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Warm Welcome: David Luken

Without even knowing it, we come into contact with technology enabled by SKIDATA on a regular basis: upon entering and exiting a car park, attending a sporting event or moving around a ski resort.

David Luken, CEO of SKIDATA

With innovative digital solutions such as touchless payment and mobile phones as tickets, we also have the access control and revenue management market leader to thank for how seamless our interactions in these spaces have become.

“We change the world of welcoming people,” CEO David Luken says. Since the company was established in 1977, it has forged a portfolio of over 10,000 installations across 100 countries.

“We’re built on a history of helping provide innovative solutions that enable our customers to better operate their businesses to welcome their end customers into their locations,” he says. From its headquarters in Salzburg, Austria, SKIDATA’s reach is global and its 1,400-strong workforce spread out across 27 countries.

The public access division of Swiss-based Kudelski Group, it has three key market segments: mountain, parking and events. It’s at high altitudes, in some of the best winter destinations in the world, where its customised, customer-centric, solutions first drew attention.

“We’ve really been at the forefront of how to allow people to move freely through a ski resort but still provide all the information and access control for the resort’s operators,” David says.

Achievements such as the creation of the SwissPass public transport travelcard in collaboration with longstanding partner Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) are particular points of reference for the business.

Using radiofrequency identification technology, SKIDATA’s expertise was called upon across the development process, from technical consultancy in the planning phase to chip design and formatting as the early prototypes emerged.

Once the product was ready to launch, SKIDATA and SBB came together to promote their innovative solution at trade shows, symposiums and in the mountain resorts themselves. Eight years have passed since the start of the project and, with 4.5 million users – and counting – its success as both a travelcard and a ski pass is now indisputable.

“SKIDATA and SBB revolutionised the way customers are buying and using ski tickets and jointly shaped the entire market,” David explains. The duo has joined forces again as they work to develop the SwissPass Parking solution, which will enable access to SBB’s 1,500-plus car parks using the SwissPass.

“Parking is part of a broader mobility strategy taken by SBB to cover the first and last mile of the customer journey,” David says. As the two companies prepare to launch the product to market, the release of this next-generation access card presents another opportunity to transform user experience: this time how people park in Switzerland.

Cases such as its partnership with SBB showcase how essential these longstanding relationships are to SKIDATA’s business.

“We have been around for 40 years and in that time have developed significant partnerships, agreements and working relationships throughout the industry,” David says.

“These are not won in a day. These are maintained through ongoing trust and delivery performance over time. That doesn’t mean simply delivering on projects, but ongoing support and service and providing the value our customers need.”

David, a qualified mechanical engineer who spent a decade at Honeywell Aerospace and, most recently, held a business development role at a startup in the water industry, says there were three principle components that attracted him to the role in 2019.

“When I looked at SKIDATA, I saw a global company with reach, a global customer base with lots of installations that could be leveraged, and a strong alignment with innovation and technology, both historically and in the current environment,” he explains.

The latter, he continues, proved to be the deciding factor. “I like to be aligned with where technology is going,” he says.

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