New savings program? Instead of a night at Lufthansa’s conference centre in Seeheim, overnight stay in a tent!
Online sales team is breaking new ground - Welcome to Disruption!
They are an integral part of Lufthansa culture: department retreats at Seeheim conference centre to discuss the most important trends, to look back on the past months, to exchange ideas with colleagues and, last but not least, to eat well and spend the night comfortably in the Lufthansa Seeheim hotel rooms after the conference. Many Lufthansa employees know all this - but it could soon change if a new trend develops out of the recent online sales initiative: Overnight stay in a tent!
Sleeping mat and sleeping bag instead of bed and blanket, shared shower instead of private bathroom, cozy togetherness instead of privacy: not every Lufthansa employee will expect this type of overnight stay after a department retreat. This was also the case with Lisa Weisbrod, Sales Manager for Mobile Development. It was a Tuesday in August, 8.30 a.m., Weisbrod and 170 Online Sales colleagues are standing in front of the Lufthansa Aviation Center waiting for the bus to Seeheim thinking it will take them to the two-day Online Sales Camp. They have no idea that the word "camp" literally mean camp this year. "Before we go to Seeheim, as in previous years, there is an outdoor activity. So please bring flip-flops, towels, a compass, plastic bags for valuables, sunglasses and a hat. Nothing unusual," Weisbrod remembers. "None of us doubted that we would go to Seeheim during the day".
After 15 minutes’ drive, the group reached the venue: The Chameleon Beach on the banks of the river Main, in beautiful Flörsheim. The weather and the atmosphere were great. While enjoying a delicious breakfast, the colleagues were welcomed by their hosts, Sebastian Riedle, Head of Online Sales and Nils Hartgen, Project Manager airline.com. Everything seemed like a relaxed conference in a relaxed atmosphere. After initial discussion, it was not only Lisa Weisbrod who felt the excitement of what the group could now expect in terms of outside activities. Suddenly they heard a loud noise and behind the participants Riedle, Hartgen and - to the surprise of the participants - Heike Birlenbach, Head of Sales Hub Airlines, opened the gates to a large hall. A pink illuminated room with palm trees, deck chairs, beanbags and a sand carpet came to light. Weisbrod thought, "New location, same procedure" when the conference began with the usual retrospects. Until suddenly - in the middle of a nostalgic video clip - a voice announced: "This year will be different - we'll stay here both days. Welcome to Disruption!". The online sales people looked at each other very confused - "Cool venue, but where will we spend the night here? The conference is two days long." The confusion quickly gave way to the confidence that the Orga team had certainly organized enough hotel rooms nearby.
The focus was once again on the content and challenges of three major online sales projects: the introduction of a new booking platform, a website for the hub airlines and the development of the Lufthansa Group App. In workshops and lectures the usual conference programme developed, which prepared the participants for the change of their work. Last item on the agenda was a start-up story. On stage was a young man in jeans and T-shirt, whose curly, medium-length hair seemed to stand for the disruption he embodied. It was Jan Portheine, founder of a start-up company in the Netherlands. His product: cardboard tents! Lisa Weisbrod started to have an idea what was going to happen: "Cardboard tent guru, event on the banks of the Main in Flörsheim, large meadow: That couldn't be good!" Welcome to Disruption!
Portheine reported that he liked to go to festivals and that the big mountains of rubbish always annoyed him. He decided to develop 100% recyclable tents that are also waterproof. "Beautiful and praiseworthy - for the environment and for a holiday in the sun with families and friends - but not for a Lufthansa Group conference with well-known and less well-known colleagues, waterproof or not," Weisbrod went through mind. The thought of the cosy bed in Seeheim became almost melancholic. But she didn't really believe it: "This will all be just a joke - maybe we are participants in the hidden camera".
But then she made a huge mistake! Especially the overnight stay in the tent was the focus of the conference. "We don't just want to talk about drastic and ever faster changes, we really want to live them", Riedle emphasized when he motivated the employees for the development work. Under the motto "Welcome to Disruption!" the work started, because the tents had to be erected first.
And guess what? Lisa Weisbrod and the other participants actually enjoyed the task and the unusual overnight accommodation. The tents were set up and furnished enthusiastically. Colleagues got together and helped each other to set up the one-man tents. They used chalk and paint to personalise their tents to their own taste. Heike Birlenbach and the team distributed air mattresses, sleeping bags, Lufthansa First Class pyjamas, SWISS pillows and blankets and Austrian Amenity Kits with drinks and cheerful music. When the participants retired after a long day in their beloved tents Weisbrod had completely forgotten Seeheim and thought of the beautiful evening hours and the common tent construction - not without pride to have got involved. And maybe - even if the Lufthansa Conference Center in Seeheim won’t be a fan hearing this: there will be more Lufthansa Group meetings with overnight camping in the future - and certainly not for cost reasons.