Looking towards the future with …. Melanie Franke
- Dear Ms Franke, in interviews you have often described your place of work, the Rogner Bad Blumau, as a total work of art, a place that conveys harmony and offers a holistic concept. But currently, all over the world, no stone is left unturned. Corona has us firmly in its grip still, the climate catastrophe is advancing, and much more. How are you feeling about this? Are you positive about the future despite all this?
Every time has something positive in it. Perhaps this reduction was necessary to give us humans more awareness and mindfulness. More awareness to me also means appreciation and gratitude. Appreciation for all that we have and gratitude for the health and the wealth of nature and beauty that surround us.
- As a director of a tourism company, you have to deal with growth all the time. More and more people, including entrepreneurs, are questioning this permanent drive for economic and monetary growth. Can we do without it? What is your opinion? And if we can do without, in which areas should growth then probably play a role in the future?
Growth only makes sense if the foundation is stable and secure. We generate stability through quality in the company. By this I mean that all processes and actions must be continuously questioned and improved. Companies without quality instruments will not have it easy, especially now in the Corona crisis and afterwards. Growth will only be possible to a limited extent now. Development will be much more important. A new era will come with new needs in tourism. Here we need intelligent, up-to-date, new developments that focus on the core issues of environment, regionality, sustainability and humanity.
- You yourself are a graduate of our school and thus have experienced an education in tourism. What do you think should be taught in tourism education today to be fit for tomorrow?
The training in Bad Gleichenberg is excellent and always up to date. In the future, the focus on digitalisation and quality management will be even more important and unavoidable.
- We are already noticing a severe shortage of skilled workers, which is causing problems on the labour market in addition to the current crisis. Furthermore, digitalisation and artificial intelligence will cause certain job profiles to disappear in the future. Tourism will perhaps be less affected due to the need of human proximity, but nevertheless the number of young people is steadily decreasing. Where should we start in training and in the industry in order to get more young people interested in tourism again?
Tourism must be seen from a holistic perspective in the future. Young people often find it hard to commit themselves. From my point of view, I would also integrate agriculture and production, especially into the area of gastronomy. In other words, extend the training within closed cycles and make it more comprehensive. Maybe in the future a good restaurant expert can also be a farmer and a butcher in one profession. This could make the profession even more interesting and versatile. It would also generate appreciation through value creation.
- Sustainability has always been a fixed pillar at Rogner Bad Blumau. But like everywhere else, there is certainly room for improvement. What sustainable future topics are you currently working on at Rogner Bad Blumau?
Sustainability has been reflected in our philosophy at Rogner Bad Blumau since the facility was built. “Living in harmony with nature” determines our daily actions. We are currently working on an experimental project called “Aquaponics”. Here, fish and herbs are cultivated in thermal water. Another topic on the agenda is generating more of our own energy. Water as a resource is becoming a central element in the projects of the future.
- Keyword mobility: How will your guests travel to their holiday destinations in 10 years? How will they move around the region as visitors? Where do you see opportunities to create solutions and offers as a company or together with the region?
Individuality will still be a priority for our guests in 10 years’ time. Individual travel and freedom of movement will continue to be important in the future. Car-sharing may be used more intensively. Sustainable mobility in the form of e-mobility will increase.
As a business, we already provide our guests with a pick-up service with energy-efficient options. On-site e-bikes, e-mopeds etc. are available to explore the region. E-vehicles of any kind for rent, would benefit the region a lot and expand the mobile network in an environmentally friendly way.
- Very often it is said that the Corona crisis is an opportunity for change. What is your opinion on this? What should change in tourism? Where do you see an urgent need for action?
Every crisis holds an opportunity. What is important is what we do and learn from it. Changes are good and necessary. Tourism will have to slowly transform itself. Classic destinations will no longer be able to rest on their laurels. Tomorrow’s guests are looking for the extraordinary, away from the masses and conventionality. Smart tourism, resonance tourism, regionality and storytelling will be topics we have to deal with. People are at the centre of everything we do, and personality and the relationship with the host will be more important than ever. It is important to question the needs of our guests anew and to create individual, personally designed, new holiday experiences. Honestly lived regionality, environmental awareness and the element of nature will play an essential role.
- The young generation is confused about their future due to current events. Then there are the aggravating conditions in everyday school life due to isolation, distance learning, uncertainties about the final school leaving examination or, in the case of apprentices, reduced working hours or, in the worst case, youth unemployment.
What advice would you give to young people on how to approach their career planning and how can they manage to look positively into the future despite everything?
In the long run, the young generation will see an advantage from all this and we in tourism will clearly experience that. I think especially our industry will be more in demand than ever, as we have also increased our value again through renunciation. Eating and drinking is a basic need and people will continue to have that in the future. Right now, after the crisis, our industry is in great demand, especially at home and in the medium term also within Europe. If we now focus on our own, high, individual, new quality based on our current needs, we will win over and keep guests and customers for the next few years.