Smart projects in tourism

The role of digital technology in building better destinations

DATE 15 February 2022LOCATIONOnline, Smart Destination Association (Zagreb, Croatia)

What was your last vacation experience like? How did you choose your destination, book accommodation and share your travel joy? Most likely, digital technology played a big role.

Although the pandemic had brought travel to a standstill and saw investments paused, digitisation is now back as a topic of major importance in tourism. Industry stakeholders are examining best practices, shedding more and more light on how digital excellence ties with business success in hospitality.

Last week, a virtual event by the Smart Destination Association brought together 12 speakers and nearly 200 attendees from eight countries for a dynamic, two-hour exchange on experiences and solutions in travel tech.

In his keynote speech, the association president Ivan Ilijasic presented research which examined the extent to which small tourist agencies in Croatia use digital tools. Interestingly, only 17% of them use the benefits of online booking systems.

Our Goran Mrvos spoke on the first panel which led to an interesting exchange on funding opportunities, as well as to a discussion on how a hotel, a tourist board, a museum, or any organisation can know that a specific digital solution is relevant to their business.

Moderator Martina Lucic Canak with panellists Alan Uzelac (BE-terna), Dejan Lugonja (Eventrify), Roberto Gobo (Valamar), and Goran Mrvos (Infosit)

Speakers offered insight on how IT companies cooperate when implementing digital projects, on the benefits of combining multiple digital services, and on what makes for an ideal digital product in tourism. With the latter, emphasis was on creating value for the entire community.

Case studies were used to present challenges in developing web platforms, and how technology underlies standardisation and process automation. Virtual reality, metaverses, digital keys and many other concepts were touched upon. That steered the conversation towards funding sources, too, as they are important in developing innovative solutions.

The last panel discussion shed some light on what a sustainable product in tourism is. How should we think of it, and what do we aim at when we try to shape it? Discussions also touched on the importance of sustainability for travellers, as well as the trends and innovations expected in the next 3 years.

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