The Nordic Tourism Policy Analysis document produced this week for the Nordic Council of Ministers maps a blueprint for the development of future tourism in the Nordic Region. The report assesses the appetite for increased Nordic cooperation across four key areas, one of which is the development of SMART DESTINATIONS. It’s now recognised that being ‘smart’ can drive and improve the tourism experience. So what are 'smart destinations'?
“Being smart is enabling destinations to develop their collective competitiveness and enhance their brand proposition. Taking advantage of network economics and marketing, smart destinations use interoperability and interconnectivity to develop an ecosystem of tourism services and work closely with their customers and guests to maximise the value co-created at the destination."
The tourism experience
What that actually means is that smart tourism destinations can take advantage of technology to enhance the tourism experience and improve the effectiveness of resource management. This in turn improves the destination competitiveness and consumer satisfaction while doing so in a sustainable way.
Cloud technology, big data, mobile apps, location-based services, geo-tagging services, beacon technology, virtual and augmented reality, and social networks are part of the smart infrastructure that can enhance tourism experiences and services in smart cities. These technologies can also improve tourist flows and services, as well as introducing new advertising platforms to feature attractions.
Analysing data from tourists can help to provide insights into demand, behaviour, and movement and will become more important for destinations that want to increase and improve tourism. As visitor numbers grow, effective crowd management services are often needed on public transport or at popular attractions. In Barcelona for example, telecom network Orange collaborated to monitor visitor numbers to the Sagrada Familia in order to better plan transport networks.
At the same time, by connecting to a smart tourism network, it is possible to deliver targeted-context-based promotional messages that can help add value and increase yield. Just how smart a destination can be, depends on the mix of people, resources, information and communications technologies - an immense task for many!
It's the way forward
But, in an environment that’s more connected than ever, and with increased levels of visitor expectation, a destination that proves to be smarter that others will use data to improve its attractions, access, amenities, packages, activities and other services and will gain significant advantage over others.