage. The law office and the agency has already existed for many years, and the teams are operating well together. The hotel industry, however, is a completely new challenge, and at the beginning we underestimated its complexity. At the same time, it also is great fun to work together to create something new. Each day I spend one or two hours there.
“The hotel industry is very personnel-intensive and this is probably the reason why it is so much fun” (Martin Baldauf)
L & L: How did you proceed in the concept development? Did not the building structure largely have to remain intact?
Martin Baldauf: That was the biggest challenge for the architects, but simultaneously has promoted their creativity enormously. Some rooms on the lower floors are actually very small for a sophisticated hotel. Our “climbing room”, for example, was designed with elevated beds, they are atop the bathroom. All our rooms are full of clever details to make efficient use of little space. In order for our hotel to make economic sense we built two additional floors, where we have larger rooms and suites. Actually, we still have too few beds, but there we are. We had long discussions before we decided to turn the parking in the courtyard into a spacious garden. In the end, it is the garden that contributes positively to the overall impression of the hotel.
L & L: In how far have you analyzed the hotel market in Innsbruck before you decided to implement the concept? Was there an acute need for new beds in the city or had the market already been saturated?
Martin Baldauf: Honestly, we did not lose any sleep over it. In the recent years we have developed office real estate very successfully, although there were empty office areas in Innsbruck. One just needs to be better than the competitor – which applies to all economic sectors. In addition, we are a relatively small house that does not really carry weight in relation to the bed offer in Innsbruck. We are a niche player, responsive of individual guests who have and affinity for architecture, art and culture and are looking for something special.
L & L: And how do you do that? You do not belong to any marketing community such as design hotels and still have managed to achieve an occupancy rate of over 80% in the shortest time, without spinning with dumping prices.
Martin Baldauf: We would never do that, this simply is not our philosophy. The Internet has changed the marketing possibilities for Hotels dramatically. In earlier days it would have been unthinkable to establish oneself with a niche product within a few months. Of course, we profit a lot from numerous reports in national and international media, where our concept is being presented and praised. This helps to bring guests directly to our website, where you can also book. Thanks to an intensive care of regular customers, we can generate around half of the bookings without any portals such Bookings.com. In the long run we aim for a ratio of 60/40. Despite the high commissions incurred on booking portals, they have become indispensable. One can learn a lot about web marketing from them.
“Instead of whining about booking platforms, we should learn from them” (Martin Baldauf)