The original aim of the Online Summer Business School was to “visit Swiss top-destinations and experience the tourism industry in person”. However, travel restrictions caused by the ongoing covid-19 pandemic – especially for overseas students – led us to opt for Plan B. Therefore, our Institute of Tourism and Mobility (ITM) implemented the attractive programme of our summer business school completely online. What started out as an emergency solution turned out to be an unexpected success. The over 60 applications from all over the world equally surprised the organizer, the lecturers, and our tourism experts. Andreas Liebrich, Co-Head International Office, explains the great success as follows: “Due to high travel costs and lengthy visa procedures for overseas students the originally planned on-site experience would not have led to such high application numbers.” Participants were offered two options: After their participation in the summer school they could either sit an exam and earn 3 ECTS or write a bigger assignment and earn 6 ECTS.
The online implementation entailed various challenges: With participants from different continents, we had to coordinate across different time zones and consider the diverse educational backgrounds of students from 17 countries. Our starting and ending times were in line with European and Asian time. Our South American participant had to take part in group work via chat, because someone else was sleeping in the same room at the same time.
Presentations, in-depth discussions, and the Destination Management Simulation at the end of the programme mostly centred on the subject of cooperation. Only a few destinations in Switzerland offer a holiday experience completely from one provider. More often mountain railways, hotels, camp sites, restaurants, sports and conference centres are individual companies which aim at jointly offering their guests a good experience. However, compared with big resorts or cruise liners, which offer everything from a single source, the difference is profound. Therefore, collaborations within Switzerland are encouraged also politically via the so-called new regional policy, Innotour, and via promotion of the country as a whole. Consequently, Urs Eberhard, Vice-President of Switzerland Tourism, offered an overview of the tourism marketing activities for Switzerland and demonstrated the cooperation necessary for a successful marketing. Exceptional about Switzerland Tourism is the fact that it advertises products other companies sell. Therefore, cooperation between the sellers and the advertisers is essential.
Urs Wagenseil and Sabine Müller, co-heads of the summer school, ran the programme with integrated guest speakers, Q&A-sessions with students, and in total 18 tourism experts from Interlaken, Zermatt, Lucerne, and other leading Swiss tourism destinations. The result was a combination of theory and practical experience taking into account current challenges.
At the end of the summer school our participants got the chance to steer the fate of the fictitious destination “Alpenort” as a management team. Each of the ten teams managed one service provider as part of the simulation co-developed by the Lucerne School of Business. The aim of the simulation was to financially balance between the two mountain railways, one tourism organization, four hotels and three sports and event centers, while developing “Alpenort” as a destination in spite of direct competition. Each group consisted of both Asian and European students. Through various strategic arrangements, such as for example the amount of money used for joint advertising or the collective agreement on the primary target group of the destination, the intercultural teams successfully managed the destination, and the individual companies were consequently able to focus on product developments and advertising. As is customary for every simulation, the teams made mistakes and learned from them. Depending on the background and culture of the participants, they dealt differently with mistakes and the teams felt this.
The Lucerne School of Business will use the precious experiences gained from the summer school as a model to develop other short-term programmes – after all nearly every student assessed the summer school as highly positive. Experience shows that students often ask as much for international short-term opportunities as they do for a classical semester-long exchange experience nowadays. Therefore, the Lucerne School of Business – together with international partners – is inviting practitioners from partner and other universities to their Short-Term Programme ‘Summit’ in May 2022.
Please find more information here: Online Business Summer School
If you are interested in seminars and further education programmes in tourism, please visit our programme pages: