How IT investment boosting tourism and hospitality

Tourism and IT investment
Exploring tourist destinations is always fun and recharging for the body and mind. The addition of IT investment takes it to another level as the digital era demands it.

Like any other verticals, innovative IT technologies have become an integral part of this industry, helping to boost tourist arrivals, providing convenience to them and generating revenue for the host.

United Nation’s World Tourism Organization forecasts that international tourist arrivals are expected to reach nearly 1.6 billion by the year 2020.

According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.3 percent in the first eight months of 2015 to 810 million, 33 million more than in the same period of 2014.

Europe, the world’s most visited regional destination, recorded 5 percent increase in international tourist arrivals. Asia Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East all enjoyed 4 percent growth.

According to World Travel &Tourism Council, the travel and tourism sector will contribute $7,860 billion, 10 percent of global GDP by the end of this year. The sector will account for 284 million jobs, 9.5 percent of total employment.

IT trends

Some of the trending IT contributions to the sector are mobile apps for geo-location, ticketing, check-in, local transportation, weather information, etc. and connectivity across platforms and devices. In addition, recent reports show e-Tourist Visa facility is boosting tourism as it encourages tourists.

Free Wi-Fi facility has become an old story as hotels ranging from star to budget ratings have openly adopted the growing demand.

Several governments are spending on IT to boost the arrival tourists to their nations to improve Forex. The BJP led India government, thanks to its popular measures, is attracting tourists.

Last week, official report from India showed that the e-Tourist Visa scheme notched a phenomenal growth of 1987.9 percent in terms of tourist arrivals in October 2015 when 56,477 tourists landed in India compared to just 2,705 in the same month last year.

Similarly, between January-October 2015 a total of 258,182 tourists arrived on e-Tourist Visa compared to 21,995 in the same period in 2014, registering a growth of 1073.8 percent, virtually spelling a goldmine for the country’s tourism industry.

This robust growth is attributed mainly to introduction of e-Tourist Visas to 113 countries as compared to earlier when only 12 countries were covered under it.

Last year on November 27, the government launched the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), known as e-Tourist Visa for tourists from 113 countries at 16 big and small airports around the country.

Later, this month, on November 3 (2015), the e-Tourist Visa fee structure was revised by clubbing the 113 countries into four groups for charging differential rates up to $60 for different categories and bank charges slashed from $2 to just 2.5 percent of the e-Tourist Visa fees.

News from the Indian tourism industry was the introduction of smart cards for shopping and travel purposes across the country. The offering from the Ministry of Urban Development was a Smart National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) model to enable travel by different metros and other transport systems across the country besides retail shopping and purchases.

This Smart Common Mobility Payment Card addresses travel needs based on stored value of money and can be used for travelling by any means of transport and also enables account based retail applications.

Globally, there is no nationwide common card except in Singapore where in inter-operability is confined to city only. The committee, hence, recommended EMV Open Loop Card with stored value for use across the country.

Hospitality and technology

A look at the recent IT deployments in the hospitality industry will give us a view on the latest trend happening in the industry on the race to become technologically equipped.

In September, the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary located in North Carolina, has implemented SAS Master Data Management to meet their guests’ expectations.

“When a customer walks through our doors, we want all the information — their preferences, past stays and reservations — at our fingertips,” said George Viall, director of Revenue Management at The Umstead.

“With SAS Master Data Management, we can know that a customer likes to play a round of golf during most visits, followed by a massage at the spa and a cocktail in the lounge. We can not only anticipate that customer’s needs, but also suggest additional services and amenities that might make his or her stay even better.”

In November, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts in the U.S. deployed Workforce Central suite of solutions deployed in the Kronos Cloud. HE&R chose Kronos for scheduling functionality, mobile capabilities, and hospitality industry knowledge – leading to enhanced employee engagement and operational efficiencies.

Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort in Hogansburg, NY, has selected the InfoGenesis POS system and the rGuest Pay payment gateway solution from Agilysys to streamline operations, enhance guest service and provide secure credit card payment.

“Guest confidence is often created or destroyed at the point of sale, so it’s critical to implement technology that not only increases efficiency but also enhances the guest experience,” said Jim Walker, vice president of sales and marketing at Agilysys.

In addition to digital commerce, your holiday seasons are meant for travel as well. Your tourist destinations are ready to offer you the latest technology to improve customer experience.

Image source: makemytrip.com

Arya MM
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