Tourism and technology: the latest innovation in the tourist sector
The 21st century heralds a change in the way of travelling. Technological innovation has changed the tourist landscape and promises to go much further. The possibilities offered by connectivity, augmented reality, robots and artificial intelligence will dominate the hotel sector in ten years. Curiously, this revolution entails a revaluation of the human factor that is key in the tourism of the future.
The idea of "digital tourist" is already reality: a person who travels with technology as a companion. The mobile continues to be the preferred channel, since it is a virtual guide, translator, hotel locator, map and geolocator all at the same time. But other innovative systems must not be disdained which offer possibilities that, a few years ago, seemed science fiction, and that now are available to us at a push of a button. Today it is possible to visit Patagonia virtually in 360 degrees without leaving home, or to get real time information on what is being seen on a walk through the streets of Florence, thanks to virtual reality.
ICTs are changing our tourist habits, making the art of travelling an unforgettable technological experience. However, in parallel, they also produce the rise of human treatment, which takes on unprecedented prominence perhaps because it had never before been left as aside as now. Thus, personalised marketing emerges, giving the emotional traits to the customer experience.
Trends that change the concept of tourism
Virtual reality, augmented reality and geolocation (through beacons), stand as the main players in the tourist sector. They contribute to improving services, improving the customer experience and enhancing personalised and proximity marketing.
In the pre-travel stage, travel agencies offer virtual reality glasses to view thousands of images and videos of places, hotels, cruises ... with such realism that it seems that you are in your own hotel room, walking along unending beaches or lying in a hammock on a cruise. At the same time, artificial intelligence personalises the user experience thanks to conversation models in the purchase, differentiated by consumer profiles, with the aim of influencing them emotionally.
During the trip, the geolocation forwards personalised information and services of the hotel through messages on the mobile, even before the traveller gets there; and the technology of chatbots, computer systems capable of holding a conversation in natural language, give an immediate response to any customer doubt. Their latest developments allow questions requiring personal treatment to be sent to specialised agents in order to humanise the service.
Hotels are strongly positioned in the most avant-garde branch of tourism and therefore become experimental centres of new technologies in this sector. Their objective is not only that the customer should feel at home, but also to see how innovation can make their stay easier.
" The technological hotel wagers on hyper connection and service personalisation"
There thus appear facial recognition systems integrated in mirrors, allowing autonomous registration; the rooms become centres of cutting-edge technology, but without neglecting their comfort, with technological designs that adapt the appearance of the walls to the customer’s tastes. The new materials of these surfaces offer images and colours that change according to the user’s mood. An evocative natural landscape or relaxing waterfalls are some of the options offered.
At the same time, the mattresses, which are connected to monitor the quality of sleep, and the electronic keys, which regulate the temperature, television and the information that the customer wishes to receive in their room, are other proposals with which hotels aim to surprise.
Software and personalised marketing
With regard to the business sector, Big Data are consolidated as the most powerful weapon in terms of data capture, enabling the customer’s preferences to be known, which is the basis for all personalised marketing. The storage of massive data and its subsequent analysis makes it easier to adjust the offer to levels of individualisation never seen before.
Softwares also innovate to offer comprehensive management in hotels, which have adapted the blockchain system, a technology that provides security like no other to any operation without the need for intermediaries, while consolidating itself as an information provider. This blockchain is a kind of accounts book that records transactions in real time and its reliability is undeniable. It is hardly surprising that it is the security system with which the Bitcoin digital currency operates.
The Berlin Tourism Fair (ITB) of 2016 will go down in history as that which received Chihira Kanae, a robot made by the Japanese company Toshiba, which was presented as a congress hostess and hotel concierge.
This was not the only robotic presence at the event. Mario, a robot working at the Ghent Marriott Hotel (Belgium), perplexed those attending the event. His ability to speak nineteen languages is unparalleled and his fame has spreads throughout Belgium. His skills are very varied and range from reading the restaurant dinner menu to performing the check-in at the hotel reception.
Chichira and Mario open the door for our future trips to be accompanied by new humanoids that offer us a personalised service, giving us a different experience from that provided by the current electronic devices. Reality is beginning to overcome imagination.