Professional training in Augmented Reality (AR) for the tourism sector
When we are faced with new technological advances, in the first instance we may consider them as a field of science fiction. It is only when we consider the advantages from the practical point of view that we recognize how technology can serve as a useful tool for service and management procedures in tourism. Key partner Eurogites from the Next Tourism Generation Alliance (NTG) highlights the importance and relevance of Augmented Reality (AR) in the tourism sector.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the emerging technologies allowing the seamless superimposition of computer graphics onto the real world that includes extra information and improve the understanding of reality. AR technology has been around for some time now, though it has only recently begun to make some serious steps as it makes its way into the hands of consumers.
AR can assist and improve the image and understanding of key tourism service sectors (accommodation, transport, catering and attractions) using new and innovative methods to create all-around room tours with accommodation details and prices; provide interactive experiences of hotel services; eliminate language barriers when travelling; improve navigation to provide information about restaurants, cafes and bars nearby; show 3D models of places, creating visual tour guides and exhibitions; bring static or imaginary objects to life.
Recently major technology companies have implemented built-in AR software and hardware to support AR advancements into mobile devices. It is a completely new dimension of customer interaction ranging from person to person, business to business, business to consumer, and everything in between.
Most important skills gaps: knowledge of Augmented Reality (AR)
The conclusions of a recent desk research completed by the Next Tourism Generation Project (NTG, 2019a) and results of a comprehensive digital skills assessment survey completed by professionals in the tourism sector throughout Europe (NTG, 2019b) demonstrated that across 8 different European countries AR presented as the largest skills gap between current and future proficiency (65%). This represented one of the most important gaps in terms of technological-digital skills. This is a key factor for the future benefits and applications both for tourism managers and workers and tourist.
The technological skills gap detected for the implementation of AR is a concern for those without the appropriate skills specifically for workers and managers of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises in rural areas. This new technological landscape determines that once this new technology is implemented in production processes and in the provision of tourist services, itineraries and training offerings will include AR in their contents and objectives to gain optimal use. AR is here to stay and transform our habits of life and consumption.
AR training needs and learnings in (rural) tourism
Eurogites is currently a core partner on two European projects to overcome this digital skills gap. Firstly, the Next Tourism Generation Alliance (NTG Alliance), the project seeks to describe in detail the existing and future training needs from the field of digital skills, and consequently propose measures and training itineraries according to those needs. Secondly, the project Aurea4rural aims to develop a practical solution that is an application or tool for the creation and management of AR content, with specific tutorials for small and medium tourism enterprises in rural areas.
Aurea4Rural is a project funded by the European Commission under the framework of Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and training. Using this funding we are able to create a novel digital tool that will be of great use to everybody working in rural tourism and related sectors. It is going to be user-friendly, very straightforward and easy to comprehend.
Eurogites feels great expectations regarding participation in responding to these technological challenges. The combination of the global vision that provides the participation in a project such as NTG, that has a great strategic scope and from the point of view of networking across Europe to work towards a future improvement of the qualification of the professionals of the European tourism sector. This, added to field work and experimentation in a brand new application of Augmented Reality specific to Rural Tourism (Aurea4rural), can generate many synergies between all stakeholders (technology developers, institutions or companies involved in training, administrations involved in tourism, employers, workers, etc.).