At the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) last meeting, the hottest issue on the table was how new technology could spur opportunities and innovation for the sector.
Virtual reality, artificial intelligence, smartphones, computer development, and digital resources make up a new wave of technological changes that can burst or renew tourism marketing strategies.
For the Secretary-General of UNWTO, Zurbal Pololikashvili, digital advances need to be incorporated. “Innovation provides opportunities for tourism to increase social inclusion, the empowerment of local communities and the efficient use of management resources,” he shared at the meeting, “among many objectives framed in the agenda for sustainable development.”
Tourism needs to be well placed in the digital agenda for growth to occur at a global level. The objective is to create something different, bringing innovation to tourism while conserving the characteristic warmth of the industry.
Travellers are changing and evolving along with technology. Tourists know their specific needs and make them known to airlines, destinations, hotels and all other stakeholders in the sector. With these rapid changes, the tourism industry stumbled across a gap between what was being offered and what travellers were eager to experience, illustrated by the boom of experiential tourism.
Innovation, technology and experiences
Today’s tourism is about three converging elements: innovation, technology, and experiences. The overlap of these pillars is increasingly crucial when offering tourists a trip akin to their expectations.
Digital innovation brings more connectivity, offering travellers instant information, opinions and recommendations in real time at any given destination. They can plan and book their trip in a matter of minutes. Given this window of opportunity, the focus shifts to offering specific experiences to potential visitors, facilitating captivating and personalized proposals to different profiles of tourists, leaving behind the antiquated strategy of indiscriminately selling an entire destination.
In approaching marketing for this sort of experiential tourism, the sector needs to have a clear data study and excellent interpretation of this information. Big data and hard statistics lose the details so crucial to such a humanized industry. Soft data, on the other hand, is a better way to understand travellers more accurately. More straightforward data allow us to distinguish preferences, tastes, and other differentiating details.
In this way, the use of data from large-scale digital measurements can provide tourist companies with valuable information that, incorporated into their internal processes, can completely transform their approach.
Applied to customer experience, the strategy doubles as organic advertising for the tourism trade, because an increasing number of travellers visit opinion platforms such as Trip Advisor. In this way, tourists who have visited a destination naturally become an ambassador or detractor of it.
New technologies allow companies to obtain comprehensive information about travellers’ experiences and with this, can detect levels of satisfaction with services such as hotels, airlines, and other providers.
Well-being and sensory experiences of travellers are other crucial factors. Inspirational attractions and elements that convey positive feelings attract the attention of tourists and can also be used for creating digital content and promotional tools. Enriching the personal connection with tourists and taking advantage of the tools provided by new technologies are the key to a successful path of innovation in tourism.
Latin American travellers lead the rankings in the desire for authentic experiences. Argentinian tourists are especially keen to learn about new cultures, taste local cuisines and meet new people. They are willing to be guided by the specific experiences each destination has to offer.
Tourists today are connected and analytical, so the tourism business has to keep up, adopting new technologies that will optimize the value gain and allow for new models to flourish at a global level.