Featured case: Destination Frankfurt – Redefining
Germany’s Financial Capital

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The case

TCF logo Who – the protagonist

Nora Camden, Marketing Director of Tourism+Congress GmbH (TCF), Frankfurt am Main’s tourism marketing organisation.


Frankfurt is synonymous with skyscrapers and financial services, leading to nicknames of ‘Bankfurt’ and ‘Mainhatten’.

For over 850 years of the city’s 1,200 year history Frankfurt has been known as a trade fair city, all centred around the Frankfurt Messe, one of the world’s largest and most recognised trade fair locations.


Realising the need to diversify its tourism in order to exploit its urban and cultural tourism potential and maintain global competitiveness, Frankfurt’s tourist board, chiefly Ms Camden, was tasked with making the city appeal to a wider range of tourist target groups.


Towards the end of the 1990s, and with the hosting of the 2006 FIFA World Cup on the horizon, Frankfurt put into action a plan to tackle the city’s ‘Bankfurt’ image.


Frankurt’s ideal geographical location in central Europe has seen it host famous exhibitions such as the IAA Motor Show and the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Being placed on the most important European trade route, means Frankfurt is key to international trade routes, leading to first-class transport infrastructure, including its international airport, Europe’s third busiest airport.

Wanting to showcase the city’s diversity and a multi-faceted urban tourism destination, investment in heritage and culture has been made. This includes the development of the Museum Embankment along the main river, and the introduction of the Frankfurt Card, which encourages people to use the extensive public transport system while enjoying reduced-price admission to numerous cultural establishments.

Key quote

“Whether in the green belt, in parks or exotically in the Pal Garden – one of the lesser known features of the city on the Main is that it is one of the greenest cities in Europe.” – City of Frankfurt am Main

What next?

Despite the TCF’s best efforts in increasing tourist arrivals to Frankfurt, business tourism still accounts for 70% of all travel to the city.

TCF Marketing Director Ms Camden identified a number of challenges in order to change this figure, such as the need to increase the number of budget accommodation options available and the average overnight stay of 1.7 days.

Importantly, Ms Camden is pondering the use of economical alternatives like Airbnb. But is it worth the risk of alienating the hotel industry and/or local resident protest?
The author


Lauren Ugur

Lauren discusses the case and the appeal of the city

Re-imaging problems

“Frankfurt is a fascinating city that offers a vast range of sites and activities for the urban tourist,” said Lauren.

“However, the solidified reputation of Frankfurt as a city with nothing to offer the fun seeking, non-business traveller has proven to be an exceptionally difficult hurdle for the city to overcome, in terms of attracting more diverse target groups.

“The struggle to re-image such a well-known destination provides much room for discussion both on analytical and creative levels, and I believed the issue would really add value to Bachelor-level tourism destination management courses.

“There are so many angles and perspectives from which to try to understand Frankfurt as a changing destination.”

Cutting through the red tape

Lauren added: “I originally decided to base the case on more primary research, but quickly realised working with a publically owned and financed destination management organisation had its own challenges, particularly in terms of being able to use unpublished data – and thus receive permission for publication.

“The published source route essentially enabled me to avoid all the red tape.”

Evolving marketssocial media icons

She continued: “There is much to be learned from Frankfurt, especially in terms of the necessity to create institutional structures that are flexible in responding quickly and dynamically to ever-changing tourism markets and demand.

“One major hurdle for Frankfurt has been their Internet presence and social media marketing campaigns, which have struggled to gain traction. The largest, most well known cities need to work with e-marketing better.

“What should not be forgotten is that the business tourism environment is changing as well, moving away from traditional business tourism towards “Bleisure”, where business and leisure offerings are combined. Frankfurt, and many other cities, could do more to capitalise on this trend.”

A surprise element

Lauren concluded: “Frankfurt being such an iconic city definitely appeals as a subject to students.

“Little-known facts such as Frankfurt having only around 750,000 residents and that it is one of the greenest cities in Europe, come as a huge surprise to students, who very often have a fixed, stereotypical view on what Frankfurt has to offer.”

About the author

Lauren Ugur is a Professor of Tourism and Event Management at ISM International School of Management, Germany.
e lauren.ugur@hs-heilbronn.de

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Destination Frankfurt – Redefining Germany’s financial capital
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Teaching note
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This case was written with the support of a case writing scholarship from The Case Centre.


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