Angel Fornelly

Innovation in the travel industry and Smart Tourism

In the tourism sector, different companies such as hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, car rental companies and entertainment companies provide different services. 

The tourism sector is a demand-driven and growing sector with demand (OECD, 2006: 33). However, for tourists participating in tourism activities and demanding the services of these companies, tourism is not just about a business that offers tourism products. Due to the abstractness of tourism products, the socio-cultural structure of the local people and psychology and habits of the tourists also affect the tourism experience. 

Therefore, companies in the sector are in competition with each other to satisfy the tourists and ensure the continuity of the tourists. For this reason, innovation is needed to gain a competitive advantage. Another reason for innovation-oriented tourism policies is to increase productivity and encourage growth. This can only happen when the customer is satisfied and integrated with it. 

Particularly, individuals who participate in mass tourism provide their knowledge by spreading their experiences. Innovations in information and communication technology in tourism allow enterprises to analyze this information from customers more effectively and efficiently (OECD, 2006: 58). 

This allows the creation of databases for innovations that need to be done in the product, process, market or organization. In this context, the tourism industry cannot be considered separately and independently from the technology. Technology enters tourism industry via Computer Reservations Systems (CRS), Global Distribution Systems (GDS), Internet and Smart Technologies (connected through sensors and data clouds). 

The concept of Smart is used in technological, economic and social developments that are nourished by technological infrastructures. In these developments, the most important indication of addressing about the concept of smart is that technological perceptions, massive data, open data, new ways of connection and knowledge exchange are being used in the developments.

The concept of Smart brings advantages in communication and synchronization between individuals or institutions rather than individual benefits. Because smart systems make the world a small village, accelerate communication, provide data integration and share, and interpret and optimize complex analytical models. Thus, more accurate operational decisions can be made. “Smart” technology, which we are constantly intertwined with applications such as smartphones and smart cards in everyday life, is supported by various physical infrastructures and confronts with examples such as intelligent home, intelligent factory. Even within the tourism industry, the concept of "smart city", which is equipped with modern technologies as a pillar of innovation, effectively and fairly managed without consuming resources in the concept of sustainability is derived. Smart cities use information and communication technologies at the highest level to increase resource efficiency and reduce consumption  

The smart city concept covers multiple industries, including tourism. The smart tourism is an important part and a practical attempt of the smart city strategy. 

As a matter of fact, these dimensions can also be applied directly in tourism destinations, so it can be said that smart city concept gives rise to smart tourism concept. The UNWTO underlines the links between modern tourism development and new tourism destinations (UNWTO). It is impossible to discern modern tourism development from the innovations of the modern world where information and communication technologies are heavily used. 

New tourism destinations are a concept that has been created in the smart tourism of the smart city concept under the smart destination name.

What is smart tourism? Although there is not a unique definition for smart tourism, besides intelligent tourism, tourism intelligence and e-tourism, the combination of ICT and tourism is becoming popular about the incorporation of social media or mobile internet with tourism.

In fact, smart tourism is a major contributor to the development of the tourism industry in consequence of the mobile technology is in the hands of potential tourists with opportunities to make online bookings, maps, restaurants or online bookings, to buy airplane tickets, to catch campaigns. Individuals can see, know and choose their tourism alternatives without losing time and money. Smart tourism makes information more interactive and more reflective of the interests of the user, makes new capabilities and resources   available to the traveler and to destination based stakeholders. 

Although there is no single definition, Smart tourism focuses on topics. 

Firstly, smart tourism provides the adaptation of 'smart' technologies with tourism, the internet, cloud computing, mobile communication technologies, artificial intelligence, fast wireless communication, GIS (Geographic Information System) and VR (Virtual Reality). 

Secondly, smart tourism services are not only for tourists but also for the state, local people and tourist business owners. 

As a third, smart tourism offers information access opportunities to tourists and the public at an instant, ultimately being 'smart' has a supporting role for systematic, intensive, knowledge sharing and innovation.

It is a fact that the tourism sector, which has a great economic and social importance throughout the world, is under the influence of contemporary innovation practices. The tourism sector which is human-focused by its nature is open to the continuation of customer satisfaction. It would be difficult for the sector to advance in an environment where customer satisfaction is not provided; changing technological and environmental conditions are ignored. For this reason, studies are being made on innovation applications. Nowadays both competitive environments and preferences of the consumers are constantly changing in the tourism sector. Under these conditions, tourism enterprises keep taking the pulse of the market and carry on with various innovations.   

Innovation provides renewals and changes in the goods and services in the tourism sector as it is in every area, facilitates the work of tourism employees, helps to promote and marketing the unknown and incorporates the customer into the production process. Current innovation practices are available in the tourism sector around the world as part of smart technology. The development of these examples in short and long term and transforming new ideas and inventions into marketable ones in the sector is important for the future of tourism. Smart technologies make the business life easier, shorten the duration of the work and even some professions can be abandoned in time. It is, therefore, necessary to pay attention to the need for human labor in tourism which is a labor- intensive industry while these inventions are being carried out. 

Angel Fornelly

Innovation in the travel industry and Smart Tourism

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

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