Sunday, 23 December 2007

Book Recommendation: Life

How To Fly
© by Douglas Adams

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. Having endured as a classic over time and space, it serves as a phenomanal source of inspiration, laughter, satire, strangeness. Obviously, it also boasts a complete and utter lack of seriousness. Or just the opposite.

As a final thought for 2007, here is an excerpt that kindly illustrates one of the last remaining mysteries of the Earth or even the Universe
the art of flying.

Possibly a highly memorable way to start the new year 2008, may it be entertaining and colorful!


There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy suggests, and try it.

The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.

That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.

Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prize your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.

If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinty, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner.

This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration. Bob and float, float and bob. Ignore all consideration of your own weight simply let yourself waft higher. Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful. They are most likely to say something along the lines of "Good God, you can't possibly be flying!" It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right.

Waft higher and higher. Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly.


When you have done this a few times you will find the moment of distraction rapidly easier and easier to achieve.

You will then learn all sorts of things about how to control your flight, your speed, your maneuverability, and the trick usually lies in not thinking too hard about whatever you want to do, but just allowing it to happen as if it were going to anyway.

You will also learn about how to land properly, which is something you will almost certainly screw up, and screw up badly, on your first attempt.

© Douglas Adams


Douglas Adams
“The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - A Trilogy in Five Parts” in English, ISBN 0517149257
“Per Anhalter durch die Galaxis - 5 Romane in 1 Band” in Deutsch, ISBN 3453209613

Andreas Hauser

Monday, 17 December 2007

Public Relations

Tourism Development in Dubai:
Seminar & Presentation at FU Bozen

Dubai is a showcase for perfecting the macroeconomic value chain. During the past years, the Emirate has been able to create a unique brand and a highly successful tourism destination. The vision and the strategy behind this venture were made the topics of a seminar and a presentation at the Free University of Bozen in South Tyrol / Italy.

The full-day seminar seminar was aimed at the first and second year students of the tourism management faculty at the campus in Bruneck. During the lecture, drivers behind Dubai's development were discussed as well as possible negative impacts of the rapid growth. Furthermore, an interactive assessment was made as to Dubai's role as a benchmark example for other tourism destinations.

In the evening, the tourism management club of the FU Bozen (entirely run by highly motivated students) organized an event to discuss possible implications of the tourism strategy of Dubai for South Tyrol. While it became clear that Dubai is opting for a different market segment, its ambitious vision and its drive for innovation are obviously something to look up to.

In absence of an offical English version, the published press article is herafter presented in its original German language:

12 Dezember 2007

Ist Dubais Weg zukunftsweisend?

Vortragsabend des Tourismus-Management-Clubs -- asd
"Was lässt sich von Dubai lernen?"

Bruneck - Luxuriöse Hotels mit bis zu 6500 Zimmern, gigantische Themenparks, von Menschenhand aufgeschüttete Palmeninseln und Vorzeigeobjekte wie das "Burdsch al- Arab" stehen für eine neue Form des Tourismus in Dubai. "Ist dieser Weg zukunftsweisend?", fragten am Montag die Referenten des Tourismus-Management-Club- Abends, Oswin Maurer und Andreas Hauser.

"Der Tourismus der Zukunft hat in Dubai bereits begonnen mit einer Entwicklungsgeschwindigkeit, die überwältigend ist", skizzierte Andreas Hauser, ein Experte für Tourismusentwicklung aus München, die Situation: Derzeit zählt Dubai 44.000 Zimmer in 439 Hotels, 2015 sollen es bereits 127.000 Zimmer in 554 Hotels sein. Das bekannte Hotel "Burdsch al-Arab" ist das Aushängeschild dieses neuen Wirtschaftszweigs.

Die Referenten Andreas Hauser (links) und Oswin Maurer (rechts)
mit den Moderatorinnen Nadine Stierle und Kathleen Reilley
Foto: TMC

Was abschauen?

"Die bedeutende Rolle des Marketing, die Investition in Bildung und der Mut zu Innovationen mit einer genau definierten Zukunftsplanung sind Aspekte, die sich Südtirol von Dubai abschauen könnte", meinte Hauser.

"So etwa wie ein Autounfall: schrecklich und doch schaut jeder hin", beschrieb Oswin Maurer, der Dekan der Fakultät für Wirtschaftswissenschaften an der Freien Universität Bozen, Dubai. Durch die künstliche Aufschüttung von Inseln wie das Megaprojekt "The World" mit 300 Inseln und andere Großprojekte spiele sich in Dubai derzeit eine Hysterie ab, deren Ende nicht abzusehen sei. Aspekte wie der hohe Wasser- und Energieverbrauch seien derzeit kein Thema. Andererseits werde konsequent in Bildung investiert wie etwa mit der Planung der University City, in der innerhalb von nur drei Jahren Plätze für 120.000 Studenten geschaffen werden.


Was das Emirat Dubai anderen Ländern voraus habe, sei der klar definierte Masterplan, der in allen Wirtschaftsbereichen durchgezogen werde. "Was man von Dubai lernen kann, ist, nicht den Mut zu verlieren und auch anderen den Mut zu Neuem nicht zu nehmen", sagte Maurer. Einen großen Vorteil habe Südtirol aber dennoch: seine Geschichte und seine Tradition.

Und ein Blick hinter die Kulissen zeigt, dass auch in Südtirol einiges richtig läuft: So liegt die Auslastung der Hotels nach Berechnungen der beiden Vortragenden in Dubai mit rund 50 Prozent bei weitem unter jener in Südtirol.

For further information please refer to:

Free University of Bozen

Tourism Management Club

Andreas Hauser

Monday, 26 November 2007

Destination Report: Yemen

Sana'a -
The Allure of a Gingerbread City

Yemen’s capital city Sana’a leaves the first-time visitor simply breathless – for its incomprehensible beauty and incomparable oneness. Instead of helplessly trying to put my personal experience into words (which would invariably be bound to fail), I would like to quote from Eric Hansen’s highly recommended book “Motoring with Mohammed” as an introduction to some pictures:

“Shadows became noticeable, and I caught my breath as the jumble of towering earth-colored buildings became visible. My first impression was that during the night I had fallen back in time and awakened in the midst of a fairy-tale world from my childhood. I looked out at a gingerbread fantasy in which every surface was adorned with mad geometric designs, covered in squiggles of white cake icing.”

“The splendor of Sana’a could not be taken in at a glance. Each visual morsel deserved careful attention. Among the first architectural details to catch my eye were the roof finals. […] Watching this first sunrise over the city, I understood perfectly well the symbolism of oneness expressed by the finals. I had been unprepared for this sensation of attachment. No one had warned me about the allure of Sana’a, and in my surprise, I was caught off balance – seduced without a struggle. The magical, otherworldly beauty of the city took hold of me, and I didn’t resist.”

I was looking at something eternal, ageless, and precious – a place where I could leave myself far behind.

The Haze of Dawn over Sana'a

View over Gingerbread City on a Perfect Morning

Mixing Palm-Tree Gardens, a Mosque and Medieval Skyscrapers

An Impenetrable Maze of Brick Houses

The City Walls Are Partly Reconstructed

Sana'a Melts into the Surrounding Mountains

Night over Sana'a Stunning and Incomprehensible

And just to round it off I need to add that pictures can only convey a limited impression of what it feels like to be in Sana’a and become part of it…

Andreas Hauser

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

The Secret of Success

Strategy or Intuition

What Is the Road to Success?

Success is what we all strive for in life. But what finally is the secret of success? Many thinkers, book authors, philosophers and all kinds of advisors have gone to great lengths to explore how to have success. Yet one of the latest and most polemic theories finds more and more supporters: In the end, success is largely based on simple luck.

In my own understanding, there are two major pillars along the road to success: on the one hand there is strategy, based on a sound analysis and a planned understanding of past situations or benchmarks of analogies; and on the other hand, there is intuition, based on feelings, emotions and personal convictions. When breaking down any decision- making process in the light of a quest for success, either strategy or intuition plays a key role – or both.

Success is something determined by the future, which in turn is (according to commonly established understanding) impossible to predict in an accurate way. Therefore, any attempt to achieve a desired outcome at a forthcoming point in time has to consider uncertainties and probabilities. Taking this into account, success might be described as “the ability to foresee future developments and act accordingly in the interest of a project, a product or a service” – at least in an economic or entrepreneurial sense.

Strategists would now argue that any planned approach greatly reduces the risk of failure by learning from past mistakes. Consequently, this method tries to minimize future uncertainties with statistical, empirical and scientific measures. On the other end, supporters of the emotional approach would claim that most of mankind’s greatest achievements were and are still based on the intuition of individuals in the pursuit of an idea or a vision that they truly believed in with their heart. And in the end, both are right.

When investigating into the true secret of triumph stories, apparently all applied a mixture of both strategy and intuition. And when looking at chronicles of failures, the same insight prevails. No matter how large the trust in facts and figures or the confidence in personal intuition is, all decisions are based on complementing elements of the opposing pillar. Accepting this as a given fact, one questions pops immediately into the mind: Which one is more successful, strategy or intuition? And the answer of course can only be: Nobody can say!

Strategy and intuition are ways to foresee the future – but as we all know, the future is unpredictable. The two approaches are based on a diverse understanding of how the world works, they apply differing methodological tools, and they cannot be assessed in the same manner. Having said that, they simply deny to be weighed against each other – much in the same way that apples and pears cannot be compared.

The extent to which degree any success or failure can be attributed to strategy or intuition is just as subjective as the individual methodology. And since both are applied to an unknown extent in a decision-making process, there plainly is no way to define beyond doubt their specific contribution. Just by taking any example from personal experience, it becomes obvious that no one can clearly state on what percentage fell on either strategy or intuition.

It becomes clear that in the context of success, there is no recipe for right or wrong. Every individual needs to find out what his/her personal preference for either strategy or intuition is and act upon it. However, an awareness of the role and the potential influence of the respective other pillar should always be held up – sometimes, it is just the unexpected that might prove to be the decisive factor for a positive outcome.

So whether it is called foresight, coincidence or simply luck, we must accept one thing: nobody really knows what will happen in the future.

Andreas Hauser

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Destination Report: Yemen

The Souq of Sana'a

Possibly the most gratifying and intriguing experience to be had in the Arab World are the markets: whether called souqs or bazaars, they express the very essence of commercial interaction and heated negotiations. The mixed odors of spices, incense, food and perfumes alternate with the lively colours of dresses, gold, nuts, fruits or cloths.

The old town of Sana'a, the fairy tale capital of Yemen, boasts possibly the most intense and traditional souq of them all. The bustling life at most day and night times is simply overwhelming. The variety of goods on offer are dazzling and never fail to stun tourists and visitors alike.

Any attempt to capture the sensuousness must invariably be doomed to failure. However, no passionate photographer would be able to resist the temptation. So here are some impressions as a glimpse into souq life at its best, in the old town of Sana'a.

The Entrance to the Main Souq Street in Old Sana'a

Dates in All Forms and Colours

Sacks Full of Spices and Pulses in Tiny Alleys

A "Supermarket" in the Traditional Yemeni Sense

Headscarves for Men -- For All Tastes and Likings

Spice Heaven in Large and Small Sizes

Selling Incense, Wood and Perfumes on 2 sqm

Evening Atmosphere with a Bite to Eat

Mind that this is only a tiny fraction of the kaleidoscope of sights and impressions that Sana'a has to offer it is definitely worth a visit.

Andreas Hauser

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Public Relations

German Press Publications

Media coverage and presence forms part of a consultant's work. Especially when it comes to promoting new tourism destinations and projects, effective public relations efforts play an important role.

In relation to the latest consulting project in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, the PR efforts were crowned by two articles that appeared in renown, widely-published German newspapers. While the Sueddeutsche Zeitung dealt with the topic of resort development in a world-wide context, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung placed the focus more generally on the upcoming destination Saudi Arabia. In both cases, the development of Yanbu was mentioned in a very positive matter.

In absence of an offical English version, the articles are herafter presented in their original German language:

22 August 2007

Tausend und ein Hotel

Touristenstädte vom Reißbrett verheißen
den Investoren hohe Gewinne und
den Urlaubern eine genormte, künstliche Ferienwelt.

Karl Poletti registriert zurzeit eine "sehr, sehr positive Stimmung" im Dorf. Der Gemeindepräsident des 1200 Einwohner zählenden Andermatt im Kanton Uri spricht von einer "Riesenchance". Nachdem in den vergangenen 15 Jahren rund 120 Arbeitsplätze verloren gegangen seien und die Jungen auf Arbeitssuche das Dorf verlassen mussten, sei nun jedermann gespannt darauf, wie genau das Touristenresort aussehen wird, das der ägyptische Investor Samih Sawiris direkt neben das Dorf Andermatt baut. 2000 Gästebetten, fünf bis sechs Hotels, 100 Appartements und 30 kleine Villen sind auf dem ehemaligen Armeegelände geplant, das sind fast dreimal so viele Betten wie bisher. Mit 500 bis 600 neuen Arbeitsplätzen wird gerechnet, die Andermatter Bevölkerung hat im März den Bauzonenplan mit einer Mehrheit von 96 Prozent angenommen. Es wird das größte einzelne touristische Bauvorhaben sein, das es im gesamten Alpenraum jemals gab.

Man kennt derlei Großprojekte bis dato eher aus Dubai oder vom ägyptischen Roten Meer. Doch der Bau von stadtgroßen Urlaubskomplexen setzt sich immer stärker auch in Europa durch. Tui hat im Juni ein Hoteldorf auf Sylt eröffnet und machte vor kurzem den Kauf eines ganzen Dorfes in der Toskana bekannt. Auf 11 Quadratkilometern soll dort bis 2009 ein Ferienresort für die verschiedensten Zielgruppen entstehen. Das hat einereits den Vorteil, dass Gästen auf kleinstem Raum vielfältigste Möglichkeiten und Dienstleistungen geboten werden. Für den Betreiber hat es vor allem den Vorteil, dass er alles, Qualität, Zugang und Sicherheit des Areals vollkommen zentral kontrollieren kann und durch Zusammenlegen von Verwaltung, Technik oder Einkauf viel Geld spart.

Das seien aber nicht einmal die wichtigsten Gründe, weshalb Investoren sich entscheiden, ein Resort zu bauen, sagt Andreas Hauser. Der wichtigste Grund sei, dass, "je größer etwas wird, desto größerer Profit möglich ist". Es gehe "weniger um die Einnahmen aus dem Tourismus, sondern um Immobilien- und Landspekulation". Hauser ist als Strategie- und Marketingberater für touristische Unternehmungen tätig. Zurzeit arbeitet er für die saudi-arabische Regierung an der Planung eines 4000-Betten-Resorts in Yanbu am saudischen Roten Meer. Für die Planung der an einem zwölf Kilometer langen Strandabschnitt errichteten Anlage wurde übrigens das Frankfurter Architekturbüro von Albert Speer engagiert. Die Saudis wollten es den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten nachmachen, sagt Hauser, nur eben auf ihre, etwas gemäßigtere und die kulturellen Gegebenheiten respektierende Art. An der bisher touristisch gar nicht erschlossenen saudischen Rotmeer-Küste sollen zunächst vor allem arabische Gäste urlauben, deswegen wurden die Zimmer sehr groß geplant und getrennte öffentliche Einrichtungen und Strände vorgesehen. Doch die Regierung wolle auch europäische Gäste haben, auch deshalb wurden die deutschen Planer engagiert. Hauser rechnet für den Anfang mit zehn bis fünfzehn Prozent ausländischen, eher kulturinteressierten Gästen, weniger reinen Strandurlaubern.

Wo immer auf der Welt so etwas entsteht, steht neben der touristischen Nutzung ganz klar der schnelle Investitionsgewinn im Vordergrund. Es funktioniert meist gleich: In strukturschwachen, aber landschaftlich reizvollen Gebieten, sei es nun in den Schweizer Alpen oder in Saudi-Arabien, wird Bauland extrem günstig gekauft. Schon allein durch die Ankündigung, ein großes Resort zu errichten, steigen die Grundstückspreise. Sobald dann Hotels, Restaurants, Golfplatz, Appartements und Villen errichtet sind, kann der Investor seine hohen Ausgaben in kurzer Zeit vor allem durch den Verkauf von Villen und Appartements vervielfachen. Samih Sawiris, Spross des reichsten Familienclans Ägyptens, brachte jüngst in der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung diese Strategie unverblümt auf den Punkt: "Wir kaufen immer Land, das tief bewertet ist, auf dem also noch nichts oder sehr wenig steht. Wir kreieren und realisieren zuerst auf einem Teil des erworbenen Landes Wert, damit der Rest des Landes, der uns auch gehört, später noch mehr Wert erhält." Wohl deshalb war es ihm wichtig, in Andermatt fast sämtliches vorhandenes Bauland, also mehr als eine Million Quadratmeter zu bekommen. Mit seiner Firma Orascom Hotels and Developement (OHD) hat Sawiris bereits 1990 die Touristenstadt El Gouna am Roten Meer realisiert, die heute 3000 Ganzjahresbewohner zählen soll. Auch in der Tala-Bucht in Jordanien wachsen zurzeit hunderte arabisch anmutende Häuserblocks von OHD aus dem Wüstensand und auf den Taba-Höhen am Sinai entsteht seit 2000 ein ähnlich großes Projekt wie El Gouna.

In Andermatt in der Schweiz warten die Leute unterdessen, dass es endlich losgeht. Wie genau Andermatt II aussehen wird, weiß noch niemand. Man nehme auf die rustikale Bebauung des bestehenden Dorfes Rücksicht, sagt Gemeindepräsident Poletti. 18 Architektenteams sind mit den Planungen befasst. Jeden Monat müssen sie der Bevölkerung Bericht erstatten. 2014 soll alles fertig sein. Nachteile sieht Poletti erst einmal kaum. Bei dem bisschen übrig gebliebenen Bauland müsse man halt rigoros darauf achten, dass es nur für Erstwohnungen ausgewiesen wird und nicht für den Großteil des Jahres leer stehende Ferienwohnungen. Zwar wolle sich Sawiris das Recht sichern, die geplanten 100 Appartements zu vermieten, wenn ihre Besitzer gerade nicht da sind. Wie das aber funktionieren soll, weiß auch der Gemeindepräsident noch nicht.

Hans Gasser

15 August 2007


Ungläubige dürfen baden gehen

Das Königreich, bislang für Touristen weitgehend unzugänglich,
will sich für westliche Reisende öffnen

Die Liste der Länder, die noch nicht touristisch erschlossen sind, könnte sich in wenigen Jahren um einen Namen verringern. Im Königreich Saudi-Arabien gibt es Pläne, das bisher für Ausländer weitgehend unzugängliche Reich zu öffnen. Die Regierung um König Abdullah bin Abdulaziz hat grünes Licht für ein 4000-Zimmer-Projekt an der Nordküste des Roten Meeres gegeben. Dort sollen auch westliche Touristen willkommen sein.

Yanbu, rund 350 Kilometer nördlich von Dschidda, ist einer der wichtigsten Häfen Saudi-Arabiens. Hier soll ein Hotelkomplex mit 4000-Zimmern entstehen.
Foto: Hauser

„Die touristische Erschließung der nördlichen Küste mit mehreren Hotels und einer Uferpromenade soll bis zum Jahr 2014 abgeschlossen sein, ein erstes Mövenpick-Hotel eröffnet bereits nächste Jahr", berichtet Andreas Hauser, der den Saudis als Tourismusplaner bei dem Projekt beratend zur Seite steht. Hintergrund für die Öffnung in Richtung Westen ist die Erkenntnis der Regierung, dass die Wirtschaft des Landes zu sehr von der Erdölproduktion abhängig ist. Fast 90 Prozent der Staatseinnahmen werden aus dem Verkauf von Erdöl und Erdölprodukten erzielt. Hinzu kommt eine enorm hohe Arbeitslosenquote von fast 30 Prozent, die zu innenpolitischen Spannungen führt. "Die Wirtschaft soll künftig auf mehreren Beinen stehen, neue Jobs könnten im Tourismussektor entstehen. Natürlich sieht man in Saudi-Arabien die gigantische touristische Entwicklung in Dubai, Katar, Abu Dhabi und dem Oman", so Hauser.

Eine vergleichbare Freizügigkeit wie in den Ländern der Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate sei in Saudi-Arabien aber nicht zu erwarten. Urlauber müssen sich also auf einen Badeurlaub einstellen, bei dem sie nicht nur auf Alkohol verzichten müssen. Frauen müssen wohl auch am Strand ein Kopftuch und ein schwarzes Gewand tragen, unverheiratete Paare erhalten oftmals kein gemeinsames Zimmer, alleinreisende Frauen kein Visum, Homosexualität ist bei Strafe verboten.

"Wir hoffen aber, dass die Regierung für das Resort in Yanbu einige Lockerungen vornimmt. Zumindest gehen die Planzahlen davon aus, dass von den jährlich 365000 Gästen rund 40000 aus dem Westen kommen sollen", so Hauser. Allerdings werde es sicher schwierig, Saudi-Arabien als Ziel für einen reinen Badeurlaub zu vermarkten. "Wir werden gezielt um kulturinteressierte Urlauber werben, die nach einer Rundreise noch einige Tage am Strand ausspannen möchten."

Das nabatäische Grabmal bei Madain Saleh
ist Teil des Besichtigungsprogramms der wenigen
Studienreisen nach Saudi-Arabien.

Foto: Hauser

Bereits seit 1998 gibt es für westliche Reiseveranstalter die Möglichkeit, Studienreisen in Saudi-Arabien durchzuführen. Doch pro Jahr sind es derzeit kaum mehr als 100 deutsche Touristen, die das riesige Land auf der arabischen Halbinsel aufsuchen. Der Marktführer für Studienreisen, Studiosus, hat das Ziel sogar wieder ganz aus dem Programm gestrichen. "In den ersten Jahren waren die Reisen noch gut gebucht. Seit dem Irakkrieg haben wir die Touren aus Sicherheitsgründen aber nicht mehr angeboten", berichtet Manfred Schreiber von Studiosus Reisen. Zudem seien die Reisen in der Durchführung immer extrem schwierig gewesen.

Die Mitbewerber Ikarus Tours und Windrose Fernreisen bieten nach wie vor einige wenige Reisen an. "Die Nachfrage geht zurück, im November werden wir aber eine Gruppenreise durchführen", berichtet Ralf Huber von Ikarus Tours. "Grundsätzlich begrüßen wir die Bestrebungen der Regierung, allerdings sind wir doch eher skeptisch, dass das Land sich wirklich nachhaltig für Touristen öffnet."

Diese Skepsis teilt auch Andreas Hauser. "Ein völlig normales Reiseziel wird Saudi-Arabien schon wegen der politischen Gegebenheiten nie werden." So sei es beispielsweise völlig unvorstellbar, dass die heiligen Städte Mekka und Medina jemals für "Ungläubige" zugänglich würden. "Diese Orte bleiben auch künftig eine komplette Sperrzone."

Pascal Brückmann

Andreas Hauser

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Destination Report: Munich

Impressions from the Oktoberfest

The largest beer festival in the world, the Oktoberfest in Munich, has opened its gates for the 173rd time in history. More than 6 million visitors are expected at the 42 ha grounds in the centre of Munich -- and this is not the only superlative: on more than 100,000 seats, 14 large tents and 60 smaller gastronomic establishments expect to serve around 500,000 chickens ("Hendl") and more than 6 million liters of beer ("Maß").

Despite the large crowd of foreign visitors and tourists, the Oktoberfest still retains its distictive touch as a folkloristic festival, with many Bavarians dressed up in their traditional clothing. This year, the it started out under ideal conditions: blue skies, sunshine and 25°C.

For those who will not be able to join the festivities this year, here are some impressions from the first September weekend 2007:

The Main Entrance to the Oktoberfest

Lots of Sweet Specialties Await Houngry Mouths

Full Streets and Perfect Weather on the First Sunday 2007

Hightech Rides Meet Folkloristic Tradition

Culinary Satisfaction for Every Taste is Guaranteed

The Hippodrom: One of the Most Lively Beer Tents

Gingerbread Hearts: Sweet Souvenirs

See you soon -- again!

The Oktoberfest lasts until Sunday, 7th October 2007.

And for more facts and figures, please refer to the official Oktoberfest page:

Oktoberfest statistics

Andreas Hauser

Monday, 17 September 2007

Destination Report: Rome

Impressions from the Eternal City

“Roma” – the mere sound of it evokes the glory of bygone Roman history, the abundance of cultural heritage and the ever-present chaos of Italian life style. By-names abound: Head of the World (latin: caput mundi), the Eternal City (italian: città eterna) for its 2.800 years of continuous occupation or simply Leader (romano: capoccia) – every inhabitant or visitor surely has his/her own allusions and links.

A recent personal visit during the summer brought back many of those past memories and created new ones. One thing certainly remains unchanged: Rome is unique, chaotic, overwhelming, detestable, irresistible, crowded and – simply Rome!

Without much fuzz about accompanying text, here are some photographic impressions to enjoy:

La Vespa: Still the Number 1 Means of Transport

Piazza Navona: The Pulse of Roman Life

Strenuous Tourism Experience

Il Cuppolone: The Dome of St. Peter

A Glimpse from Inside the Pantheon

Coffee and Shopping: Integral Part of Roman Life

Trastevere: The Most Unconventional District of Rome

Il Tevere: Evening Atmosphere by the River

simply adorable and always worth a trip!

Andreas Hauser

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Leadership Behaviour

Leadership Archetypes:
A Secret to Team Success?

Team work is widely regarded as a more successful approach to solving business problems than strict hierarchical structures. A group of individuals can perform better and more efficiently together than each on his/her own. But what are the success factors that determine the team performance? While it remains undisputed that technical knowledge plays a key role, the importance of different leadership styles and behaviours is still not explored in-depth.

Kets de Vries, head of the Global Leadership Centre at the INSEAD Business School in Paris, has identified eight archetypes that can be used for understanding leadership behaviour. They are aimed at describing how managers handle not only problems, but also people. Depending on the situation and the challenges a company is faced with, different leadership qualities may be required. Should these specific requirements not be met when selecting the team members, then the undertaking is almost inevitably bound for failure – even in spite of outstanding technical competences of the respective managers.

The eight identified leadership archetypes are:

recognizes future paths for growth and produces visionary and revolutionary ideas; shows difficulties in motivating people to follow

keeps a clear head in an unstable environment and implements new forms of organization under pressure; tends to be bored by too much steadiness

loves negotiations and permanently opens up new business transactions; often proves impatient in day-to-day business

strives for independence, acts as a strong decider and aims at creating lasting value; demonstrates high control affinity and has difficulties in communicating

develops new concepts and solves highly complex problems through creativity; is likely to lack social skills and become isolated in the process

smoothens processes, creates new structures and translates abstract concepts into practice; often shows obstinacy and inflexibility

promotes personnel development and encourages performance by listening and empathy; tends to have problems with tough decisions

has a positive attitude, is optimistic and can influence by eloquence; reluctant to go into detail and appears superficial

When considering the vast array of leadership behaviour, it becomes obvious that great care and foresight must be used when staffing teams with respective managers. Strengths and weaknesses of each of the leadership archetypes that prevail in the existing human resource pool need to be recognized and allocated accordingly. Thereby, conflicts and frictions in communication and cooperation can be minimized beforehand, leading to a considerably higher team performance.

And where does that leave the individual manager? There are only few specimens on Earth that can claim to thoroughly cover all eight archetypes; most of us have to conform themselves with a lower number. A good strategy might be to improve personal skills in some of the lesser developed archetypes. An even better strategy, however, concentrates on specific strengths and aims at expanding them: excellence in a few leadership archetype areas gains over weak coverage of all of them.

So which ones are your leadership archetypes?

Andreas Hauser

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Hidden Hotel Gems: New York

Carlton Arms Hotel --

Artistic Eccentricity at Affordable Rates

100 bucks for a double room in New York City? No way, by no means, of course not. Forget it. Or check in at the Carlton Arms Hotel, that’s where you get it – plus a unique experience on top…

Brooklyn Bridge Leading into Manhattan

Started in the 80s as an art project, each of the 54 rooms as well as the hallways are individually designed by painters – according to their personal taste, fantasies, fears or nightmares. While some rooms exude a touch of affectionate passion for colours, other stun and repel in their openness. But no need to worry: usually, guests can take a look at various rooms before choosing – and there is something for every taste.

An Online View of All the Rooms

The location is right on: Manhattan East Side, on the corner of the 3rd Avenue and 25th Street, four blocks from the next subway station in an easy neighbourhood – what more does one need in New York? But still, it is a big and loud city in the mornings, so when you want to sleep late: take your earplugs.

The Lights are On -- Day and Night

And the prices are unbeatable: US$115 for a double with bath (no breakfast), going up to US$130 after October 1st. No frill, no thrills, straightforward budget accommodation. Full stop. With every room being absolutely unique – what more can one ask for in New York?

160 East 25th Street

New York, NY 10010

Reservations: +1 (212) 679-8337

Andreas Hauser

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Hidden Hotel Gems: Dubai

Orient Guest House --
A Touch of Arabia in the City

Dubai is striving, ambitious and full of energy – as well as the home to huge construction sites, long detours and endless traffic jams. But amidst all the hectic day-to-day business, an attractive oasis of calmness with a truly Arabian touch has emerged in the heart of the boom metropolis: the Orient Guest House.

The Restored Bastakiya Quarter of Dubai

Bastakiya is Dubai’s old town quarter by the creek and a local heritage site. Within the array of restored houses, towers and buildings, two courtyards were joined to create the new 10-room hotel. Orient Guest House relies on a highly professional service quality. Managed and operated by the close-by Arabian Courtyard Hotel, its wellness and spa facilities are freely accessible.

Elegant Interior Design

The rooms are spacious, have a high ceiling and are tastefully furbished in old Arabian interior style. Breakfast is served under sand-coloured awnings in the open courtyard – rather warm in the summer months, but nevertheless a unique and authentic experience. The around-the-clock service is full of Asian friendliness and with close personal attention.

Breakfast Area in the Open Courtyard

One setback, however, must be noted: there is no beach access. So for those looking for a relaxed 2-week water- and sun-holiday, the choice might be not ideal. However, for those travellers on a stop-over or a short-term stay, the Orient Guest House might just be perfect: a touch of Arabian hospitality and surrounding in the modern glitter city.

Currently, summer opening specials can be had at an unbeatable 80€ for a double with breakfast – but these rates can be expected to go up considerably once full operation starts. So better hurry for a good deal on that unique experience!

Bastakiya Area
Dubai, UAE
Reservations: +971-4-3519111

Andreas Hauser

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Regional Tourism: Munich

A Real Holi-Day:
Discovering Your Own City

Honestly: How much do you know your home city really? What are the main tourist attractions? What is really up to date?

Often enough, we are travelling around the world, stopping in exotic metropolis and enjoying the wonderful attractions that are offered. But after another exhausting long-haul transatlantic flight, the question might one day pop up: why are we travelling so far?

Actually, what would be wrong about suggesting that there is only few places in the world that can be more interesting and intriguing than one’s own city? When an inhabitant sees through the eyes of a tourist, then the saying “there is no place like home” might come on with a totally new meaning.

Some weeks ago, the author did an experiment on himself – and simply loved it: he took a sunny summer day off and hit the city of Munich as an average humble and attraction-seeking tourist. Watching the usual working crowd pushing towards office, strolling through an unusually empty top-shot exhibition or simply enjoying a coffee in the sun while having the city rotate around oneself proved to be highly gratifying experience.

Should the whole idea have evoked some kind of interest in you by now, it might come in handy to not totally ignore some guidelines, whose obedient observation has brought considerable benefits to the author in his quest for a beautiful day out:

Check the weather forecast and select a day!
A little bit of planning actually goes a long way and conveys a feeling of anticipation – the first step to a complete leisure experience. According to personal preference, the climate conditions should be taken into account: while a sunny day can stimulate a summer experience, rain might be the perfect pretext for a lot of indoor enlightening.

Factually take a day off!

Do not conform yourself with a normal weekend day, where you would be off work anyway – it is not the same! Select a working day for a real, true feeling of your city’s pulse and liveliness. And if you really invest one of your precious paid holidays, you will enjoy the time more than ever – this investment is sure to pay off.

Select leisure clothes!

They will distinguish you from all the people around you that will spend the day going to and from their habitual work place – and give you the (voluntarily chosen) air of an outsider in your own city.

Buy a daytime ticket for your local transport system!
In other crowded cities, you also would not bother to drive around in your fancy car, looking for long lost streets with indecipherable names and circling viciously for a parking space. Public transport gives you more flexibility and authentic tourism feeling. Get a plan for the whole network in order to be dynamic in your spontaneous decisions.

Make a plan of what you want to see beforehand!

This could include but is certainly not limited to museums, exhibitions, cultural events, open spaces, small city gems, specialised shops, famous day-time bistros, musical happenings, coffee shops, view towers and so on and so forth. Take your day out as an opportunity to see things that you always wanted to see in your city but never had the right time, company, weather or state of mind.

Plan for meal stops and short breaks!
Lunch is a good time to try out new cuisine in a not too pricey fashion. Some gastronomic gems might not be open in the evening, so take the chance and select them according to personal taste and aptitude towards trying out. Take a look in a gastronomy guide before setting off and make sure you have alternatives – sight seeing makes hungrier than commonly acknowledged!

Well now… So there is just one thing left to do now: set off and enjoy yourself thoroughly! And once you catch yourself with a thought like “Where did all those nice little shops come from – I never noticed their existence, let alone entered them?”, then you start to understand…

Andreas Hauser

Friday, 13 July 2007

Book Recommendations: Life Style

“The Devil’s Cup”


Stewart Lee Allen

Espresso, Einspänner, qahwa, cappuccino, marrón con hielo, large decaf mocha –throughout the world, coffee expresses itself as the everyday fuel of society.

Have you ever thought about where that stuff actually came from? When did it start? And how is does it grow? Luckily, there is no immediate need to travel around the globe in search for all that information – Stewart Lee Allen has already done that thinking and researching. And he has put down the insights into his witty and truly entertaining book “The Devil’s Cup”.

Without solid dates as back up, coffee beans started out in the Ethiopian highlands, were introduced into Yemen, spread over the Arab World and were finally brought to Europe by the Turks. Smuggled into Dutch Indonesia as well as the New World, the bean forms today the agricultural basis of a number of overseas countries.

Through times, the black liquid was loved and hated, brewed and banned with equal eagerness, and some consider it even the root for political unrest and overthrows. Still today, there are innumerable variations of coffee drinking, ranging from the green, bitter Arab qahwa to the black, oil-like ristretto in Italy. Even the dishwashing water served in U.S. fast food restaurants claims to have a faint resemblance to the original stuff!

In a journalistic travel style, Stewart Lee Allen followed the route of the coffee three-quarters around the world, blending it with numerous enlightening encounters and anecdotes. “The Devil’s Cup” is a truly enjoyable account of square minds, political twists and personal experiences all around the famous bean.

One setback of the book must be mentioned, however. If you expect the disclosure of what is the best coffee in the world today, you will have to look elsewhere. I would refer you to the Specialty Coffee Association of the Americas (SCAA), which has recently awarded Panama’s Hacienda La Esmeralda as the best coffee maker for the third year in a row.

O.k., having solved this issue, you can peacefully get your hands on the book, lean back and emerge yourself into a journey along the world of coffee.

Stewart Lee Allen
“The Devil’s Cup” in English, ISBN 0345441494
“Ein Teuflisches Zeug” in Deutsch, ISBN 3593372908

Andreas Hauser

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Intercultural Competence

Intercultural Management:
An Integrated Model

For many companies, internationalization is not only a strategic option, but sometimes a necessary step to ensure continued growth and market success. By expanding their business abroad, they are faced with two additional dimensions of complexity: general international regulations and cultural peculiarities.

When international undertakings are unsuccessful or do not perform on the expected level, the difference in culture is often blamed for the failure. However, benchmarks from successful examples of internationalization clearly prove: not the difference in culture is the cause for failure – it is bad management in respect to the cultural dimensions!

While the professionalism in preparing the strategic internationalization processes has increased over recent years, the implications of the different culture(s) are still often underestimated as a decisive factor for long-term success. No matter if it refers to the personal cultural identity of a country, to the working culture in a society or to the corporate culture within a company, they all have one thing in common: understanding and preparing for them is one of the key components of success.

Few companies have understood or learned to adequately prepare their management staff for the new complex tasks they are faced with. Language courses or intercultural trainings are slowly gaining momentum, but in most cases they are individual short-term measures not embedded into a holistic approach to intercultural management. But still today, the staff selection process is often done unprofessionally and without respecting the different requirements managers will have to fulfil. This negligence appears rather grotesque when considering the implications of the possible failure: just the replacement of an unsuitable or inadequately trained manager can easily amount to several 100,000s €! And this estimation does not include the opportunity costs or the negative long-term repercussions on the respective markets...

According to my conviction, intercultural management for international business needs to follow an integrated approach if it is to reach the highest probability of success. This can only be achieved when the processes for selection and empowerment are combined and aligned to mutual objectives. In order to ensure that, I have developed a model to incorporate these two dimensions, which is based on the approach of Prof. Dr. Eckart Koch from the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

During the selection process, firstly the personal disposition of the potential candidates are is probed, including factors like willingness to internationalize, preparedness to endeavour, social competence and other soft skills. Secondly, the management competence with regard to technical knowledge, project experience and hard skills is examined. The assessment can be done on a general level or – where reasonable and practical – already with relation to the requirements of the future assignment in a specific cultural environment. By designing an exclusion criteria catalogue, major gaps can be detected during the selection process, thus avoiding wrong and costly choices.

The empowerment process starts out with providing the theoretical background on intercultural knowledge, with regard to models, methodologies and concepts. This know-how is then actively applied and trained, thereby turning it into intercultural competence. The additional step here (further to the intercultural trainings as they are usually done) is combining the newly acquired skills with the previously assessed hard skills, thereby creating an intercultural management competence.

In difference to other existing models, the focus of the presented approach lies on the personal disposition of the individual manager. Its importance for success can and must not be underestimated in the selection process. Some experts even argue that given the right willingness to go abroad and adapt, the intercultural empowerment can be reduced to a minimum. I would argue that while this might be apt for a handful of natural born intercultural managers, in most cases the intercultural knowledge and training are crucial.

Despite the given facts, many companies are hesitant or even unaware when it comes to the implications of a different culture on management. The increasing professional degree in designing internationalization strategies, also with the help of specialized external consultants, helps to raise the respective awareness.

But without that, every company should perform a simple but blunt risk assessment of its international venture: what are the real costs of possible failure and what is the probability of occurrence – and how much does it cost now to reduce that risk to a minimum?

Andreas Hauser

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Saudi Arabia: Destination Report

Saudi Arabia: Historic Cities
along the Red Sea Coast

Saudi Arabia is probably one of the most difficult countries world-wide to visit as a tourist. However, those lucky enough to do business in the Kingdom can get a fascinating glimpse of hidden cultural highlights such as the Historic Cities along the Red Sea.

Old Map of Saudi Arabia

For centuries, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast has been the gateway to the Holy Islamic Cities of Makkah and Madinah. The Suez Canal further boosted trade and led to the flourishing of ports and coastal settlements. The coastal towns became a melting pot for cultures and a meeting point for international merchants.

Growing prosperity led to the construction of mansions, caravanserais and mosques within walled cities. Constructed of coral limestone and lavishly decorated with wooden facades, houses stood up to five storeys high, catching the cooling sea breeze.

"Al-Balad" - Old Town Houses in Jeddah

The increasing economic wealth caused by the oil boom of the 1970s motivated especially young families to move to other parts of town. The old constructions with their adobe plaster did not fulfil the requirements of modern life anymore. They were traded in for solid buildings with air condition that did not need repair after every rainfall. Left in abandonment, the historic centres became subject to decay and collapse.

Just recently, the Kingdom is starting to become aware of these amazing treasure chests as a testimonial of history and culture, and the authorities are initiating renovation and revitalization programmes for these unique examples of Red Sea Coast architecture.

Renovation of an Old Town House

The historic centre of Jeddah stands out as the most famous of those traditional urban developments in Saudi Arabia. Dating back over two centuries as a prosperous merchant and trading town, the old city enshrines an inimitable array of streets and houses with a pace and an atmosphere of its own. While the afternoons still buzz with busy negotiations in the spice souq, other times convey some of the lost splendour of bygone times.

Over 200 buildings have been renovated to date, but many more are crumbling under the age of time. A leisurely stroll along the winding alleys reveals unforgettable views of outstanding architecture, with towering buildings and protruding wooden balconies.

Towering Limestone House in Jeddah

Afternoon Atmosphere in the Souq

Going north along the coast of Saudi Arabia, some even more abandoned albeit beautiful historic treasures can be discovered by interested visitors. The old town of Yanbu Al-Bahr, now cut off from the sea by a modern port development, consists of approximately 50 town houses in various states of preservation.

Stepping over crumbling buildings, looking inside long-abandoned stables and hearing the squeaking noises of wooden window shutters, one is taken back several decades into the past. Amazingly beautiful carvings and ornaments allow a short glimpse into the richness of Saudi heritage, which is slowly being recognized as a potential asset for future tourism development.

Town House in Yanbu Al-Bahr - Still Standing

Beautifully Carved Wooden Balkony

In Umluj, little of the glorious past as a local fishing harbour remains today. But the setting itself is outstanding: a half-moon shaped bay is bordered by low-level buildings, boasting a multi-coloured array of fishing boats gently rolling in the afternoon breeze. No major attraction yet, Umluj certainly has a great future potential for a charming seaside location.

The Fishing Port of Umluj

Finally, some 700 km north of Jeddah, lies Al-Wajh. In 1917, it was captured by T.E. Lawrence, thus marking the beginning of the successful Arab campaign against the Ottomans. Part of the abandoned old quarter is situated on a cliff, overlooking the bay with its harbour facilities. Untypical for old urban developments in the Arab World, Al Wajh’s historic centre is doted with rather wide streets, opening on to pleasantly bordered plazas.

While quite a number of houses still exist, the state of most of them can be called critical. Yet, some of the insides reveal beautiful room arrangements in line with the social rules of those times: the floor level was reserved for the men and visitors, while the women’s quarter with the kitchen was located above.

The "Skyline" of the Old Town in Al-Wajh

A Historical Street Scene

Despite – or maybe because of – the lack of attention in recent years, the Historic Cities along the Red Sea Coast come as one of the intense visitor’s experiences of Saudi culture. Some of the architectural features in the old towns of Jeddah, Yanbu Al-Bahr, Umluj or Al-Wajh are simply unique and cannot be found anywhere else.

By recognizing the heritage value, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is doing an important step forward to preserve those areas for future generations, turning them into an authentic attraction for national and foreign tourists alike.

Andreas Hauser