Ischgl is special. Not just for holiday-makers, but for the people of Paznaun, too – and everyone who works here. Starting this season, all employees will receive the Ischgl Crew Card with a huge range of leisure time and further education special offers. We spoke to Daniela Wolf and Werner Aloys to find out more.

The challenge of being attractive to tourists is one that Ischagl has mastered with considerable success for some years now. But what’s almost as important, though, is having the right people working here, because as a tourist destination, you can only ensure visitors have a good holiday – and turn into regular visitors – if you have good employees on your staff.

“Getting the right staff is becoming more and more important in our industry,” says Werner Aloys from Hotel Tirol. For some time now, there’s been a tourism association working group looking at new ways of managing staff acquisition. Aloys is the head of this working group, which also includes Daniela Wolf from Hotel Post, and this season sees the first visible results of the group’s work. Those results are called the Ischgl Crew Card and the Ischgl Crew Book – and they don’t just provide important information for all employees, but also a whole range of discounts, from cheaper meals and drinks in restaurants to free ski courses.

What does this achieve?

For Aloys, it’s very obvious. “We have to appear as a destination, and not just as individual businesses, when we are looking for new staff. Because the first thing potential employees think about is where they want to work, the destination, and here Ischgl is competing against a lot of other resorts. It’s only when they know where they want to go that they decide which business to work in.”

So Ischgl needs to be well ahead in this international competition for the best tourism employees – and special offers are the way to go. The tourism association working group’s first official act was to ask both employers and employees in Ischgl’s tourism sector what factors, in their opinion, make people happy with a destination. The somewhat surprising result, according to Aloys: “The salary is not what’s so important to employees, the differences aren’t so great any more. It’s about leisure time activities, the quality of life outside of work.”

And this is exactly the aim of what’s been christened the Ischgl Crew Card. For a start, the card, which everyone working in tourism in Ischgl can pick up at the tourist office, provides numerous discounts. There are special prices in certain restaurants, some bars offer cheaper drinks, there are discounts for ski equipment hire and at a range of other leisure facilities. The season ticket for the cableway is also much less expensive than for other people.

What makes the Ischgl Crew Card so interesting, though, is that it should bring the town and the people working in it closer to each other, according to Aloys. He is particularly pleased, for example, that the Ischgl Ski School offers Crew Card holders a group ski course – for free. And that the Silvretta cableway company carries all Crew Card members up to Idalp at least once.

Aloys says: “I think it’s good for the people who work here to know how the town earns its money. They need to understand what the attraction of Ischgl is, how exciting skiing and the mountains are. Then they’ll be able to understand our visitors better, too.”

“The ski courses in particular”, says Aloys, have been very well received by the employees, and he hopes it will make some of them fall more in love with the town, and come back in future seasons.

The working group has also drawn up a range of further measures which should make Ischgl attractive to potential tourism employees. All Crew Members are connected on social media, they’re kept up to date on special offers each day – and there really is something going on for Crew Members every single day. As well as ski courses, there are special yoga classes, guided snowshoe hikes or informal meet-ups. There is now a dedicated member of staff at the tourism association responsible for the staff at partner businesses. Aloys says: “We just call her the organizer.”

For the hotelier, however, this is far from the end of the story. Aloys would like to offer more in-depth training courses, and as well as language courses, he’s also thinking of very special further education opportunities: “We have top chefs here, we have top-class sommeliers. Why shouldn’t we bring them together with the other tourism employees, and make sure there are special cooking or sommelier courses for those who are interested? There’s enormous potential in Ischgl – you just have to tap into it.”

This is how Ischgl can make its name throughout Europe, not just for visitors but for workers in the tourism sector, too, which is hugely important in Aloys’ opinion. And it will take a great deal of effort to be successful in the future, too: “In the coming years, we will probably have to work just as hard to win staff as visitors.”

The Crew Card is just the beginning.

Photo: Niko Havranek