"People must be surprised, not just satisfied!"

Interview with Frank Kowalski, Managing Director of Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH

Frank Kowalski, Managing Director of Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH
Frank Kowalski, Managing Director of Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH

Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH represents a remarkable transformation of a municipal subsidiary. Under the leadership of Frank Kowalski, the company has broken away from traditional structures and now presents itself as a dynamic pioneer in terms of innovation and digitalization. In an interview with Wirtschaftsforum, the managing director discussed how he thinks about modern city marketing and how the transformation has successfully changed the marketing of the city of Bruchsal.

A New Beginning: From Sports to City Marketing

Frank Kowalski, once deeply rooted in the sports business, took a brave step in his mid-fifties. He left the world of sports marketing and dedicated himself to a new challenge: city or location marketing. Since 2020, he has been the managing director of Bruchsaler Tourism, Marketing & Event GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the city. Under his leadership, the company is evolving from a strict administrative orientation to a modern service provider.

Frank Kowalski points out how important it was to break through the rigid structures of administration and make the company more agile and flexible. This change, whose results are now receiving great attention in the region, was not only a challenge for him personally but also for the entire team.

Structural Adjustment and Quality as a Distinctive Feature

Structural adjustments that were and are essential involve the use of the so-called EU mandate act to divide the operational services of the deficit-operating company into a general operation and an economic operation. From the municipal side, only tasks of the general operation, where the company has no competitors, are eligible for support.

The Service Center of Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH
The Service Center of Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH

This includes, for example, the operation of its own cultural and events center or all activities in tourism. Economic operations include, for example, all rentals and leases of GmbH-owned properties or events where BTMV acts as the organizer. The partnership agreement and business regulations were also adapted to give the management more flexibility and to allow the former administrative unit to develop more and more into a service agency. For the 35 full-time and part-time employees, this means that, as a rule, no TVÖD contracts will be offered for new hires. Through normal staff turnover, more and more marketing-oriented employees can be won over.

Vertical structures have been replaced by agile project management, and each project contributes to a newly created communication brand: "Experience Bruchsal." This brand is increasingly being accepted and supported by local potent companies - the core brand of Bruchsal city is changing in this positive direction. Frank Kowalski emphasizes the difference from private providers: "A private individual saves costs and is profit-oriented. We, on the other hand, are marketing-oriented and aim to break even and always generate added value for the location."

He is proud that the GmbH not only sells products but also creates experiences that remain memorable to visitors.

Bruchsal Tourism Castle Festival 2022
The castle park during the Castle Festival 2022
Bruchsal Tourism Castle Festival 2023
The enthusiastic audience at the Castle Festival 2023

Innovation and Pleasure: The Pillars of Success

For Bruchsal Tourism, Marketing & Events GmbH, two themes are central: Innovation and pleasure. These two aspects define the city's brand externally. The company has set itself the task of redefining tourism in Bruchsal, with a focus on day and soft tourism.

Major projects such as the '300 Years Bruchsal Castle' festival, in which an arena with 2800 seats was set up, testify to the company's innovative strength. Frank Kowalski sees in such projects not only an opportunity to promote tourism but also to strengthen the local economy – always with the goal of achieving a high city yield. In May 2023, the company also took over the operation and marketing of a fully digital RV park in Bruchsal.

Digitalization: Opportunities and Challenges

Frank Kowalski recognizes many opportunities in digitalization but also sees the challenges. In his opinion, digitalization should not become an end in itself. Nevertheless, he is convinced that digitalization is the key to an even more successful city marketing. "Digitalization is an important issue for us in terms of external presentation," emphasizes the managing director. Targeted online campaigns and the use of social media can increase reach and appeal to a younger target audience.

Bruchsal Tourism Motorhome Park
The motorhome park in Bruchsal

A Look into the Future: European Championship and More

The future looks promising. For the coming year, the company is planning a 'Europe Landscape' in the park of Bruchsal as part of the football European Championship. With public viewing, a culture stage, and a beach café, a comprehensive experience is being created for visitors. Frank Kowalski is convinced: "People need to be surprised and not just satisfied." This is the only way to motivate everyone to carry the positive outside and thus become an important marketing factor of modern location marketing.