Guest article by Dominik Mahr.

The Frontiers in Service Conference 2023, held in the picturesque city of Maastricht, welcomed service researchers from around the globe for a remarkable gathering. Back in 2002, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics (SBE) became the first university outside the United States to host this prestigious event. After 21 years, Maastricht University is proud to have had the honour to host it once again.
Centered around the theme “From Roman to Robots: Service Research in e-motion,” our conference aimed to inspire attendees with technological developments while fostering meaningful personal connections. The spirit of the event closely mirrors the Latin origin of the word “conference”, bringing people and topics together as well as, encouraging in-depth conversations and debates on relevant issues.

The Conference at a Glance
• More than 350 attendees from across the globe, including 110 doctoral students, came together to share knowledge and ideas
• 220+ parallel presentations created a vibrant platform for researchers to discuss their findings and insights.
• 11 special sessions and activities, amplifying the scope for collaborative discussions
• …plenty of conversations, chat and fun.

Our four keynote sessions covered a variety of topics and formats:
Ethics and AI
The first keynote session focused on Ethics and AI. Margaret Mitchel, a world renown expert in AI ethics, addressed the need for responsible AI practices to prevent bias and discrimination. The Dutch child care benefit scandal exemplified the significance of ethical considerations in AI, as explained by Olaf Simonse, manager ‘emotional recovery’ of the Dutch child benefit case, in an interview with the moderator of the session, Lisa Brüggen.

foto: Philip Driessen – UM SBE – conference Frontiers in Service 2023,

Sustainable Services
Lerzan Aksoy, the 2022 recipient of the Christopher Lovelock Career Contributions to the Services Discipline Award, moderated the keynote session on sustainable services. Mark Post, the founder of Mosa Meat which showcased the world’s first cultured burger, discussed how to develop sustainable food systems. Nancy Bocken, professor in Sustainable Business at Maastricht University, presented her research on circularity and provided examples of companies that use servitization for sustainability.

foto: Philip Driessen – UM SBE – conference Frontiers in Service 2023,

Meaningful Digital Experiences, Now and in the Future
Saturday’s session focused on the future of digital experiences. Samuel Fung from Starbucks shared insightful strategies for cultivating meaningful customer connections through digital channels. Moreover, researchers from Maastricht’s Digital Experience Lab (DEXLab), Dominik Mahr, Tim Hilken, Jonas Heller, and Roberta di Palma presented research snapshots of research using biometric, virtual, and augmented reality technologies, revealing the transformative potential of these advancements in enhancing customer experiences.

foto: Philip Driessen – UM SBE – conference Frontiers in Service 2023,

Shaping our Future with Service Robots and AI
Sunday’s keynote session delved into the world of service robots and AI, which is the focus of Maastricht Center for Robots (MCR). Jochen Wirtz, a renowned service scholar, presented research on the impact of service robots on user interactions across diverse industries. Mike van Rijswijk, CEO and futurologist at Robot Control and Innovation Playground, offered a glimpse into cutting-edge developments in sectors like healthcare and education, leaving attendees inspired and envisioning a futuristic adventure.
Finally, Jos Lemmink who has been essential in building up service research at Maastricht University reflected on the service research evolution, with a call for transdisciplinary research, and appreciation for emerging researchers empowered the service community to build impact.

foto: Philip Driessen – UM SBE – conference Frontiers in Service 2023,

SERVSIG Doctoral Colloquium
The conference was preceded by the Doctoral Colloquium organized by Mirella Kleijnen and Stacey Robinson. A stunning number of 110 enthusiastic doctoral students discussed with senior service researchers bridging theory and practice, the research journey, and research-life balance. Some doctoral students might have found connections for life – as previous participants of the very valuable SERVSIG Doctoral Colloquium.

Pre-conference workshops
The 2023 Frontiers in Service conference also featured two inspiring pre-conference workshops for JSR Special Issues about “Human-Robot Interactions in Service (with Gaby Odekerken-Schröder, Jenny van Doorn, Jim Spohrer) and Smart Service Failure Recovery (Yves Van Vaerenbergh, Chiara Orsingher, Yany Gregoire & Katja Gelbrich).

Social events
The conference kicked off with registration and welcome reception at the Maastricht Fotomuseum, located at Maastricht’s Central Square, the ‘Vrijthof’. Welcomed by the conference co-hosts Dominik Mahr and Lisa Brüggen, and service Robot Temi, we enjoyed a lovely evening reconnecting with (old and new) academic friends.

foto: Philip Driessen – UM SBE – conference Frontiers in Service 2023,

The awards ceremony and conference dinner took place at Rebelle, a former church and national monument from the 17th century with a more than impressive interior. The ceremony was a moment of reflection in which the global community honoured outstanding research achievements. Big applause for all winners and especially for Martin Wetzels, for winning the 2023 Lovelock Career Contribution Award. The vibrant atmosphere with a delightful dinner and fun dancing made it a memorable evening of celebration.

Saturday night concluded with an Open Mic event to celebrate SERVSIG’s turning 30 and social dinner at the venue’s Brasserie, enjoying the evening sun, music, and each other’s company.

The conference organization committee is extremely grateful to all participants and the many helpers for co-creating this highly rewarding experience!

Check out the official pictures from the 2023 Frontiers in Service conference

as well as a collection from social media

and remember the wonderful conference experience in Maastricht.

Dominik Mahr
Professor of Digital Innovation and Marketing
Head of the Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management (MSCM)
Scientific Director Service Science Factory (SSF)
School of Business and Economics
Maastricht University