The challenges of the tourism industry in the next decade

What is coming in tourism

What will the tourist sector have in the coming years? It is the question that all professionals in the travel industry would like to have answered. Although the future is uncertain, managers of the largest hotel groups and tour operators in the world have spoken. And in the scenario outlined, key concepts such as segmentation, relational models with the client and technology are drawn.

Meliá, Riu, Ávoris, W2M, Grupo Piñero, Travelport … the top representatives of the major players in the tourism industry gathered at the end of May at the Forum “Passion for Tourism”, organized in Palma de Mallorca by Preferente, leader world in tourist information.

The key: travel digitization, personalization, big data

The speakers have coincided in glimpsing a horizon in which the possibilities offered by digitization as a personalization tool are endless. Artificial intelligence and big data will focus on the collection and analysis of customer data. This will allow you to adjust an offer of services adapted and updated instantly during your vacations, offering each client exactly the product, service or experience that will add value.

Artificial intelligence and intrusiveness in the tourism sector

With this information, you can watch over the client before, during and after your trip. And in the case of hotels, in your pre-stay, your stay and your post stay. For example, Gabriel Escarrer, CEO of Meliá, announced that they have created an app that allows to interact in real time with the client. In addition, it will facilitate the client to send their feedback once they return home. “This feedback will help to counteract problems, turning them into opportunities for improvement” – explained Escarrer.

Innovative technology

Technological innovations usually involve ethical issues to which hoteliers are no strangers. Encarna Piñero, CEO of Grupo Piñero, pointed out that the collection of customer data could incur some intrusiveness and that it would be appropriate to consider the honest limit to the use of this data. Thanks to technology, the CRM knows where it is, who is around it, how long it stays in the pool, if it asks for a second mojito … In some Chinese airports facial recognition technology analyzes the passengers’ faces and tells them which your flight is, boarding gate and the observations or incidents of interest. This same technology will be applied in hotels, although a debate about its limits is foreseeable; travelers, less and less willing to share information of a personal nature necessary for the analysis and application of artificial intelligence, could end up claiming their right not to be “spied on” (see article Privacy vs. artificial intelligence in the travel sector, OTT).

Exhaustive segmentation of products and recipients

Other future trends in the tourism industry will be hyper segmentation and relational models. In the hotel case, the segments will be atomized according to the different concepts that are constantly evolving (Only adults, only families, boutique, lifestyle … see article OTT) and depending on the recipients: millennials, Generation X, Generation Z … or an emerging Senior Generation.

Hoteliers: from selling beds to selling emotions

The objective of hoteliers and other tourist entrepreneurs will no longer be to sell vacations or accommodations and excursions, but to sell experiences. The relational model surpasses the transactional one and consists in generating bonds based on sympathy and affection in each moment of business-client interaction, having employees as the executive batter of this model.

The entrepreneur’s challenge will be to attract the talent of workers who are committed to this goal of improving the customer experience. Above the standardization of protocols or the perfection in its execution, making the customer happy is what really compensates, and the best way to neutralize failures or errors is to demonstrate closeness and empathy. “We have three clients: the guest, the client-employee and the intermediary, and we try to take care of them very much,” said Escarrer, who admitted that there is a “war for talent” in the market. He pointed out that “it is essential to attract employees who share our values, otherwise we will have mercenaries.” Meliá has 48,000 employees of 137 nationalities.

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