Reflecting on the Vienna Visitor Economy Strategy

Norbert opens by explaining about the disruption and impact of COVID-19 and explains that they have made the shift from a DMO to a DMMO.

Showing the Vienna Visitor Economy Ecosystem Nortber explains how complex the visitor economy is, representing 4% of the overall economy for the City.

When COVID-19 struck, the numbers are so severe that the industry is 80% down and this is something that many other cities around the world are facing and the impact for the industry in terms of jobs, income and viability is so severe that their survival is in question.

Norbert opens by explaining about the disruption and impact of COVID-19 and explains that they have made the shift from a DMO to a DMMO, with management now being central to their work.They have to take care of all different stakeholder groups and, of course, the scale of the shift is huge.

Showing the Vienna Visitor Economy Ecosystem Nortber explains how complex the visitor economy is, representing 4% of the overall economy for the City.

When COVID-19 struck, the numbers are so severe that the industry is 80% down and this is something that many other cities around the world are facing and the impact for the industry in terms of jobs, income and viability is so severe that their survival is in question.

Right now we work in an on-off mode, a one-metre mode and a low to the no-touch economy and this is something which we are going to have to accept as something which unfortunately will be here to stay. When they launched their 2025 strategy, it was about 'Reshaping Vienna', now more than ever this takes on a whole different meaning.

Re-Cover & Re-Imagine are the two talking points of the coming months.

Of course, this is something they have always done but in the coming years, telling people about the DNA of the city will be even more crucial.

To help recover, they have set up an Agile Response team to foster new markets, develop new products and help the city to rebuild. The Vienna City Card Experience is just one example of how they've pivoted by targeting the virtual market. It fosters demand from the local population and it gives access to experiences, places not usually open to the public and discounts and deals which incentives people to spend and discover locally. Whilst developed out of the pandemic, it's something they are already planning to keep.

A strange occurrence of events was the opening of new institutions in Vienna, where they teamed up with BMW Art Guide to do a special partnership with amazing results to celebrate new ventures in Vienna digitally together, with an important global partner.

Vienna has a reputation as the capital of art and culture with events drawing international visibility. As the city's DMMO, they assumed the role of becoming a virtual broadcaster. Norbert explains how they became a broadcaster, keeping in touch with all their partners and trade. They've already had more than 95 virtual events to keep Vienna alive and re-engage the industry so that when they're ready to open up, so are the trade.

Like many other tourism organisations, Vienna has created a live insights dashboard on dashboard.vienna.info, which is just one tool to help the industry understand what's going on, monitor the development of covid-19 when it comes to demand and helps the industry to recognise their organisation as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

They've shifted here from being taken for granted to being recognised as a force for good, as an organisation the industry can depend on. Stakeholder communication has been key to this, with a strategy group, dialogue with different segments such as gastronomy and the arts.

Turning to obligations, many people in the industry asked 'what are we doing in 2020?'. Vienna Tourist Board responded by creating a hybrid event with 200 people in person, but also 1,000 watching the live stream. The need to 'practise what you preach' is key, so that you can show the way forwards for others and show how such an event can happen and how the industry can find ways to innovate.

As a leading city for conferences and business events, it is an obligation to show and give back to the industry an idea of what the future can look like, even if some things change.

Another reflection is the shift in which safety, infrastructure and the very basic elements of the city and what it means to be a 'working and functioning city' become the most important things. Things we would have previously overlooked as boring or unimportant, we now appreciate.

Norbert explains that right now it is not the time to stop investing, quite the opposite. Together with different partners, they have created an equity fund to channel financial support to different parts of the sector in the form of vouchers, stimulus funds and investments to help certain parts of the industry and sector adapt.

Norbert explains that the biggest shock for him has been the closure of the European Single market, such fundamental freedom which has been removed. He explains that we cannot recover from the crisis if we don't restore the single market and find a common language in Europe. There are many things to be done throughout Europe and it requires the re-establishment of the European City Market and the replacement of travel restrictions.

Key Takeaways

1. There is no option now: DMO have to consider management as the heart of their work.

2. The coming months will be about Re-Cover & Re-Imagine.

3. Set up an Agile Response team to foster new markets, develop new products and help the city to rebuild.

4. Help the businesses in the industry to recognise their organisation as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

5. Practise what you preach: show the way forwards for others, show how events can happen and how the industry can find ways to innovate.

6. Now it is not the time to stop investing, quite the opposite.

7. Reflect on what it means to be a 'working and functioning city'.

Published on:
November 2020
About the contributor

Norbert Kettner

Norbert Kettner (*1967) has been the Vienna Tourist Board’s Director since September 2007. Prior to this (from 2003), he was founding managing director of departure Wirtschaft, Kunst und Kultur GmbH, Austria’s first business promotion institution for creative industries.