4 min read

mk | Hotels Co-founder Arno Sonderfeld Low Code Innovation in Hotels

In this episode of Hotel Tech Insider, we had the pleasure of speaking with Arno Sonderfeld, the managing director of MK Hotels, a family-owned hotel chain with a focus on leveraging technology to enhance guest experiences and streamline operations.


Jordan Hollander in Operations

Last updated April 22, 2024

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Arno Sonderfeld, the managing director of MK Hotels, is a hospitality industry veteran with a unique blend of experience in both traditional hospitality roles and tech-focused positions. His journey from barkeeper to hotelier showcases his passion for innovation and customer service. Under his leadership, MK Hotels, a family-owned business with a strong background in tech solutions, has grown to include 13 properties across Europe. Sonderfeld's strategic approach to technology adoption, such as leveraging open APIs and collaborating with hardware and software vendors, has set MK Hotels apart in the industry. In this episode of Hotel Tech Insider, Sonderfeld shares insights on how technology has been instrumental in achieving the group's main objective of increasing profits while maintaining a personalized guest experience. Dive into this conversation to discover how Sonderfeld's forward-thinking approach to tech integration is shaping the future of hospitality at MK Hotels.


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Key Takeaways from our Conversation with Arno

Arno discusses various strategies MK Hotels employs to enhance guest experience and streamline operations through technology. By leveraging the open API of their Property Management System (PMS), Apaleo, MK Hotels easily integrates with systems like CRM and mailing systems for seamless connections. They also emphasize the importance of collaboration in building a customized check-in kiosk, showing the benefits of partnering with hardware and software vendors to meet specific needs. Additionally, through A-B testing and updates to mailing texts, MK Hotels significantly increased mobile check-ins, highlighting the importance of adapting to guest preferences and technological trends. Arno underscores using technology to boost profitability by automating processes and reducing unnecessary work, aiming for efficiency and higher profits. Finally, balancing the human touch with technology is crucial; by combining personal interactions with digital tools, hotels can offer personalized experiences while enhancing operational efficiency. This approach challenges traditional views and stresses the significance of embracing technological advancements in hospitality.

  • Leveraging Open API for Seamless Integrations: Arno discusses how MK Hotels leverages the open API of their PMS, Apaleo, to easily integrate with other systems like CRM and mailing systems. This open API allows for seamless connections without any struggles, making it easier to enhance the guest experience and streamline operations.

  • The Perfect Check-in Kiosk: Arno shares the process of collaborating with hardware and software vendors to build their ideal check-in kiosk. By approaching the hardware vendor first and then finding a software partner, they were able to customize the contactless check in experience to meet their specific needs. This partnership has been ongoing and beneficial for all parties involved, showcasing the importance of collaboration in implementing innovative solutions.

  • Increasing Mobile Check-ins: Through A-B testing and frequent changes to mailing texts, MK Hotels has seen a significant increase in mobile check-ins, with 25% of guests now checking in online and using the mobile key. This shift towards mobile check-ins not only enhances the guest experience by reducing wait times but also demonstrates the importance of adapting to changing guest preferences and technology trends.

  • Focus on Profitability through Tech: Arno emphasizes the importance of using technology to increase profitability in the hospitality industry. By automating processes and reducing unnecessary work, MK Hotels aims to optimize efficiency and ultimately drive higher profits. This strategic approach highlights the role of technology in achieving business objectives and staying competitive in the market.

  • Balancing Human Touch with Tech: While recognizing the value of human touch points in hospitality, Arno also stresses the crucial role of technology in fulfilling guest requests and enhancing operational efficiency. By finding the right balance between human interaction and tech solutions, hotels can provide personalized experiences while leveraging digital tools to streamline processes and meet guest expectations. This perspective challenges traditional notions and underscores the significance of embracing technological advancements in the industry.

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The mk | Hotels Secret Sauce: It's Tech Stack

Arno believes that technical development within the hospitality industry is crucial to fulfilling guests' requests, even though some hoteliers may disagree. He emphasizes the importance of using technology to streamline processes and enhance efficiency, ultimately leading to increased profits. While some hoteliers prioritize human touchpoints, Arno recognizes that not every service requires human intervention and that leveraging technology can be essential for success in the industry.

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The Hotel Digital Transformation Journey

The key to success lies in embracing technology as a powerful ally in enhancing guest experiences and driving profitability. In a recent episode of Hotel Tech Insider, Arno Sonderfeld, Managing Director of MK Hotels, shared invaluable insights on leveraging innovative tech solutions to streamline operations and elevate guest satisfaction.

From adopting an open API PMS system like Apaleo to implementing cutting-edge check-in kiosks, MK Hotels exemplifies how strategic tech investments can revolutionize the guest journey. By automating processes, reducing touchpoints, and prioritizing digitalization, MK Hotels has not only optimized efficiency but also fostered a more personalized and seamless guest experience.

Arno's emphasis on the balance between human touchpoints and tech-driven solutions underscores the importance of finding the right blend to meet guest expectations in today's digital age. As the industry continues to evolve, hoteliers must stay ahead of the curve by embracing tech innovations that enhance operational efficiency, drive revenue, and ultimately, delight guests.

For a deep dive into Arno's tech-forward strategies and actionable insights, tune in to the full episode of Hotel Tech Insider. Discover how MK Hotels is setting the benchmark for leveraging technology to create unforgettable guest experiences and drive business success. Listen now and unlock the potential of tech in transforming your hotel operations.

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Jordan Hollander
Jordan is the co-founder of Hotel Tech Report, the hotel industry's app store where millions of professionals discover tech tools to transform their businesses. He was previously on the Global Partnerships team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his work with SPG, Jordan was Director of Business Development at MWT Hospitality and an equity analyst at Wells Capital Management. Jordan received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he was a Zell Global Entrepreneurship Scholar and a Pritzker Group Venture Fellow.