|Country||UK & Ireland|
|Hotel Managers||Ione (2001 - 2003)|
Jibbi (2003 - 2004)
Callie (2004 - 2006)
Lost_Witness (2006 - 2010)
Habbo.co.uk (previously HabboHotel.co.uk) was the original English version of Habbo. The hotel opened in January 2001 as a joint venture between Sulake and British entrepreneur Dee Edwards (Habbo name: Daisy), making it only the 2nd hotel to open, with Habbo.fi being the first. The hotel catered to the United Kingdom as well as other English speaking countries such as the United States and Canada, before localized hotels were set up in these countries.
Habbo.co.uk grew to be one of the largest hotels, having one of the largest population bases. It was also the source of many innovations, changes and inventions in the Habbo community, and was often used as a pilot hotel. During the Merge of April 2010 the hotel was merged with the four other English language hotels, being renamed to form Habbo.com (International).
As a result of its large size and age, approximately 247 badges were created specifically for the UK Hotel.
- 1 History
- 2 Staff Members
- 3 Partners & Sponsors
2001 - 2002: The early days
In August 2000, two Finnish programmers, Aapo and Apparatus, working for the telecommunications firm Elisa, created a virtual hotel called Hotel Kultakala or 'Hotel Goldfish'. This virtual hotel built on the success of their previous projects, Mobiles Disco and Lumisota, which, although designed for Finnish users, were popular internationally. Soon after the launch of the Finnish hotel, Dee Edwards, a British internet entrepreneur approached the pair with the idea of creating a localized, British version of Kultakala, and Habbo UK was born.
HabboHotel.co.uk launched in Beta mode in January 2001 and running on Macromedia Shockwave, and was officially a joint venture between Habbo Group Ltd. (a UK based company run by Dee Edwards) and Aapo and Apparatus. The early community was noticeably older than Habbo's current target audience, this is due to far less children using the internet in the early noughties, and Habbo having minimal publicity or marketing in its first year in action. News of HabboHotel spread by word of mouth on message boards and newsgroups, which had been popular in the late 1990s. These sources provided the first wave of Habbo users, the early adopters!
In May 2001, HabboHotel decided to hire a Site Producer to produce content and to engage with the burgeoning community. With years of experience in copy-writing and having recently been editor of PetsPark.com, Rebecca 'Ribs' Susiaho Turner was hired. She would adopt the Habbo name Ione and the title of 'Hotel Manager', and her early role centered around publishing a weekly newsletter and running the weekly competition Wacky Wednesday. Additional staff were also hired, many of them part-time staff who worked whilst studying for their degrees, among them Oneday (who would later adopt the moniker Dionysus. Most worked from a small office in North London.
Habbo UK saw rapid development during the first year, as many of the features that are considered 'basic' today were added. In March, private guest rooms and the catalogue were added, and in June, the first rares, the Throne, Russian Samovar and Holoboy were given out as gifts to celebrate Ione's birthday - each active user received one of these gifts. In October, seasonal Habboween furniture was released in the catalogue, but was deleted from the hotel afterwards, including from user's rooms. At Christmas, festive furniture was added, and this time remained in the hotel after leaving the catalogue. Also towards the end of 2001, a catalogue rare was released, the Hologirl. The Hologirl was a test to see if users would be willing to pay 25 credits for an exclusive piece of furni. The test was a success and Habbo began to release regular rare furniture, which became a central part of the Habbo experience.
The hotel also began to max-out its 750 user limit, and so capacity had to be expanded in the Summer to accommodate more users online. Hobbas were also introduced very early on in 2001, with no age limit and serving as the only form of moderation in the hotel, as no professional moderators had been hired at this point. In these days, there wasn't even a Call For Help tool - Hobbas simply had to roam the rooms of the hotel looking for those breaking the Habbo Way. Users were also permitted to swear in Habbo: room owners could choose whether they wanted the bad-language filter active in their rooms or not (it was also active in Public Spaces).
Scripting was also common in the early days, but wasn't as frowned upon as it was today. Scripting was seen as users expressing their creativity and Staff turned a blind eye. Developers even worked with scripters to patch bugs. An early popular scripting challenge was to turn one's avatar into a mutant, with oddly coloured skin. Waving was initially only achieved through scripting, but was later added as an official feature, and putting posters in the black void via scripting was also very common.
By the beginning of 2002, Habbo had achieved significant growth and had a stable community. The successful trials of seasonal and rare furniture prompted Habbo Group to release seasonal furniture during Valentines and Easter for the first time, as well as regular rare furni, which stayed in the catalogue for around two weeks. More payment methods were added as well for multiple countries to ensure all users could purchase credits.
The Habbo website was also overhauled in 2002, receiving an orange and green look. The website accommodated for far more content, including a more prominent weekly newsletter. The Hotel Manager also became responsible for running more campaigns, primarily related to seasonal events such as Easter and Valentines, but also began to host more official in-client events.
In December, Habbo launched a new subscription service, Habbo Club. For 25 credits a month, users could belong to the club and receive several benefits such as a free rare each month, a badge and special room layouts. Habbo Club proved divisive at first as some felt it created a class-system with Habbo, something which hadn't existed before. Nonetheless, the subscription service proved popular and remains to this day.
At some point in 2002, the age required to be a Hobba also rose to 16. Before there had been no age limit, which led to some more immature members of the community being given significant powers.
2003 - 2005: Growth & commercialisation
In 2003, Dee Edwards had left Habbo Group, having sold her share in the company back to Sulake, a company founded by the original Finnish creators; Habbo UK joined Habbo.ch and Habbo.fi under the unified 'Habbo' identity. Ione also moved on from her role as Hotel Manager to work for Sulake as a director of community, planning campaigns and events for users in all hotels. She was replaced as UK Hotel Manager by Jibbi. Jibbi ran a regular 'Meet the Manager' event where users could talk to her, as well as running the popular Funky Friday competition. She was also responsible for creating the first official quests in Habbo - users had created their own since the beginning, but now staff began to use them in official campaigns.
During 2003 the age required to be a Hobba rose again, this time to 18. Again, there was significant backlash from the community, who felt that 18 was too old, although it's thought that the age of 18 was chosen as Habbo was starting to receive more press attention, and felt it would be bad publicity if the company couldn't say that all of its moderators were adults. Some Hobbas were also hired as professional moderators, using the account Moderator in shifts provide assistance to Hobbas.
Another significant feature released in March 2003 was Pets. The Pets Week campaign involved a quest through several different rooms, and in the final room, the user would encounter a cat and a dog. This was the first time that users had the opportunity to purchase any kind of NPC in the game. Only two pets, a cat and a dog, were available in various colours.
Habbo also began to crack down on scripting as the product expanded and became more successful, and many scripts, such as being a mutant or turning your Habbo into a pet, were patched and forbidden.
In 2004, Habbo continued to release new rare furniture and also hold larger and longer campaigns. In the Summer, Habbo hosted the Hobba Games, where Hobbas would compete against each other to answer the most calls for help and users could vote for who they thought would win; the contest was eventually won by Spawn_xe. 2004 also saw the Habbo Festival and the arrival of the first Official Fansites. Fansites had existed since the beginning of Habbo, but now they were recognised by staff and involved in community events.
Towards the end of the year, Jibbi left to travel around South America, and was replaced by Callie, who had previously been a member of Player Support under the name Impetuous. Callie re-modeled the weekly newsletter/Newsie to fill it with more news and regular submissions of Habbo users. The end of the year also saw the launch of the Habbo Awards 2004 and the Mr & Mrs Habbo contest. In the former, users of the site could nominate Habbos in a number of categories, including best fansite, most helpful Habbo and funniest Habbo. The latter was a popularity contest, to find a "prom king & queen".
In 2005 users began to be given more responsibility and power within the game, as the Habbo Council, an advisory panel of well-known Habbos, was set up. Official Fansites were also given a Fansite Drop-In and their own badges, to be worn by two representatives from each fansite. User could also begin to win badges in competitions such as The Always Salon and RAF4U - in the latter 25 Habbos were given VIP badges whilst they competed in the competition.
In the Spring, Habbo launched Habbowood, a campaign based around film making. A Habbo Movie Maker was released, allowing Habbos to build films using pre-set backdrops and characters. The films were put forward for prizes, and the overall award for best film was won by Causmo. Habbowood would become a fixture in the Habbo events calendar, returning several times over the years.
In the summer, Habbo also had it's first official celebrity visit, as the music band the Gorillaz toured around all the Habbo Hotels. This would be the first of many visits by celebrities promoting products.
In November 2005, it was announced that the Hobba programme would come to an end on December 31st that year. By this time, Habbo had recruited a full team of professional moderators, many of them ex-Hobbas, who moderated the hotel around the clock in paid shifts. Each former Hobba who was active at the time that the programme was decommissioned received a commemorative badge.
At the same time, Sulake decided to implement a new programme, Habbo eXperts. Announced worldwide in the Autumn, the first 20 eXperts in the UK were announced in November 2005. Their role was to welcome new users to the hotel, and guide them around.
At Christmas, a Reindeers vs. Elves competition was created, as Habbos chose which side they were on and battled it out to run Christmas.
2006 - 2008: Global campaigns, badges & new features
2006 saw the departure of Callie early in the year; Lost_Witness took over as temporary hotel manager, before taking up the role permanently after a few months. Campaigns this year included the Pirates Quest, Around the World in 80 Rooms and competitions relating to the 2006 World Cup, which was run as an international competition between hotels, one of the first global campaigns in Habbo. Halloween saw a series of events based on the Serpent of Doom, and Christmas 2006 saw the launch of another global campaign, with Rasta Santa arriving in all hotels. On December 25th, Christmas Day, any Habbo who logged in received a Christmas 2006 badge, the first time a badge had been given out to such a large group of Habbos.
Habbo also received a new website design at the end of the year, as well as Habbo Homes, allowing users to create their very own profile page. The new website also marked the end of the weekly newsletter, which was replaced by a full content management system including regular articles.
2007 introduced Trax and music into Habbo, with a competition called Traxfactor to launch it. There was also two new fortnightly competitions, the Comic and Billboard competitions, where Habbos could create comics and billboards to win badges and have their work displayed in Habbo. Summer saw the Green Tea Elementals take on the Grey Pixel Warriors in a battle of urban vs. countryside, and HelKat, having been made Assistant Hotel Manager, ran a talent search at Easter.
The biggest competition of the year as the Resorts Competition, where Habbos teamed up to create luxury resorts. Over 80 resorts were created, but only 8 impressed the inspector enough to earn the full five stars.
Christmas 2007 saw the arrival of four different candidates looking to replace Rasta Santa. The community ultimately voted to Smilla to replace Rasta Santa as Habbo's official Santa.
The beginning of 2008 marked the arrival of the Superhero competition, where users were challenged to form a group of either superheroes or super villains and complete challenges. This was followed by the Habborella Cruiseship campaign to celebrate Valentines day. June saw the launch of the Habbo Theme Park, where Habbos competed to build rides, design flyers and become staff at the theme park.
2008 also saw the significant staff changes, as HelKat left Sulake and Lost_Witness was joined by Colmc and then Bucho6 as Assistant Hotel Managers. Bucho6 was introduced to the hotel via the Big Brother competition, as he went undercover as a housemate.
2009 - 2010: The final years
2009 saw the continuation of campaigns, with the introduction of the Habprentice, based on the popular reality show, The Apprentice. ludus joined Lost_Witness as an Assistant Hotel Manager and relaunched the weekly newsletter, as well as organising a Habbo Rugby tournament. Habbo Big Brother returned for a second series, and the Resorts competition returned in a new form, as Yukka Tree Hill, where Habbos had to build villages with their friends.
2009 also saw collaborations with the Idea Agency and Childline, in which Habbos were tasked with hosting parties, coming up with ideas and designing Agency rooms. There was also a multi-week Habbo Raceway competition, where Habbos could win multiple badges, which took place in the Autumn.
There were very few events in 2010, the most notable was the Habbo Runway contest which took place in April of that year. In the Spring, it was announced that Habbo UK would merge with all other English speaking Habbo communities to form Habbo.com (International). On June 10th 2010, Habbo.co.uk closed its doors as all users were required to merge their accounts over to the new international hotel, and the final chapter in the history of Habbo's largest hotel drew to a close.
As one of the larger and older Habbo Hotels, Habbo UK has employed many members of staff, far more than most other hotels. In the early days, individual roles were less clear, and members of staff could taken on several responsibilities. Over time, several clearly defined roles emerged, such as Hotel Manager (responsible for writing news, creating games and events and hosting competitions), the Community Manager (responsible for user safety, player support and moderation) and the Advertising and Marketing team (who sold adverts, organised partnerships and arranged celebrity visits).
Below is a comprehensive list of all Habbo UK Staff, along with their roles and approximate years of activity.
|Assistant Hotel Managers
*These names appear on various old staff lists provided by Habbo Group Ltd. and Sulake. No Habbo avatar has been attributed to them so far.
Like many hotels, Habbo UK was originally moderated by Hobbas, volunteer moderators. There was initially no age limit, but in 2002 the age limit was raised to 16, and then in 2003 it was raised to 18. Starting in 2002, Sulake began to hire more experienced Hobbas as professional moderators. These moderators worked from the account HobbaContact and their primary purpose was to support Hobbas in resolving conflicts. Eventually, the account used switched to Moderator (Moderator-2 was also used during peak hours), as HobbaContact used to be abbreviated to 'HC', and this caused confusion when Habbo Club came out.
Over time, Moderators came to take on the bulk of the moderating duties within the hotel, and, at the time of the dissolution of the Hobba programme in 2005, Habbo UK had a full team of moderators who worked two-hour shifts around the clock. In 2009/2010 all UK Moderators were laid off and moderation was outsourced to Singapore. Following the merge, all moderation now takes place in Sulake's User Engagement Centre, located in Madrid, Spain.
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