The pandemic has put the brakes on mass tourism and now there is an opportunity to rethink the very essence of travel.
Whether a vaccine returns the world to normal within two or three years, it is clear that something has changed around travel; nothing would be the same even if everything were back to normal.
Smart Travel bets on technology to enrich the tourist experience in a simple, accessible, sustainable and agile way.
Thus, the development of Smart Cities or Intelligent Cities seeks to improve the quality of life of its citizens and become an incentive to attract more tourists. To do so, they must base their strategies on three fundamental pillars in which technology plays a key role: innovation, accessibility and sustainability.
Tourism must take advantage of technology by exploiting the possibilities of virtual reality, augmented reality, simulators and any helpful resource… but also for interaction with tourists, and increasingly personalize the offer and enrich the experiences of visitors.
It is no longer enough to offer free WiFi; a Smart Travel ready city facilitates the interaction and integration of the visitor with the environment and increases the quality of their experience in the destination. To do this, new ways of marketing must be found and adapted to the new consumption habits of tourists. Technology allows us to know the traveler and receive his or her feedback. In addition, this information generated must be interpreted in order to offer personalized products and services to each client.
A tourist destination cannot be intelligent if it is not accessible. It is essential that it is adapted for people with some kind of disability and also for older people or families with children. Technology here is strategic again. Apps to help these people, intelligent beacons for the identification and location of nearby objects that help tourists with low mobility or blind, but also replace architectural elements such as stairs by ramps or manual doors by automatic doors, which improve the passage and user experience.
It is also necessary to eliminate cultural or communication barriers. For a city to be considered accessible it must take care of the accessibility of the built environment and public spaces, transport, information and communication infrastructures and public facilities and services.
Sustainability is fundamental for the destinations, besides becoming a differentiating and very attractive stamp for the tourist 3.0. It is fundamental to achieve a balance between the exploitation of tourist resources and the protection of the environment. For example, hotels are betting on 100% recyclable materials, energy saving measures, such as using automatic doors, or chemical-free ozone cleaning systems to avoid further damage to the environment.
As for cities, the goal is to be energy neutral and resource efficient. For this, information is fundamental and that is where technology plays a very important role. For example, implementing smart grids helps to advance sustainability. Smart grids help improve the city’s energy planning and design better energy transportation networks, according to consumption needs.
Sustainability also bets on renewable energies, recycling, energy efficiency or replace the use of polluting transport by more environmentally friendly ones such as electric or bicycles.
In short, betting on the Smart Travel is a joint effort of the tourism industry and administrations to create destinations with added value, where the tourist lives a personalized experience, accessible and combining economic growth with environmental protection. There are already cities that are betting on it, such as Vancouver, Melbourne, Hamburg, Reykjavik, Copenhagen… and the results are there for all to see.