Comertia-01

26.11.2015

Travel to a smart destination: analysing the future of connected tourism

Image | Unsplash

When traveling, whether for business or pleasure, a lot of time is spent on processes that in the future will be rendered totally unnecessary. With the rise of smart cities, the traveller’s role will gradually shift, and it will be his surroundings that directly facilitate his access to all kinds of information, thereby ensuring a perfect experience.

Within a few years travelling to smart destinations will be an immersion experience in which technology will play a key role in anticipating visitors’ needs. This idea was analysed in depth by Oscar Pallarols, Director of Smart Living, a Mobile World Capital programme, at the Smart Retail Workshop organised by Comertia, the Catalonian Retail Family Business Association.

“Smart, in short, means applying the new capacities that technology offers to a particular area of activity, through the prism of digital transformation,” Pallarols explained. Today many cities already allow their citizens to enjoy these added-value experiences. The hyperconnected individual has spawned a new relationship model between organisations and citizens, and, transferred to the retail sector, between businesses and consumers. According to Pallarols: “Retail has a very important impact on how cities are experienced, both for locals and visitors.” Thus, it is increasingly common to find smart experiences, not only for cultural tours, but also for shopping. Products sold now transcend traditional, physical points of sale or service. Products sold now transcend traditional, physical points of sale or service. It is therefore essential for retailers to understand that consumers access businesses via multiple channels, and to adapt to the new situation.

Comertia

Image | Comertia

The experience at the smart destination

The immersion experiences at a smart destination begin at one’s point of arrival: airports, train stations, ports or motorways. In a smart city visitors would receive a welcome pack with customised ideas, specifically tailored to their type of trip: business, holidays or leisure. “Based on certain technological elements, or a combination of them, such as apps, beacons or virtual reality experiences, it is possible to catch the visitors’ interest and generate a virtual link or relationship between them and their destination.” Brands may also participate in the visitor’s engagement with the city, proposing itineraries smoothing out his travel experience or offering audio-visual content about everything happening in the city during his stay.

At a smart destination hotel rooms would also function as connection points between cities, hotels and guests. The smart system would notify hotel staff of the traveller’s possible delays or problems, in such a way that they could foresee his needs. It would propose and geolocate restaurants based on his nutritional requirements, and would analyse the social networks for complementary information on the activities forming the focus of his trip. In March 2015, Mobile World Capital Barcelona presented the Mobile Ready initiative, through which several Barcelona hotels, among other locations, made digital solutions available to travellers in order to enhance their visits.

The existence of a public Wi-Fi network, citizen information elements incorporated into street furniture, promotional deals and special offers by local businesses, designed ad hoc, and contactless payments based on NFC technology would help to improve visitors’ travel experiences in every way. “A good experience will generate pertinent information on the customer’s visit if it is improved through technology,” concluded Pallarols. This and other subjects were discussed at the Mobile Thinking Days, the first forum dedicated to reflection on how the digital transformation will affect competitiveness in the tourism sector in the coming years.

An analysis of smart commerce forms the centrepiece of Smart Retail, conectando con el cliente, a Comertia publication focused on transforming the retail sector’s business model to adapt it to the new reality of connected tourism.