Scottish tourism is booming, with new technology heralding the way forward for business growth. However, the tourist sector needs help to tap into the available expertise. That’s why Interface, the organisation which acts as a bureau to link business and academia, is hosting the latest in a series of events around the country, this one in Fife. It wants companies across Fife to consider the ‘digital tourist’ and take advantage of new revenue streams.
The free event will be held on the 25th of March and the organisers want as many local businesses as possible to know about it. It’s open to all firms involved in tourism, focusing on how they can be more creative in the ways in which they cater for the modern tourist, how they can take advantage of financial opportunities, and how they can exceed expectations of visitors through the use of technology.
“With a steady increase in both home and overseas visitors to Scotland,” said Alan Feighery, Operations Manager at Interface, “any business operating in the tourism industry must ensure they are aware of the impact of digital advances and the real need to invest in technology, so they can ensure they’re not missing out on opportunities that being exploited by their competitors.
“We’ve hosted similar events such as this in the Highlands & Islands, and it’s clear that there’s a real push from tourism businesses wanting to engage with digital technologies but not knowing quite where to start. We can help match these tourism organisations with experts, and identify funding opportunities to help them start their digital journey.”
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that, in the twelve months to October 2013, the number of tourists visiting Scotland increased by two per cent – but their spending went up by four percent over the same period. To reinforce the point, the professional services firm, Deloitte, recently reported that Scotland had the second largest tourism economy in the UK – which accounted for almost 10% of the 2013 UK tourism spend, with the total tourism spend in Scotland for the year being £10.9bn – and total spending growing year-on-year by nearly 11% in real terms since 2012.
Professor Aaron Quigley, Chair of Human Computer Interaction in the School of Computer Science at the University of St. Andrews, will be speaking at the seminar.
He argues that a “one size fits all approach to influencing consumer behaviour, cannot exist in these times of social media and instant access to information. Businesses need to be aware of how their customers want to interact with them, and just how they consume information.
“Before they’ve even booked their holiday, accommodation, or excursions, more often than not, they’ve gone online, checked out what social media sites have to say, checked TripAdvisor and looked to see what your website says about you. Businesses need to know how to use all these outlets to build their brand and perfect the ‘visitor experience’ before they’ve even arrived.
“The challenge in the future,” he added, “isn’t to develop the next version of your website or an app, instead it’s to consider how the tourist experience before, during and after they visit will be fundamentally changed as technology further weaves itself into the fabric of life.”
Alan Feighery believes that the event, held with the backing of Fife Tourism Partnership, “will not only touch on the social media aspect of communicating with customers – and getting your share of the £10.9bn that tourists spent in Scotland last year, but will also look at the future technology trends, what organisations in the tourism sector should be looking towards and how investing in technology now could help drive customer loyalty and profits.”