The new tourism model

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS -

In­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies (ICTS) have shaken up not only the way we plan and book our trips, but the way we en­joy and share them. An­to­nio López de Avila Munoz, di­rec­tor, cor­po­rate re­la­tions, Tech&life­style for IE Busi­ness School in Spain, gives us a run­down on how the in­dus­try should adapt

This past decade, we have wit­nessed the birth of a new dig­i­tal tourist: more self-suf­fi­cient, very de­mand­ing, mul­ti­chan­neled; some­one who ex­pects a per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ser­vice and feels the need to be con­nected on a full-time ba­sis.

Des­ti­na­tion man­agers and com­pa­nies must evolve in or­der to of­fer an en­tire range of ser­vices for the en­tire jour­ney – be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter – to this new dig­i­tal tourist. Mar­ket­ing, pro­mo­tion, ser­vices pro­vi­sion…a com­pre­hen­sive makeover is needed, as op­posed to slight changes or re­peats of old mod­els. We are wit­ness­ing the cre­ation of a new tourism model for the 21st cen­tury, the Smart Tourist Des­ti­na­tions, where the ul­ti­mate goal is to achieve a long-term eco­nomic, so­cio­cul­tural and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity for tourism.

New busi­ness mod­els are emerg­ing, ex­plor­ing all that this new tech­no­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment has to of­fer. There is a com­pletely new scheme of in­no­va­tions, start­ing with a wider of­fer in terms of pur­chase pro­cesses, sales, in­ter­nal man­age­ment, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, avail­abil­ity man­age­ment and me­di­a­tion. There are also new, dis­rup­tive busi­ness mod­els as well, stuck in the midst of trend changes and so­cial move­ments, boost­ing sales and ex­changes, en­cour­ag­ing the act of shar­ing among peers (‘Peer2peer’).

New game, new rules

In­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy have ir­re­vo­ca­bly rewrit­ten the rules; play­ing the role of game changer, and tourists now hold the cards; des­ti­na­tion search and se­lec­tion, prod­ucts and ser­vices screen­ing, hy­per­seg­men­ta­tion, self-plan­ning of trips, post­ing and as­sess­ing the travel ex­pe­ri­ence. There­fore, the of­fer must be ad­justed to a more de­mand­ing cus­tomer, who asks for truth­ful and trust­wor­thy in­for­ma­tion, the best price-qual­ity ra­tio, gen­uine ex­pe­ri­ence, and des­ti­na­tions pro­vid­ing a dis­tin­guish­ing of­fer. This trend has an im­pact, not only on the av­er­age tourist, but also on the pre­mium sec­tor, as shown in the re­sults of the lat­est IE Pre­mium Travel Barom­e­ter, re­cently pub­lished by the IE Pre­mium and Pres­tige Busi­ness Ob­ser­va­tory.

Smart Tourist Des­ti­na­tions are based on in­no­va­tion, tech­nol­ogy, ac­ces­si­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity. Their de­vel­op­ment be­gan in 2012, in Spain, driven for­ward by the ef­forts of the pub­lic com­pany, State So­ci­ety for the Man­age­ment of In­no­va­tion and Tourism Tech­nolo­gies (SEGITTUR). Its achieve­ments have trans­formed Spain into the world’s leader in terms of pro­gres­sive im­ple­men­ta­tion. Spain was also the first coun­try to pub­lish a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dard in ‘Man­age­ment Sys­tem of Smart Tourist Des­ti­na­tions’ (UNE178501). How­ever, this new tourism model goes much fur­ther; it’s a door that has just been opened on to thou­sands of new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties all around the world.

A new era is com­ing

New tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments linked to the In­ter­net of Things (IOT), to Big Data/ Open Data, to Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence and to Vir­tual Re­al­ity, are forg­ing a path to new pro­cesses and to new ways of man­ag­ing things, as well as new strate­gies to win and en­sure cus­tomers loy­alty in a way we could have never imag­ined. A warn­ing to mar­ket­ing teams, sales and loy­alty en­hanc­ing pro­grams - there is a new era com­ing! A new era of knowl­edge, analysis and life­long learn­ing.

Tourism In­tel­li­gence will be­come a key part of the new process from the very mo­ment we start an­a­lyz­ing data. Ac­quir­ing greater knowl­edge of the tourist’s pro­file and mo­bile tech­nolo­gies (Go mo­bile!), will give us the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­take to­tally new, dis­rup­tive dig­i­tal pro­mo­tions and mar­ket­ing strate­gies. These can be re­lated to our cus­tomers’ and po­ten­tial cus­tomers’ emo­tions and needs in a sim­ple, straight­for­ward way. Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence tech­nolo­gies, such as ma­chine learn­ing, Chat­bots, smart data, deep learn­ing and nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing, which are avail­able now to all kinds of com­pa­nies, al­low us to an­a­lyze our cus­tomers’ pro­files at al­most light­ning speed. More­over, we can ob­tain a deep un­der­stand­ing of what, when and how our prod­uct or ser­vice is wanted, en­abling us to pro­vide them in the most ef­fi­cient way pos­si­ble.

We must train our teams so they are ca­pa­ble of man­ag­ing and lead­ing the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion that is es­sen­tial for both our com­pa­nies and des­ti­na­tions. Train­ing is es­sen­tial if we are to sur­vive in a sce­nario that in­cludes dig­i­tal tourists re­quir­ing vol­umes of real-time in­for­ma­tion and, si­mul­ta­ne­ously, we are given much more in­for­ma­tion about them than we could have ever imag­ined.

We are part of a sec­tor that com­prises trav­el­ers and hosts. Let’s leave all that rou­tine, au­to­matic work to ma­chines and let’s en­cour­age our ‘hu­man teams’ to add value where a hu­man touch is needed. A gen­tle look and a smile… those lit­tle de­tails that can truly make a dif­fer­ence!

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