What Is Tourism 4.0 and How to Attract the ‘New Traveler’?
Tourism is a traditional industry going through a gradual disruption over the years. The pandemic only accelerated this process, and now, DMOs are rushing to understand and adapt their strategies to attract visitors in 2022 and beyond.
This article discusses Tourism 4.0 and what the “new traveler” expects when booking a trip. Also, we will present tips for destination marketers and managers to improve their marketing efforts and tourism planning for their destinations.
Tourism 4.0 and the future of the industry
Have you ever heard about Industry 4.0?
So, Tourism 4.0 is another term for the same trend, the growing use of big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other high-tech computer technologies to generate demand and improve services for consumers across different industries.
In the tourism sector, those technologies are used to create personalized travel experiences from the early stages of the booking journey to the post-trip.
This new wave of travelers, or the traveler 4.0, expect their travel experiences to be more efficient, safer, greener and less hassle while optimizing journey times and minimizing travel costs.
To meet these expectations, DMOs, municipalities and suppliers should work together to implement the changes to attract the ‘new traveler’.
Cities are taking action to become smart destinations
In recent research conducted in 2021 by the travel technology company Amadeus, 98% of business travelers said that technology will increase their confidence to travel. This is an expressive number that destination marketers and managers can’t ignore.
Some of them already know the importance of turning their cities into smart destinations and are taking action to achieve this goal.
That is the case with Valencia. The European Commission selected the city as the 2022 European Capital of Smart Tourism. This recognition comes after an investment in sustainability, accessibility and innovation.
The city has seamlessly implemented digital resources to improve travelers’ experience. Visitors can access any venue by using a QR code, which drastically reduces the use of paper. Also, all their guides, maps and brochures are available online, as their tourist information agents, who can be reached on WhatsApp and via live chat.
In 2019 Valencia’s online tourism shop had a turnover of €4.5 million!
Attracting the Traveler 4.0 to your destination
These two years were enough to change the traveler’s behavior. Understanding their needs is essential to creating effective marketing strategies and staying competitive in the market.
To better understand what the Traveler 4.0 wants, we have listed 8 changes in their behavior that DMOs should pay attention to.
Sustainability is the standard
According to Booking.com research, 83% of global travelers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future.
The ‘new traveler’ is greener and no longer tolerates paying for travel experiences that aren’t environmentally friendly.
That includes reducing their carbon footprint. The same study by Booking.com found that 69% of travelers want to reduce the carbon footprint of their vacation.
Valencia aims to become carbon neutral by 2030 and currently has several Sustainable Action Plans in place which include measures to reduce CO2 emissions, encourage electric vehicle usage, improve energy efficiency, promote sustainable food options and note impacts on cultural heritage.
Ljubljana — another European Capital of Smart Tourism — has a similar initiative. The capital of Slovenia has closed its historic center to cars and has a network of smart bicycles available for travelers to rent and enjoy the city sights.
What are your destination projects to become more sustainable?
The more personalized the better
Back in 2018, Google released a study on U.S. travelers and according to it, nearly six in 10 (57%) of them feel that brands should tailor their information based on personal preferences or past behaviors.
We are talking about personalization at all levels of the travel experience. From the marketing communication to the experience itself. Each traveler is unique and they want to be treated as so.
This can be achieved through the use of AI and big data. By learning the patterns hidden in the travelers’ behavior, it’s possible to predict their preferences and deliver a hyper-personalized experience.
Imagine showing wine tasting ads only to travelers that are wine lovers, or inviting road travelers to download an itinerary for a road trip at your destination. All this marketing at a minimum cost.
Online ad platforms already have this technology, and you should be using it right now to attract the right visitor to your destination.
Innovation, innovation, innovation
The pandemic has posed new challenges to our society and ultimately shut down the travel industry for a while. The restart of travel is conditioned to the adoption of new standards in the industry.
Travel companies must work to deliver trusted information to travelers, enable more contactless and touchless experiences throughout the journey, and enhance the enjoyment of travel.
In this regard, 5G could be a game-changer. In the wake of it, experts are developing new technologies known as the Internet of Things (IoT). And not-so-new technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) could experience a boost with the high internet speeds that come with this new generation network.
Inasmuch as travelers are concerned with safety, social distancing, and hygiene protocols, VR and AR could be used to create virtual tours. On the other hand, IoT can help deliver the information travelers need at the time they need straight on their smartphones.
If you are not online, you don’t exist!
The average traveler relies on websites such as Google and TripAdvisor to plan and book their trips. In the Travel & Tourism market, 74% of total revenue will be generated through online sales by 2026.
Do you know what will happen if you don’t have a solid online presence in the upcoming years? That’s right, no one will see what your destination has to offer.
Start building your online presence now. Make sure your destination has its social media accounts and website updated. Consider partnering with influencers and using User Generated Content (UGC) in your pages and campaigns.
Digitalizing your tourist offer also helps potential visitors discover your destination. By bringing online all the experiences, accommodations and attractions in your destination, you are increasing the visibility of local companies, the average number of days visitors spend in your destination and reducing the tourism leakage.
Slow travel vs. Fast travel
Research commissioned by Hidden Scotland found out that 83% of their visitors like to slow travel. But do you know what slow travel is?
That means travel with a purpose. It’s an approach to travel that emphasizes connection with local people, culture, food and lifestyle.
This is a trend that has grown during the post-pandemic. After two years without traveling, people don’t want to simply step on a plane and return home five days later. Travelers are seeking an emotional impact on their trip through immersion in a different culture.
To promote slow travel in your destination you should highlight less popular experiences rather than popular areas. Suggesting an itinerary to your visitor after they book an accommodation is also an option to better distribute visitors after they arrive at your destination.
If they can’t cancel they’ll not travel
All the uncertainty caused by the pandemic has changed travelers’ behavior for good. Now, someone will only book a ticket if they are sure they will be able to cancel it in case something goes wrong.
This long-term effect is shown in recent PhocusWire research. According to it, 7 out of 10 travelers prioritize flexible booking more than ever.
DMOs and municipalities should educate travel companies about the importance to implement flexible cancellation policies. Rebuilding traveler’s trust is something that will take time and effort, and probably it will never be the same again.
Smartphone is the new credit card
Contactless is the word when it comes to travel. This technology is widely used by all sorts of businesses and accepted by users, which makes it a must for payments.
Needless to say that contactless payment has grown in popularity during the pandemic because is safer and more convenient for users. Travelers want to pay how and when they want.
Offering an online payment option not only reduces the congestion in public spaces but also the number of people waiting in lines for attractions and other travel experiences.
For business travelers, contactless payment is one of the top five technologies that would increase confidence to travel in the next 12 months.
Remote work has given more flexibility to travelers. Traveler 4.0 wants to travel multiple times a year and off-season.
According to a recent report by Future Market Insights (FMI), the bleisure tourism market is expected to grow 19.5% between 2022 and 2032.
Another category of flexible travelers is digital nomads. According to MBO Partners, the number of digital nomads from the U.S. has more than tripled between 2018 and 2021, reaching 15.5 million.
This is good news for destinations and travel companies. More frequent travelers equal less seasonality. On the other hand, the tourist offer should be attractive all year long for a destination to stay competitive.
The pandemic has accelerated the transition of the tourism industry to the 4.0 era. With it came permanent changes in the travelers’ behavior and expectations. Now, in order to stay competitive, destinations should adjust their marketing and tourist offers to attract the ‘new traveler’.
The Traveler 4.0 is looking for:
- Connection with the destination
- Enhanced travel experience
If your destination is struggling to adapt to the Tourism 4.0 standards, SmartDestination.Travel has the innovative solutions you need. Our award-winning crew is here to help you give the next steps towards becoming a smart destination.
Check out our website for more details about our services and members.