Re-Thinking Travel: Disrupting an Industry with Start-Ups

Published on: 19th December 2015
As the world’s biggest aviation group, Lufthansa doesn’t stop investing in the future and in world-wide innovation.

One way Lufthansa does this is through the establishment of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub in the heart of Berlin, Continental Europe’s vibrant start-up and digital technology epicentre. The Innovation Hub comes armed with an innovation fund to help it in its mission to develop talented new ideas within as well as outside the group.

Even  more  impressive  is  that,  its  arsenal  further  includes knowledge from experts in the aviation field, compiled data for new travel solutions, as well as a user base of over 100 million travellers.
Re-Thinking Travel
This  places the  Lufthansa  Innovation  Hub  in  a unique  position  to  scout for  promising new start-up and digital companies who have good travel products and ideas which can then be further developed on a joint basis.

Sebastian  Herzog,  Managing  Director  &  Chief  Strategist,  of  the  Lufthansa  Innovation Hub GmbH, gives his insights about the Hub’s operations and future focuses.

Together  with  20+  German  and  International  speakers  he  will  join  the  annual  Global Innovation Leaders 2016 summit in March 2016, and talk about start-up collaboration.

As the Chief Strategist at the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, can you explain how it fits into Lufthansa’s overall strategic vision and the future of transportation services?

While  Lufthansa  traditionally  sees  itself  “only”  as  an  airline - digital  transformation drives the connectivity and interdependence of all mobility services. Products such as “flights” will be way more integrated in the future - perhaps even fully seamless and frictionless. In such a scenario, it is important to understand and build ecosystems while proving the ability to share data and partner. This is exactly where the Innovation Hub comes into play.

“It is about combining the disruptive thinking-&-acting of the start-up ecosystem with the strong brand, reach-power and big data of the big corporate Lufthansa.”
Re-Thinking Travel
You have a relatively long history at Lufthansa, and as it seems from your motorcycle trip across Africa, an appetite for adventure. What made you decide to take the rather adventurous step and create the Lufthansa Innovation Hub?

Creating the Lufthansa Innovation Hub was and still is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

It  also  is  an  emotional rollercoaster with ups and downs way more intense than in  any  job  I  had  before.  And  it  is  unique.  It  is  about combining  the  disruptive  thinking-&-acting  of  the  start-up  ecosystem  with  the  strong  brand,  reach-power  and big data of the big corporate Lufthansa.

At the upcoming Global Innovation Leaders 2016 summit, your presentation is titled: Re-Thinking Travel: Disrupting An Industry With Start-Ups. What are some of the key insights participants will gain from your presentation, and what do you hope to take-away from the event?

Participants will get an in-depths understanding of why and how Lufthansa decided to interact with Startups and apply start-up-methodology for our own projects. Hopefully this will set an inspirational contrast in the world of many me-too corporate accelerators and me-too corporate-incubators. Speaking for myself: I am hoping to leave the Global Innovation Leader Summit with fresh thoughts and new inspiration ready to apply the day after. About

Sebastian Herzog has developed and built the Lufthansa Innovation Hub GmbH in Berlin. As  former  interim  Managing  Director  and  now  Chief  Strategist  he  initiates  intensive collaboration with start-ups, develops creative and innovative travel-products and gets things  done.  The  former  positions  held  at  Lufthansa  include  those  of  the  Executive Assistant  to  the  CEO  of  the  Lufthansa  Group  and  the  Manager  for  Market  &  Fleet Development. Sebastian has spearheaded numerous internal innovation initiatives. He is increasingly looking at airlines as an open platform – both in terms of infrastructure and data – and is persistently rethinking the entire travel chain to make collaboration with start-ups  more  attractive  and  effective.  Having  founded  his  own  company,  Sebastian constantly moves between the corporate culture and the start-up spirit. Additionally, he is a start-up mentor; a speaker and a panellist at various events about future travel and innovation.
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