Doctorate in Business and Socioeconomic Sciences

Research Profile Karl Wöber

Karl Wöber
Full Professor and President, Department of Tourism and Service Management

Description of Research Profile

Decision Support Systems, Strategic Marketing and Strategic Planning
My main research contributions are in the fields of decision support systems, and strategic marketing and strategic planning. The principle questions underlying most of my research activities are how to improve the decision making of managers and consumers by providing decision support tools. Within the general field of decision support system research, I particularly investigated various forms of collaborative decision making methods and methods for solving multi-criteria decision making problems.

Data Envelopment Analysis in Tourism
When studying the question on how to measure the relative efficiency of tourism organizations I introduced Data Envelopment Analysis into tourism when this methodology was rediscovered in management science (Wöber 2002, 2007). I proposed an evolutionary extension of DEA involving a genetic algorithm to make the optimization procedure usually employed in DEA more universally applicable especially for real-time decision support systems. Later I applied this method also to destination benchmarking and wrote a series of papers investigating the strengths and weaknesses of DEA for measuring the efficiency of destinations and organizations following multiple objectives. A paper on measuring the inefficiency of state tourism advertising programs in the United States received the Martin Oppermann JTTM Article of the Year Award and was reprinted in Chinese (Wöber and Fesenmaier 2004).

Within the tourism research community, I am one of the early pioneers who developed and shaped the eTourism research domain, an interdisciplinary research field which plays an increasingly important role in the overall tourism research field (Wöber, Frew and Hitz 2002; Scharl, Wöber and Bauer 2004). When working as a research group coordinator of an EU funded project for developing an intelligent recommendation system for tourist decision making I invented the concept of collaborative browsing as an alternative artificial intelligence technique to collaborative filtering (Ricci, Wöber and Zins 2005). The recommendation cycle of this procedure was later applied by the Italian spin-off company Trip@dvice, who used the more intuitive name seeking for inspiration for this methodology.

Destination Recommendation Systems
My work on destination recommendation systems inspired me to further investigate the role of search engines in finding tourism information. In particular, I got fascinated by the idea that domain-specific search engines may better support the information search process of travelers than generic search engines. I investigated the opportunities for combining content and usage mining techniques for unobtrusively observing and analyzing travelers’ information needs with the objective of recommending the optimal website. My work on domain-specific search engines materialized in a number of real-time applications, most prominently the web portal of European Cities Marketing ( and in a book on destination recommendation systems (Fesenmaier, Wöber and Werthner 2006). A paper on the representation of the online tourism domain in search engines received the Charles R. Goeldner JTR Article of the Year Award in 2009 (Xiang, Wöber and Fesenmaier 2008).

City Tourism Measurement
Related to my work on a definition of city tourism and the measurement of the impact of city tourism in Europe, I proposed a concept for city tourism statistics which is increasingly accepted by the industry and norm-setting organizations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (Wöber 2000; Mazanec and Wöber 2009).

My continuous research of strategic marketing and decision support systems has led to the development of the most comprehensive open source tourism marketing information system worldwide (TourMIS, The impact of TourMIS on the tourism industry and on tourism education and research is best illustrated by the system’s access numbers. Currently, TourMIS welcomes 18,000 registered users who retrieve more than 200,000 reports per year. The system has provided me with a perfect environment for testing various theories and planning tools that have been promoted in the tourism research literature (Wöber 2003). Examples for significant contributions which materialized in own research publications are relate to destination portfolio analysis, hybrid and adaptive forecasting of tourism demand, and various forms of extracting competitive patters among tourism destinations (Croce and Wöber 2011; Mazanec and Wöber 2009; Mazanec, Wöber and Zins 2007). In 2009, TourMIS was awarded with the prestigious Jury Prize for Innovation in Tourism Enterprises by the United Nations World Tourism Organization Ulysses Committee.

I acquired my PhD from the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) where I was awarded the venia docendi for Business Administration and became Associate Professor in 2000. Between 2000 and 2007 I was Deputy Department Head at the Institute for Tourism and Leisure Studies at WU. I was also a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Leisure Studies, in 1997, and I am still a Visiting Senior Fellow of the School of Management at the University of Surrey (UK) and a Senior Fellow of the National Laboratory of Tourism and eCommerce at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Temple University (USA) since 2005. After nineteen years of research and teaching, I am currently the President of MODUL University Vienna and serve as the Dean of the Master of Science (MSc) Program.

Selected Theses Supervised
1. Wagner, David. Vergleich faktorenanalytischer Designs in Longitudinal- oder Konkurrenzstudien, 2004

2. Dunne, Gerry (2nd reviewer). An Examination of Motivation and Decision Making in City Break Travel. The Case of Dublin, 2007

3. Zheng, Xiang (2nd reviewer). Assessing the Online Tourism Domain from an Information Search Perspective, 2010

4. Pezenka, Ilona.Vergleich unterschiedlicher Methoden zur Erhebung von Ähnlichkeitsdaten für große Stimulus-Sets dargestellt am Beispiel der Imagepositionierung von Städtetourismusdestinationen, 2010

5. Aubke, Florian. A Model of Effective Communication Structures in Expert-led Teams – An Application to Hotel Revenue Management Teams, 2012

6. Költringer, Clemens (2nd reviewer). Evaluating Destination Online representation Measurement. Leveraging Online Media for Market, In progress

7. Zekan, Bozana. The Role of Destination Benchmarking for Tourism Planning and Policy, In progress

8. Croce, Valeria. Experts' Predictive Power - An Explorative Study on the Aggregation and Integration of Judgmental and Statistical Forecast, In progress