For more than a decade, technology plays a very important role in tourism. The rise of online booking has managed to change the traditional way of organizing our holidays and in consequence of this, travel agencies had to change completely and to go digital, so as not to lose their customers.
But more changes occurred through the years. Airbnb, which can be easily characterized as a revolutionary app in tourism, “opened” a whole new world on how we arrange our holidays and how we choose our destinations (which town has cheaper Airbnb homes, which is more Airbnb friendly, which has more super hosts, etc.). But not only Airbnb played a conclusive role in tourism, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Foursquare, Google Maps, even Instagram changed the way we travel.
More specifically, many people choose their travel destinations based on a beautiful picture on Instagram or on a good review on TripAdvisor or on Foursquare! Many cities that had never been before a tourist attraction, because of social media, turned into top destinations, which is something amazing if you think how much power has the digital world.
Moreover, IoT systems have entered into the tourism industry and the results seem to be very advantageously. Hotels are providing their guests with “smart rooms” that can be moderated via their smartphones, VR technology is gaining ground (Google glasses have been characterized as the future of tourism), and Apple watches simplify pedestrian navigation around cities by quietly buzzing to let users know when to turn left or right. Apps, social media, smart devices have become an inextricable part of our lives and sometimes we forget how dramatically changed not only our daily routine, but even whole industries. Fifteen years ago the only way to book your holidays was via a travel agency, the only way to discover a place was by asking your travel agent or the locals, and hotels were the only choice of accommodation you had.
We spotted all the advantages that occurred from the huge technological growth in tourism, but may all this growth have a negative impact on people’s careers? Can technology replace humans in this industry? The answer is no. Tourism needs humans, needs the human interface, because above all tourism has to do with countries, with people, with cultures, with history, with places. An app or a website or a smart device cannot replace the locals’ hospitality, cannot show you the true beauty of a place. Technology only can help people, but it cannot replace them.
Our project’s aim is to make clear to people that tourism needs them, that locals have to conduct their businesses with a European approach, but without losing their authenticity, and to encourage young people to make their internships in tourism in order to bring their innovative ideas to more traditional tourism companies. So, HostVet’s goal is to find ways that will improve local, tourism companies (and technology is a good way) and also to encourage more people to make their internships in tourism. A profitable industry like this needs young people, with groundbreaking ideas that will guide local businesses into working in a more digital way.