Gerald Pichlmair from Seilbahnen International and Wolfgang Eder from MOUNTAIN.EXCELLENCE hosted the Berg.Bahn.Camp 2023 (Mountain.Cable.Car.Camp) in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria. As a highlight of the industry, the event made strong statements in the field of sustainable tourism and forward-looking mountain tourism. Under the motto "Mountain Energy," nearly a hundred professionals from the cable car, tourism, and supplier industries came together with a common goal: to set the course for a sustainable future. The program shone with inspiring keynotes and intense networking, with the exchange of innovative ideas at its core. Wolfgang Eder skillfully guided the attendees through the agenda.
International Destination Management: A Discussion of Success Factors
A fantastic panel discussion on success factors in ski destination management at the Hotel Saalbacher Hof kicked off the Berg.Bahn.Camp 2023. The panel featured Ignaz Zopp, CEO of Andermatt-Sedrun Mountain Railways, Isabella Dschulnigg-Geissler, CEO of the Saalbach Mountain Railways and the Saalbacher Hof, as well as Marc Girardelli, CEO of the Bulgarian ski resort Bansko.
A central point of discussion was the importance of the local community. Ignaz Zopp emphasized that Andermatt's community engagement and investment in infrastructure were crucial for the destination's success. Saalbach-Hinterglemm followed a similar development, evolving into an internationally recognized ski area through the merger with Fieberbrunn, Leogang, Zell am See, and the Kitzsteinhorn. The investment in the connection of grass mountains and glacier has paid off, allowing for an extended winter season.
Marc Girardelli experienced a special success story in Bansko: Despite difficult initial conditions, the team embraced the challenge and actively sought advice from leading ski destinations worldwide. Girardelli highlighted how this exchange of knowledge and experience was crucial in improving the quality of local ski management. Equipped with new expertise, Bansko invested in state-of-the-art cable car technology and thus experienced a remarkable increase in visitors.
Nature as a Partner: Sustainable Tourism in the Alps
The second day of the Berg.Bahn.Camp began with a stimulating keynote by the futurist David Bosshart. He stressed the need for a new relationship with nature and advocated for working together with it, rather than against it. Bosshart warned that continuing the current lifestyle could lead to a predominantly indoor everyday life. Consequently, vacations in the mountains or in a cooler environment could become a luxury, which would benefit the Alpine region.
left: Ski resort Saalbach-Hinterglemm, right: David Bosshart
Future Trends in Tourism: Mobility, Demographics, and Metaverse
Oliver Csendes, the digital expert from Austrian National Tourist Office, talked about the importance of motivating guests to travel sustainably. It's well-known that travel to and from a destination represents the largest CO2 factor in tourism. Currently, 57 percent of guests still travel to Austria by car. Hence, it's important to inform them about alternative mobility offers in the destination before they arrive.
Thomas Reisenzahn, CEO of Prodinger Tourism Consulting, echoed this sentiment and advocated for improved public mobility solutions in alpine regions. He also pointed out the increasing number of older guests: the over-65s are increasingly travel-savvy and require new forms of accommodation and activities tailored to their needs.
Gerald Stöllnberger, CEO of 360° Perspectives, discussed the significance of "Meta-Worlds" and "Immersive Experiences" in promoting destinations. He explained how augmented and virtual realities can be used in presenting destinations and cities.
Future Paths in Destination Management: Integration of Stakeholders and Brand Strength
Werner Taurer from Kohl & Partner provided inspiring insights into his vision for destination management in 2040. He emphasized the essential need to create appealing workspaces for employees, livable spaces for the local population, and fascinating experience worlds for guests. He highlighted the importance of close cooperation with the local community and the proactive inclusion of the young generation in future-oriented projects.
Renate Ecker, until recently CEO of Zell am See-Kaprun Tourism GmbH, shared valuable experiences in branding and communication. She emphasized the critical role of employer branding as an essential tool for securing qualified personnel, which is indispensable for maintaining the highest quality standards in the hotel and catering industry. She also encouraged involving guests in social networks and making them brand ambassadors, while advising targeted marketing strategies for different target groups.
After discussing innovative destination management strategies and effective branding, the Berg.Bahn.Camp focused on a forward-looking topic: igniting enthusiasm for skiing in urban areas. Martin Dolezal, CEO of the Snowsports Academy, presented various innovative solutions in his inspiring speech to realize this vision and stressed the importance of bringing the fascination of skiing into urban centers.
The Mountain.Cable.Car.Camp 2023 impressively showcased how sustainable tourism and innovative concepts can become a reality in the Alps. Participants gained profound insights into future possibilities of destination management and learned how ski and mountain tourism can continue to be enhanced. With this event, a decisive impulse was set for a sustainable and simultaneously exciting future for mountain cable cars and alpine destinations.