2020: a new decade for tourism
We are now entering the era of leisure, in which tourists will make decisions based on memorable and personalised experiences rather than the price
People will soon be able to picture their holiday destination via virtual reality technology, as opposed to flicking through the pages of a holiday brochure. Booking a holiday package through a travel agent or via several different websites will shortly be a thing of the past, replaced by a single integrated travel platform. Tourists will soon be treated to a personalised offer shaped by artificial intelligence, with a series of algorithms allowing tour operators to already know the chosen destination before the tourist has even decided to plan their next holiday. These days, a destination is understood as a motor of experiences and a generator of emotions
The tourism industry finds itself immersed in a transformation that stretches much further than the development of new technologies. This is the same change that is taking place in society. We have now entered the era of leisure, where emotional experiences will be the most relevant factor in the consumer’s expenditure.
This change renders the traditional holiday destination approach completely obsolete. The strategy must now turn to experience, which requires collaboration between all the agents involved in the sector. Hotel owners in tourist destinations must now offer more than just accommodation. They also need to get to know the tourist and offer him/her memorable experiences. This may range from spending a day with local people, learning about and experiencing part of their culture, to venturing out to do some hitherto unthinkable activity.
As such, in Spain, we must take the necessary measures to ensure that our country continues to be a reference point for tourism over the coming decade. In the current concept of holidays, every second counts. Now, the will of private initiative and investment is no longer enough. Collaboration between public administrations and the private sector is crucial in guaranteeing a new and pleasant experience which requires minimal bureaucracy and provides added value for tourists.
With regards to private initiative, we will witness the transformation of organisations, business models and assets to adapt to this new paradigm. However, the role of the public administration in each destination is equally relevant. Legislation and the infrastructures, mobility and the population itself must be aligned with this paradigm shift. Tourists are seeking a safe, simple and incident-free experience, which makes it important to offer a homogenous destination with a regulated offer within a collaborative environment.
The role of people in the tourism revolution
While it’s true that technological developments are transforming society, and that technology itself is a fundamental axis for the development of this new paradigm, there should be an increased involvement of people so that the tourist feels “moved” by their experience, viewing it as authentic. From tourism professionals to society: tourists are seeking a personal and friendly treatment that allows them to feel immersed in the destination. Employees will therefore become ambassadors for the destination, besides the company they work for, with administrative tasks being assumed by technology.
With regards to society, it’s important to raise awareness of the significance of the tourism industry for the Spanish economy. Tourists want to feel wanted and safe in their destination, so it’s necessary to promote an institutional strategy for tourism that allows it to be seen as positive for the economy and society. Spanish people invented holiday tourism and are currently world leaders in the field. Now, we need to take advantage of this shift in paradigm to re-invent it once more with the complicity of the wider public, becoming leaders in friendliness and warmth towards tourists.
New technologies in the 2020s
Returning to the technological aspect of this paradigm shift, stakeholders in the sector are currently asking ourselves a series of questions. Namely, what will be the result of integrating the experience and technology? How will traditional operators coexist with disturbing start-ups in the sector? Will Big Tech companies come into the equation? The answer to these questions lies in the birth of platforms, which will make it possible to organise a whole personalised experience through a single interaction.
In the coming decade, it will be possible to reserve the plane ticket, accommodation, restaurants, museum tickets, urban transport, bike rental and various experiences in a single dynamic platform. Furthermore, from the very first minute, this platform will offer us a personalised package based on our tastes and interests, which we will be able to modify and adapt.
As such, through advanced data analytics, agents will be able to determine trends for every tourist profile available on the platform to configure personalised experiences: means of transport; type of accommodation; sporting, cultural or leisure activities; and restaurants, etc. The entire transactional model will be carried out in one hit from a single location, reducing the time spent on the transaction but leaving open the possibility of contracting additional experiences as and when the tourist feels like it. Simplicity and speed, meaning the only thing tourists have to worry about is having a good holiday and, above all else, sharing their experience in real time.
Companies within the sector need to understand that they need to offer more than just a fantastic room, with the tourist of the future seeking a differential emotion. Tourism is the motor of happiness for people: he who views the coming decade with the former paradigm will run the risk of being left behind.