Emerging Trends in Digital Travel and Its Impact on Tourism Buyer Behavior
In the pursuit of delivering high-quality information in tourism management, the AIM-Dr. Andrew L. Tan Center for Tourism, in partnership with Yahoo! Philippines, organized a forum entitled Emerging Trends in Digital Travel and Its Impact on Tourism Buyer Behavior last 30 April 2014 held at the Meralco Caseroom of the Asian Institute of Management. The forum focused on the trends of mobile behavior in the Philippines and how this can be harnesed by the tourism industry. The forum was attended by more than 40 participants from the government, the private sector, and the academe from the travel and tourism industry.
One of the speakers was Mr. Galex Cabrera, the Philippine Head of TNS Technology and Brand and Communications of the TNS Global Marker Research. His presentation highlighted observations on how Filipinos consume technology. That is, there is a high ownership of mobile phone among Filipinos; mobile phone is already a part of Filipino life; and mobile phones are basically used by Filipinos to touch base with anyone, anywhere. He identified two approaches on how the tourism industry can harness technology -- identifying the gap in terms of tourism-related products and services available in the market; and generating more travel content through mobile applications.
These findings were supplemented by the presentation of Mr. Jason Tengco, the Digital/OOH Director of Dentsu Philippines, Inc. He presented their project with the Department of Tourism in marketing the "It's More Fun in the Philippines" country campaign across different target markets. One marketing strategy highlighted was the "FUN-bassadors" project, where contestants from various Asian countries were invited to experience the beauty of the Philippines and are expected to share it to the world.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rogelio Umali, Jr. the Head of Technology and Innovation Support Services focusing on Mobile Apps and API Innovations of SMART Communications, Inc. cited developments in mobile technology that can impact the tourism industry -- the "APPVantage program" (e.g. Discover IloIlo and Baguio Guide), which helps tourists locate tourist sites as well as learn about the history and culture of the place; and the "Visita Iglesia App", which allows tourists to see the historical sites and Churches in provinces like Cebu. Likewise, the creation of location-based mapping and digital currency are facilitating factors of tourism development.
These presentations were further elaborated by the reactors. Mr. Monchito B. Ibrahim, the Deputy Executive Director for Industry Development Department of Science and Technology -- Information and Communications Technology Office and Mr. Domingo Emmanuel O. Landicho, the Digital Solutions Manager of Yahoo! Philippines, highlighted that the macro-environment of the tourism industry needs to be ready to adapt to changes in technology. First, the Philippine government is no longer a player but a regulator in the tourism industry, who creates technology-related policies. Second, online presence is a necessary but not sufficient factor to attract tourists to visit the Philippines. It is critical that the span is established and reliable contents are provided. Third, there is a need for tourism service providers to adapt to technology to remain competitive. And fourth, technological development outpaces the enactment and amendment of government policies; hence, the government needs to catch up with the changing taste and preference of stakeholders.
In the second round of discussions, Ms. Aurora Mendoza-Soriano, the Chief Executive Officer of PinoyTravel.com.ph and Ms. Beatriz Tianco, the Marketing Head and Editor-in-Chief of Travelbook.ph emphasized the presence of numerous travel and tourism applications for technology. But, they posited that technology alone is not enough to create a successful tourism-related venture, they must also consider culture, knowledge, and preference of stakeholders involved. In the discussion it was mentioned that the Philippine start-up companies must address the gap between the needs of consumers and travel services by making it easier for people to make travel plans (e.g. transportation, accommodation, etc.). Furthermore, the government should employ technology in its key processes and procedures so that it can effectively address the needs of the tourism industry. Lastly, though technology plays a vital role in promoting the tourism industry, companies need to understand the level of opennes and comprehension of Filipinos on available technology.
In the closing remarks of Mr. Roberto Lim, the Country Manager of International Air Transport Association, he said that it is imperative that tourism stakeholders recognize that technology is already an indispensible factor that would shape the future of the Philippine tourism industry.
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