Every bed counts: How Adina is supporting Ukrainian refugees during the crisis
Last Friday June 3rdmarked the 100th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – a war that has claimed thousands of civilian lives and forced millions to flee their homes.
Throughout this crisis, the hospitality industry across Europe has stepped up to support Ukrainian refugees in every way possible.
Accor has activated its ALL Heartist Fund to support teams and families in the region and has partnered with the United Nations Refugee Agency to collect donations from employees, supplemented by the company. The Group also works with authorities and NGOs to provide shelter and resources to people fleeing conflict.
IHG suspended future investments, development activities and new hotel openings in Russia, and closed its headquarters in Moscow. The company also provides temporary accommodation for refugees and has made financial donations to humanitarian organisations.
TFE Hotels’ Adina brand, which has 16 hotels across Europe, in Denmark, Germany and Austria, is among those offering accommodation to Ukrainian refugees.
Georgios Ganitis, COO of Adina Hotels Europe, spoke with SM on the crisis and how the teams are going beyond.
“This is the first war in Europe for over 80 years,” Ganitis said.
“It’s really scary – especially for people of my generation whose grandparents lived through World War II. [and understand] how horrible the war was. All of a sudden, it seems like it’s coming back. »
In the early days of the war, Adina’s team decided they had to do something to help.
“We are rather privileged to live in countries like Germany, Denmark or Austria, which are still around 2000 kilometers from Ukraine, and we are part of a larger community like the EU, which is part of NATO,” Ganitis said.
Being an apartment hotel, Adina is well suited to support refugees. Fully equipped kitchenettes in serviced accommodations make dining a breeze for families, especially those with very young children.
In March, the hotel company partnered with Every Bed Helps, a Germany-based alliance that offers apartments to refugees from Ukraine until they find permanent accommodation.
“We have decided to offer at least 10 rooms per hotel in Germany free of charge on the platform. We did the same for Denmark and for Austria via different platforms.
“It didn’t even take 24 hours to receive the first request. It was necessary and urgent. To date, we have recorded over 1500 overnight stays in our hotels for Ukrainian refugees. We continue this as long as necessary. »
Soon after the war began, Every Bed Helps recruited over 95 operators to support the cause.
“The aim was to give families a sense of home, which was more likely to be felt in a serviced apartment rather than a hotel environment,” said Florian Wichelmann, managing director of Every Bed Helps. SM.
“It was supposed to be first aid until families were assigned to long-term care facilities. Something to give them a place to rest and recover from the trauma. ”
At one point, the charity managed to accommodate 1,500 refugees and around 45,000 nights.
Coming out of the COVID crisis, the hotel market in Germany is still recovering, but Ganitis says “it’s our responsibility to help”.
“The average stay is around seven nights – that’s usually the time city governments need to provide suitable permanent accommodation,” he said.
“In Germany it is quite well organized – refugees are registered within 24 to 48 hours and as soon as they are registered they can apply for social assistance from the municipal authorities, they are allowed to look for work if they wish and they are on lists to obtain permanent housing.
Many refugees fleeing Ukraine arrived in Germany with nothing. Until city governments can support them, Adina provides as much as possible.
“We started with initiatives like free breakfast. We offered them lunch, dinner… we helped them buy food from supermarkets,” Ganitis said.
“The hotel teams were amazing, committed and did a fantastic job. Some have even started private initiatives like taking their car to pick up goods, going to the Polish-Ukrainian border to pick up refugees and bring them to the refugee centers.
“We always knew we had the best team members in the world, but this was truly exceptional. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to provide the aid.
Of course, nothing could have prepared these team members to deal with this devastating situation – supporting individuals during the most traumatic time of their lives. To cope, Ganitis said they relied on each other and on professional counseling services.
“The connection within the hotel teams is like a family connection, people were already quite close, not only as work colleagues but also on a personal level. It helped a lot because they can talk to each other over a cup of coffee afterwards. [if they need to talk].
“We’ve always had an employee assistance program. Overall, we have contracts with organizations that provide free psychological help to each member of the team. Professional psychologists sit in a call center and team members can call for free to speak to someone in any language.
When the war started, like many companies, Adina examined its supply chain to determine if there were any ties to Russia.
They found only one vodka company that was taken off the product list, but the other, very obvious, link to Russia is gas.
“In Germany, we are very dependent on gas for heating, for electricity generation,” Ganitis said.
“What we immediately experienced – and which is still happening – is the tremendous increase in the price of gas for heating and electrical energy. There is a 30-40% increase in this cost. This obviously hits us as an organization.
Although the German government has presented a plan to phase out Russian gas delivery, it will take time.
“We are still getting gas from Russia, but the amount is decreasing month by month, which is a positive sign.”
Another consideration for Adina was whether or not to accept Russian guests. With team members from Russia and Ukraine, it was clear to the company that it should not treat people who have no control over the war unfairly. Adina decided to refuse only official requests from the Russian government or the Russian Embassy.
“It was not the Russian people who declared war – the Russian president declared war – so we decided not to ban any Russians from staying with us if they wanted to,” Ganitis said.
“We have two young women in our head office sitting next to each other, one is from Russia and the other from Ukraine. They don’t understand it.