Horst graf plans ahead. Tenders are being invited for a PR agency and a two-year photo shoot. In addition, the appearance of the tourist information is to be lifted. On the one hand the virtual – the homepage coburg-tourist.De is being revised. And in herrngasse itself, graf wants to have it rebuilt. The planning for this should also start this year, so that 2021 can be built. And when this construction site is finished, it’s time for the next one, the really big one: starting in 2022, graf wants to develop a master plan for tourism, with everyone who has anything to do with tourism: hotels and restaurants, the retail trade, the suppliers and service providers of the hotels, and even the gas stations, because not all guests will arrive by train. At least that’s how the 57-year-old describes it. "We don’t need an external assessor, we find out ourselves what we want", he emphasizes. In order to accompany the process, consultants would be needed, and he wants to look for them in 2021. Then "milestones" are to be reached the master plan is intended to help achieve "feasible and with a timeframe".
From north to south to the center
Born in scheinfeld, he started out as an administrator; as deputy head of the steigerwald tourism association, he grew into the field of foreign traffic. In order to improve his chances, he added a degree in tourism management to his studies. Then he was drawn away from the steigerwald: first to the baltic sea resort of binz, where he stayed for five years, then to bad worishofen, where he was spa director for four years. In 2016 he moved to oberstdorf. The post there was regarded as a "hot seat. Before him, several spa directors had already left after a short time – the town, one of the strongest tourist destinations in the allgau region, is not easy to manage. Graf was also managing director of the local thermal spa and caused considerable discussion when he announced the closure of the more than 40-year-old thermal spa in oberstdorf in may 2018. There were water losses, hygiene problems "it would have been grossly negligent to continue", he says. Although the municipal council approved the closure and also a new building, graf decided in the fall of 2018 to stop in allgau.
Then the coburg offer came up, which is practical for graf because his wife works for the tourist information office in frankenwald. But, he says: in coburg, some things have to be worked out. So it is not even clear which tourists visit coburg. Clearly, for his current marketing concept, graf and his head of tourism, oliver hack, have defined four target groups: "small-town geniuses", "active nature geniuses", "more mature culture lovers" and the visitors of events like samba-festival and christmas market. But who will actually come and for what reasons is not known, says graf. "And then it gets difficult."
But tourists are only one target group. Coburg marketing should also have its own population and that of the region in mind. "We are an event department", says graf with a view to city management: the school mare party, open sundays (which first need a new legal basis), klobmarkt and christmas market are part of the remit of coburg marketing. City marketing, in turn, also has foreigners in mind, with city marketing coordinator michael selzer focusing this year on "100 years of coburg with bavaria," says graf kummert. 200 years of albert and victoria" last year in the center.
The congress house is also a department of coburg marketing. A new manager is currently being sought who can be trained by the current boss, karin schlecht, who is retiring. What will become of the congress center itself "must be decided by politics", says graf. "In the next year or two."
As far as tourism is concerned, there is also the coburg-rennsteig tourism association and the joint regional management with the district of coburg. The regional management takes care of topics such as the "region of pleasure. "We can coexist very well", says graf. The tourism association is marketing the region on a supra-regional level and is also setting up the database.
"We can pull out the coburg data", says graf: hotels, guesthouses, the "points of interest, as the tourist says. "It’s important to me that we work closely together here." It is also time for interested parties to be able to book their stay directly via the homepage, he said.
So far open under "search and book" only the homepage of the tourism association coburg-rennsteig, which then "contact forms" for the individual subunits offers. Graf refrains from commenting on this, saying only that everything has been "completely reprocessed" the need to "not only focus on the subject matter, but also on the needs of the users: eating& drink, accommodation, experience…"
Bringing the city into the conversation
Of course, one must not fall into the trap of promising more than one can deliver, especially with the help of spared images, he warns. Because with the online offer also come the ratings of the users for hotels, inns, museums, but also the store. The new homepage should include everything that will help coburg score points with its guests, and it should be as authentic as possible. In general, the city needs to get itself talked about more on a supra-regional level: "everyone who comes says: but it’s already here."