Yesterday evening, the Lufthansa Group said Prost! and raised a glass to members of the Canadian travel industry during an Oktoberfest celebration held in the Market Garden patio of the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto.
In true German and Austrian style, there were plenty of pretzels, schnitzel, strudel, and of course, a special beer-tapping ceremony to mark the occasion.
"We invited the German and Austrian consul staff, and tourism staff from Brussels and Switzerland, because we wanted to give the important travel media in Canada the opportunity to talk to as many European spokespersons tonight as possible to talk about what's going on in Europe, and the state of the European tourism industry," said Chris Wendland, manager, marketing and communications Canada, Lufthansa Group. "And of course, because we as Europeans love beer and a good party."
Chris Wendland, manager of marketing communications, Canada, Lufthansa Group, speaks at the Chelsea Hotel in Toronto
The focus of the evening was the rise of digital media and sharing services, and how it's now more important than ever for airlines to be aware of changing passenger demands and needs.
"As the leading group of European airlines, we have to change our way of thinking because the digital revolution is changing our lives in a way that very few of us could imagine 10 years ago," Wendland said. "We see examples of this all around us - AirBnb is disrupting the hotel industry, Uber the taxi industry, and travel agents are being disrupted by online travel portals. Facebook is changing everything we ever knew about media ownership and the way we spread the news."
Chris Wendland, manager of marketing communications, Canada, Lufthansa Group, taps the keg to kick off official Oktoberfest celebrations.
With the onset of the digital revolution, the Lufthansa Group is keeping an eye out for new and innovative technologies that promise to make the travel experience better for the passenger, even if the process is disruptive. "This is what our passengers want from us," Wendland said. "They're watching movies differently, they're reading books differently, and we have to give them what they want if they're going to be loyal to us, because branding isn't what makes customer loyalty, happiness is."
More than 500 subsidiaries make up the Lufthansa Group, and the services that are currently provided, like internet on board, AI for ticket solutions, and even a chatbox for customer service agents and countless other technology solutions that have helped Lufthansa's services for the end customer.
Arnulf Gressel, deputy trade commissioner, Austria; Frederic Erdt, vice consul gerneral, Germany; and Lara Brödenfeld, vice consul of the Federal Republic of Germany Toronto, raise a glass at Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest has been held every September in Munich since 1810, and while there's definitely plenty of beer and Dirndl dresses, Oktoberfest is really about culture. "This event basically celebrates the Bavarian heritage of Austria and Germany and the Lufthansa Group is very connected to that," said Christina Semmel, assistant director, corporate communications of North America, Lufthansa Group. "It's really about enjoying yourself, and we wanted to bring that culture to Canada."