"We are evolving from a system to a global platform" was the leading concept of the LCC General Assembly in Montenegro from 7 to 10 November 2019. 415 participants from 70 countries travelled to Budva to be part of this future-oriented exchange. Through knowledge transfer, LCC wants to ensure that all partners are still well positioned tomor-row. The basic belief is that the more complex and technical the world becomes, the more we need people.
As a global travel agency network, LCC Group connects the expertise of 5.300 employees worldwide. The management puts the strength of the community in a nutshell with the formula "Touch & Tech"; it is the connection of personal service (Touch) with digital cus-tomer interfaces (Tech) that already makes LCC successful. Markus Orth explains: "We want to expand on this advantage in the corporate and leisure sectors, because I am firmly convinced that we will also play a significant role in the market as a TMC and travel agency community in the increasingly digitized world. The key point is the technology that makes customer approach more individual and so it will be in the future." The recently an-nounced partnership with Voya is just the beginning. The entire network of successful en-trepreneurs is ready to invest in technology. This was clearly shown at the General Assem-bly, Orth says.
"At LCC, we work together in the network to serve customers on all channels. While cus-tomer encounters are becoming more and more digital, it is crucial that we think outside the box", says Lufthansa City Center International Managing Director Uwe Müller, explain-ing the concept of the General Assembly, in which even renowned keynote speakers consult the LCC partners. The Digital Day was opened by Hans Borgman, professor of Information Systems and Digital Business in Amsterdam. He spoke about the topic "Rock your business with digital transformation": Borgman showed the participants the great opportunities that arise for them from the digital transformation. If you know your customers very well, you have the chance to achieve more customer proximity than ever before in the future, says Borgman.
Innovation expert Christoph Burkhardt also made these opportunities clear. In his talk "Future of travel - what's next?" he discussed the future role of stationary trade. According to his thesis, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital innovations make clearly visible what cus-tomers’ needs and desires are. Customers would increasingly expect tailor-made service without waiting (don’t let me wait). So travel agencies would still play a role in the future. However, travel agency employees should no longer do what technology also can do, they need to change their role. They have to be the expert proactively presenting to customers exactly the suggestions that meet the traveller's current needs at each moment.
Even more top-class speakers were part of the Distribution Day. Aurelie Krau, New Distri-bution Capability expert at travel management consultancy Festive Road, kicked off with her keynote speech. She pointed out that even in the corporate sector successful business is no longer possible without extensive customer data and illustrated the demand of corpo-rate customers for seamless networking (Seamless Connections) and easy booking (Seam-less Buying). She made it clear that stationary corporate travel agencies definitely have a future. It is important that they continuously internalize which services the customers want to have and which channels they prefer (Be where the customer is; Get to know the customer).
The participants themselves held workshops. Following the motto "Learning from the best", LCC representatives shared their success stories and out-of-the-box ideas - from own events, Next Generation and sustainability initiatives to technology examples like Bridge-IT, Lucy and Meeting & Events specialisation in the travel agency.
An important topic was the expansion of own events within the framework of the LCC Global Incoming Network fair (LCC GIN). Personal exchange is an important element in the global cooperation of LCC travel agencies. In order to get to know the local cultural treas-ures, the local LCC GIN travel agency "LCC Congress Travel" organized a tour to Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage City, and a walk around the city of Budva, exploring hidden corners and tasting local delicacies. The National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro pre-sented their country during two evening events in the heart of Budva.
For the first time, there was a live stream of the plenary discussions, so LCC Partners who could not travel to the General Assemly were able to follow.
Further topics at the event: sustainability and social responsibility
The local aid project Budi Human also benefited from the LCC General Assembly in Montenegro. Urgently needed medical treatments for sick children are made possible by this organisation. A fundraising on the final evening generated a total of 4.000 euros. It is an LCC tradition to support a local CRS project in all places where the LCC General Assembly takes place. For example, in the last seven years, funds in the high five-digit euro range have been donated to aid organisations from Bhutan to Patagonia.
For the organisation team it was particularly important to arrange the concept of the four-day event in a sustainable way. Therefore, they decided to largely do without paper documents and provide all content digitally via an event app. This application gave the partici-pants the chance to actively network and exchange ideas beforehand and during the event. Environmentally friendly electric scooters were used for transport on site. Leftovers from meals during the conference were provided to an animal shelter.
LCC selects winners: Best local initiatives of travel agencies awarded
In addition, the best local initiatives of the LCC partners in the categories Social, Green and Marketing were awarded. A total of 15 LCC offices had submitted their initiatives. After a live voting, the awards went to:
Best social project: LCC Altavia Travel from Kosovo organised a skiing day for physically and mentally impaired adults and children together with a non-profit organization. This was meant to be a public symbol of integration. Another goal was to show the participating adults and children that they are an important part of society.
Best environmental project: LCC Moonline from Iraq organised environmental days for children where the children planted trees, cleared parks of rubbish and learned a lot about preserving their planet.
Best marketing project: LCC Die Urlaubsinsel from Postbauer-Heng (Bavaria) was honoured for its exceptional after-work customer evenings held in restaurants – not at the agency – where the travel agent team acted as bartender and waiter. This relaxed atmosphere, ac-companied by a DJ playing music, also attracted a younger audience. The new marketing idea was successful, as many bookings were directly related to the evening events.
Change of staff at LCC: Managing Director Uwe Müller hands over to Martina Grönegres
Martina Grönegres introduced herself as the new Managing Director of Lufthansa City Cen-ter International (LCCI) at the LCC General Assembly in Montenegro. As of January 1, 2020, she will succeed Uwe Müller, who took over LCCI management for three years in 2017 and will go into early retirement in January 2020.
Internationally experienced manager Martina Grönegres is currently Senior Director of Sales Services Home Markets and Global Accounts at the Lufthansa Group.