Gürkan Gür's Story
At age of 16 I was a dog walker for a family that worked in hotels. One day, they offered me to spent a week-long training at their hotel as part of my school curriculum as I wasn’t sure which industry I’m interested in.
I spent a week at their hotel. It was great fun and I loved meeting people, to have contact with guests. I decided to give hotels a try. I started looking for traineeship programme in Stuttgart as “hotelfachmann” or hotel manager. I was turned down by many places. It was 1987 and my name didn’t sound German enough. But I received some feedback that I should try to train in F&B, as restaurant manager, so I started at a local restaurant.
Only one hotel came back with the option to train in hotels – a Novotel in Stuttgart. They invited to do a three-year traineeship with them the same Autumn. At the time, Novotel and Accor was still a very small chain, so I got to know many Accor general managers in Germany. There was one from Mannheim, who asked if I’d be interested to help open a Novotel in Turkey, whilst taking on a management traineeship programme. I was very surprised, but I was young, I speak Turkish and said “why not?!”. In 1990 I got on the plane and went to Turkey.
I worked on the opening and despite the season starting late due to the Gulf crisis, I really enjoyed the time there as well as my training programme. I even managed to complete two months in the Turkish army later that year, too. Despite having been away from the hotel during my service, they announced me as the Trainee of the Year and invited me back the following season in 1992 as Assistant Front Office Manager. But the life turned upside down again. I returned to Germany to visit my family and my old colleagues in Stuttgart.
The new GM invited me to join the reception team immediately – and so I stayed. While there, a new Mercure in Stuttgart was planned, and I was given the opportunity to once again work on the pre-opening. Within six months, I was promoted to the Assistant Front Office Manager role. All and all, within 5 years I moved from being a Receptionist to the Front Office Manager at a large Mercure.
I have been the general Manager at Mercure Airport Messe since 2006. It is not typical to stay as a General Manager for so long, but I have kept my job interesting and have constantly been involved in projects. Various refurbishments, changes, the pandemic – the 15 years have gone by quick. Hospitality is not the place to be boring.
I was born in Stuttgart, I’ve spent all my life here and I have a very large network here. In 2015, when more refugees began to arrive in Germany looking to begin a new life, I organised a stand with Accor at a job fair where I met the very first refugees. I met someone from Pakistan who said he wanted to be a cook and we welcomed him in our training. After only couple of months I just knew that this works, so I on-boarded couple of Syrians, too.
Ever since, we welcome 7-8 refugee trainees every two years for a three year programme at my hotel alone. I’ve also involved other Accor hotels in the city who’re offering similar training for refugees as well. To this day I remember my first refugee trainee – the cook – and he’s now settled in Germany, has gained his citizenship and has made a good life for himself. We must search for potential in them and give them a chance to shine. All humans have potential.
My first General Manager was also my mentor, and even though I shed some tears as a young guy because he was tough on me, he helped me and made me see potential in myself. That is why I mentor the refugees we have in our programme as it gives them energy and belief in themselves.
- Gürkan Gür
- General Manager
- Mercure Hotel Stuttgart Airport Messe (Germany)