Destinations failing to make most of technology to attract and engage visitors
Destinations – and those charged with promoting cities or countries – do not understand how to exploit the vast array of technology and techniques to attract visitors.
This is one finding from a major academic study by the eTourismLab at Bournemouth University in the UK and the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse after the pair analysed the online presence of 30 destinations (cities and countries) around the globe.
The research examined a variety of factors such as ability to search and book on destination websites, types and range of content, ability to interact on sites and through other social media channels, and – perhaps most importantly – appealing to visitors not only before but during and after a trip.
Some destinations are utilising technology to a certain degree, the study found, with the leading ten destinations identified as:
- Las Vegas
- Hong Kong
- Puerto Rico
- United Kingdom
The results illustrate that even the best DMOs and tourism boards are not taking advantage of web tools and other forms of technology, the study claims.
Leading the study, Professor Dimitrios Buhalis ofrom the eTourismLab, says most of the 30 destinations concentrate only in providing information for “before travelling phase”.
“Few destinations use any technology for the during the travel period at the destination, or after the trip. Only a fraction of the available technology tools are used worldwide for promoting destinations online and the vast majority of destinations do not exploit all technological capabilities.”
The average score across the 30 destinations in the study (ranked on a scale of one to five) was 2.4, Buhalis says.
As a result of the study, officials have put together a list of key recommendations for DMOs and tourism boards to consider when putting together a digital strategy for promoting services, products and the actual destinations.
- Concentrate on the inspire-before-during-after phases of travel for consumers
- Create more interactivity
- Include trip planners and itineraries and make them more visible for users
- Support SMEs and “manage by jealousy” by encouraging the best to do better
- Create clusters of innovative users and support them
- Produce theme microsites and use social media to address niche markets
- Implement news feed of social media channels
- Integrate strategic marketing/online marketing/social media/PR
- Utilise user generated content as a major strategy to inspire prospective travellers
- Take advantage of geo-tagging and prepare for location based services
- Develop video and multimedia content and drive websites with visually attractive multimedia
- Integrate virtual reality applications, 360-degree tours or webcams to increase transparency of tourism product
- Improve current technologies and applications constantly to maintain standard
- Develop consumers as advocates/ambassadors of a destination brand
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.