Destinations failing to make most of technology to attract and engage visitors

Destinations –and those charged with promoting cities or countries– do not understand how to exploit the vast array of technology and techniques to attract visitors.
This is one finding from a major academic study by the eTourismLab at Bournemouth University in the UKand the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse after the pair analysed the online presence of 30 destinations (cities and countries) around the globe.
The research examined a variety of factors such as ability to search and book on destination websites, types and range of content, ability to interact on sites and through other social media channels, and – perhaps most importantly – appealing to visitors not only before but during and after a trip.
Some destinations are utilising technology to a certain degree, the study found, with the leading ten destinations identified as:

Thailand
Montreal
Las Vegas
Vancouver
Hong Kong
Puerto Rico
Australia
Norway
United Kingdom
Melbourne

The results illustrate that even the best DMOs and tourism boards are not taking advantage of web tools and other forms of technology, the study claims.

Leading the study, Professor Dimitrios Buhalis from the eTourismLab, says most of the 30 destinationsconcentrate only in providing information for “before travelling phase”.
“Few destinations use any technology for the during the travel period at the destination, or after the trip. Only a fraction of the available technology tools are used worldwide for promotingdestinations online and the vast majority of destinations do not exploit alltechnological capabilities.”
The average score across the 30 destinations in the study (ranked on a scale of one to five) was 2.4, Buhalis says.
As a result of the study, officialshave put together a list of key recommendations for DMOs and tourism boards to consider when putting together a digital strategy for promoting services, products and the actual destinations.

  • Concentrate on the inspire-before-during-after phases of travel for consumers
  • Create more interactivity
  • Include trip planners and itineraries and make them more visible for users
  • Support SMEs and “manage by jealousy” by encouraging the best to do better
  • Create clusters of innovative users and support them
  • Produce theme microsites and use social media to address niche markets
  • Implement news feed of social mediachannels
  • Integrate strategic marketing/online marketing/social media/PR
  • Utilise user generated content as a major strategy to inspire prospective travellers
  • Take advantage of geo-tagging and prepare for location based services
  • Develop video and multimedia content and drive websites with visually attractive multimedia
  • Integrate virtual reality applications, 360-degree tours or webcams to increase transparency of tourism product
  • Improve current technologies and applications constantly to maintain standard
  • Develop consumers as advocates/ambassadors of a destination brand

Bornemouth University