World Tourism Forum Lucerne 2019

World Tourism Forum Lucerne focused on Innovation, Talent and Diversity Management

The 6th World Tourism Forum Lucerne (WTFL), which took place on May 2 and 3 in the KKL Lucerne, focused on three main topics: innovation, talent and diversity management.

Over 550 participants from 80 countries took part in the discussion, which clearly demonstrated that digital transformation is leading the tourism industry into the future. This has a great impact on the skills needed by businesses in the industry. Five Swiss start-ups won the Start-Up Innovation Camp 2019.

Innovative digital business models are constantly changing the travel, tourism and hotel industries. This technology-driven change forces organizations to
question long-established structures in order to remain at the forefront of their sectors. In addition, the focus of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne was on the innovators themselves. In other words, the human capital of the industry.

Innovation and Transformation as the Common Denominator

In her presentation, Karolin Frankenberger, Professor of Strategic Management at the University of St. Gallen, outlined the dramatic changes in the tourism industry. “New start-ups, in particular, have turned the industry upside down with their disruptive business models. In addition to well-known names such as Airbnb,, and Uber, new business such as GetYourGuide have emerged.”

Professor Frankenberger went on to address why start-ups are so successful and why established companies appear sluggish and fail to add new business models to the market. “The core of transformation is the development of a new disruptive business model. Start-ups benefit from the absence of a long history, which limits agility and often makes innovation difficult. Established companies, on the other hand, have a legacy and an existing business model that has already achieved results.” What can established companies do? “They can easily learn to develop innovative business ideas,” stated Frankenberger. Implementation is central. “Most ideas fail in the execution phase,”

Frankenberger explained, using various examples to illustrate that “leadership, people, culture, organizational strategy, technology and procedures are at the heart of successful change implementation.”

Human Capital is Key

It has always been this way and it is becoming increasingly more central in the digital world. People determine the future of a company with their skills, commitment, and self-identity. Human capital is key also means that individuals view their job as a vocation. It is, therefore, a matter of discovering new talents and offering them the right opportunities. Kate Walsh of Cornell University presented her research on human capital.

“The future belongs to those companies whose managers have recognised that working methods need to be redesigned, that know how to promote the agility of each individual and thus their commitment and that further know how to inspire talented individuals. It is the core task of educators, Walsh continued, not only to constantly think about how and what should be taught but also to consider how to work in the technology-oriented world should be understood, defined and redesigned. “It is about how expert knowledge can be used or retained for a company. We need a new approach to the new working environment.”

Federal Councilor Commends Switzerland for its Strength in Innovation

In his speech, Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economics, Education, and Research, underlined the strength of Switzerland as being a hub for innovation. “Switzerland’s strengths can be seen above all in the innovative strength of the tourism industry,” Parmelin stated. Events such as the World Tourism Forum Lucerne are important platforms and should be seen as genuine drivers of change. In total, more than 30 lectures, panel discussions, presentations, start-up pitches, award ceremonies, workshops, and parallel sessions took place during the World Tourism Forum Lucerne in the KKL and other locations in the city such as the Hotelfachschule Luzern. The guest destination was Ras Al Khaimah.

Winners of the Start-Up Innovation Camp 2019

The 4th Start-up Innovation Camp 2019, which took place in the run-up to the WTFL, confirmed the amount of motivation, commitment, and creativity that exists. The international jury selected five winners from 15 finalists (250 start-up companies from 56 countries applied). The winners are Trip Boutique, Zurich (Destination), Prognolit, Winterthur (Hospitality), RoomPriceGenie, Zug (Transaction), KITRO, Zurich (Impact) and EuroTube, Zurich (Mobility). In addition to prize money of 20,000 US dollars, the winners benefit from a 2-year coaching programme run by experienced managers and entrepreneurs.

World Tourism Forum Lucerne 2019 startup winners

Shaping the future of the Lucerne Campus

The World Tourism Forum Lucerne not only successfully organizes these events but also generates content and creates value based on the themes of talent, innovation, sustainable development, and diversity. The “Tourism by Tomorrow” project, launched in 2018 and supported by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the New Regional Policy (NRP), the city of Lucerne and various cooperation and industrial partners such as Bürgenstock Selection and Orascom Development by Samih Sawiris, has made Lucerne the hub of innovation for the tourism industry. The project, which was presented in detail to an enthusiastic audience at the WTFL, also includes a one-week camp for Swiss and global start-ups. “Tourism by Tomorrow” will take place for the first time in 2021. A further element of the project is an existing online platform that brings start-ups together with investors and service providers. The core is a structured database which continuously tracks down promising enterprises in the fields of tourism, travel, mobility, and health and leads them to the platform, thus creating a type of “ecosystem”.

A positive balance

For Martin Barth, CEO of the WTFL, the 6th edition of the Forum has been a resounding success: “Not only did we increase the number of participants, but the feedback has also been positive in all respects. The WTFL has once again proven to be a unique platform where the world’s leading companies from the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors meet to shape a more sustainable future. The WTFL is the only platform that brings together startups, young leaders and students with investors, government ministers and CEOs.” Over the past ten years, the platform has evolved into a year-round network of leaders and innovators from a variety of backgrounds (business, education, politics, finance, and society) who are driving positive change in travel, tourism and hospitality.

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