ITB trends: robots, refugees, LGBT, Chinese market, digitalization…

COLUMN: MARIJANA LOVRIĆ, ORIOLY

Another ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism fair, is behind us. This year was special because the ITB celebrated 50 years of existence. It was visited by over 180.000 people, which is a record for the fair. These figures point to the fact that despite global instability, the tourism sector remains stable.

Marijana Lovrić she introduced us trends and current topics discussed at the ITB. Her company Orioles was also a participant in the ITB this year. Their booking software facilitates online sales and marketing of tourism activities of small agencies and tour operators.

The impact of the refugee crisis on tourism
Although countries like Turkey, Greece, Jordan and Italy have been unquestionably affected by the refugee crisis, a survey by the German association FUR.de found that only 1% fewer Germans plan to go on long journeys due to the current geopolitical situation. It was pointed out that compared to 2015, reservations of tourist services are stable. Good examples of the integration of refugees into the tourism industry were also presented.

Dr. HC Burkhard Scholz, director of the Potsdam-Hermannswerder hotel, stressed how difficult it is to find young people willing to work in the hospitality and gastronomy sector. His positive experience with an Afghan journalist, who became the head chef at his hotel, influenced the further employment of immigrants. The Multaka project is another example of good integration through which refugees from Syria and Iraq are trained as museum guides. The aim of the project is to train them to lead tours in German and their mother tongue.

Humanoid robots in tourism

Toshiba's human-like robot, or "robotica", ChihiraKanae attracted the most media attention. She speaks 15 languages, recognizes faces, shows emotions, changes expressions and movements.

Another humanoid robot presented at ITB. His name is Mario, he speaks 19 different languages ​​and is 57 cm tall. Mario “brings a smile to everyone’s face,” said Roger Langhout, director of the Ghent Marriott Hotel in Belgium, adding that it’s a good way for people to remember their hotel. After a three-minute introduction, here you can find out the whole story of Maria.

Humanoid robots are examples of artificial intelligence employed in the tourism sector. According to a Travelzoo survey, two-thirds of people approve of hiring robots in the tourism sector. Most respondents believe that robots would be useful if they did their job well in information centers, receptions, airports, etc. The Chinese are the biggest proponents of this trend.

Growth of technological trends in tourism
The focus of this year's ITB was on "Travel 4.0. - digitalization in tourism ”. The hall where technological innovations in tourism were presented was booked months in advance. More than 30% of exhibitors presented themselves and their products for the first time. Due to the development of technology and its impact on the tourism sector, ITB announces the expansion of this segment next year.

Virtualna stvarnost

Virtual reality is the technology that probably has the greatest potential in promoting a tourist destination. In a lot of places, ITB visitors could try on VR glasses and experience the atmosphere of an exotic destination.

Oliver Heckmann, a Google expert, explained that “Google-inspired travel” and direct booking are interrelated, so travelers must be able to book online. By 2020, half of travelers will book and purchase their trip through online booking. We live in a kind of "customer revolution" in which independent search for offers and direct shopping has never been more popular.

"Travel Criteo" pointed out that reservations of tourist services via mobile phones are growing. Currently in Germany,  23 % online booking is created through mobile devices. Association of European Tour Operators (ETOA - European Tour Operators Association) led a panel discussion on the evolution of direct bookings and pointed out how important it is for hotels, attractions and services to adapt to this trend. As more and more travelers use smartphones and tablets to communicate with hotels and receptionists, many hotel apps have been introduced to facilitate the communication process.

Digital marketing and social networks

Digital storytelling and social media campaigns are the future of destination promotion.
Agencies should definitely present their offer through storytelling through videos, photos and blogs and share them on social media. Meike Leopold from start-talking.de pointed out that agencies can benefit greatly from working with "influencers", such as well-known bloggers. You can watch some of the lectures on this topic on the official website ITB Youtube channel.

Online services for the Chinese market

China has once again shown how important its travel enthusiasts are for the development of global tourism. That is why it is not surprising that so many web and mobile applications specialized for the Chinese market were presented at ITB. In the competition for start-ups that offer digital tourism solutions (Start Tourism UP!) , a shopping guide for Chinese tourists Edaole he won second place.

LGBT community

Gay and lesbian travel is one of the fastest growing market segments in tourism. Since 2010, more and more countries have presented their destinations as "LGBT friendly". India and Nepal are some of the new countries that have presented themselves as such this year.

Adventure tourism

Tourism has negative effects on climate change. In the last few years, the ITB has been highlighting the topic of environmentally friendly tourism. Adventure tourism and sports travel are focused on nature exploration and contribute to environmental protection, and from year to year the demand for such arrangements is growing.

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The future of tourism belongs to millennials

According to a study by the Wyse Travel organization, 20% of today's travelers are young people so-called. millennials, born between 1980 and 2000 and should be seen as those who will shape tourism demand in the future. Millennials travel further, stay longer and spend more than other tourists. They are interested in backpacking, low-budget design hotels, youth hostels and internet portals. They are constantly online and looking for information on social media.

In a series of very interesting lectures, a lecture was given on this target group and the future of digital tourism.

For HrTurizam.hr / Marijana Lovrić, Orioles

 

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