Digital transformation in tourism: how to begin?

Digital transformation in tourism: how to begin?

By Marta Poggi

We’re experiencing a digital transformation in tourism, as are many sectors in the economy, and there’s no turning back. We know that this transformation goes far beyond building an online presence and exploring the digital tools required for achieving the marketing goals of companies and tourist destinations.

Digital transformation is related to innovation, the creation of new structures, the implementation of a new culture, processes and technology, and starts with the premise that travellers have changed. Customers today are not the same as they were four years ago. They live connected, have new demands and want to be surprised.

The search for digital transformation also involves the creation of new products and services, at lower cost and with greater productivity.

Startups, by their very nature, start out life in this digital age and are much more agile. Major corporations, on the other hand, especially the more traditional ones, tend to be slower in their transformation process.

We are in a race against time and companies that are more adaptable get ahead of the game and are more likely to survive in the market.

So I’m going to indicate three pillars that tourism companies can use for designing their digital transformation strategy.

  1. Focus on the customer

In the digital world, the way in which consumers experience virtual channels makes all the difference. Every digital transformation process must begin with a focus on the customer. It’s essential to define the persona and map out their characteristics, needs, pain, etc. Knowing the customer’s journey in detail is fundamental when it comes to innovating with regard to the user’s experience. So ask yourself: who is my customer, what are they looking for, which of their needs are being met, what’s the best form of communication to use with them, etc.

In Europe, various hotels assess customer satisfaction using an emotion map. Technology allows a customer’s likes and dislikes to be assessed without even asking them. There is a great concern in understanding the customer. Focusing on the customer is essential when it comes to having a successful digital strategy.

  1. People and culture

A major barrier for companies in their pursuit of digital transformation is resistance from people involved in the process and business culture itself, which is often bureaucratic.

Digital transformation has to happen from the inside out. Digital culture must be promoted among employees and managers, who must be encouraged to create a new mindset that is aligned with digital strategy. This is one of the main premises for digital transformation to happen.

All change creates fear, but it is essential to create ways of breaking down employee resistance and to encourage them to cooperate. Corporate values need also to be mapped out and the leaders responsible for driving the new digital model have to be put in place.

  1. Processes and technologies

With digital transformation, it is vital for companies to have access to data and to analyse it. Only with these analyses is it possible to have an advanced level of understanding of the business and of end customers in order to be able to make informed and evolutionary decisions.

It is necessary to analyse how this digital transformation influences the company. This is the only way to adapt to the new situation, by focusing on the opportunities that can be incorporated into the business and thinking about the various areas of the organization.

Data is critical at this stage, since it enables managers to decide how to leverage their business and use the most appropriate technologies and tools. Many processes can be automated and therefore deliveries are faster.

Of course, digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight, regardless of the company’s financial strength. In my opinion, this is a constant process to which there is no end. This the only way for companies that are looking to keep up with changes and survive in the marketplace.

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