Ritz-Carlton & Autostadt in Wolfsburg
In June 2000, in collaboration with the Ritz-Carlton, the Volkswagen Group established a “brand universe” park (the Autostadt) located next to their Volkswagen factory. A selection of the latest Volkswagen models is presented on the central marketplace. This was planned to introduce their customers and potential customers to all their manufacturer brands. The Volkswagen Group demonstrated their attention to customer excellence by arranging a personalized delivery of their new vehicle.
About Ritz-Carlton & Autostadt in Wolfsburg
Volkswagen has created a method of delivering new vehicles to their customers that makes it a “customer experience”. The vehicles are moved from the finishing floor, transported from one of two glass towers to an elevator that delivers the new vehicle to their waiting owner in the customer center. According to their website, “Autostadt is world’s largest new car delivery center as the Autostadt hands over up to 500 vehicles per day. Each of the fully automated, high-rise stacks has space for up to 400 vehicles. The new cars are rolled over from the neighboring Volkswagen plant using a robotic-pallet system mounted on rails. The cars are loaded into and fetched from the towers using two “car shuttles” or lifts per tower, each servicing 180° of the silo”, (Autostadt, 2017). Autostadt is intended to be a special experience for its customers. Volkswagen Group has also placed restaurants, as well as Volkswagen Accessories Shop and Volkswagen Financial Service branch office, at the Customer Center for the convenience and shopping enjoyment of their customers.
Autostadt visitors can also tour museums of older vehicles, as well as the “Zeithaus” (a building split by a central staircase) where the history of older models of Volkswagen Group is displayed. Autostadt also contains brand pavilions, similar to a theme park, that are dedicated to Volkswagens sub-brands such as Audi, Skoda, Seat, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini. If visitors wish to tour the Volkswagen Factory, they can take a trolley from Autostadt directly to the factory band. In addition, visitors can enroll in training classes such as 4 x 4, safety, economic driving, or e-mobility at the Autostadt. Visitors can get specialized test-drive training in a guided challenging tour to discover Volkswagen’s products to the extreme. During the summer months, festivals or concerts are held at the Autostadt. During the Christmas season, a holiday market is set up for the visitors of Autostadt. Everything is designed to create exceptional customer experiences within the brand universe of Volkswagen Group. I believe everyone having interest in the automotive industry must go and experience Autostadt.
How Ritz-Carlton & Autostadt in Wolfsburg put the Customer First
To further enhance the excellence of the Volkswagen Group brands, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel was added to the Autostadt park for visitors and guests of Volkswagen Group to stay and experience the Ritz-Carlton experience in a Volkswagen brand universe. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is situated directly opposite from the old Volkswagen port basin. From there, visitors can view the original factory’s four enormous chimneys (constructed in the 1930’s) at the Volkswagen Kraftwerk (Power Station). The Ritz-Carlton was built at the request of Ferdinand Piech, as the factory needed better facilities for their business guests to stay instead of the “Rote Hof” (an old hospitality facility at the Volkswagen factory). Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg was actually the first Ritz-Carlton Hotel to be constructed in Germany. The hotel is a circular building, built from glass and natural stone, and has 147 luxurious rooms and 123 suites. Outside the hotel is a 40-meter outdoor heated pool for their guest’s year-around enjoyment, as well as a fully-equipped gym with sauna and steam rooms. Finally, yet importantly, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel hosts the “Aqua” restaurant, which has earned a Michelin star for excellence. I have stayed at Ritz-Carlton Wolfsburg in the Autostadt many times. I believe it is ideal for presentations of the Volkswagen Group products. I also believe that the Volkswagen Group wants to show its dealers and customers that Ritz-Carlton is the benchmark of customer experiences when owning and bringing a Volkswagen Group product to one of its dealerships. During my stay at the Ritz-Carlton, along with other Volkswagen dealers, we were impressed with the outstanding service we experienced at the hotel. Those experiences were relayed and later incorporated at the Volkswagen dealerships. Celebrations like “Dealer of the Year” or “Employee of the Year” were celebrated in the Ritz-Carlton premise to emphasize the brand’s dedication to customer experiences and customer satisfaction. I think this is a brilliant example of how to take examples from other industries and incorporate them into automotive dealerships to develop customer experiences and customer satisfaction.