Technologies for tourism according to the Nebrija University webinar: experts' opinion

On February 18, within the framework of the activities promoted by the University of Nebrija, a webinar dedicated to the reality and challenges of artificial intelligence and other technological solutions in tourism was held - a topic that receives a lot of attention of the experts of the sector and of the figures participating in the operation of the industry, as the digital transition of companies and institutions is made a practical solution to the challenges that the pandemic crisis has brought. Juan Daniel Núñez, CEO of Smart Travel News, participated as moderator, and among the speakers were Antonio López de Ávila, President-CEO of Tourism Data Driven Solutions, Eduardo Gutiérrez, Director of Business Development and New Technologies at SEGITTUR, Iñigo Onieva, Senior Travel & Hospitality Mentor at Barceló Hotel Group, Pedro Molleda, Senior Vice President of Business Intelligence at NH Hotel Group, Natalia Bayona, leads the innovation, training and investment strategy of the UNWTO.

Thanks to the conference convened, the invited experts have been able to share their knowledge and experience regarding the use of technologies in their respective fields and express their vision on the potential future applications of various digital technological solutions, thus contributing to the improvement of understanding of the contribution of these technologies and the processing of data for decision making, as well as seeing the real application of technologies in companies and tourist destinations. 

During the presentations, it was revealed at different times that the process of the digital transition has been accelerated due to the crisis that occurred, so that many companies in the sector have taken a jump of 2, 3 or 4 years in their digitalization, in addition to this, despite being a difficult period for entrepreneurs in the sector, it has been an opportunity to stop and reflect on the business models towards which they want to move forward, what type of business or destination they want to become, how they have to deal with one or another customer segment.

The entrepreneurial capacity of the tourism sector is very powerful, which has been shown by the results of the competition for start-ups organized by the UNWTO, therefore, with sufficient support from the administrations and counting on a powerful technological base, the entrepreneurs they can make the sector lead development and reconstruction globally, contributing not only to economic prosperity, but also, and not least, to sustainability in its broad sense.

From a technological point of view, we have to work intensively to finally give more space to technologies such as Blockchain or Artificial Intelligence, which can give a positive effect both to specific companies, as well as to the management of processes related to tourism activity globally. Thus, the Blockchain can be implemented when checking the authenticity of the traveler's documents without the need to generate queues to check, for example, a medical certificate in person, calculate the footprints of the emissions that are generated in the case of each traveler from the time he leaves his home and until he reaches his final destination, which, as a consequence, would allow for traceability of the corridors based on energy efficiency. 

In general terms, Blockchain technology is integrated with the layers of Artificial Intelligence in many projects, forming a combination that would mark a before and after in the ways of understanding a tourist territory, the consumer and the patterns of their consumption, opening up the possibility of interconnecting indicators that would provide valuable data for decision-making, which could not be produced without the intervention of the corresponding technology. 

In the accommodation sector, these technological solutions help with revenue management tasks, aiming to achieve maximum precision in the calculations, depending on each customer segment and each given circumstance. In addition, it can be implemented in internal business management, measuring, for example, staff productivity and automatically diverting tasks based on the given resolution level of one individual or another.

It is no less important, in terms of the destination management. Both Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, with an appropriate use, can generate valuable tools to measure visitor flows at a global level or in a specific site of this destination, so that information regarding the type of person who is in that place and their motivation. 

It is clear that due to this day there has been progress in data collection and processing techniques, in the total set of information contained in Big data an efficient response and solution to a given situation can be found, the great challenge consists in in a way, in knowing how to formulate the question to obtain the answer that is found in the volumes of available data.

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