Maria Rohrer is a 3rd-generation hostess in Dorf Tirol near Merano, where she runs the “Immenhof” Apartments. The four holiday apartments in the midst of vineyards offer guests a dreamlike view over the Merano countryside, the Adige Valley and the Texel Group – perfect for relaxing holidays in South Tyrol. During our conversation with Maria, we learn how her path into the vacation rental business rentals was predetermined from the start, what makes a great host in her opinion, and why she is looking forward to working with Bookiply.
Located in Dorf Tirol in beautiful South Tyrol, at the foot of the vineyards and just outside Merano, Maria runs the “Immenhof” apartment house, which was established by her parents in the 1950s. However, it was already Maria’s grandmother, as one of the very first people in the area, who began renting rooms to guests. The magnificent location is not the only reason why “Immenhof” has many regular guests. The most important part is probably Maria herself. After several years abroad and serving as head of the local tourism association, Maria has now fully gone back to her roots.
A few detours before coming back to “Immenhof”
Maria’s grandmother started renting out rooms to guests, which did not exactly sit well with the rest of the village at the time, as they preferred to keep to themselves. However, her grandmother already saw that the region’s future lay in hospitality, and her mother and grandmother’s passion rubbed off on Maria when she was a child. She assisted around the house, enjoyed talking to the guests and even was tipped here and there, while she did not receive any pocket money at the time. Some career counsellors among the guests also suggested Maria pursue a career in the hospitality industry..
Her path led her through business school and hotel management school to a degree in tourism and also abroad, where she learned French and English. Upon her return, she worked in a travel agency, 4-star hotels, and afterward for the local tourism board, which she enjoyed heading for nearly 25 years. Eventually, however, Maria came back to “Immenhof” and turned the former B&B into a house with four holiday apartments.
“The love for the hospitality industry was already laid in my cradle. I was born into an extremely family-oriented Bed & Breakfast. My grandmother was one of the pioneers in the hospitality industry in our community. I always enjoyed being in touch with the guests and could hardly wait for the season to start after the winter months. I was actually longing for our beloved guests! The career counsellor right away advised my parents to find me an apprenticeship in hospitality without hesitating.”
Come as a guest, leave as a friend
For Maria, her guests always come first. She always aims at creating a personal and family environment for them and wants to encourage guests to approach her at all times. Personal relationship with her guests, taking time, giving excursion tips and having a sympathetic ear even on the last day are essential to Maria. Despite this, guests’ space and privacy are always a priority.
“Direct communication with guests fills me with great pleasure. I like organising, planning and implementing tourist projects, and I also like to moderate and host events. Coffee get-togethers and nice chats with guests in a small circle are just as much fun. On these occasions, I can always learn a lot about the guests’ wishes, their points of criticism and suggestions for improvement.”
Over the years, many guests have become regulars, who appreciate not only the comfort or the beautiful view, but in particular the hostess and her husband. Guests who come back again and again, many even requesting the same room every time, fill Maria with satisfaction and are the most important yardstick for her.
“A guest who feels comfortable in my house and wants to come back is the greatest success for me.”
Always keep your eyes open
As an experienced hostess, Maria knows that you always have to keep your eyes open in order to improve and develop. Even before COVID, there had been a lot of competition in the region, which is why standing still is not an option. At “Immenhof”, therefore, modernization or renovation works take place every year, and the furniture has been renewed only recently.
“I enjoy everything surrounding vacation rentals. I am only ever disappointed when guests mention weak points in the media and do not tell me directly. I intensively maintain direct communication with guests and I am grateful for tips on any shortcomings, as I want to continuously improve.”
Receiving input by talking to her guests and seeing things from their perspective is just as important to Maria as receiving positive feedback. Honesty from her guests is encouraged at all times – it is the only way for her to make sure she can further grow and develop as well as constantly optimize the experience for her guests.
“First and foremost, we simply try to be there in person. Simple, upright and honest, which means we do not promise anything we cannot live up to. That is also my motto: I prefer to say less and give more. That is how you get that surprise effect. And interestingly, guests also come to me and say it is even nicer than they had imagined.”
Into the future with Bookiply
In January 2021, in the middle of the COVID lockdown, Maria took up collaboration with Bookiply. Due to the pandemic, the year began very quietly for Maria’s “Immenhof”, yet she felt that Bookiply could be an important partner for the future. Knowing someone was by her side to support her, even on topics that are rather strange to her, is very reassuring to Maria.
“Technology is not my strong suit. I feel like I can call anytime and will get support. I can always come to Samira with queries, and so far we have really had a great relationship. There is also a lot of trust, and I realize that I am on my own.”
Maria’s tips for new hosts
“In order to be a good host, it all needs to come from the heart. You have to do it with all your heart and soul and enjoy it. Tourism is about people. I always say that it is about a soul talking to a soul, and the guest quickly realizes what is on the host’s mind. A lot of empathy is just as important. Nevertheless, solid education and expertise should not be underestimated.”
If now you feel like going on a wonderful holiday in beautiful South Tyrol, you should consider a stay with Maria. Whether you come to hike or ski, to relax by the pool with a view over the mountains or to visit the Merano thermal baths – Immenhof has something to offer for every guest.