The roadmap that will define the journey towards a new tourism model

Tourism is once again galloping in Spain and continues to break records: in 2024 we will receive more than 90 million visitors. The figure speaks of the strength of our main industry, but also invites us to reflect on its future and how to find the balance between quantity and quality. The necessary adaptation to the technological revolution and the steps that the sector must take to adopt sustainable growth are some of the issues that the conference focused on. Turium Madrid International Forum 2024organised by Turium, Vocento’s tourism excellence division. This event, which brought together top executives from different fields, outlined the trends that will set the course for tourism in our country.

Digitalization

Bet on algorithms

Digitalisation will enable the efficient management of large volumes of data and the creation of predictive models that are useful for decision-making. Thanks to the information collected from users and the interaction with virtual assistants, generative AI will be able to suggest destinations and activities and will contribute to creating unique and memorable experiences. And this will occur throughout the value chain. Almudena Maíllo, Madrid’s Councillor for Tourism, confirms the importance of this element. “The success that the capital is reaping is not the result of chance, but of having a clear roadmap, in which, among other elements, digitalisation has been decisive, in which we have made a municipal investment of five million.”

Ferrán García, director of the Iberia Data and CRM Centre of Excellence, emphasises the importance of measuring data: “In our case, for example, it helps us to make flights more efficient and to know more precisely the demands of our clients and anticipate their needs, among other things. Life is in real time, so it is important that data is also collected at the moment.”

New mobility

Flexible and sustainable solutions

One of the main demands of travellers will be freedom of movement. Aware of this, the automotive sector is working on flexible and sustainable solutions. Emilio Herrera, president of KIA Iberia, shared some of the initiatives that will be imposed, such as the promotion of car sharing or one-off subscriptions to use vehicles more easily in cities. The head of the firm, which is very focused on innovation, is expecting the arrival of PBVs (Platform Beyond Vehicles), electric commercial vehicles with advanced software solutions and great possibilities for customization to meet user demands. “The improvement in the user experience will come through the development of intelligent vehicles for more satisfactory driving,” says Herrera.

Human factor

Pampering and training talent

All the experts who make up the Turium think tank agree on the importance of investing in the workforce. Ángel Rivera, CEO of Banco Santander Spain, believes that excellence has to do with caring for tourists. “That is why it is essential to invest in the training of those who work in the chain of processes that a trip entails, from managing the reservation to checking out at the hotel. Professionalism is the great added value.” Pablo Ganguli, founder of the multidisciplinary organization Liberatum, also argues that “we must learn to manage talent, have a more open mind, be respectful of what is different and embrace initiatives even if they seem very disruptive at the time.”

urbanism

Rethinking cities

The urban design defined in the 20th century meant the expansion of the main tourist destinations and the homogeneity in construction, with the consequent loss of personality in the cities. The future, linked to the commitment to the environment, involves recovering the essence of the traditional buildings of each territory and applying a new approach to planning and construction. “Until recently, it was believed that large vertical architectural concentrations, such as Benidorm, were a bad example,” says Carlos Lamela, executive president of the architectural studio that bears his name. “Today the opinion is the opposite. If we accommodate all travelers in horizontal constructions, we will destroy the landscape. Being sustainable will involve weighing up multiple elements, not just putting up green facades. We must take into account the suitability of the location, the quality of the materials, the design and, of course, its opportunity.”

Luxury is transformed

Experiences and sensations

Historically, the high-end segment has been associated with price. However, today’s high-impact traveller is guided by other parameters and craves experiences. Conclusion? Designing unique proposals will be essential to retaining premium customers. Enrique Valero, CEO of Abadía Retuerta, knows a lot about this, and he emphasises that “excellent tourism will be the Silicon Valley of our country.” He adds: “Luxury is a sensation that consists of stopping time and managing the guest’s emotions. The way to make the excellent customer come back is to make them happy, and to do this you have to offer them experiences, beautiful things that they will never forget.”

Social responsability

The baggage of integration

One of the most effective measures on the road to sustainability is to encourage public-private collaboration to give visibility to neighbourhoods and businesses that do not usually appear in tourist guides. In this way, visitors will discover unexpected and authentic spaces and will consume in local shops, thus participating in the creation of a model open to new agents, less crowded and more responsible. The sector can play a relevant role as an integrator, as Pablo Llano, general director of the NGO Cesal, dedicated to training people at risk of social exclusion in the hospitality sector, explains: “We must involve all segments of society, so that they can unleash their potential, and train them to be able to retain talent.”

Gilda Pérez-Alvarado, Group Chief Strategy Officer & CEO of Orient Express, concludes that “the Spain brand is powerful, but the workforce is essential when it comes to providing personalized and value-based experiences.”

 
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