2011 / How to Position a UNESCO World Heritage Label? An example based on the Rhaetian Railway

Monday, May 16, 2011

It all started a hundred years ago: the Bernina Line. The line has also been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008. Direct train operations between St.Moritz and Tirano started in 1910. These 61 kilometres of high-altitude engineering wizardry operate against the backdrop of the tallest peaks in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.



It was set to be in its very best anniversary condition for its hundredth birthday in 2010, which was to be marked by a whole serious of spectacular events along the line in course of the year - in winter, spring, summer and autumn alike, and from the northern to the southern ends of the railway. These include events aimed at enthusiasts of culture, nature-lovers, railway fans, families, gourmets, hill walkers, history buffs and people who just want to take it easy, from both the local region and beyond.

Now from a project managers' point of view, several questions needed to be dealt with before and throughout the preparation and anniversary year:

1. How to motivate all key stakeholders to participate and co-finance this event (Lobbying)

2. How to keep motivation high internally with a project lasting almost 2 years (Corporate Culture)

3. How to get enough budget, when the company is highly subsidized from the Kanton and State?

4. How to create real value for sponsors (strategic sponsorship)

5. How to manage new ways of integrated and crossmedia communication, in an over 100 years old company where classical communication is ubiquitous

6. How to meet goals such as generating more revenue and more tourists, launch new rolling stock, recruit new b2b partners, use locals as ambassadors, turn history into modernity and amongst others to be sustainable.

7. How to get over 20 Million circulations, 40'000 visitors in exhibitions, 33'000 event visitors, 1000 (Switzerland only) statements and records in TV, Print, Radio, Internet, 300 Volunteers, 165 journalists, 59 sponsors, 33% more group reservations, 17% more tourists, 17 exhibitions, 14 new books and films, 5 events


Vera Stiffler (MScom10 alumna)

Vera Stiffler graduated in 1999 from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. She has been working in the communications and marketing industry for over 10 years. She first worked in online marketing, managing international campaigns for 18 markets on client side (Dell) as well as agency side (TradeDoubler). In 2008, Vera moved on to the company Rhätische Bahn in Graubünden, where she is since heading up Marketing Communications, Events and Sponsoring. Over the last two years, she was on top Project Director of the festivities and jubilees of "100 years of the Bernina line". Vera Stiffler was part of the MScom 10 class. 


The Rhaetian Railway

The Rhaetian Railway is a  Swiss transport company, owning the largest network of all the private railways in Switzerland. It serves a number of major tourist centers, including St Moritz and Davos. One of the lines, the Berninabahn, crosses the Bernina Pass to the Italian border and on to Tirano, Lombardy. In 2008 the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes (the part from Thusis to Tirano, including St. Moritz) was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


UNESCO World Heritage - A masterpiece of railway engineering

The line across Albula and Bernina, now more than a century old, is regarded as a truly unique masterpiece of the railway engineer's art. Designed from the start to exist in perfect harmony with its surrounding countryside, the line stands as a monument to the pioneering days of railway-building. Since July 2008, the Albula and Bernina lines of the Rhaetian Railway have been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.