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Success Story: Dr. Susanne Faerber, HSBA Alumna and Managing Director of the Panoptikum

HSBA alumna Dr. Susanne Faerber is not only a first-class academic. She is carrying on a family tradition that has existed for more than 140 years: as managing partner of Germany's oldest wax museum in the heart of Hamburg, she is living her childhood dream.

As a member of the Claussen-Simon Graduate Centre at HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration, Dr. Susanne Faerber did her PhD on visitor satisfaction in tourist attractions in cooperation with the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). In only three years and with a full-time job as managing director, she managed to successfully complete her doctoral thesis in record time. The publication of her second scientific paper, a meta-analysis on the topic "When are visitors actually satisfied at visitor attractions? What we know from more than 30 years of research "*, in an internationally renowned journal**, is the crowning achievement of her academic career so far.  

"Tourism Management is the leading international journal for all those involved in management, including travel and tourism planning," says Dr. Susanne Faerber. "This publication in particular makes me very proud, because it is a nice reward for a lot of work and effort. I hope that my work can give other researchers and managers of visitor attractions some good ideas and inspiration for further research."  


140 years of family tradition     

Dr Susanne Faerber did her doctorate on marketing and customer behaviour in the tourism industry, an industry that is close to her personal heart, as she is the managing partner of Germany's oldest wax museum in the heart of Hamburg. The Panoptikum in St. Pauli was founded in 1879 by her great-great-grandfather and has been run by the family ever since.   

With her doctoral thesis on visitor satisfaction in tourist attractions, she has not only made a significant contribution to marketing and tourism research, but - and perhaps more importantly - the results obtained are immensely valuable for her daily work as a manager of a visitor attraction.    

"In Hamburg, tourism is one of the industries with the most employees and has an enormous economic impact that is often underestimated," she explains. "More than 95 per cent of our customers are tourists, so it is important for us to learn more about their needs.

Visitor attractions such as museums, zoos, festivals, (sports) events, theme parks and other cultural institutions offer entertainment, but usually also education and thus recreation and a change from everyday life. They invite visitors to spend time with family and friends and to engage with the topics and content on offer in an enjoyable and understandable way. The mixture of shared experience, education and entertainment is what makes the entertainment economy so unique and important.  


Between Hamburg and Esbjerg   

HSBA's cooperative PhD programme enables part-time, application-oriented research with partner universities such as the University of Southern Denmark (SDU). While Dr. Faerber was living and working in Hamburg, she was in very close daily exchange with her two PhD supervisors, Prof. Dr Dennis Ahrholdt from HSBA and Oliver Schnittka from SDU. In addition, she travelled to Esbjerg and Odense a few times each year, for example to give lectures or participate in doctoral courses, and had the opportunity to get to know the country and its people.   


For further reading:  

Articel in Jydske Vestkysten, 31. January 2021:  
Susanne er direktør på berømt voksmuseum på i Hamborg : Boostede karrieren på succesfuldt forsker-program i Esbjerg | 

JydskeVestkysten is the largest regional daily newspaper in Denmark.    


*Faerber, Susanne, Dennis Ahrholdt, Julian Hofmann, and Oliver Schnittka. 2021. "When are visitors actually satisfied at visitor attractions? What we know from more than 30 years of research Tourism Management." Tourism Management 84: 104284. 

**Tourism Management,

Promotionsprogramm HSBA, PhD