The tourism industry has experienced many crises throughout history, although none of them can be compared to the current one, which is becoming very long and complicated. Many people, including professionals and academics in the sector, ask themselves, how can we revive and save the tourism industry?
Renew or die
The answer to this question could lie in the renovation. True progress consists in renewing itself and this pandemic has taught us that digitalization and innovation must be an essential part of the advancement of the tourism sector.
If there is something that constantly transforms people’s lives, it is technology. Day by day we are witnessing hundreds of innovations that ease our daily actions. The tourism and hospitality industry are no strangers to these changes. Technological evolution is here to stay and improve the experiences of the guests.
In this article, we will tell you about some trends that are already revolutionizing the tourism and hospitality industry around the world.
The future of tourism: smart, digital, flexible, and sustainable
Safety innovations and increased hygiene standards
Since tourism is strongly correlated to the origin of the latest crisis (traveling is the main reason why the coronavirus has spread across the world), the biggest challenge to the sector is how to reinvent itself and move forward with bold, innovative ideas that include advanced technology adoption and pay special attention to the safety of their guests.
Contact-free experience & automated operational management - Tourists buy experience, since forever, but now they’re becoming increasingly demanding. They seek to make their bookings, check-in and check out efficiently and quickly. To meet this need, you must include automation from the beginning to the end of the stay. It’s important to offer your guests a possibility to check-in online from the safety of their homes, and then use their guest details and credit card information so they don’t need to fill in any details once they arrive at your hotel/accommodation. This automation helps you eliminate the boring paperwork during their stay. Another advantage is that it allows you to have customer information and a history of their inquiries to offer an increasingly personalized service adapted to their needs.
Godo Property is a hospitality system that automates and streamlines the work of hotels and properties.
Smart hotels - The technology behind this innovation is the well-known Internet of Things (IoT) that allows technological devices to connect to provide guests with a hyper-personalized experience. For example, when entering the room, guests receive a welcome greeting with their names or they can control the room temperature from their smartphone.
Digital keys - Now guests can receive a digital card on their mobile phones to enter the room. This card can be sent to guests before arrival and linked to check-in so that the customer enters the room as soon as they arrive. This not only improves the guest experience but also contributes to the environment by replacing polluting PVC-based faucets and meets with the new hygiene standards in the post-covid era.
Smart speakers - allow the user to request services only with their voice. You can order food to your room, reserve a table in the restaurant, or request a massage session in the spa.
Robots - The future is here to stay, robots are a real deal now. Several hotels are incorporating robots to solve customer inquiries and even to provide room service. Thanks to this, the accommodation staff can dedicate their time serving guests in an efficient and personalized way to enhance their experience since the operational tasks are not a problem anymore.
It’s all about the experience
Location-based information - Thanks to Bluetooth and GPS technology, hotels can deliver valuable location-based information to their guests’ mobile phones. For example, if the customer is near a restaurant, he/she could receive the menu so that she can choose what she would like to eat. Or they can also provide data on the state of the roads or the flight after the guests have checked out.
Augmented Reality - For museums, theme parks, theatres, recreational centers, and other tourist attractions that usually host large numbers of visitors we’ve seen the use of AR. Some companies within the travel industry are developing augmented reality apps, which allow tourists to experience those attractions through their smartphones or tablets. Tourists can point their smartphone at a building or landmark and see it and learn more about it, in real-time.
A great innovative app for experiencing culture is Nexto.
Flexibility is the key
Flexible cancellation policies will have a huge influence on traveler choice. It will be equally if not more important than price for some.
Extensions and new emerging concepts like “work from holiday” - We are living in a world of digital nomads where people are working remotely more and more and now almost no one needs to rush back to the office. Lately, hotels and accommodations are experiencing many ‘extensions’ on stays once people have already arrived. That’s why it is important to offer flexibility without allowing it to impact your revenue. Here comes his majesty Machine Learning, with which you can train predictive models, so you can anticipate extensions and cancellations, and avoid overlapping bookings.
To train these models you need Big data - if there is something that technology offers us, it is an enormous amount of data and information about all Internet users. The tourism and hospitality industries can use them to their advantage to generate a deeper understanding of their customers and offer them personalized and captivating experiences. If accommodations use the data to their advantage, they can increase their bookings and make guests choose the hotel again the next time.
An integral part of the renewal of tourism is sustainability, and governments must design sustainable tourism strategies on a long-term basis. Emerging technologies related to sustainable tourism are:
Apps that support ecotourism - Lately tourists think more carefully about the way they travel. They’re looking for hotels and travel companies that are doing everything they can to minimize their impact on the planet. As a response to these needs of travelers, we have new apps that help us find and share local and authentic places while having a positive social and economic impact on the visited place, such as Fair Trip.
Journey as the ultimate destination - people have been in their homes for months and now there is a hunger for wide-open spaces. The point-to-point holiday whereby travelers fly to a single location and then return home is not so attractive anymore and is slowly replaced for trips that take in multiple locations and occur at a slower pace. This trend is a huge opportunity for innovative startups.
These are some of the most important technological innovations, and you don’t have to incorporate them all, but you can start with the one that is simplest for you and then add the more complex ones. What matters is to move forward as technology advances, customers demand increases and you must meet their needs to stay competitive.