Tourist Information in 20 Years

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Finding information about tourist attractions, you might think, is fairly easy. There are brochures and tourist information offices, websites, libraries, travel books and magazines. But in 20 years will you be using the same information sources?

On Wednesday at Bournemouth University, one of the leading academics on tourism and the rise of the internet in tourism was crystal ball gazing as to what tourists might be using in the future . Dimitrios Buhalis may be a name you have never come across but this man, in the last 20 years, has been consulted by more tourist authorities, hotels, and destinations than I have probably had hot dinners.

So what does he see for us in the future? Destinations, attractions and tour operators will become more customer oriented. Already they listen to the reviews posted on sites like TripAdvisor but in the future he thinks they will have to listen more or leave the market. (I think he is politely saying go bust.) The market will be driven by customer satisfaction so what you say on those forms or websites will be more important. Instead of going to destination sites to see what people think of the place, Buhalis thinks that you will talk via the internet with people who have been to the place in the last few days so you have the latest information. Will this mean that reviews more than a week or so old will have little relevance to us? After all they tell us what it was like, not what it’s like now, today.

He thinks those who sell tourism and travel to us will have to understand us more and we will become what he calls “connected tourists” able to use new technology  like Google maps to see what the places we are thinking about visiting  look like now. Are there lots of people there today; what’s the traffic like getting there, is the beach crowded, how have they prepared the special event they have on today?

Buhalis is forecasting a world where for day trips and shortbreaks, we the visitor, will be able to make last minute decisions about whether to go or not based on what we can see on TV screens, laptops and mobile phones. Just like you see a weather forecast and decide what to do, some of us will use a visitor forecast and only then decide. And if Buhalis is right, tourist authorities, destinations and attractions will have to work a lot harder to persuade us to visit them because our own eyes- and our use of new technology – will be the deciding factor in whether we go or not.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , ,