The use of data as a competitive skills level in tourism
Among the different sectors of the economy, the tourism sector is one of those that is riding the wave of digitalisation most quickly, according to the CaixaBank Sector Digitalisation Index (ICDS). This same study also indicates that, within the tourism sector, the accommodation sector is gaining a greater degree of digitisation, especially in terms of the marketing of customer services.
Innovation is closely related to digitisation. This concept could be defined as the transformation of information from physical to digital format. Besides being a form of “survival” in our increasingly digitised everyday life, is a form of communication to be able to transmit this information from generation to generation.
Digitisation as the engine of innovation
As Heraclitus rightly said, “everything changes, nothing remains”. This statement gives us a very precise idea of the object of innovation. We can define this concept as the transformation of ideas and knowledge into improved products, processes or services in order to satisfy the needs of all members of society: citizens, companies and public administrations.
Increasingly, automation is something we look for in everything we do in our daily lives. This is called the “culture of immediacy”: the customer’s need to have what they want “here and now”. John Tomlinson talks about this phenomenon in his book “The culture of speed“. In his book, referring to this “immediacy”, he comments that “without this key concept it will not be possible from now on to make sense of the social existence of our time and its ambivalences”. Most of the people nowadays prefers to look for something they need in Amazon so that they can receive it just in the same day, either than going out shopping. Moreover, digitalisation is essential if we talk about the embodiment of the customer experience.
Technology is a great alliance in what concerns to making a tailor-made design for our customer experience. The has given rise to various phenomena, among which we can talk about Big Data. According to the author Kenneth Cukier, author of the book ‘Big Data. The Big Data Revolution‘, “it is about doing things from the analysis of immense amounts of information, which are simply not possible with smaller volumes”. As he points out, it is these large amounts of information that help companies to carry out their activity, not only in terms of personalising their service but also in terms of manufacturing, being able to base their decisions on data collected about their own company.
That is why, taking advantage of all this information, every company should adapt their decisions, in what concerns to innovation, to their customers needs and how could they cover them.
Also, technology helps a lot of organizations to be more sustainable. For example, some days ago, a supermarkets chain announced that it will invest 50 M€ in the digitalisation of its shops and, because of that, 2,900 tons of paper will be saved annually.
In what referes to tourism sector, knowing our client and their digital behaviour will make it much easier to develop the correct strategy to meet their needs in this highly competitive market that is the tourism sector. Moreover, some clients will start looking for a digitalised experience or taking into account how sustainability will be their activity in destination, so companies have to be ready for that.
The tourism sector at the head of the race
Even taking into account all its benefits, there is a great stigma about the implementation of technology in companies. It is important to understand that, as the ICDS rightly points out, “digitalisation is not an end, but a means to achieve greater competitiveness and productivity”. This fact is clearly evidenced by OTAs, online travel agencies such as Booking or Expedia, which with their hotel room sales in the EU by up to 11% per year between 2014 and 2019 according to a study by Phocuswright.
The digitisation of the sector is a step that all companies currently have to take in order to achieve growth in the short, medium and long term. it is interesting to talk about the concept of “VUCA environments”. This acronym corresponds to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. As it’s well-known, innovation is such as pillar in tourism sector, and one of the key elements to get to it is technology. Time runs and we need to make job easier for the employees of the company, for the organisation itself, and also we have to improve our customers experience. In addition, if we talk about this VUCA environment that we are currently experiencing, digital skillls have to be a “must-have” in the training offered by the company.
Taking these factors into account, a key issue to bear in mind is that, if we want to manage in this , two key aspects are flexibility and adaptation to changes in the market. The organisation’s ability to react is key, as the best leader will be the one who knows how to deal with this uncertainty, turning threats into opportunities. Tourism sector is changing day by day, as well as customers preferences follow different trends. Companies have to stay updated about all of them to be prepared to act, and facilitate this training in social skills, that will be essential not only for their professional live but for their personal one.
Digital transformation helps us to address all these challenges more efficiently, and that is why we’ll need to achive these digitial skills. Technological innovation will help companies to operate optimally, both by streamlining its business for its employees and by improving the quality of services for customers.
Author: Alba Escobar, CEHAT
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- TOMLINSON.: The Culture of Speed. The Coming of Immediacy, 2007.
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