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Admont Abbey strengthens Styrian tourism

Thanks to the increasing popularity of the world's largest monastery library, Admont is now also establishing itself as a popular tourist destination in Eastern Europe, Asia and the USA. The whole of Styria is benefiting from this positive development.

Admont Abbey strengthens Styrian tourism

Monday, 1 March 2021

Online marketing achieves reach of more than 150 million people

"We Benedictines see it as our task to preserve valuable cultural assets and make them accessible to people. A task to which we have dedicated ourselves for almost 950 years and through which we also significantly promote the development of tourism in the region and the entire country," says Abbot Gerhard Hafner OSB about the cultural mediation mission of the Benedictine Abbey of Admont.

Over 150 million people reached

From 2018 to 2020, the marketing and PR department of the Benedictine monastery sent the photo of the world's largest monastery library around the world. Two years in which more than 150 million users marvelled at, shared and liked the baroque marvel on digital platforms. "Our marketing is aimed at a strong online presence on social media, travel and cultural platforms. This has enabled us to significantly increase awareness of Admont's monastery library," says Mario Brandmüller, Head of Culture, Tourism and PR at Admont Abbey. A strategy that has now triggered a veritable Admont hype: On Facebook alone, the Benedictine monastery achieved a reach of almost 38 million people in two years and to top it all off, US media star Oprah Winfrey is now also stirring the advertising drum. And without an advertising contract. "The book club founded by Oprah Winfrey has issued a travel recommendation for Admont and posted a picture of the Abbey Library. We feel really honoured," says a delighted Abbot Gerhard Hafner OSB, who reports that the Benedictine Abbey has since received numerous booking enquiries from US-Americans.

Proportion of international guests is growing

However, it is not only the Benedictine monastery that benefits from the advertising impact of the world's largest monastery library, but also tourism throughout the province. Traditionally, Styria has a high proportion of domestic visitors, at just under 64 per cent. The situation is similar for overnight stays: around 61 per cent of all bookings come from Austria. The Benedictine monastery wants to attract new target groups to Styria through its international marketing. "We assume that our activities will enable us to significantly increase the proportion of foreign holiday guests in the next two years," says Economic Director Franz Pichler. In addition to the American market, the Benedictine monastery is also focussing on the Eastern European and Asian markets. "Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we launched a marketing offensive in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. We are also targeting Russia," says Head of PR Mario Brandmüller. The main aim is to attract a culturally savvy audience with the world's largest monastery library and the new special exhibition in the Abbey Museum on the two Habsburg personalities Frederick III and Maximilian I. However, guests from the new target market should not only boost the number of visitors to the museum, but above all ensure an increase in overnight stays.

The gateway to the international market

In order to tap into the international market, the Benedictine monastery is launching a new platform. Next-generation digital tours are made possible at www.cultour.digital. This is where special software comes into play, offering an outstanding 360-degree view and various audio and additional functions. "This allows visitors all over the world to digitally explore the monastery library and the Abbey Museum in Admont, enabling us to establish ourselves globally," says Pichler. Shortly after the launch in Europe, other renowned museums and cultural institutions have already joined the platform. Talks on international partnerships are also underway: "We are in contact with owner families and museum institutions from all over Europe who want to share their cultural offerings on cultour.digital," says Brandmüller about the constantly growing platform. However, these digital tours are not intended to replace the on-site experience, but rather to arouse interest in a visit. "The new platform is a virtual bridge to the real cultural experience," emphasises Brandmüller, who believes that the Benedictine monastery's sophisticated marketing strategy is not only putting Admont on the right path to positioning itself as an international holiday destination, but Styria as a whole. "Through our marketing steps, we are strengthening Styrian tourism as a whole in the long term," says Brandmüller. This sophisticated software was developed by the start-up company LightCyde from Schladming. "It enables us to offer all users a modern, experience-orientated, interactive and intuitive cultural experience. A sustainable, international cultural platform has been realised, taking into account the idea of synergy as well as extensive advertising and marketing opportunities for all cultural institutions," says Thomas Fischbacher, Managing Director of LightCyde.

Praise and recognition for the work of the Benedictine monastery also comes from the province of Styria, the municipality of Admont and the Gesäuse TVB.

MMag. Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Styrian State Councillor for Tourism
"The Admont Abbey Library is an outstanding cultural asset that has already made a name for itself all over the world. The diverse activities of the Benedictine monastery to make the library even better known and accessible even in times of the coronavirus pandemic are invaluable. They help to attract new target groups to Admont and thus to Styria. A big thank you to Abbot Gerhard Hafner and the entire team for combining tradition and innovation in a typically Styrian way," says Barbara Eibinger-Miedl, Provincial Councillor for Tourism.

Christian Haider, Mayor of the market town of Admont 
"A young and dedicated team has succeeded in sending the world's largest monastery library on a journey around the world. Our municipality was also able to take part in this journey. Tourism and the monastery library in particular are very important to the municipality of Admont."

David Osebik, Managing Director of the Gesäuse Tourism Association
What has been created behind and in front of the monastery walls in recent years is causing a furore in the world outside the monastery. The tourism association team was able to build up the success factor of social media with the monastery's cultural department in the first few years. The State Prize for PR in November 2019 was the first and much-noticed crown on this development. Since 2020, the monastery has been its own successful social media agency and is continuing on its path to previously unimagined heights. The 100,000 followers recently reached on Facebook speak for themselves. However, innovation at Admont Benedictine Abbey does not stop at social media. Last year, the Cultour project created a digital cultural platform that is unrivalled worldwide. This is the result of hard work and enormous expertise, for which the monastery and its employees are to be congratulated.