Smart Tourism

Smart Tourism

I will be running a new seminar at this year’s Arabian Travel Market. I am calling it Smart Tourism.

The ‘smart’ concept has reached almost everything around us. I have a smartphone, I wear a smartwatch and I drive a smart car. What’s the common factor between these? They are taking electronic data-feeds. They are using computing power to add value to the data, turning it from information to intelligence and then presenting this in an easy to assimilate way.

Smart Tourism is not dissimilar to this. I see it as being about the impact of digital applications on enhancing the quality of the visitor experience. When I think of the visitor experience, I think of it in three phases:

  1. Prior to arrival at the destination when the tourist will be researching destinations and making a decision on where to travel. During this phase, destinations may well be competing for the visitor’s attention, needing to provide persuasive evidence that your destination is the one really worth visiting.
  2. During the actual visit there are two objectives. The destination needs the visitor to have the best experience possible. We are living in the world of social media and the visitor will undoubtedly be communicating with friends and family about how their trip is going. The destination will want to do its utmost to ensure that the visitor is reporting a positive experience. Secondly, it is important that the visitor is encouraged to spend, to bring income into the destination’s product providers. Of course, the visitor must not be made to feel that he or she is being fleeced but that they can be helped to book accommodation, excursions, attractions that will be appreciated as good value for money.
  3. After the visit, the objective is for the visitor to become a brand ambassador for the destination, enthusing and explaining to friends and family why they should visit as well as posting their positive experiences on wider social media.

If Smart Tourism is about destinations embracing the digital world then you can easily see how, at every phase, digital techniques and applications will have a primary role to play in meeting a destination’s objectives. Technology such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, chatbots and augmented and virtual reality are there to be exploited.

Go-ahead destinations will be embracing the latest technology. Are you missing out? Come along to my seminar on the Tuesday of ATM – from 11:45 to 12:45 in the Tech Theatre – and find out what is happening in the world of Smart Tourism.

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Paul Richer is Senior Partner of Genesys, a management consultancy specialising in providing advice on technology for the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Genesys has built a worldwide reputation for its knowledge and experience of new system procurement, online technology and strategies including website audits and online booking systems, reviewing and formulating companies’ IT strategies and more. Clients include many of the best known names in travel. Paul has co-authored several reports examining the impact of technology on the distribution of travel, including “Distribution Technology in the Travel Industry” originally published by Financial Times Retail and “Marketing Destinations Online – Strategies for the Information Age” published by the World Tourism Organisation. He has presented at and chaired many online travel conferences, is regularly quoted in the press and has also been invited to make several appearances on television to debate the subject. Prior to founding Genesys in 1994, Paul was Business Development Director of Finite Group plc and Head of the Group’s IT strategy consultancy. He holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management, is a Fellow of the Institute of Travel & Tourism and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. More information at

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