LFT CEO Dr Sebastian Reddeker on time, mindfulness and innovations.
Less consumption, more time and mindfulness are new trends, also in terms of travel. Luxembourg for Tourism CEO Dr Sebastian Reddeker spoke about this at the Berlin Travel Festival in an interview with Markus Wolff, editor-in-chief of the travel magazine “Geo Saison” and one of the creators of the outdoor magazine “Walden”.
Coronavirus has shifted perception. Is the crisis an opportunity for smaller destinations to reposition themselves?
Absolutely. For us, the summer of 2020 was all about local tourism due to coronavirus. Luxembourgers didn't set off on foreign trips as usual because of the travel restrictions and discovered a lot of new things in their own country. Besides that, the many expats living in the country did not travel home as usual but stayed in Luxembourg. Finally, there were also changes in the travel behaviours of our cross-border commuters: many of those who usually only come to work from France, Germany or Belgium also came to Luxembourg to hike or cycle, or to discover the cultural offerings.
Did you adapt your offer to this new demand?
We have gone out of our way, especially in terms of digitalization, to communicate our existing offer in an appealing way. We created three new websites last year alone, including the so-called "Vëlosummer" website. This summer initiative closed off various streets to motorised traffic so people could cycle on them. In this way, the network of cycle paths was extended, which added to the enjoyment of the surroundings. The feedback on this initiative was very positive. We also created a website with practical tips: “100thingstodo.lu", which suggests various activities and little adventures which can be found around the corner. These concepts were already in the drawer in 2019, but 2020 definitely ensured that in the industry itself, more attention has been attributed to digitalisation and local tourism. Trends that were budding before the crisis were propelled by it. Many people now feel that even small things can lead to great happiness.
Hoping the corona crisis will soon be over, how do you plan on preserving what you have achieved?
2021 is our digital year par excellence. We are bringing all our infrastructures up to date. A new app will guide people to destinations in Luxembourg according to their exact wishes. Not in an intrusive way, but in the background, contemporary and adapted to the user’s needs: a bit of "digital detox" when it's called for, and the necessary information when it's needed. We try to keep the momentum going around the discussion of new forms of travel. Has the current situation actually changed people's minds and mentalities so much that we can build new business models on it? Luxembourg for example has always been an important hub for business tourism. Post corona, we will initially see a drop in visitors coming to Luxembourg for business purposes, but those who do come may want to extend their stay - for example, by adding on a holiday with the family afterwards. We could imagine these visitors fly here for more than an overnight stay and spend more time in the same place. This, in my opinion, is also a form of sustainable travel.
Would new accommodation models such as tiny houses be interesting for Luxembourg? Even in areas where you would consider placing big hotels?
This is a complicated issue because of the high price per square metre in Luxembourg. But no matter what the form of accommodation is: the story told by a location needs to fit. We launched a new magazine in April 2020, our first travel magazine: "Luci - Inspiring Travel Stories from Luxembourg". It's all about finding these kinds of places. Our stories are very strongly tied to places and to the people who live there. When new accommodation concepts come up, they have to be installed at locations that are already linked to a certain story. As a guest, you are at the centre of every story, be it in the middle of a small town, in the heart of a forest or surrounded by vineyards.
The whole interview with other interviewees can be found here in the media library of the Berlin Travel Festival: https://berlintravelfestival.com/de/mediathek/panel-wie-viel-ist-wenig/
Foto: Berlin Travel Festival