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eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: Polycular

“Mom, is this the place where games come from?”

by: Leonie Hergesell & Barbara Prodinger

Great software developers leave Austria to work in design studios in the United States, France or Canada. This movement encouraged Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner to found Polycular. The company is known as an interactive design and technology studio where creative technological innovations facilitate experiences in the real and virtual world. We raised the questions, why companies engage in Gamification, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality and how gamifying tourism can lead to greater customer experience.

(c)polycular_projects

This blog entry seeks to answer these questions in an adequate manner. The in Hallein based Startup provides each client with a tailored solution. A four-step strategy with a clear value proposition builds the base of a successful result. The essential steps, that each product goes through are: Ideation and Strategy, User Experience, Concept and Design, Technology and Development and Launch and Distribution. The highly customized games and apps trigger rewarding interactions, raise the brand awareness, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to the destination or company. Through empathy, dramaturgy and storytelling, the eTourism solution satisfies and surpasses the customer’s needs and expectations.

The current technological innovations will not only enhance the customer experience. Training in sales, negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership communication can be brought to a new level, through emotional responsive avatars and the development of touchable holographic technologies.

So, this is not only the place where games come from. This is the place where technological innovations are born and raised.

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: SuitePad

by: Aitana Jansana & Hasini Uthpala Ganewita

Both the Tourism Industry and the Hospitality industry are in constant development to meet today’s guest’s needs and expectations. In order to keep being updated and competitive within such a concurred market, every business sees themselves in the obligation of adapting their offered services and reinventing their core ideas to keep occupying the top positions of the different Hospitality ranking scales. This remarkable evolution that the Tourism industry is experiencing has provided the opportunity for different technological solutions to appear in order to cover new necessities during the customers’ journey.

SuitePad is one example of such. Founded in 2012 in Berlin, the company started as a provider of guest in-room tablets in order to enhance guest communication within hotels. By supplying hotel rooms with their tablet devices, they allowed guests to communicate with the hotel staff, avoiding the need for them to walk down the hall. Accompanying guests during their pre, during and post stages of their stay, they provide them with hotel services booking options; detailed information about the hotel services and relevant information about possible activities and spots to visit in the concrete destination. Establishing such service based on a B2B and B2C model, SuitePad not only enhances the quality of the guest stay in a hotel but also boosts both hotel revenue and local business revenues.

However, technical components are not less important. Providing an efficient, comprehensive, accessible and profitable service through technological devices as tablets are not that simple. By the learnings from their first prototype errors, SuitePad decided to invest in designing their own hardware, which gave them the prospect to avoid dependence from a third-party supplier and to adapt it precisely to the needs they aimed to cover.

Furthermore, performing in a highly turbulent and ever-evolving market requires a successful business strategy to keep updated, recognize and understand the contemporary targeted customers’ needs and expectations. Therefore, SuitePad chose to follow a ‘Go-to-market’ strategy, so that they could assure a strong customer base in the long-term. Even if the success of SuitePad is evident, it is crucial for a company like them to stay innovative. As a result of that, the company started to provide further devices than the in-room tablets with distinct features, for example the ‘SuitePad Lobby’, the ‘SuitePad BYOD’, the ‘SuitePad Phone’ and the ‘SuitePad TV Control’.

SuitePad also makes explicit their concern about sustainability by contributing to reduce the carbon footprint via the Green Solution. It is a precise opportunity at no additional expense. It encourages guests to omit the cleaning of the room in exchange for a small reward and the satisfaction of knowing they have positively contributed to the environment protection. SuitePad’s Green Option serves also as a key cost-saving source for hoteliers by facilitating them refinance their SuitePad subscription and significantly lower their carbon footprint.

Currently, while the COVID-19 crisis set the whole world at chaos, SuitePad has taken steps to help its clients to keep them informed about how to deal with this crisis through their push messaging service. SuitePad also offered tailormade solutions on how to tackle the upcoming COVID-19 travel boom by using digital technological solutions. For example, SuitePad has optimized its in-room tablet to enhance the use of room services in order to adapt to variable guest behavior during this crisis.

Because of their business strategy, their concern about current issues as sustainability and their high understanding of the market they are performing in, SuitePad occupied the top 1 position in the category of best Guest Room Tablet by hoteltech Awards 2020.

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: assistant.tyrol.skill

A skill for Amazon Alexa and Google Action by Speed-U-Up

by Simon Wiesinger & Kerstin Semmelrock

Have you already thought about what to do during you next trip to Tyrol? No? So probably you will not even have to waste your time by searching for adventures hiking paths and recommendable restaurants. Speed-u-up (SUU) has developed a solution in cooperation with the tourism organisation Tyrol, which allows us to ask Alexa or the Google assistant for insider tips for this region. Are you already curious what Tyrol has to offer?

What is SUU?

SUU is a digital service provider in the field of online marketing, setting a strong focus on new technologies. Since SUU is based in Innsbruck, they are mainly operating in the DACH region, where the company has managed to build a strong network within alpine tourist destinations. SUU is offering a wide range of future-orientated concepts to DMOs tourism associations, but also to single hotels. SUU is eager to serve individual customer needs and to offer their clients competitive advantages. Therefore, their team is trying to develop continuously and to adapt to upcoming trends. The company consists of different departments like a technology and system unit, a performance team, or a content studio. Their broad portfolio of digital solutions includes among others: marketing conversions, semantic annotation, skills for smart assistants, CRM, SME, programmatic advertising, newsletters, storytelling, blogging, content production or social media and influencer marketing (Speed-u-up, 2020; Rädler, 2020).

 “Experience Tyrol”

SUU is already experienced in creating smart skills and voice apps for Alexa and co. and has recently developed a solution for the tourism organization Tyrol called “Experience Tyrol”, by co-creating in an open innovation process with several tourism destinations in Tyrol. This approach led to plenty of inputs from different stakeholders and SUU could add an enormous amount of information to the tool. Nevertheless, this smart skill doesn´t stop learning so new information can be added continuously (Speed-u-up,2020; Rädler, 2020). The skill “Experience Tyrol” is free to download and can be activated with the Amazon Echo Dot, a device that runs through Android 6.0+ or iOS10.0+ or Google Home. “Experience Tyrol” gives users insider tips on how to spend their time, where to eat and what to experience in Tyrol. Moreover, weather forecasts, insider stories, language training to get familiar to the local dialect and many more possibilities are provided. After the skill is installed on a fitting device (e.g. smartphone, Echo Dot, Google Home) it can be simply activated by using specific verbal formulations (Tirol Werbung, 2020).

Image 2

Even if already more destinations started to use voice assistants, SUU in co-creation with the tourism organization Tyrol remains pioneers in this field. As mentioned before, they are trying to stay on the edge of knowledge when it comes to new technologies, to also develop innovative tech-solutions in future. Through this case, students got an overview of solutions that an online marketing agency offers to the tourism industry. Due to the fact that some students aim to work in the tourism sector later on, definitely some interesting insights.

 

References and further readings

https://www.speed-u-up.at

https://assistant.tirol

https://www.ttr.tirol/innovation-und-inspiration/skilltirol

https://www.amazon.de/dp/B07VWWJL1T

https://assistant.google.com/services/a/uid/000000e47a03bc4f?hl=de_de

Rädler, A. (2020; Mach 30th ; April 6th, ;May 10th). Speed-u-up. (Wiesinger S. Interviewer)

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: adAlte

by: Elza Kaiumova & Carolina Nieto

Why companies would like to use adAlte as their friendly and easier tech solution?

The main aim of this post is to analyze adAlte as a possible solution for the tourism industry. Taking a closer look, we try to examine its contribution within the industry and the company’s future challenges.

Technological advances have changed the way the tourism industry is interacting. Today, companies are looking for technologies to engage with customers at every stage of their requirements.

adalte

Moreover, tourism companies seek an optimized product or service which can be integrated and customized to their needs.

What is adAlte?

When travel agencies, DMC, Tour operators or service providers seek a tech solution that can improve their daily operations within the market, they might find adAlte as a web-based platform with support on cloud AWS technology. Two categories are the main assets of the company:

  1. Front-desk and back-office software the perfect combination to integrate directly and easily tools and features such as travel management system, reservation system, supplier’s database, groups management and hotel mapping, and,
  2. A B2B travel HUB as an opportunity for adAlte customers to be a “Buyer” or “Provider”, it is a place where they can share their knowledge of the market and expertise with each other.

And what does it mean? On one hand, the buyer offers the best possible online travel service catalog, a mix of products provided by global wholesalers and local DMC which are customized in terms of markups, locations, and services published. On the other hand, the provider will be promoted to Travel Hub Buyers Partners. (Adalte,2020).

One could say that this solution is similar to a transaction on the financial market, but in this case, they are not negotiating with currencies, instead, they use terms related to tourism. They are offering a B2B Marketplace as a community of professional local experts who offer their inventory online and they also provide the customers interested in these products and services.

It is amazing, how this company can be a “wall street” but for tourism. They can play a vital role as the intermediary between providers and buyers. Now, coming back to the main question why adAlte? This company offers exclusive access and use through AWS marketplace. Besides, Adalte is a development system that brings on the table a front-end and back-office software to improve business functions and sales using tools for project management, front office, marketing, operating reports and online sales. (Adalte,2020)

AdAlte also lets the customers hold a critical mass of expertise relating to their social and economic conditions, particularly, during the COVID-19 Crisis, a time when the tourism industry has been affected tremendously.

It is relevant to mention that this company, the same as others has strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are based on the efficiency, authenticity, security and suitability of its products and services such as online booking websites, B2B or B2C websites and travel software for the operational activities. This company offers its customers a hundred percent of personalized and customized results run on AWS-connectivity.

However, the market offers thousands of different solutions for the tourism industry with similar options, more experience in the market and well-known clients. Move on to the weaknesses one has to mention some of the biggest weaknesses for the company, currently:

  1. Small worker base, that limits the amount of interaction and has to coordinate work dozens of companies around the world.
  1. The complexity of use, that may appear intimidating to new and untrained users.
  1. Limited channels of marketing, which can hinder the growth of the company and its recognition factor. Furthermore, a tremendous amount of advertisement and publicity is necessary if one wants to succeed all around the world simultaneously
  1. The homepage and social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn generate uncertainty about its products and services themselves.
  1. The lack of relevant marketing and expertise in the market.
  1. The lack of information from the customers related to their satisfaction with the company and its services.

Finally, one has to mention the main challenges of the company:

  1. Large competition, that contains competitors which are much more recognizable and grow even faster than adAlte.
  2. The fast development of new technologies in the new millennium of globalization. New solutions can come up to the market and push the platform out of the market.
  3. COVID-19 crisis made all the tourism industry suffer a lot and adAlte is among those companies. The main challenge is to learn how to quickly identify, quickly and correctly adapt to the situation.

To come to an end, it is difficult to conclude on a positive or a negative note. The contribution for the industry can be an innovative and unique travel hub with the aim to involve all the tourism companies around the world as a whole and unique community. However, this goal is ambitious when this company has only eleven employees in three offices. Moreover, if one considers the statistics of the market size of the global travel industry in only 2019 can observe a market size of 644 billion U.S. dollars. (statista.com, 2020). That means, each and every day new ideas and competitors enter the market. To succeed one has to focus on a particular field or strategy and stay innovative at the same time.

Sources

How to structure a scientific paper?

This week my students had to analyze 30 different papers from the journal “Tourism Management“. The aim was to find out which content elements should be written at which point of the paper.  They had to mark the different elements in each paper section accordingly (Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results, Discussion & Conclusion). Their notes were collected in a form and now analyzed by me.
aufgabe

The results are shown below. I hope that they will help students to structure their articles even better in the future.

For this interactive visualization, you can click the “play” button below, to walk through the paper from the Abstract to the Discussion. You see the importance of the different terms in the timeline if you hoover them. You can also regulate the speed, add new terms to be displayed etc.

The following Streamgraph is somehow a walkthrough of all analyzed papers. It clearly shows that the abstract covers most of the elements on the very left, we can see the domination of “data” in the methodology and results section. But more important for students is to see the combination of the different elements in each section and the dominance of these elements. Eg. The contribution is important in the abstract, a bit in the introduction and at the discussion and conclusion (click to enlarge).

streamgraph

This scatterplot shows somehow the “landscape” of paper-elements. It was done by calculating the TF-IDF of the whole corpus and using t-SNE algorithm to plot it in 2D. One can clearly see the different Topic-Clusters (click to enlarge) t-SNE built.

scatterplot

Finally, Wordclouds and Term-Networks from each structure element (click to enlarge)

Abstract:

abstract1

Introduction:

Intro1

Literature review:

literature1

Methodology:

methodology1

Results:

results1

Discussion & Conclusion:

conclusion1

I hope this helps students to get a better feeling when writing a scientific paper. Please note, that this is not a research project, it´s just a quick and dirty analysis based on the data my students identified. And of course, each topic/paper has it´s own requirements and Journals have slightly different requirements as well. But still, this should provide a rough overview.

ENTER-Conference: 2nd Place – Best Paper Award

At the international ENTER conference, the world’s largest eTourism conference, which took place this year in Guildford at the University of Surrey in the UK, our Masterprogram achieved great success, as we were awarded second place in the Best Paper Award for their paper entitled “Exploring the Impact of Multisensory VR on Travel Recommendation: A Presence Perspective”.

award

left to right: Roman Egger, Jasmin Hopf, Melina Scholl, Barbara Neuhofer

Roman Egger and Barbara Neuhofer had submitted a paper from the Research Seminar together with Master students. “With a rejection rate of 60%, ENTER is considered very selective. The fact that we were then nominated and even achieved second place makes us all the happier”, reports Roman Egger, head of the eTourism department and head of the Key Competencies & Research Methods. “In addition, you have to bear in mind that there were no other Master’s students presenting at the conference, so the competition was definitely very strong,” he adds.

The innovative study brings together the topics of eTourism and experience design. “We have researched how VR can be enriched with all senses in the future, resulting in an immersive experience for the participants”, says Barbara Neuhofer

Over the course of several semesters, the Master’s students work on a research project and the publication, which can then be submitted to a conference. This is a good opportunity to get students interested in research. The successful supervision of the scientific work is confirmed by this. Already in 2019 students could present their paper at the ENTER conference in Cyprus.

The participation gives students an insight into the academic world and has already inspired some of our students to continue with PhD studies.

The Rectorate and International Office of the FH Salzburg supported the students financially, so that they could present their publication on site. The next ENTER Conference will take place in China in 2021.
More information: https://enter2020.ifitt.org/

City image through TripAdvisor hotel reviews

The influence of user generated content on platforms such as TripAdvisor have a massive influence on both the industry and the travelers.

Even though there is a ton of research on how social media has a direct effect on tourist attractions, our team wanted to think outside the box and use a TripAdvisor dataset about hotel reviews in Salzburg to conduct a research project.

methodology

According to experts in the industry, there is a need for an in-depth investigation on the comparison between actual and online perceptions using  user generated platforms, such as TripAdvisor.  Based on this, we have attempted to compare the targeted image of Salzburg, which is portrayed by the Austrian tourism authorities, and compare it to the virtual image created by  travelers.

In order to get results, we analyzed and compared strategic factors both on the dataset and secondary Austrian tourism sources. After gathering all that we needed, the results were surprising! According to our research we found that there was a positive image of Salzburg as a destination based on the hotel reviews we analyzed. This was a significant find due to the fact we had a few limitations throughout the process.  In addition, we realized that important information can be extracted from hotel reviews, such as travel identity tags, number of hotel reviews per year, and even nationalities and travel styles to understand the destination perception through digital content.

This on its own is extremely helpful for both academic and practical use!

Feel free to watch us on YouTube:

 

Is VR capable of influencing one’s destination image?

First things first – What is the term destination image actually referring to?

          A.                                                   B.                                                            C. 

vr influence1 vr influence 2 vr influence 3

 

If you guessed B, then you’d be correct.

Unlike images on Instagram, where everyone in the audience sees more or less the same thing, a destination image is different for each person. ‘Destination images’ are personal internalized ideas that we mentally piece together throughout our lives. It was William C. Gartner(1) who really brought the idea to our attention that someone’s desire to visit a destination was a direct result of not only their knowledge, but also their feelings. It most likely comes as no surprise that effective marketing requires audiences to be emotionally involved. Research has shown that traditional printed brochures, websites, and even videos struggle to influence emotional involvement.

 

But, what if we told you that the keyword here isn’t just ‘emotion’, but also ‘involvement’?

Involvement is measured by how well a medium captures the audience’s attention. What’s interesting is that studies have shown that the same information displayed on social media had higher involvement levels than when displayed on a website(2). Which led us to the question of:

Can we influence destination image purely based on a device?

The answer is YES, and the device was VR goggles.

 

So just how did we come to this conclusion?

We conducted an experiment, where we took a neutral 360-degree video (‘neutral’ here means it was not information or emotion inducing). Then we split participants up in two groups: one group who watched the video on a computer and the other one watched the video through the VR goggles. The group with the VR goggles reported receiving more information, had higher emotional involvement, and had a stronger overall image of that destination.

What are the implications of this research?

This research matters because the devices and platforms that you share your marketing materials on might be just as important as your storytelling and attention grabbing techniques. Virtual Reality is a real game changer in this regard due to its unmatched involvement levels. So if your destination is looking to be remembered, adding VR-enabled videos to your marketing mix might just be worth a try.

 

He who controls the image dominates the minds.

– Bill Gates


Watch our funny making-of on Youtube:

 

 

 

 

Influence of economic development of tourists’ country of origin on customer’s satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a concept that can be influenced by many variables apart from tourists’ Country of Origin (COO). Research in tourism focuses more and more on topics in the social sciences; more into the subjective influences; mostly on decision making, attitude and perception, to name a few.

There are little to no existing literature which focuses on the study of the influence of the economic development of tourists’ COO on customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry. It is the level of this influence that propel customers to respond to the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of their experiences by writing online reviews.

We focused specifically on guests who stayed at 2-5-star hotels in the city of Salzburg and retrieved over 30,000 reviews from guests originating from countries across the globe. It is here that we acknowledge that tourist’s COO’s economic status does significantly influence customer satisfaction – revealed by the study.

Additionally, we found that high levels of Global Competitive Index (GDI) and Human Development Index (HDI) do have a positive association with the levels of customer satisfaction. The most notable finding is that the results show that tourists from countries with a high economic level often show high levels of satisfaction, though many researchers argue the negative association.

During our review of literature, evidence arose where customers who purchased consumer goods are very much affected or influenced by the COO of the product, for instance: a customer would prefer to by a German brand car instead of a Japanese. We ultimately deduce that if the products’ COO influences consumers’ satisfaction, then the same COO factor may have some level of influence on their satisfaction level when they travel – hence our research topic. It is this underlying factor of influence that drives this research, where the need is necessary for hoteliers and tourism professionals to be aware of this fact and address it in a way to optimize the customer satisfaction level of their guests. Our research therefore, provides a legitimate discussion about our conceptual framework: the influence of the economic development of tourists’ COO on customer satisfaction.

The findings can be used by hotel management and tourism marketeers as a tool by which relevant strategies can be employed to better understand customers’ expected behaviour during the customer journey which relates to predefined satisfaction criteria on service expectations. We also hope to motivate tourism research students to expand the scope of research in the realm of social sciences that affects the customer satisfaction and experience.


Feel free to view our YouTube video:

OR read our full article in the ISCONTOUR 2018 publications.