Learn how the next era of smart tourism can build guest loyalty and how customer data will transform the end-to-end guest experience.
What smart tourism is—and what it isn’t
Smart destinations are often enabled by specific technology upgrades, like mobile apps or online booking platforms, but that’s not all it is. Smart tourism is tourism that transforms the end-to-end guest experience through interconnected physical and digital technology.
“Technology upgrades implemented in a vacuum aren’t truly ‘smart,’ because they’re not grounded in the end-to-end guest experience,” says Sundaram, travel and hospitality industry expert.
Smart tourism is not just luxury travel; it applies to mass-market or affordable tourism experiences as well. Smart tourism creates seamless and luxurious experiences enabled by technology, increasing convenience and accessibility for travelers.
The next era of smart tourism, sometimes referred to as “cognitive tourism,” goes a step further by utilizing first-party customer data to proactively recommend the next step of the guest experience, whether that’s a reminder to get to the airport, an invitation for a vacation activity or a coupon for a recommended restaurant. This means no more written itineraries that need to be carried around and the ability to plan a dream vacation at the click of a button, taking much of the thinking out of the process.
Why guests crave smart destinations now more than ever
Post-COVID-19, travelers expect and rely on technology to power travel experiences across every touchpoint of their journey. Understaffed travel and hospitality brands need to use technology to bridge the gap at formerly in-person touchpoints that are becoming overwhelmed with “revenge tourism.”
But the need for smart tourism isn’t just because of a lack of staff. As travel prices continue to rise and loyalty falls, guests will revisit brands that personalize products and messaging. Almost one-third of travelers are more likely to stay in hotels that offer contactless checkout and/or personalized digital offers, according to 2022 research. Digitizing the travel experience allows brands to further tailor marketing and recommendations to customers based on their data.
Smart tourism also enables more sustainable, regenerative travel experiences that appeal to younger travelers. Roughly two-thirds of Millennials and Gen Z say that sustainability is important to them when they travel, according to the same study.
How can smart tourism transform the end-to-end travel experience?
From booking to hotel check-in and travel activities, brands can allow customers to share first-party data through mobile devices for more personalized and efficient travel experiences.
Here’s how brands can integrate customer data across each step of the travel experience:
Booking the vacation