How Technology Has ‘Hacked’ the Travel Industry

ELAINE SHIU

Innovation is no longer optional in the tourism industry

By ELAINE SHIU

As an emerging service industry, the tourism industry is increasingly closely related to technology. Innovations in tourism technology have promoted innovation in tourism consumption as well. These changes, and the shifts in power in the tourism industry that came along with them, have prompted incumbent players in the tourism industry to usher in their own changes as well.

Tourism technology innovation refers to the combination of new science and technology with the characteristics and market demand of the tourism industry. Through stages of research, development, engineering, commercialization, and industrialization, technological integrations in the tourism industry have gradually increased, and so too has the power of technology in promoting and enabling tourism. 

Innovation in the travel and tourism space can take the shape of business model innovation, product innovation, and internal operations model innovation, as well as personnel training innovation. Much of this is guided by changing consumer needs. When it comes to business model innovation for instance, companies must incorporate the social needs of the new era (such as sustainability), consumer demands, and new trends in the industry. These are built upon the foundation of the original business model to achieve higher social and economic benefits. Ignoring this process means failing to satisfy consumer demand–and falling behind competitors.

Travel and tourism are comprehensive social activities that are produced under certain social and economic conditions and develop along with social and economic development. In a sense, they are  products and symbols of social progress. In today’s world, science and technology are the primary productive forces–in other words, modern technology plays an important role in economic and social development.  Thus is it only natural that they are also playing a role in the development of “modern tourism.” 

Science and technology investment has prolonged the life cycle of some tourism products. Tourism destinations (or tourism products) have historically experienced a process of growth and maturity. This law held until investments in science and technology made it possible to extend the life cycle of such products, thereby bringing more benefits to travelers. 

Take Disneyland for example. It initially opened in 1955, meaning that as of 2020, it’s been a standing tourism institution for 65 years. Even after such a long period of operation, Disneyland still attracts thousands of tourists. The product life cycle for a man-made tourism destination seems to be unreasonably long here, but Disney has repeatedly dipped into its deep pockets to invest in tech. Most recently, Disneyland invested $1 billion in developing MyMagic+, a technology project encompassing wearables, data collection, and crowd control tech to completely optimize the way visitors experience the theme park. The new system helped the park accommodate 3,000 additional daily guests around the 2013 Christmas holiday season (Bloomberg). 

Technology has greatly improved the safety of tourism products

While modern tourism needs are very diverse, one thing remains constant for all travelers: the safety standards they demand from activities and destinations. This is true especially for certain adventurous tourism activities such as bungee jumping, mountain climbing, or river rafting, which are popular among young tourists, in spite of (and perhaps because of) the risk of sudden accidents. 

Operators must take the right precautionary measures to ensure the safety of tourists and minimize risks. To do this, we must rely on technology. More sophisticated methods of calculation and design now go into the creation of professional supplies such as bungee jumping ropes, mouth rings, carbine rings, and foot covers.

With the emphasis on innovation at home and abroad, the tourism industry has also seized the day and actively taken innovation as its own opportunity to broaden and shape the industry. It’s a powerful weapon to increase market share and improve customer loyalty.

Through the close integration of tourism and technology, it is possible to directly and quickly change internal information transmission pathways in the tourism industry. It will help to improve the economic equality of the tourism industry, protect the rights and interests of consumers, as well as increase consumers’ confidence in the future development of tourism.

About the Author

Elaine is a serial entrepreneur in fashion jewelry, traveltech, and innovation technology. She has received numerous international awards for her innovative approach and achievements, such as Hong Kong Outstanding Young Entrepreneur, Hong Kong Cultural and Creative Industry Awards, and the Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Award. Meanwhile, she seeks to encourage youth development and women’s empowerment through public speaking and lectures.

instagram.com/elaineeeeee

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