Smart tourism: Reviving sightseeing through technology
By Neeraj Purohit
Posted on 11-16-2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the travel industry and has prioritized the need for innovative ways to promote tourism while also ensuring traveler safety.
The travel industry represented 10 percent of the global GDP in 2019 but has experienced a steep drop in travel with the onset of the pandemic. By implementing “smart tourism” practices to improve the industry’s use of data and technology, the travel sector is poised to see a revival.
Smart tourism is the use of technology to modernize operations and improve the efficiency of tourism, while providing convenience and safety to travelers. Travel and tourism organizations can provide superior experiences across each part of the traveler journey including accommodation, transportation, attractions, gastronomy and even ancillary services. There are multiple practices that can be adopted by tourism organizations to deliver smart experiences across the customer journey, such as real time safety alerts, using data to personalize and create more meaningful experiences, and contactless interactions, which enable sanitation and safety.
Real-time safety alerts via digital channels is an opportunity to ensure travelers have the right information to both enjoy their journey and feel safe in the process. The present an opportunity for governments to keep people who have traveled to their locations up to date. And research shows that citizens consider governments one of the most trusted sources for accurate information during the pandemic. A separate study by King’s business school has revealed that safety-related messages from travel destinations in promotional material are positively influencing tourists. In this same way, technology can assist governments and ensure safe trips for travelers.
For example, the Copenhagen Digital Card, which leverages technology like QR codes and mobile location, provides users access to various attractions and free public transport. While this provides convenience to tourists, it also allows the government to understand crowd movement patterns and optimize and allocate resources for investment. Governments and tourism organizations can also use the technology to send real-time safety alerts around weather, traffic or even a pandemic like COVID-19.
Personalizing the experience
Using personalized information to drive a better experience for new and existing audiences can mean the difference between brand trial and retention vs. customer attrition. As international borders remain closed in most countries, tourism organizations are looking towards new, domestic audiences to drive tourism. A GlobalWebIndex Survey in the U.S. suggests that 46 percent of internet users are only planning domestic vacations in the next 12 months.
As such, travel companies will require a deeper understanding of new customer segments in order to provide relevant information to assist in trip planning. Data partnerships can help bridge this divide. By collaborating with partners in related industries, tourism organizations can use data to build a more holistic user profile to personalize the experience and assist users in trip planning.
Tourism Australia and Virgin Airlines partnered together to understand user journeys and assist in trip planning by sharing data such as destination interests in order to provide personalized airline deals and offers. For example, if a user, based out of Sydney explores the Guide to Darwin area of the website, Virgin Australia can serve personalized flight offers for that destination. The same information about booking can be shared with Tourism Australia to better assist the user in planning and preparing for the trip.
Automated contactless interactions are a key piece to gaining consumer confidence for travel safety and is one of the biggest challenges for tourism organizations. Hotels in Asia are using automation to reduce live physical interactions by using mobile capabilities to support sanitation and social distancing.
This notion of contactless hospitality includes check-in through mobile apps or kiosks and using robots for room-delivery and other services. Contactless automation supports enhanced sanitation and distancing efforts while providing hotels the opportunity to use data for personalized services to make the entire experience more efficient. Government and tourism organizations can also modernize processes across the customer journey by automating paperwork through the adoption of e-signatures across forms to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs, which can help deliver superior experiences to travelers.
Stay connected via digital
In our current world, as we look to minimize physical interactions, the digital customer experience has become even more necessary as a medium for brands to converse with the consumer. While no one can predict how long the tourism industry’s recovery will take, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of doubling down on customer experience to ensure safety and comfort for travelers.
By developing customer-centric operating models and organizing teams to support the end-to-end customer journey via an integrated technology stack and advanced digital capabilities, travel companies are unlocking new ways to deliver on the experience.
Topics: Customer Stories, Digital Transformation, Campaign Management, Analytics, Personalization, Travel & Hospitality, Marketing, CMO by Adobe, COVID-19, Experience Cloud,