Marbella’s model for Intelligent Destinations

Building on cultural and economic links with Spain, EUROAL 2013 International Travel Market for Latin America and Europe saw José Luis Córdoba, Director of Andalucía Lab Tourist Innovation Centre in Marbella, host a conference on “How to become smart destinations and not die in the attempt.” Held at Torremolinos Palacio de Congresos (6-8 June), 11 themes were highlighted:


1. The transformation of destinations explained how travellers are increasingly looking for holidays with different added value elements and stressed the importance of tour operators investing in customised adventures and experiences.


2. Offering enriched experiences satisfies travellers’ interest in documenting and photographing personal experiences ‘on the go’ to share on blogs and social networks, enabling tourism companies to inform clients of where to go, what to buy, special offers, etc.


3. User-driven content demonstrates people’s trust in information provided by their peers rather than from traditional sources such as Tourist Information Centres and Town Halls.


4. The separation between browsing on computer versus mobile devices indicates people’s desire for information on the go. As José Luis explained, “Tourism is one of the most information-intensive industries” and tourist guides are optimizing content to fit mobile and tablet display and keypad functions. 


5. Googling “what to see in London” produces 1.85 billion search results. This ‘Big Data’ is an example of travellers’ information demands – opportunities for providers to upload quality content promoting their products and services.


6. As emerging countries become more affluent and destinations become more accessible, we’re seeing a shift in traveller choices – for example, the Chinese have become the highest spending non-European visitors to France.


7. Now more than ever it’s essential to know your market – find out as much as possible about clients’ interests and demands.    


8. The luxury travel sector is increasing. On 3 June 2013, management consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers recorded an 8.8% rise in high-end hotel reservations.


9. According to PhoCusWright travel market research, nearly 1 in 3 leisure agencies is hiring with the American Society of Travel Agents reporting a 57% increase in independent agents’ business over 2011.


10. Managing a hotel’s online reputation is important in a market where purchasing decisions are influenced by holiday review sites such as TripAdvisor.


11. As web browsing shifts to mobile devices, Apps are becoming an increasingly important information access point for travellers with the added advantage that online connectivity isn’t needed once the App is downloaded.


Conference attended and translated by Chris Dove, Pro Write and Edit, Málaga,