“Smart” is a term that has been related to various sectors of technology application, one of them is tourism. This approach has gone beyond its application in communication strategies but also everything related to the travel experience.
Today its development is a critical issue for many countries. Looking to adapt to the new consumer needs and health and safety protocols caused by the pandemic.
What is Smart Tourism?
Smart Tourism can be defined as the dynamic connection through intelligent technologies of human experiences.
It was born from the process to convert cities into Smart Cities. Where the application of technologies such as AI, Big Data, IoT, Cloud Computing and 5G in cities, seek to improve the lives of citizens and in the case of tourism, their occasional visitors.
Smart Cities projects around the world have a common goal: to improve the quality of life of their residents, providing a sustainable and integrated platform. Smart tourism, linking to these initiatives, seeks to enrich tourism experiences and make them more sustainable.
Gothenburg the Smart Tourism City of 2020
Where is Smart Tourism development headed?
It’s time for us to take a look at some of the smart tourism future trends.
As travellers we are already used to booking our accommodation and why not some of the activities that we want to do before leaving home. People seek to ensure they get a positive experience by planning and booking in advance.
- Voice search and reservations:
- Through the smartphone, smart speakers and artificial intelligence assistants, the relevance of voice search increased to “design” a better travel experience. This is a big trend that tourism companies should implement and follow closely.
- Real-time information:
- When we want to go to a beach or park, we can anticipate traffic jams, know where to park and know the influx of people at certain hours.
In Lübeck, Germany, the local tourist office has implemented sensors at the entry and exit points of some adjacent beaches so that its visitors can track in real-time the best time to move, the least crowded beaches, and enjoy their leisure in a more efficiently.
Smart Tourism Solution: An integral destination solution, which can collect all tourist points of interest, tours, and attractions in one place and provide each local business with a tool for online sales and promotions.
BYOD stands for “Bring your own device”. It is a growing trend for smart applications. Tour operators use it to generate guided experiences around the city, museums, exhibitions, bars, accessible restaurants for people with disabilities, public toilets, etc. All information that benefits the tourist, directly from their device.
Hand in hand with this trend, it can also be applied to open the door of the hotel room, the lights in the room, boarding passes, etc., using the mobile phone or the smartwatch.
Internet of Things (IoT)
One of the most exciting emerging travel technology trends is the Internet of Things (IoT). It involves Internet-based interconnectivity between everyday devices, allowing them to send and receive data. We are already seeing examples of its tech within the travel and tourism industry, and this is only going to increase.
For example, IoT technology can be used in hotel rooms to provide customers with a device that connects to everything from lights to heaters to air conditioning, allowing everything to be controlled from one place. In airports, on the other hand, suitcases with sensors can be installed that will alert passengers when they pass or also based on the positioning of the visitor, offer them services and be able to interact with them.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality has been an emerging technology in various sectors, but its role within the tourism industry is especially significant. It gives travellers the ability to experience faraway locations from the comfort of their own home, and it can be the difference in finally completing a reservation.
With virtual reality tours, customers can experience everything, from virtual tours of hotels and restaurants to iconic landmarks, national parks, or even specific activities.
Another important form of travel technology application is the ability to accept contactless payments. This allows travel companies to process payments much faster, even in situations where customers do not have access to cash, credit, or debit card. It can also improve the customer experience because of time-saving.
Contactless payments availability started as a convenience but has become a key part of tourism marketing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Travellers are still nervous about the virus spread and may be reluctant to handle cash, so this is a great way to offer safety. Also using contactless payments as much as possible can also bring this safety to protect your own staff.
Smart cities have the potential to be much more sustainable than non-smart cities. The same goes for tourism. People don’t want to feel guilty about going on a trip. They want to continue to enjoy travel, but also to limit the negative impact on the planet. A very simple example of sustainable smart tourism is: if you take a city tour with an app, no brochures, paper maps or other receipts and tickets are required; therefore, you are saving paper.
Sustainable travel is a field where “smart” initiatives such as smart waste collection or smart parking can come into play. More and more cities are creating mobility routes outside the city. Improving connections with good public transport to the city downtown or offering rental bike or electric scooter rental stations. In addition, smart parking sensors are already applied today to monitor and optimize the use of electric cars. And this is just the beginning.
Smart Tourism is a necessary sector for the reconstruction and revitalization of global tourism. The consumer has undoubtedly changed, but by nature, is still looking for stimuli and new experiences. This is a great time to explore the different applications and get into the generation of technological solutions adapted to human needs. You must start walking towards a future that undoubtedly looks different, but very exciting.