“Smart tourism” practices to improve the industry’s use of data and technology, the travel sector is poised to see a revival
At the first trade show organized in Singapore during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 has “accelerated the two driving forces of digitalization and sustainability” but has also added “the need for health security” in the tourism industry."
While governments all over the world, including Singapore, continue to invest in technology as digital enablers to facilitate a seamless and convenient experience for visitors, what else can key players in the tourism industry do?
By implementing “smart tourism” practices to improve the industry’s use of data and technology, the travel sector is poised to see a revival. Smart tourism is the use of technology to modernize operations and improve the efficiency of tourism, while providing convenience and safety to travelers. There are multiple practices that can be adopted by tourism organizations to deliver smart experiences across the customer journey, such as real time safety alerts, using data to personalize and create more meaningful experiences, and contactless interactions, which enable sanitation and safety.
Smart tourism practices that tourism organizations can adopt to deliver smart experiences across the customer journey include:
Real time safety
Real-time safety alerts via digital channels is an opportunity to ensure travelers have the right information to both enjoy their journey and feel safe in the process. For example, the TraceTogether app in Singapore supports nationwide efforts to combat COVID-19 by enabling community-driven contact tracing. By facilitating the contact tracing process through the exchanging of Bluetooth signals with nearby mobile devices running the same app, the data collected allows the identification of people who were in close contact with an infected person more efficiently. This not only provides convenience to tourists, but also facilitates the need for health security.
Personalizing the experience
As international borders remain closed in most countries, tourism organisations are looking towards domestic travel instead. At a virtual dialogue with tourism industry players in July, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing noted that Singapore has a “significant domestic market that is searching for new experiences”. In the same month, the Singapore Government launched a S$45 million SingapoRediscovers campaign to encourage domestic tourism through exploring the different sides of the island.
In order to capitalize on the trend on domestic tourism, travel companies will require a deeper understanding of new customer segments in order to provide relevant information to assist in trip planning, which can be achieved through data partnerships. For example, Adobe and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) partnered together for the One Singapore Experience, which uses data analytics to provide a seamless and personalized experience for those who visit Singapore. By doing so, STB and Adobe aims to help businesses and attractions with digital transformation. Meanwhile, Tourism Australia and Virgin Airlines partnered together to understand user journeys and assist in trip planning by sharing data such as destination interests in order to provide personalized airline deals and offers.
When looking to gain consumer confidence for travel safety, automated contactless interactions are a key (but also the most challenging) factor in doing so. Contactless experiences in hospitality includes check-in through mobile apps or kiosks, supporting enhance sanitation and distancing efforts while providing hotels the opportunity to use data for personalized services to make the entire experience more efficient. Government and tourism organizations should also look into modernizing processes across the customer journey by automating paperwork through the adoption of e-signatures across forms to improve efficiency and reduce operational costs, which can help deliver superior experiences to travelers.
In our current world, as we look to minimize physical interactions, the digital customer experience has become even more necessary as a medium for brands to converse with the consumer. While no one can predict how long the tourism industry’s recovery will take, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of doubling down on customer experience to ensure safety and comfort for travelers.
By developing customer-centric operating models and organizing teams to support the end-to-end customer journey via an integrated technology stack and advanced digital capabilities, travel companies and government bodies are unlocking new ways to deliver on the experience.