WTD & Innovation > Tourism in the Digital Era

Today, people and businesses connect, exchange information and execute transactions in ways never before imagined. The combination of digital platforms, user-generated content and feedback, social media integration, global positioning services, and the use of big data and artificial intelligence, has transformed the way people experience, consume and share information.

This is the result of successive advances in telecommunications, computers, databases, networks, Internet, mobile and wireless technology, global positioning systems and smartphones, amongst other things.

Tourism, as one of the world’s transversal economic sectors, has been both witness to and protagonist of these changes. For both public and private tourism entities, ICT has offered indispensable and very powerful tools for management, logistics, distribution and marketing. It has brought about a digital tourist that is more autonomous, hyper-connected and increasingly demanding, expecting personalized customer service.

Shifts in customer expectations and global trends are compelling the tourism sector to adapt business and operating models in search of enhanced customer satisfaction and operational performance. This is creating opportunities for new entrants into the tourism value chain, especially digital ‘natives’ like online travel aggregators. At the same time, private platform tourism services (the so-called sharing economy) are on the rise.

While the tourism sector has been at the forefront of digital disruption, exponential technological change means that the sector must innovate, and stakeholders must collaborate, on a near-constant basis in order to remain competitive.

In addition, the tourism sector’s cross-cutting nature extends its level of responsibility to use technological change and digitalization to help engender a more economically and socially sustainable, inclusive and environmentally-friendly future.