Europe’s largest rest stop celebrates its 40th anniversary

The Autohof Geiselwind, a rest stop on the Autobahn 3 in Germany, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The rest stop has several car washes. In the past decades the location has become a small town. It holds a petrol station, its own hotel, a fitness centre, two event halls and an event centre. The facility  constantly adapts to the needs of travelling customers.

Behind Autohof Geiselwind is the family business of the Strohofer family. In the 1980’s, the motorway was built across the family’s farmland. The founder, Toni Strohofer, was already working in a petrol station alongside his farm and so knew the problems, wishes and needs of truck drivers. He finally opened Toni’s Autohof on his property directly on the motorway in 1981. Since then, the rest stop has grown into Europe’s largest, which today has also become an event location. Major events, concerts and festivals are held there, attracting more than 40,000 visitors a year. CarwashPro spoke to the company’s management about the car wash facilities.

The car wash business

How many car washes do you operate at the rest stop and what type are they?
We operate one truck wash with a Maxi Vario Wash commercial vehicle wash, one car wash with a SoftCare Pro gantry system and three wash bays.

Which washing technology did you choose? When were the facilities last converted or modernised?
We have had good experience with WashTec for years, the commercial vehicle wash was renewed in 2018 and the car wash was renewed in 2020.

How much of your total turnover does the car wash business account for? How many vehicle washes do you sell each year?
The share of the car wash business is relatively small, as the rest stop is very broadly positioned. We sell about 6,500 washes a year.

How do you manage to generate regular customers despite the through traffic of the motorway?
We have built up a good reputation through quality and customer friendliness.

How do you explicitly address the travelling car wash customers?
We don’t address customers directly, but place advertising on site.

Modern offer with tradition

“I am an entrepreneur, not an underachiever.” This life motto of the founder Toni Strohofer still stands for the management of the rest stop after his death. The following generations with his daughter Ruth and their children Moritz and Isabell are constantly developing the rest stop and are therefore also strongly preparing for the changes in the logistics industry. “With a view to the changes in the fuel market and the needs of our guests, we are currently setting the course to continue to be one of the most popular Autohofs in the world,” says Ruth Strohofer.

Today, the Autohof has a hydrogen filling station for cars and LNG for trucks, as well as 10 fast-charging points for electric cars. The culinary offer is also modern and attractive. The focus is on healthy, freshly cooked and even vegetarian cuisine. No one would have suspected that a truck stop would have its own butchery, a butcher’s shop and an online shop. But it is precisely these special features of the Autohof’s offer that make it so exceptional.

Every year, over one million guests visit the rest stop and one billion litres of fuel have been sold since its start, making this stop special in Europe. In 2018, this concept was honoured by the Association of German Autohotels (VEDA) with the award “Most Extraordinary Service Area in the World”.

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Author: Marilon Tresfon

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