Sebastian Zenker Researcher Profile

Sebastian Zenker is a professor (with special responsibilities) in Place Branding and Tourism at the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark). He achieved his doctoral degree on places as brands at the University of Hamburg (Germany) and gained international experience as visiting scholar at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands) where he worked as postdoctoral student and visiting Assistant Professor. Furthermore, worked as a Senior Lecturer at the Technical University Berlin (Germany).

In his current research, he concentrates on places as brands and on the management of such place brands. Furthermore, he is interested in the field of tourism and destination branding, especially in the differences between the place perception between tourists and residents – and the issue of so-called Over-Tourism.

Sebastian’s work was presented at various conferences, in book chapters and international peer-reviewed top-journals, such as the International Journal of Research in Marketing, Tourism Management, or Environment and Planning A.

He also worked as consultant for places, such as for the City of Berlin, Copenhagen or Hamburg.

Based at:

Copenhagen Business School, Department of Marketing, Center for Tourism and Culture Management (Denmark)


Which topics linked to place branding are you most passionate about, as researcher?

  • Over-Tourism
  • Tourism and destination brands
  • Place marketing and branding (especially city branding)
  • Participatory place marketing
  •  Brand complexity and brand management
  •  Consumer research in the area of (brand) identification

5 hashtags which describe your work:

#quantitative #participatory #citybranding #overtourism #power-of-residents


3 key insights from your research to share with practitioners:

  • Residents are your most valuable target group as they are aim and part of the place communication as well.
  • Places do not own the place brand – but can only try to orchestra it in a certain way.
  • Cities are fragile ecosystems that need constant efforts of balancing different stakeholder groups (especially tourists and residents).

If money and time would be no issue – which research topics would you work on next?

The aspect of Over-Tourism and how we can balance touristic and resident needs.

Method-wise more on big data analysis and GPS tracking.


Your advice for young scholars and emerging researchers:

Academically, competition is getting tougher and it is all about high-ranked international peer-reviewed publications. This requires more rigorous and cutting edge methods to use and overcoming purely descriptive and single case study approaches.


Where can we find out more about your work?

On my website or institutional profile, also in my interview with The Place Brand Observer.


Your latest presentations and publications:

Zenker, S., von Wallpach, S., Braun, E., & Vallaster, C. (2019): How the refugee crisis impacts the decision structure of tourists: A cross-country scenario study. Tourism Management, 71(April), 197-212. Link

Zenker, S. (2018): Editorial: City marketing and branding as urban policy. Cities, 80, 1-3. Link

Braun, E., Eshuis, J., Zenker, S., & Klijn, E. H. (2018): Improving place reputation: Do an open place brand process and an identity-image match pay off?. Cities, 80, 22-28. Link

Vallaster, C., von Wallpach, S., & Zenker, S. (2018): The interplay between urban policies and grassroots city brand co-creation and co-destruction during the refugee crisis: Insights from the city brand Munich (Germany). Cities, 80, 53-60. Link

Eshuis, J., Braun, E., Klijn, E. H., & Zenker, S. (2018): The differential effect of various stakeholder groups in place marketing. Environment and Planning C, 36(5), 916-936. Link

Zenker, S. & Braun, E. (2017): Questioning a “one size fits all” city brand: Developing a branded house strategy for place brand management. Journal of Place Management and Development. 10(3), 270-287. OPEN ACCESS Link

Zenker, S., Braun, E., & Petersen, S. (2017): Branding the destination versus the place: The effects of brand complexity and identification for residents and visitors. Tourism Management, 58, 15-27. Link