Spain has the world’s most competitive tourism sector thanks to its rich cultural and natural resources, its infrastructure, and its ability to adapt to the new consumer behaviour engendered by the digital revolution.
This perspective was put forward by the World Economic Forum in its 2015 world rankings for tourism competitiveness. They paid special attention to the need for countries to adapt to new tendencies in the tourism industry; our own sector must take on the challenge of embracing new technology that facilitates tourism and allows it to prosper.
One of the first transformations within the sector was the adaptation of travel agencies to the online market– 87% of travel reservations in Spain are currently made online and through technological devices. This development has changed the way travellers book their holidays, making the shared experiences and online comments of other tourists increasingly important to those making a decision about how and when to reserve.
But the changes in the tourism sector go beyond this– it’s not only the emergence of the digital age that has led to such transformations. The economic crisis is also responsible for recent changes in traveller habits. Thanks to the crisis, many hotel bookings have given way to cheaper private apartment rentals. Accommodation exchange is today increasingly accepted and widespread and many websites and mobile apps have made this a popular solution for visiting other cities and countries. Wimdu is one of the world’s leading online accommodation platforms offering original stays in unusual places, including bedrooms in private homes. Today it offers 300,000 different accommodation options across 140 countries all over the world and pays close attention to different travellers’ needs and requirements, looking at exactly what they need: type of accommodation, type of destination, etc.
Other apps that help facilitate tourists’ holidays have also been incorporated into this very innovative way of traveling. Simultaneous translator apps and tourist guides on mobile devices are just a couple of examples.
Communicating with tourists from a foreign country can sometimes be difficult but thanks to simultaneous mobile translation apps it’s less and less of a problem. By simply passing the text you want to translate through a device or recording the voice of the person talking to you an immediate translation can pop up before your eyes in an instant. For apps like this, look no further than Vocre or Word Lens.
Even if the language is a problem, visiting a city without hiring a guide is yet another issue that apps can easily resolve. We already have mobile apps that help travellers to get to know the key tourist and cultural spots in every destination. These show information in real time, making decisions based on, among other things, each traveller’s tastes, means of transportation, temporary availability or climate.
Madrid City Council has embraced this new reality and has created an app that allows you to download the official city guide onto your mobile phone. The guide is available in Spanish, English, French, and German and includes geographic information about more than 600 places of interest, activity advice for 17 tourist zones, guided tours, audio guides and even an event agenda. The guide also offers detailed information regarding transportation, tourist passes, the location and hours of tourist offices as well as important telephone numbers for city services.
A new tourist reality has transformed tourism and is compelling the biggest travel agencies to adapt immediately in order to continue growing and prosper.