The Rise of Digital Tourism

First published Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This morning I attended a seminar hosted by Sequence looking at Digital Tourism. For many in the tourism industry the concept is not a new one, though it can still at times seem rather baffling and perhaps generating more questions than answers. However, what is clear is that the tourism industry needs to embrace the digital world in order to support the delivery of predicted growth in the sector over the coming years.

There are so many different platforms and outlets for digital content these days. Depending on who your market is, or which market you want to attract, some will be more suitable than others. In the Sequence Guide to Digital Tourism (PDF download), there are some helpful pointers on things to consider, and much more on how the customer will approach their search for a holiday destination, and what you can do to guide them to you, convert their interest to a booking and develop a longer term business relationship. It’s written in English, there’s very little jargon in it, and some interesting facts and figures too.

One of the speakers today, Jon Munro from Visit Wales, emphasised just how important it is to be generating content for digital platforms. There are of course ways to boost the reach and impact of the content posted, and if it’s really great content then it can easily reach a far bigger audience, and provide opportunities to link to other businesses and websites that could drive traffic your way. I am not an expert on this by any means, but a quick scan through a social media site can easily show up the way in which content goes viral, reaching a global audience.

There is a great deal more that can be said about digital tourism, and the various things it includes. The technology available to people today enables an interactive, and immersive, experience regardless of location, wifi and mobile connectivity and more. The rise in the use of iBeacon is one such example, and there are a number of attractions and destinations in Wales already using this as part of the visitor experience – The National Slate Museum being one, and the town of Beaumaris another. Stay tuned for further developments using this technology in Pembrokeshire over the coming months!

Today’s seminar also had an Oculus Rift demonstration available for delegates to try out. Riding a roller coaster, whilst sat on a standard office type chair has I think been one of the more surreal experiences I’ve had, but it is quickly evident just how this technology can open up a whole new level on the digital playing field. It was what I would call an immersive experience – I genuinely felt the sensations as I would whilst riding a roller coaster, and was aware that I was moving just as I would on the real thing, leaning in to corners and so on (much to the amusement of those stood by watching!). This kind of technology is not just for those who like to be fully involved in console or computer game play, I believe it has the capability to open up a vast range of experiences to the visitor whether they are able to access them in person or not.

Digital Tourism takes time to develop, but has the potential to greatly enhance the tourism products and services that already exist. As superfast broadband expands its reach across Wales, and mobile signal improves, now is very much the time to get online, get involved and maximise the opportunities digital presents for both the consumer and the business.



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