The digital transformation experienced in the tourism sector has lead to a profound change in the way of communicating and consuming in recent years. Business models around leisure and tourism are increasingly accessible due to the use of new technologies and travelers are almost permanently connected to their environment and tourist services.
In this sense, applications such as Tripadvisor or travel blogs are pages that allow us to inform and express our opinions on resources or tourism producers. In addition we can buy our tickets, virtually visit attractions or resorts before visiting them. In short, they have changed our relationship with the destinations.
The experiences of tourists and travelers form part of the marketing strategies of major tourism providers. Knowing and managing tourist motivations and satisfaction before, during and after trips is key knowledge for leisure and tourism organizations and companies.
This allows us to have much more information about the tourist and, therefore, be able to make use of that information to improve their experience through the customization of services, prices, itineraries, packages adapted to the characteristics and preferences of the client.
From hotels to museums, intermediation technological platforms, apps, virtual and augmented reality or social networks are, among others, some of the digital transformation channels of the main companies and destinations related to leisure and tourism.
The use of technology gives us a new way of relating to the client. Big Data and its subsequent processing allows us to access and anticipate the demand and be prepared for continuous changes in a market such as tourism in which new competitors or trends arise every few years that must make us always alert.
This context is evolving very rapidly and is undoubtedly one of the most important social and economic processes and challenges in the coming years, not only for the tourism sector, but also for our daily lives. Digital travelers are now able to manage these services themselves and make decisions that can influence the success or otherwise of a tourism product.
The impact of the use of ICT in tourism impacts in one way or another on the client experience, regardless of age range. For example, in Europe 70% of hotel reservations are already being made through the Internet and online agencies, and this is continuing to rise and extend to other tourist services.
At present, we are able to know much more information before the client even arrives. We can know their tastes, what kind of comments they make on social networks, or what sites or places they have visited. It allows us to customize the client experience to the maximum, generating greater satisfaction and a genuine experience.
But we must not forget that the tourism sector is a sector with a strong and inseparable human component. Technology is a tool that allows us to customize and improve the services we offer to the client, but it is the human content that allows an experience to become something memorable and that fulfills the expectations of a client.
We must not forget that tourists seek to have a great experience during the days of their vacation. Technology allows us, as mentioned above, to approach the tourist before, during and after the trip in order to get to know them better and anticipate many of their demands. But this has to go hand in hand with a close and quality humane treatment that translates the information obtained into a full client experience. Tourism is an industry of people for people.
Big Data is a new way of understanding the activity of companies and institutions thanks to the study and management of data, which allows organizations to digitalize, helping them to be more efficient and competitive. Particularly in tourism, this technology is marking a paradigm shift.
It should also be borne in mind that disruptive technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotization are increasingly being implemented. Thus, a study carried out by the consulting firm PwC reveals that 56% of companies in Spain are digitalized, higher than countries such as Italy or the United Kingdom. There are examples of automation of processes that are already up and running in hotels, such as check in and check out self-management, domotics, virtual concierge, etc.
At the same time, the study indicates that companies that aspire to digitize do not have sufficiently trained personnel to respond to this challenge. Universities must therefore take responsibility for training these professionals so that they can be competitive in an increasingly digital environment.
A World Economic Forum study reveals that within five years more than a third of the skills (35%) considered important in the current workforce will have changed. By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and automatic learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics. Training in skills aimed at interpreting these technologies in order to know how to orientate them towards the client will become more and more important. The human component, therefore, will continue to be fundamental in a sector in which the client seeks a genuine, personal and warm experience that would not otherwise be possible.
The evolution of processes and the global economy are transforming the way we live and the way we work and, therefore, are also transforming the way we teach. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow, and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace. What is certain is that higher education must take this reality into account when designing its curricula and training young people with rigor and academic ability.
At universities, we must aim to train restless, open-minded, creative, technologically innovative and competent professionals, with the right talent to adapt to the future, with an open mind to new challenges and with the capacity to generate new professional challenges.