BERLIN—Torsten Loos is the new COO of Berlin-based budget group a&o Hostels. He has been with the company since 2002 and, as Director of Operations, has been responsible for the operation of the total of 40 properties with 35 general managers and more than 1,000 employees since 2014. During this time, he has developed and established a new management trainee program and the a&o Academy, among other things. The top issue and motivation for Loos as COO remains: “Budget yes, but the focus is on quality.”
The key to this for Loos is “consistent employee qualification.” He shares, “Optimized cost structure is a basic prerequisite for us as a budget product, under which we will always manage to train and develop our employees in the best possible way in the future.” After all, he says, “There are development steps and qualifications behind every position.”
Loos, who most recently implemented the a&o e-learning platform, began his a&o career in 2002 as GM of Berlin’s Haus Friedrichshain, rising to Regional Manager in 2007 and assuming the position of Director Operations in 2014. “With Torsten Loos, a&o has a COO for whom product and process optimization absolutely go hand in hand with quality and motivation of the team,” explains CEO Oliver Winter, “which is central to our further growth and to a positive corporate climate.”
‘Re-establishing an Emotional Bond’
Internal development has traditionally been a top priority at a&o: Around 70 percent of GMs come from within the company, for example from front office or assistant positions. “Motivation beats theoretical qualifications, lateral entrants are welcome, and everyone has a chance,” Loos says. He is confident when it comes to recruiting and employee retention—not least with a view to the Group’s upcoming new openings in Europe: “We will also continue to strengthen the emotional bond between the company and its employees,” he says. In the last twelve months, a&o has hired around 600 new employees across Europe.
Expansion in Europe—Acquisitions Preferred
In Germany, a&o has 25 properties in 14 cities: Aachen, Berlin, Bremen, Dortmund, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart, and Weimar. In total, a&o currently offers 39 houses in nine countries, making it the leading hostel brand in Europe.
In the focus of its expansion plans the enterprise sees Great Britain, Italy, Benelux, and the roof region. The acquisition of existing properties is also a priority for sustainability reasons: in 2025, the company will be the first European hostel chain to be CO2 net zero—its own ecological footprint is to be reduced to a minimum and the rest offset.