BMIHMS Alumni Success Story: Caspar P. Schmidt

Hospitality Disruptor
Founder of QCC Collection Limited (Boutique Hotel Management company)
Former CEO- International at naked Group
Former COO Veriu Hotels & Suites and Punthill Apartments (18 Hotels)
Former Area General Manager at TFE Hotels Australia ( Sydney Portfolio- 1200 rooms)

 

BMIHMS Alumni 2001.

With more than 20 years of hospitality experience, Caspar brings a valuable, composed and universal leadership style into the businesses he leads.

The ambition in his business is to create a clear roadmap for future growth for clients, customers, shareholders and owners that he works with, all while making a massive difference in the hospitality industry.

According to him: “ Adversity Quotient , and Emotional Intelligence are some of my strongest assets. I am change savvy, a driven team motivator, a mentor and a strategic leader”.

As a hotel branding expert and hospitality disruptor, Caspar has many years of experience in operating and leading all aspects of multi-million-dollar hotel portfolios around the world, including launching and managing boutique hotels, co-working facilities, co-living concepts and recently working on the international expansion of a well-known Chinese 5 star eco hotel and retreat brand.

“My goal is to stand apart in the overcrowded markets and be creative through value innovation. I want to create something unique in an uncontested market that will make the competition irrelevant. It is for a place in people’s hearts and minds that we are competing!”

Caspar is a strategic and supportive leader in the business he runs. He challenges the process and analyses the markets to find ways to increase revenues each year. Revenue and ground management is fundamental to leading any business and it is part of his DNA.

We are thrilled to have Caspar as the special guest to be interviewed at Suzhou Campus. It was an opportunity for BMIHMS students to get some insight into what a career in hotel management can look like.

Torrens: What was your first job in your hotel career?

Caspar: I started when I was 14 and half years old in the kitchen. That is where I started as an apprentice chef, but I never really finished. I changed after two and a half years when I got an opportunity to work a shift in the actual restaurant on the service side and then I ended up getting tips. When I got tips, I said “wow! That’s amazing. I’ve never seen any tips when I was in the kitchen.” So I continued to do that, and in the end, after two months of something else, I decided to work on the service side. When I went to school, I worked in the same restaurant, but now I was doing more than just serving; , I was supervising and getting a lot of hotel management experience. That was my first job and continued into bartending and other things when I got to Hong Kong.

I was never good at academic subjects as I could not sit still, when I was young. I wanted to have the practical aspect. This is one of the reasons why I went to BMIHMS. When I went to the school in Leura, I was doing cooking which I was very good at (as I was obviously half trained as a chef). So that was easy for me and it was fun. However, when I was out for my first placement at Hilton in Melbourne, it was fabulous. I loved it. They give me all of the early shifts; I had to be there at 4.00am in the morning to set up the buffet breakfast in the hotel. I think a lot of people would have hated that, but I loved it. Eventually, they gave me more and more opportunities. It was a 6- month placement but I stayed as long as I could. I got to work at the executive floor; I got to work at front line and in the restaurants. I got so much experience whilst working there and it made me hungry for more.

Torrens: What did you love about your career as a hotelier?

Caspar: I think the key aspect of it is the people. You need to meet and deal with new people all the time, and no day is the same. It doesn’t matter what you do in a hotel. If you are a hotel manager, general manager, or you are a housekeeper or a bartender. If you are proud of what you are selling and what you give to the guests, you will have a great time. You will not think about it as work if it comes as second nature to you. If you have great colleagues and a good work environment, it’s a fabulous experience. The engine room of the hotel is housekeeping and the kitchens and I fully understand what is required to make those a success for not only the guests but also the team members that work there daily.

Torrens: Did you always have a clear idea about your career path in hotels?

Caspar: I had a great opportunity when I left school to go to America to do a GM traineeship with Hilton and this helped me to become the F&B Director and later the Hotel Manager, before I was chosen as the General Manager when I was 27 for a well-established Australian Apartment Hotel Brand called Adina in my home town of Copenhagen. I was lucky enough to launch this brand in Europe to great success and ended up helping with several openings in and around Europe for almost 5 years. I had a deep focus on any of my positions before that time as I knew what I wanted. Your choices are going to be a little bit like your destiny, so be smart and work really hard! There are many opportunities to prove yourself and if you work very hard, you will continue to deliver. I worked extremely hard during my first years as a GM. Setting up and launching a new hotel brand is never easy. It was very tough but so inspiring and great because I got to hire the team, set up all the processes and everything. That was a big and challenging task at a young age too. It came with sacrifice. I remember my parents said “you are so focused you have forgotten about your family”, however for me, I had to open this hotel, I had to deliver. When I had done the opening and managed the hotel for a good while, I went back to focus on another important part of my life, which is the family. I just wanted to do it and I did it and it was nice to be able to do both. A career in hospitality come with sacrifices and sometimes you just have to dig deep and get on with it to deliver.

Torrens: Do you think there is a shortcut to becoming a General Manager at a young age?

Caspar: You have to be clear in your choices and how much you want to give because you give up a lot of things to really focus. I met my future wife at the hotel school in Leura so she was always very understanding of what I wanted to do. Having such support is brilliant. If your family is not supportive in hospitality, then you will not succeed. If you want to succeed, you need to make some sacrifices along the way. When you have someone supportive it makes this much easier and when you can share your journey with them it puts you onto the path to success.

Torrens: What are some of your passions in the career and life?

Caspar: If you do not have fun, just forget it. You have to have the fun and passion to deliver service all the time. If you have that fun element when you work, it is easy. As for me, if I do not work with people who are passionate or who do not want to make a difference to clients or guests, then they do not belong in my tribe. I like to work with people who want to make a difference. I think having setup QCC Collection Limited in China I utilized all of my learnings about how to understand a new culture, understanding why people react in certain ways, how they do things in terms of business deals and so on. If you are doing something in Europe, America or Australia, it is different. It is important that you get that sort of understanding of who you are going to be working with.

I also have my old mentor who graduated from BMIHMS in 1993, his name is Charles Young. He was always my idol at school. He made big steps in his career with Hilton, Westin and Hyatt.. For my career, he has been a fantastic mentor, somebody I can talk to. I’ve learned from him because he has quite a diversified career, and was able to set up businesses and brands successfully. He learned from me too. It goes both ways.

Torrens: You have worked in hotels all around the world, which experience(s) of working in a hotel overseas have you enjoyed the most?

Caspar: Australia is home, however I have to say that I love China. The culture learning, the respect, the people. It is fabulous and very nice. It is a lot about long term opportunities with owners and investors. It’s about learning daily and becoming part of an industry you cannot live without due to the daily contact with guests etc. One thing that I will always do is to seek the very best in people and if I can then develop them and myself at the same time. Challenge yourself to do better! One small step at a time and then follow your dreams!

Torrens: what advice would you give a young hotelier starting out in their career with the goal of becoming a General Manager?

Caspar: It is commitment in the service industry. Make sure you enjoy it. You must have that mindset. My dad always said it to me,”be kind because smiling doesn’t cost any money”. It is free and I agree completely. We are here to serve other people, but if we this with a kind spirit and a great attitude then we will go far for sure.

 

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