Keep up with the latest trends or get left behind: how tourism professionals are reacting to digitalisation
The most etymological meaning of DIGITALISATION is “a process by which many activities routinely carried out by human beings start to be carried out with the use of new technologies”. However, digitalisation could also be understood as the “fourth industrial revolution”.
This new revolution we are currently witnessing is affecting business models and formats, the relationship of companies with their clients and the professionals and jobs as we know them.
Nobody can doubt the importance of technology in tourism and the ways how it has influenced – and continues to influence – how we travel. Tourism professionals currently find themselves in a period of significant transformation, with the Internet and mobile phones changing the ways we plan and experience our trips. This has had a direct influence on the most demanded professional profiles and the promotion formulas of the holiday destinations.
As far as I can see it, digitalisation has affected three key aspects of tourism:
- Consumer decision-making: consumers are now making more informed decisions about the offers made by the various destinations, hotels and locations, with this information easily found on different websites. The fact that people can now make purchases directly from their mobile phone means that the relationship with the consumer has also changed.
- Consumer demands: Potential clients are now much more knowledgeable about the whole touristic offer, finding information on websites and social media. These people are particularly influenced by the reviews left by other users on these platforms. Not only does the touristic offer need to meet the established quality standard, but it also needs to leave the client fully satisfied. And, this, in turn, may lead to them leaving positive reviews on websites.
- The business model has changed. While it was previously the tour operator who managed the touristic offer and demand, this figure has now disappeared due to the rise of websites and applications. There are now platforms which compete among themselves to offer the best service, lowest price and easiest navigation.
Not only has digitalisation changed the roles of professionals within the tourism sector, it has also led to the requirement for new profiles that didn’t previously exist. By analysing the work carried out by professionals, it’s clear that certain figures need to focus on tasks that create added value for the consumer. This new type of consumer requires a much more personalised type of service. This will be crucial for professionals looking to keep up with the latest trends in this new era: namely, providing a personalised service to customers and generating added value through their creativity, ability to interpret data and communication skills. Tourism, just like any other sector, will always need people. However, these need to be duly qualified professionals. People are essential to the success of tourist destinations and organisations.