How the digital world is changing the tourism industry?
Tourism and travel represent nowadays the main leisure activity for billions of people around the globe. The digitalization of our world and the use of new technologies changed the way we look and perceive the tourism industry and opened the door to the E-tourism.
What is the future of tourism in the digital era? What are the changes we can expect?
As I am always interested in the new digital outbreaks, and also passionate about tourism and travels, I decided to research the new concept of E-tourism.
- E-tourism: digitization of the industry
- E-tourism: new digital trends
- M-tourism and E-tourism:
E-tourism: digitization of the industry
The E-tourism is defined as “the digitization of all the methods and value chains of the tourism, travel, hotel and catering sectors, allowing companies to maximize their efficiency and their offers to customers”.
The emergence of the Internet in the ’90s as well as the development of various web technologies have strongly changed and revolutionized the tourism sector.
E-tourism is a new way of thinking, organizing and experiencing the holidays that is taking place. People are increasingly using smartphones, computers, and tablets to book flights and hotels. They also tend to discuss and send photos and videos of their stay. In the era of E-tourism, travelers share their opinions and experiences before going on a trip, during the trip, and after the end of the holidays on social networks.
These opinions will have a great influence on the reputation and value of a certain destination or tourist offer.
A study conducted by Raffour Interactive’s firm in 2015 shows the key figures of E-tourism in France:
- 71% of people consult the Internet to prepare their stay.
- 45% have booked all their trip or part directly online.
- 32% are preparing their holidays from their smartphones.
- 77% of E-tourists consult opinions online.
- 68% are influenced by the opinions they read.
These figures show that the Internet has become an important source of information regarding tourism offers. People are increasingly trusting the sites and reviews posted on them to choose their stay.
E-tourism: new digital trends
The web has become the predominant channel worldwide. The number of bookings made online increases from one month to the next. According to Damian Cook, CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers: “To say that digital tourism is the future of the market means that we live in the past. E-tourism is not the future, it is already the present“.
It’s not only important to know that online bookings are the new trend but you also need to understand the role that social networks play as ‘drivers’ of these bookings.
With the rise of social media, we find that there is a transfer of control from the travel industry to individual tourists. This can be frightening because their opinions can affect the integrity of a certain offer.
At the same time, this transfer of control could be a great opportunity. “When tourists have a great experience, they publish photos, videos and even write reviews that will surely bring in more customers” said Damian Cook.
I personally think that nowadays internet users are increasingly looking for interactive platforms where they can communicate and share with tourist agencies. Having a website is not enough anymore. Tourism stakeholders are committed to empowering their customers to create their own content on social networks. I, for example, always like to participate in social media games or post reviews of my experiences. It would surely help me appreciate more and more the companies that are giving this opportunity for customers.
Vacations are the most shared experiences on these platforms. People take pictures, they show the destination, they describe their experience and also talk about their meals. This is considered free advertising for the agency organizing this stay especially as hundreds of thousands of such publications are shared each day.
Social networks have surely changed the trends of tourism but the tourist in himself remains the most valuable asset. In the digital world, the tourism industry is driven by independent travelers. Consumers took power, they participate in the creation of the offer.
M-tourism and E-tourism:
The development of mobile applications in recent years and its adaptation to the field of travel has led to the emergence of what we call the M-tourism.
“The major evolution of E-tourism is that of the mobile” according to Guy Raffour. In 2009, 4% of the population was preparing their holidays via their smartphones. This number increased exponentially during the next seven years. In 2016, 53% of people use tablets and mobiles to prepare trips. There is a huge increase in 7 years.
65% of travelers say that M-tourism has a big impact on the way they prepare their trips. By having their digital tablet or mobile, travelers have access all the time, to all the leisure offers and activities available on site. They customize their holidays on site, adding a hotel night or booking a restaurant without having to think about it in advance. We are witnessing more freedom and independence.
Individuals are increasingly connected through their smartphone which makes the M-tourism the newest trend in the travel and vacation market.
To summarize, I think in the digital world, it is important for tourism and travel companies to acknowledge the importance of a satisfied customer. People are connected the whole time. I personally post pictures daily whenever I am visiting a new place. I write reviews and give my opinion on hotels, packages, and flights. There reviews and posts will surely influence people’s decisions when planning the same trip.
The customers are gaining more and more control. It is important to innovate and understand the value of UGC (user-generated content) in order to always offer unique experiences for travelers.
Finally, on a more personal note, always remember that even if you can stay connected all the time during your trips, turn off your phone for a few hours and just enjoy the stories you are writing!