Smart Tourism Destinations

Smart Tourism Destinations

By Marta Poggi

The Smart Tourism Destinations project was created in Spain in 2002 with the aim of improving the positioning of Spanish destinations globally by making them “smarter” and more competitive. Every destination or tourism company should pursue this goal by offering innovative experiences to serve and surprise connected travellers.

We have bottlenecks in Brazil that must be resolved as a priority; but unfortunately we have to solve everything at the same time, such as taking care of people’s qualifications, innovating and keeping up with global trends in tourism.

Smart Tourism Destination is, by definition, an innovative and consolidated space that uses state-of-the-art technology infrastructure to facilitate visitor interaction with local companies and optimize the quality of their travel experience, while promoting the sustainable development of the tourism territory and improving the quality of life of local residents (Segittur – Spanish State Society for the Management of Innovation and Tourism Technologies).

The smart tourist destination concept derives from Smart Cities, and goes further than the intensive use of technology. Several destinations in Spain have been working with this methodology, and very successfully.

This is a new method that is being used for planning and managing tourist destinations. It is based on five pillars: technology, governance, innovation (a focus on the tourism experience) sustainability and accessibility.

Personally, I consider the use of technology for improving tourism experiences and services, generating new business and generating new technology businesses aimed at tourism to be extremely relevant. It’s a question, therefore, that goes far beyond having a website, social networks and providing customer service via WhatsApp.

Regardless of whether you work in the travel agency, hotel, food, transport, events, etc. segment of the industry, your brand needs to be well-positioned online and innovative and offer your current and potential customers a quality experience.

The purchasing experience of travellers 4.0 has frequently changed, and all steps involve the Internet, from the inspiration (looking for a holiday destination, activities, etc.), research (flights, accommodation, attractions, etc.), planning (this is the actual booking and purchase phase), and travel (consumption) phases to returning home, when they continue posting content and sharing opinions about the destinations and services they tried.

So, if the potential customer doesn’t find your business or destination in the early stages (research and planning), they’ll not even consider your brand. They’ll undoubtedly click on a company or destination that is a competitor of yours.

This traveller is also used to Uber, Airbnb, Google Trips, OTAs, Waze, Netflix, and iFood, etc. As far as this consumer is concerned, therefore, a company that doesn’t exist in the digital world can’t exist in the real world.

Understanding this new concept of Smart Tourism Destinations and making use of the digital tools that are available are fundamental to any company in the industry.

I’ve been working as a Smart Tourism consultant for different destinations. I always find companies that have a distinct degree of digital maturity. But there’s always room for improving the following aspects:

– Online brand positioning: How your company is viewed and how it is found – its position in Google searches, how up-to-date the site is, its social media and online service performance and response time.

– Tourism experience: We know that consumers prefer to invest in experiences rather than buying goods. What does your company or destination offer to meet this new traveller profile?

– Online reputation management: What customers say about your company on social networks, such as Google, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, etc.

– The use of technology to improve products and processes: This goes for accommodation companies, travel agencies, restaurants, bars, receptive services, etc. Virtual reality glasses, chatbots, online videos, big data, and thousands of other tools can all be explored.

It’s continuous work, but innovation has to be a constant process in any company. We need energy and dedication, and if you think your business doesn’t need any of this, something very serious may be happening to it.

How can we make our tourism smarter?

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