Dr Jessika Weber-Sabil
Breda University of Applied Sciences
EMERGING SCHOLAR PROFILE
It was only during the last phases of my bachelor studies, when I eventually found my passion for technology in tourism. Back then in 2007, I finished my thesis on the application of mobile technologies in hiking and cycling tourism in Switzerland under the supervision of Professor Roland Schegg. This passion has driven most of my career decisions, which led me to start as a project manager at an online consultancy managing website projects and online marketing campaigns for major tourist destinations in Germany. Besides the work, I soon searched for a way back to academia and started my Master in Innovation and Management at the University of Applied Sciences Salzburg, where I broadened my knowledge in regards to new technology, innovation and tourism. Despite being challenging times to manage job and studies, I would not have missed out on that opportunity, which was a leap to another even bigger experience.
Recently, I have been awarded a doctorate from Bournemouth University, UK. My research focused on the evaluation of location-based augmented reality games and their application in urban tourism. The hype around Pokémon Go in the summer of 2016, finally created a high-profile for location-based gaming that could not surpass tourism stakeholders. Curiosity of tourism stakeholders was immense when they realised that players actively travelled to play at certain destinations where poke-stop density was high and tried to use it for their benefits. Despite all the hype in the first place, these types of games, among them Geocaching, Ingress or Father.io are not developed for tourists as the primary target group, which still allows destinations to experiment with these types of games in terms of personalised gameplay, storytelling or incorporating alternative points of interest.
During the last phase of my PhD research, I started a position as a lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Bachelor Leisure Management and Master Imagineering, where I taught Marketing, Imagineering and creative design techniques. Since the summer of 2016, I am working under the professorship of Applied Games, Innovation and Society in the Academy of Digital Entertainment. I finally found a place where my heart is, in the interdisciplinary fields of games, design thinking, tourism and technology. My work has been exciting since the first day, as no day is like the other. Today, I am co-facilitating a game session with tourism stakeholders in a European city, tomorrow, I write on a research publication, supervise students or work on the design of a new game with the creative team of game developers.
Currently, I am working on a project entitled SCITHOS (www.scithos.eu), a EU-funded project on smart tourism hospitality, which aims to develop a game and other tools for tourism policy makers in order to enable them to engage in sustainable behaviour. Urban environments struggle with different tensions between visitors and residents, either profiting or taking the burden of recent tourism developments such as high density of visitors in the city centres, new business models or disruptive technologies. In the round-based multiplayer game, we bring decision makers together to discuss these cutting-edge issues and develop strategies for urban tourism planning. It is a new method to engage stakeholders in discussions, social learning and creative decision making processes.
Fortunate to have been invited for several international teaching opportunities, among others an Erasmus exchange to Dalarna University, Sweden or as visiting lecture at University of Western Switzerland, HES-SO Valais, where I started my journey on technology and tourism back in 2008. Ever since, my life turned 180°, as I never saw myself standing in front of a class.
I must say, that I am exceptionally fortunate and grateful for all the opportunities life has given me so far. Originating from the former Eastern Germany, my parents and grand- parents did not have all the prospects which come with a united Germany and European citizenship. Even though I have travelled and lived in different countries, I will always stay truthful to my roots.
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