Tourism Trends According to Industry Experts
Those of us that work in the tourism industry or have ties to it know that our sector is experiencing a substantial disruption. It's not just another era; we're talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We’re not just witnessing how new tourism trends have come to stay but to transform everything.
In the face of this scenario, a few months ago Joantxo and I decided to start writing a report that responded to all these questions we were asking and that we’re convinced that many other industry professionals also had in their heads as well. After many hours of analysis, we created The Next Great Tourism Revolution: A Report on Travel and Tourism Trends. The report is currently available in Spanish, and the English-language version will be ready for download soon.
We wrote this report to resolve doubts, invite the reader to reflect, and create debate. That's why we wanted to present it in front of a noted community of industry experts on June 6th. We organized an event in conjunction with IE Business School and the IE Tourism Club. We had the participation of Managing Director of CEHAT and the President of the IE Tourism Club Ramón Estalella; Director of Promotion at Visit Costa del Sol Manuel Lara; Tourism Innovation Expert Joantxo Llantada; Antonio López de Ávila of the IE Travel & Tourism Innovation Initiative; Salesforce Marketing Cloud Regional Director for Iberia María Ángeles Santos, and Palladium Hotel Group CMO Sergio Zertuche.
After Ramón Estalella and Antonio López de Ávila said a few words, with López de Ávila calling the report a "handy tool for taking on the future," we kicked off the event we decided to call "Journey to the future of tourism” (“Viaje al futuro del turismo” in Spanish). Over nearly three hours, we walked through the present and what we believe what our industry's horizon will be.
Along with the experts, and nearly 100 attendees, we looked over some of the primary topics we examine in the tourism trends report: authenticity, culture, technology, and innovation as the four key variables that can provide value to corporations soon.
Technology is the means and not the end of tourism trends
In his talk, Joantxo Llantada explained that the lack of authenticity, standardization, franchising, etc. are making the user experience be lost and that it also makes it harder for businesses to stand out from the competition. Originality should be a clear objective for any tourism firm, and for any company to succeed in doing so, it will be critical to personalize their experiences. Likewise, a robust and coherent culture will offer that personality, identity, and brand that’s fundamental in this context.
When it comes to technology, Jonatxo remarked that “it’s important to note it’s a means and not an end in itself.” In the case of Artificial Intelligence, for example, the most important thing isn’t the piece of information, but instead what we do with it. And to keep progressing and providing value, we’ll need innovation to push us to create products, launch them on the market, and test them in intervals in increasingly shorter timeframes.
In light of this, Antonio López de Ávila asked our expert panel this question: what impact will Artificial Intelligence have in the industry? María Ángeles Santos’s answer was clear: “we have never seen technology and business so united. Consumers are demanding it, and it has turned into a need." To do so, Artificial Intelligence's value is that it lets us better know our customer, personalizing the experience and smartly communicating with them. The process is “simple”” the devices a user is connected to (it will be more than 10 in 2020) gather information, we use it to create one-of-a-kind experiences and meet their expectations (80% of users hope it’s this way) and, lastly, we can create a communication flow that provides value to the user upon having all the information we need.
Personalized experiences that give consumers something to talk about
Manuel Lara referenced Artificial Intelligence’s value as a tool for predicting changes in the market and making better decisions. “In the VUCA environment we’re living in today, we have to put data in the center. If we can make predictions in time, we’ll be able to lead and not react based on demand.”
Another of the global tourism and hospitality trends discussed are connected experiences or the idea of considering the online and offline components of any brand or product together. For Sergio Zertuche, the key is in creating an experience “over which you want to talk when you come back from your vacation.” He added that "word-of-mouth still works today. 80% of users value others' opinions and consider them when planning their trips." To do so, they've implemented a customer-centric strategy based on entertainment, innovation, and excellence.
From my perspective, and as a final reflection, if there's one thing that's clear after this journey to the future to tap into tourism trends, it’s that we need to talk about courage. The experts and the attendees all showed great bravery by challenging the norms and trying to go beyond what’s out there.
You are all visionaries for having taken a step further, empowering people and making technology your secret weapon. Staying quiet and not moving is easy, it can appear to be the safest path; but, as we could see during the every, it's time to take the initiative, try things out, and innovate. It can be riskier, but getting there first will be worth it.
I invite you to carry out this reflection by reading our report (currently in Spanish, with the English version coming soon) and deriving your conclusions. We're sure that you'll set out on a path, or a journey, that will arm you with many lessons and tools for the future.