Digital transformation is among the hottest topics in hospitality right now. It’s the focus of a new Master’s program we’re launching next year*. And it also provides the subject matter for a recently-published book, which features a chapter written by Les Roches faculty member Gretel Qumsieh Mussalam PhD.
The book is titled ‘Tourism, Hospitality & Digital Transformation: Strategic Management Aspects (Innovation and Technology Horizons)’. Gretel’s chapter is ‘Innovation in Tourism Destination Marketing’. In it, she argues that with tourists becoming ever-more tech-savvy and keen to try new ideas, so destination marketing organizations (DMOs) must respond by planning and implementing innovative tactics to enhance their experiences.
“We now live in a digital world, thanks to advances in technologies such as smartphones, mobile apps, smart cards, new generation websites, social networks, chatbots, GPS, sensors, near-field communication, augmented and virtual reality, connectivity through Wi-Fi, online review blogs and sites, search engines and social media,” Gretel says.
“As a result, we are experiencing the rise of the ‘smart destination’, which connects to today’s digitally-equipped tourist through mobile technologies. This allows them to offer enhanced interactions, plus more accurate and timely information.”
The first certified smart tourism destination in the world
Spain is one country that has already embraced the smart tourism destination concept. Under the auspices of the Secretary of State for Tourism, the government provides assistance to municipalities that request help to improve their tourism services through technology, innovation and big data analysis.
Gretel continues, “destinations cannot afford to rely only on conventional or traditional means of promotion and marketing. To attract tourists, destinations need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Technological innovation can serve this purpose in satisfying tourists’ needs and improving their visiting experience.”
The need for a more strategic DMO approach also happened to be one of the conclusions drawn by travel industry analyst Pavlos Papadimitriou, in our recent feature on the fallout from the collapse of Thomas Cook.
“For DMOs, tourists now occupy a central place,” says Gretel. “Their relationship with the destination, and their behaviors, are vital in terms of how they use mobile technology once there. Much depends on how much, and what, data they are willing to share in order to receive personalized services; also which smart technologies they are connected to.”
Other chapters in the book cover topics including digitalization, customer loyalty and change management, with authors drawing examples from the hospitality industries of Portugal, Poland and Sri Lanka, as well as Switzerland’s Zurich Airport.
- You can buy a copy of the book Tourism, Hospitality & Digital Transformation: Strategic Management Aspects (Innovation and Technology Horizons) online from Routledge Books or Amazon.
About Gretel Qumsieh Mussalam PhD
Gretel teaches both BBA and MBA students at Les Roches Crans-Montana. She brings more than 20 years’ experience as a tourism consultant and researcher in Switzerland, France and the UK. She has also held the position of acting Director to the Public Relations Department of the Palestine Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. She holds a PhD in Tourism Destination Marketing from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.
*pending NECHE approval
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