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Interactive storytelling in the tourism marketing of the Saale-Unstrut region

There is hardly a topic that we associate more with positive experiences, emotions and stories than holidays. It is usually THE highlight of the year. The time out from everyday life lets us dive into another world. The rich history, the impressive landscape and the diverse tourist offer in Saale-Unstrut are perfectly suited to emotionally grab the customer with storytelling. But how can we succeed in making the guest's stay even more exciting, even more eventful and even more sustainable than before? How do we manage to open up a new world for the guest and thus build up an emotional bond between him and the region that has a longer-term effect and makes him want to come back to Saale-Unstrut again and again?

The answer: Suddenlife Gaming!

Starting in 2021, an interactive story is to be conveyed via a web app that will offer visitors to the Saale-Unstrut region an additional narrative experience. (Historical) facts and information relevant from a marketing point of view will be linked within a basic narrative and made directly tangible.

Objectives pursued by the project:

  • Creating an offer that provides travellers with a new dimension of experience, bringing history from the Middle Ages to modern times to life.
  • Networking of different places, sights, service providers (SMEs)
  • Special focus on the UNESCO World Heritage Site Naumburg Cathedral: Targeted guidance from this (narrative) centre to the periphery or playful guidance to places that are attractive but rather unknown can be forced.
  • Sustainable and entertaining communication of information through a mix of storytelling and gamification
  • Conveying important marketing attributes & regional identity
  • Promotion of viral effects (focus: recommendation marketing)
  • Powerful templates for PR & social media communication
  • Combination of location-based and location-independent (digital) elements within the interactive story
  • Possible involvement of retail trade, hosts and other service providers

The story must therefore link different places, stations and service providers. It conveys related information in an entertaining and catchy way.

Once participants have registered to use the web app, they can become active within it and become an integral part of the storytelling. For this, the story must be able to react to the participants' actions. This is to be implemented in a task-solution scheme. This interaction is to be established through the narrative mechanics of Suddenlife Gaming.

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Implementation of content management as part of the digitalisation strategy Saale-Unstrut at Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. in Naumburg - staff position and content production

We understand digitalisation not only as the task of a tourism company, but of an entire travel region. It is something that must be exemplified. Here, digitalization is not limited to marketing, communication or sales. Rather, traditional ways of working and structures must be rethought in order to be able to react properly to the challenges, but also the opportunities, that digitalisation brings with it.

Many tourism organisations and businesses have recognised the need for digital offers, but currently do not have the appropriate structures to use the potential of digitalisation. This can also be observed in Saale-Unstrut. Therefore, it is necessary to critically rethink all working methods and structures and to set new priorities.

This holistic process of digitalisation in the Saale-Unstrut travel region was laid down in the Saale-Unstrut digitalisation strategy.

A central role in the digitalisation of tourism is played by the digital management of tourism content, i.e. all content relating to tourism offers, e.g. texts, images, videos, reports, basic information and much more. Due to digitalisation, enormous amounts of data are permanently generated, stored, evaluated and linked to new information. Due to this enormous amount of data, today's information society is in a "content shock": The production of content now far exceeds the ability to receive it.

The Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. has to take care of the data infrastructure and the quality of the data as well as that the data can be transferred (opening of data silos).

The following core tasks are essential for this:

In cooperation with the superordinate regional organisations, Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. controls the overall regional data management. Furthermore, it takes over the communication of relevant information, especially the concrete advantages of a central data management, to all stakeholder groups and informs them regularly about current developments. Create "Unique Content" (unique content) and place the unique content in all communication and sales channels relevant for the guest.

We as Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. have the claim to promote the digitalisation

  • to be able to classify their central aspects and developments and, in addition, to build up a network of experts for ourselves
  • to use centrally for our advertising towards guests (formats and channels clearly defined and continuously developed)
  • add value through innovative flagship projects
  • for all groups of actors in the Saale-Unstrut region, and
  • to provide a basic range of information

Especially for the project content management and content production, the aim is to create and prepare high-quality and structured data in order to present it to (potential) guests in a targeted manner and thus increase the level of awareness of the Saale-Unstrut tourism region.

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Process support and implementation management for the organisational development concept for the reorientation of Saale-Unstrut and Saaleland tourism including the tourism and marketing concept for the destination "Saale-Unstrut

The Tourism Master Plan Saxony-Anhalt 2027 and the State Tourism Strategy Thuringia 2025 set out the tourism objectives for Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia for the coming years.

The optimisation of organisation and cooperation is one of the most important tasks for the future of tourism. The need for action extends to different levels. A clear division of tasks between the state, regional and local levels is sought. Since, on the one hand, the financial and personnel resources of the regional and local tourism organisations are rather weak and, on the other hand, the regional structure is partly disputed, the regional tourism associations in particular are required to develop into destination management organisations.

Transnationally, along the Saale, one is on a good path. In 2017, the Saale-Unstrut Tourismus e.V. (SUT) and the Thuringian Tourism Association Jena-Saale-Holzland e.V.. (TTV) decided on mutual membership, because great opportunities are seen in the strengthening of joint marketing opportunities and the resulting synergy effects. Especially the possibility to combine cultural and active tourism aspects seems to be attractive and reasonable at the same time.

In September 2019, the development of a joint tourism and organisation concept was commissioned. Within the framework of a moderated process based on existing concepts (Tourism Strategy Thuringia 2025, Master Plan Tourism Saxony-Anhalt 2020 and 2027, Master Plan Saale-Unstrut 2013 and Tourism Concept Saaleland 2015), a joint tourism and marketing concept as well as an organisational development concept based on it for the joint region of today's Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. (Saale-Unstrut) and the Thuringian Tourism Association Jena-Saale-Holzland e.V. (Saaleland), which makes proposals for the optimisation of structures, for the distribution of tasks between the regional and local levels and for the sustainable financing of the organisations in accordance with the assigned tasks.

Within the framework of the concepts, the strategic and content-related goals for the cooperation in an overall region (in the future jointly under the Saale-Unstrut brand) are shown, but also decision-making bases for a joint organisational structure. The resolution of the tourism and marketing concept as well as the organisational development concept is planned within the framework of the general meeting of both associations at the end of March 2021.

For the implementation of the concepts, an implementation management is required to initiate the organisational and, above all, legal processes, to create the corresponding contractual bases and to develop the decision-making bases.

The aim is to work together in a new organisational structure (a purely municipally supported Saale-Unstrut Tourismus GmbH) from 1 January 2023. For a future joint destination, the assumption of regional development tasks (development of tourism infrastructure, settlement management, quality management, sustainability and mobility, promotion of inter-municipal cooperation at the regional level) is planned, among other things.

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Creation of a personnel position to ensure the guest service and office organisation of the Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. in Naumburg in connection with the implementation of the master plan "Reorganisation of the tourism promotion of the Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V.

The Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. was founded in 2002 and has since then functioned as a regional tourism association in the south of Saxony-Anhalt. The association currently has 70 members, including the Burgenlandkreis and Saalekreis districts, towns such as Naumburg, Weißenfels, Zeitz and Merseburg, as well as association communities and tourism players such as hotels, excursion destinations/museums and active providers.
The most important task of the Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. is the promotion of tourism, which takes place in close cooperation with its members.

The association is an important partner and interface between the municipalities and service providers with regard to the marketing of their tourism offers. The Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. is a networker and provider of ideas.
Its mission is to strengthen regional and local, social and cultural identity in order to achieve a credible and authentic image of the entire region. Only a clear positioning will create the basis for new and further development of tourism products. Guests and tourists should become aware of the beauty and uniqueness of the region, internalize it and feel permanently connected to it.

Thus the following objectives determine the work of the association:

  • Raising the profile of the region as an attractive tourist destination nationally and internationally
  • Development of a high image
  • Increase in the number of guests
  • Increasing the quality of service
  • Further development of tourist potential and attractions

Financing is provided through membership fees, project financing, sponsoring and refinancing of measures.

The master plan "Reorganisation of the tourism promotion of the Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V.", which was adopted by the general meeting of the association in 2013, defines an extended field of tasks for the association and the office. The master plan lists the necessity of at least four full-time positions for its implementation. Currently, the office is staffed by three full-time employees and one part-time employee. To date, extensive reorganisation measures have been implemented and new areas of responsibility such as continuous press work, increased external marketing or stronger networking of the tourism players have been integrated into the day-to-day business of the office.

Due to the extensive scope of duties, the ever-increasing expectations of guests and the growing interest in the Saale-Unstrut region, including the nomination of Naumburg Cathedral as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1 July 2018, the scope of activities in the office has again increased. A smooth operation can hardly be maintained by four employees. The creation of a staff position to ensure guest service and office organisation is therefore absolutely necessary.

Target:
Ensuring the ongoing operation of the Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V. office and the associated guest services

Job description:

  • Answering guest enquiries and providing individual advice by telephone, e-mail/internet and letter
  • Accommodation service with the help of the regional booking system
  • Processing of guest notes
  • Regular quality assurance, participation in training and quality assurance measures (continuing education)
  • Preparation and implementation of certifications and classifications (Q-seal, classification of holiday apartments)
  • Preparation and provision of tourist data incl. photo database for own use and forwarding to marketing partners
  • Preparation of data from market research and statistics
  • Regular information of the tourism partners on trends, current developments and participation opportunities (preparation of the monthly newsletter to tourism partners)
  • Coordination of the brochure display at around 100 information points in the Saale-Unstrut region
  • Maintenance and control of the prospectus inventory
  • Organisation and coordination of internal association events (room booking, organisation of catering, dispatch of invitations and control of the return of registrations etc.)
  • General office organisation tasks (incoming and outgoing mail, stock control and re-ordering of office supplies etc.)

The project is financed by the ESF operational programme.

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