Enhancing and reinforcing authentic tourist experiences with technology

It was a pleasure to participate at the New Destinations Summit in Spain earlier this month. The summit was organised by Airbnb and the City of Igualada. The event was focusing on the creation and management of 'healthy destinations' with an emphasis on the way technology is changing how people live, travel, do business, experience destinations, search for information, etc.

Creating new business models

Platform tourism services such as Airbnb are leading the way in creating new business models. These new business models bring various benefits to local communities such as the utilisation of unused assets, easier market access, extra income, etc. The potential of such platforms in destinations that are still in the development phase is great in terms of driving change and growth.

Collaborative economy

However, saturated destinations such as major cities in Europe are now facing challenges in terms of managing the growth and impacts of the collaborative economy. Negative impacts on the social, economic and physical environment are becoming more visible as well as the disruptions caused in traditional regulatory regimes.

How can destinations tackle the challenges?

The summit intended to shed light on how destinations can tackle the challenges by fostering collaboration between stakeholders. The way smaller destinations in the vicinity of tourist hot spots can develop successfully, authentic tourism products was also highlighted. The city of Igualada is a great example where local stakeholders are working on various initiatives. The use of 'technology for humanity' instead of 'against humanity' was also amongst the discussed topics. All speakers agreed that technology should be used to enhance and reinforce authentic visitor experiences instead of replacing them. After all, the essence of our industry lies in unique, real experiences and interactions between people.