How online technology affects tourism development

How online technology affects tourism development
Filepic of historical Malacca
The rapid development of online technology over the years has resulted in the tourism industry evolving from the way tourism players managed their client booking to the manner by which the people survey the best places to go on vacation.

However, such rapid development in online technology is useless for tourism players or travellers if they do not know how to fully utilise and transform it from a normal tourist information provider to a vital catalyst to develop the tourism industry.

For Google's managing director of travel, Rob Torres, the key action for this is quite simple but yet not many do it or know how to do it properly, that is tailoring the vast information and application online to the needs of a certain country's tourism industry.

"Now, travellers are connected all the time, thus creating a lot of room to market tourism products...but many tourism players did not fully utilise the online technology and when they did, many of them didn't tailor the information specifically enough; a lot of them do it generally," he said.

Torres was speaking to Bernama at the sidelines of the recent World Tourism Conference here themed, 'Global Tourism: Game Changers and Pace Setters', attended by 678 delegates from 46 countries including United Kingdom, Portugal, China, Australia, Argentina and South Africa.

He said in tailoring the information and application online, tourism players must be specific to a certain place, not the whole country, and most important of all, they must remember to fulfill the traveller's dream.

Giving an example, Torres said in marketing Malaysia, tourism players could specifically market the country's tourism capital Malacca and then put together a website that specifically showcased the beauty of historical sites here and also how the travellers could enjoy their time here.

"There are a lot of pictures, audios and videos about the beauty of Malacca's historical site online, go get it and tailor all of these into a tool like a website to pull the travelers to the country...then, one thing to do is how you can provide a good package online so the travellers seeing these can have their dreams fulfilled," he said.

He said the most underrated tools in pulling the travellers using online technology was online video because unlike pictures or audios, videos can give a wider medium for the players to 'feel' the place.

"When travelling here, I was really touched by an online series video made by Malaysia Airlines in YouTube where they showed so many beautiful sites people can go to, using the airlines and the reality video how travelling with the airline feels like...this is wonderful to catch the heart of travellers," he noted.

Torres said another important aspect was creating a tool-like online marketing campaign that people could understand and online application people could easily use.

"It is useless to do a full tourist information provider in a single website if people can't find the information they wanted...better to do a fun, simple and interactive website that gives simple information to a traveller and if they want further information, link them to other pages," he said.

The same thing applies to tourist online application; like booking application, the application must have a simple, interactive interface that makes the job easier, not over complicating.

Torres said in Google, they always believed human touch was the key to technology; the same goes to tourism because tourism online technology without human touch is like an empty shell.

Giving another example, he said the video online technology made only by tourism players was insufficient to pull in the travellers; it must go hand-in-hand with videos made by the travellers who had visited places.

"Travellers tend to trust other travellers who had come to those places; if they see other travellers had a good time at those places, they will want to go there to experience it themselves."