Category Archives: Allgemein

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: WeChat

by Aleen Dam & Fabian Wettinger

We, that is the Master course of Innovation & Management in Tourism at FH Salzburg, were given the task to research about different touristic solutions in an IT context. Our university of applied sciences has a strong focus on e-tourism, so learning and researching about these topics is an essential part of our student lives. In our current subject called E-Tourism Solutions, we discover the many different actors in this field, in order to gain a proper overview in this seemingly endless jungle of suppliers.

Finding a topic – or rather deciding on one of the countless topics available – wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until the first round of presentations that my group partner Aleen and I decided to focus on WeChat. Some of our classmates had shown us the touristic use of AliPay, so we made it our goal to present its counterpart WeChat and its payment service.

So, what is WeChat? In case you are not Chinese and/or you have never lived in China, chances are you might not be familiar with it. 90% of its 1.16 billion monthly active users live in China. There, where Facebook is forbidden, WeChat filled the void of social media back in the day. What started as a simple messenger service soon grew bigger and bigger. So-called mini-programs were added constantly. A mini-program is basically what we know in Europe as an app. They are developed and provided by other companies than WeChat, which offers its application as a platform for them to be used at. Those mini-programs have all sorts of functions and they make WeChat the Swiss army knife of social media: Anything you have a separate application for on your phone is most likely included as a mini-program inside of WeChat. Do you want to book a hotel? Use the booking engine of WeChat. Do you want to hire a taxi? WeChat will do that for you. Do you want to shop online? Use the online shops inside of WeChat and pay with WeChat Pay. Do you want to find a train connection? Find it and book the ticket on WeChat. Do you want to play games on your phone? Buy and play them inside of WeChat. Do you want to find a date? Filter and talk to available WeChatters nearby who want the same. Do you want to order a dish in the restaurant? Place your order on WeChat and pay for it at the same time, without any contact with the waiter. You want to – ok, I think you get the picture. The connection from the outside world to the WeChat application is usually formed through QR-codes: Whenever you want someone to use your service on WeChat, just stick a QR-code to an obvious place and it will guide them to whatever WeChat-function you wish.

bglt-wechat-chinesischer-tourist

© Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH – Press Release

Now you might ask yourself who is the genius mind behind this universal tool that seems to solve all everyday problems. Could it be Zuckerberg, or Wozniak maybe? The answer is far less glamorous: WeChat was developed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company famous for its computer games, payment service, artificial intelligence, and other related products. Said payment service (TenPay) has been integrated into WeChat as WeChat Pay and has since grown to become serious competition to AliPay. If you are familiar with Google Pay or Apple Pay, WeChat Pay is comparable with similar options to pay both in the online and the tangible world.

With its massive popularity in China and the many functions that it offers, it is obvious that approximately 20 Million Chinese businesses and state institutions rely strongly on WeChat to get and keep in contact with their customers, to sell their products and to spread information. The tourism industry is no exception: Chinese accommodation, traffic and leisure providers market their products through WeChat and make themselves part of their customers’ lives.

So why don’t European tourism providers use WeChat to get in contact with their Chinese guests? Could it be because of moral doubts? It is no question that WeChat has many flaws, among them their data transfer to the Chinese government, which it uses to control its people. Or their factual social media monopoly in China, which makes it just too tempting to abuse the power that comes along with such a position. But Facebook, which is widely accepted in the tourism field, is no saint either – its utter failure when it comes to stopping fake news and the rise of extremist movements worldwide due to its algorithms (echo chambers) just being two examples.

Keeping this in mind, it might simply be a lack of awareness, that it only takes one more social medium in one’s communication portfolio to address millions of potential Chinese tourists. Little steps are being made in implementing WeChat outside of China: Many European and American Airports offer WeChat Pay as a payment option in their shops. But we are still far from German train information and tickets being available on WeChat or from finding vacation homes in remote Austrian valleys through its booking engine.

Yet there are a few examples which might function as a guiding light: The German city of Hamburg runs Hamburg House in Shanghai, a kind of cultural and touristic embassy. They use WeChat heavily to spread promotional videos and articles written in the Chinese language, for example about the recently completed Elbphilharmonie concert hall.

In Austria, the national tourist office also uses WeChat in order to communicate with potential Chinese tourists. Furthermore, they collaborate with Schönbrunn castle in Vienna to develop ticketing functions: WeChat users can now purchase visitor tickets in advance on WeChat and redeem them onsite through a QR-code, as it is custom in China.

bglt-wechat-screenshot

© Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH – Press Release

There is even an example within the eyesight of Salzburg: The German county of Berchtesgadener Land has witnessed a growing number of Chinese tourists, eager to see attractions such as Lake Königssee, the infamous Eagle’s Nest and the picture-perfect village of Ramsau. In order to get in contact with them, the destination management organization Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH (BGLT) decided to get active on WeChat in 2015. In collaboration with an expert they set up a WeChat account with several functions: There is an FAQ-section, answering the most common questions among Chinese tourists, such as where to find local milk, how to experience “Alm”-feeling without much effort and where to buy traditional Bavarian clothing. Also, there is a chatroom for tourists to share experiences, a dictionary with the most important translations into German and basic information about tourist attractions, like how to get there and opening hours. As touchpoints, the BGLT placed posters with information in Chinese and WeChat-QR-codes at tourist hot spots.

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© Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH – Press Release

So what is it that convinced the BGLT or the Austrian National Tourist office to implement WeChat? The Chinese are a promising tourist group due to China’s economic development. Therefore, one must deal with their needs in order to win them as customers. To the majority of Chinese mobile phone users, WeChat is an important part of their lives and it offers great opportunities to tourism providers: You can be part of the entire customer journey in just one channel – use it for advertisement, communication, booking, transportation, payment, information and sharing memories. Life can be so easy.

References:

Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH (2016): WeChat-Kampagne erfreut chinesische Touristen im Berchtesgadener Land. Berchtesgaden. Retrieved from: https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/presse/ideen-texte-fakten/pressemeldungen/wechat-kampagne-erfreut-chinesische-touristen-im-berchtesgadener-land (15 May 2020)

CNBC LLC. (2017): What is Tencent? Englewood Cliffs. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5yFhJFqw5w (1 April 2020)

Österreich Werbung Wien (2019): WeChat im Tourismusmarketing. Vienna. Retrieved from:  https://www.austriatourism.com/blog/2019/wechat-onlinemarketing-in-china/ (15 May 2020)

Statista, Inc. (2020): Number of monthly active WeChat users from 2nd quarter 2011 to 4th quarter 2019. New York. https://www.statista.com/statistics/255778/number-of-active-wechat-messenger-accounts/

Stephan Mayer (2018): Welche Rolle spielt WeChat für den Tourismus in Deutschland? Shanghai. Retrieved from: https://socialmedia-blog.net/china/wechat-tourismus-deutschland/ (14 May 2020)

 Pictures:

Berchtesgadener Land Tourismus GmbH (2016): WeChat-Kampagne erfreut chinesische Touristen im Berchtesgadener Land. Berchtesgaden. Retrieved from: https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/cdn/uploads/bglt-china.jpg
https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/cdn/uploads/bglt-wechat-screenshot.png
https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/cdn/uploads/bglt-wechat-chinesischer-tourist.jpg (15 May 2020)

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: ZOHO

ZOHO Corporation: flooding or conquering the market?

by Bozhena Vozniuk & Richard Mükisch

The crossroads

There are not so many privately-owned tech companies that can boast growing as exponentially and aggressively as Zoho – Indian company focusing on software development. Founded in 1996, initially as a CRM system, Zoho started expanding quite slowly having only reached 1 million users in 2008. However, in 2015 it served 15 million users already and, astonishingly, increased its customer base by 5 more million customers in 2016 – just in one year. In 2019 there were 50 million ZOHO users around the globe.

The product variety of Zoho also kept growing. The company mainly invests back into its R&D department, which is around 60% of its profit. There are more than 40 Zoho various web-based solutions tailored for almost any kind of enterprise as well as its managers’ need – and this number is continuously skyrocketing. Such a path can potentially lead both ways – incremental success or failure.

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Photo from Pexels – free stock photos

Adaptivity
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
W: Edwards Deming

ZOHO is one of the best examples of the company that has managed to adapt to the endless changes and current trends successfully. As mentioned above, the diversity and speed with which the corporation introduces its solutions into the market are worth recognizing. Offering multitude cloud-based, interoperable tools for any imaginable department (Zoho People for HR, Zoho Social for marketing, Zoho Books for accounting, Zoho Card Scanner, Zoho Backstage – the list can go on much further), ZOHO has also developed several business apps for Apple watch such as, for instance,  ZOHO Vault – managing passwords on the move.

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Photo from Pexels – free stock photos

Another solution, Zoho Creator, capturing the trend of individualization, enables customers to create and customize their apps without any prior coding knowledge. Moreover, new features keep coming every year. Just to illustrate a few, Zia Voice, AI-powered assistant, launched in 2018, can very well be competing with Siri whereas Zoho WorkDrive, a collaborative workspace introduced in 2019, reflects the sharing economy trend.

Covid19 crisis has only motivated Zoho to be even more flexible and responsive to its users’ necessities. Having adapted rapidly, Zoho started Zoho Remotely in 2020 giving working teams all over the world an opportunity to work productively from home. In order to support small businesses during the economic downturn induced by the pandemic, Zoho has initiated ESAP (Emergency Subscription Assistance Program) devoted to helping small business to survive by providing them with a free three months version of the product.

Perspectives

Undoubtedly, the corporation does not plan to slow down: a new tool, Zoho Show for Chromebook, is soon to be out in the market. So, what does this immense growth mean? Is Zoho rapidly transforming into another tech giant, a powerful market leader? Or what if the company continues expanding and, in the race to constantly innovate, neglect its core products? Even worse, with this tremendous growth, market saturation, leading to overall demand and, therefore, price drop, could be foreseeable. Well, as usual, only time can tell but for now, Zoho continues impressing. We do hope it stays this way.

Sources:

Backman, T. (2020, March 19). Small business Relief: Zoho introduces Emergency Assistance Program [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.zoho.com/general/blog/small-business-relief-zoho-introduces-emergency-assistance-program.html

Darpan, S. (2018, December 7). Zoho Corporation – the best Marketing Strategy example? Case Study [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.superheuristics.com/about-zoho-corporation-marketing-strategy/

Zoho. (n.d.). About us: Serious Software, Friendly Company. Retrieved from https://www.zoho.com/aboutus.html

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: eRecruiter

Finding the right “fit” for your company: eRecruiter software
Effective recruitment in the era of digital

by Viktoria Distel & Olga Isaeva

erecruiter

Employer branding is becoming increasingly important. No wonder – it is increasingly important to look for the best workforce. But where is the best place to start strengthening the employer brand? On which channels does employer branding make sense?

Today, most HR professionals invest in automated recruitment management systems that combine all the related processes within a single platform, and with the help of such tools, they examine the pool of applicants. The use of such platforms becomes a key factor in the effective work of a recruiter to attract qualified personnel. Thus, the eRecruiter system allows you to publish information on job openings in social networks on job search sites and social networks, collect information on job seekers on social networks and job search sites, store step-by-step information about contacts with applicants and analyze the pool of candidates for selecting the most suitable job seekers. This toolkit provides full transparency of all stages of recruiting and provides mobile and social tools for the work of both the recruiter and the candidate for the position.

eRecruiter is the applicant management software from the punt, one of the largest recruiting companies in Austria. More than 15 years of practical experience and constant further development make this solution unique. Over 150 customers in the DACH region already benefit from this flexible eRecruiting solution, which can be easily adapted to the process of the respective company and intelligently covers the entire recruiting process. Customers like Zara, McDonald’s Austria, or Porsche as well as numerous small and medium-sized companies and start-ups are already using eRecruiter.

eRecruiter covers a wide variety of needs, making it easier for candidates and companies to go through the application process more easily, directly, and efficiently. Namely, it connects applicants who are looking for a job, companies that are looking for the right fit into the company, and intermediaries, such as job searching platforms for example. Like Linkedin, Karriere.at, Xing, etc. So eRecruiter meets everyone’s interests in the center and allows them to stay collaborative with each other.

The company publishes its relevant vacancies on the platform, and it becomes available for the people looking for the job. Both the career portal and the job advertisements are created in responsive design, and therefore optimized for mobile devices.

The company by using the platform may see directly all the applicants, and exactly how many people applied to each of the job positions. eRecruiter also lets to classify applicants so the company can target them again at a later date.

Eurest is one of the leading providers, which is using eRecruiter, in the community catering sector, with its core competence in catering to people at work. Innovative nutritional concepts, delicious dishes, unique brand worlds, service quality and a feel-good ambiance – this is how Eurest meets the high standards of contemporary employee catering.

The main reason why Eurest choose eRecriter was that it met all our requirements and we have the possibility to grow with the eRecruiter. eRecruiter was also chosen because the department portal allows us to easily consult internally as our colleagues from the federal states can also view the applications.

Eurest sees eRecruiter as a future trend and it will meet future requirements, the trend in recruiting continues to develop strongly in the direction of innovative and digital analysis tools for personnel selection. We are sure that the eRecruiter will meet these requirements, as we have had positive experiences so far when it comes to establishing new tools.

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: Upstram

How Upstream Mobility is shaping the future of Smart Mobility in Smart Cities

by Linh Viet Phan & Valeriya Pustynnikova

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The status quo of Smart Mobility Market

 Smart mobility, smart cities, smart lifestyle. The new era brings new opportunities for the optimization of our lifestyle. With global digitalization, we are able to make our daily lifestyle more convenient and create a sustainable environment. Have you ever imagined how we are going to commute in the next 20 years? Driverless cars and car-free residential areas today do not seem like something unrealistic and the way people commute can be totally different in the next 20 years. Moreover, we are slowly changing our mobility lifestyle towards more sustainable ways. Traffic, air pollution, and noise make residents of large cities exhausted and this is where innovative solutions for mobility rise to deal with the problems. Eco-friendly public transport services and convenient connections give an opportunity for people to use public transport instead of private cars.

Additionally, the success of companies like Uber and Lyft with the sharing economy has created a wave of smart solutions in the mobility market worldwide. Many new transportation services and private companies have been joining “the battle” of digitally networked mobility services with a competitive pricing strategy. Their appearances were actually also triggered by the increasing demand for smart mobility solutions. It is expected that the population of big cities around the world is going to grow rapidly in the upcoming years. By 2027, it is forecasted that there will be 2 million people living and working in Vienna alone (Upstream Mobility, 2019). This situation calls for more investment in traditional public transportation because the higher the population, the higher the demand for efficient mobility solutions.

To deal with this situation, why not have all possible mobility options including train, bus, e-scooter, and so on just on your hand palm? Either for private use for your daily routine or for corporate purposes, the all-in-one mobility platform shows you all possible transport options, time to the destination, analyses your previous trips, and gives even better solutions for the next time. This is what Upstream Mobility – a software development company for mobility solutions based in Vienna does since 2016. Owned by Vienna public transport providers, Upstream Mobility develops all in one application for smart mobility solutions for citizens of European cities and public transport providers (Upstream Mobility, 2020)

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Source: Upstream Mobility’s website

For the people

Upstream Mobility connects public transport, car-sharing and car rental providers, taxi companies, bike-sharing and rental services and integrates them all into one application. What are the benefits of each side? Citizens have quick access to various types of transport and can easily plan their routes. Corporate organizations reduce administrative costs and expenses on owning their own fleet. And public transport providers have control of the occupancy level, traffic control and reduced number of private cars used in the city. There are already products developed for several Austrian cities, such as WienMobil for Vienna (Wiener Linien, 2020) and TIM for Graz and Linz (Tim Oesterreich, 2020).

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Source: Wiener Linien’s website

Another valuable product of Upstream is Joe – a multimodal mobility platform offered for corporate customers of Upstream. What combines all of these products? They are all 100% cloud-based, collect and analyze data and constantly update the data due to machine learning functions. This will lead to a reduced number of private cars in the cities and CO2 emission reduction. Digitization and sharing economy are determining the mobility of the future (Dimitrakopoulos et al., 2020) and following this trend, corporate companies, housing and real estate companies are integrating smart mobility solutions into their working process with the help of Upstream Mobility. Depending on the contract, Upstream either continues the maintenance of the software or hands it over to the customer.

The next step of smart mobility is to serve smart cities, where the concept is to create a Movement in Community concept. LeoMobil – a smart mobility solution for a car-free residential area of Neuleopoldau is now under development (Upstream Mobility 2020). Upstream works closely with housing and real estate companies in order to create a car-free residential area with smart mobility solutions. People take a bike or a scooter for short-distance trips or take a car for family drives during the wintertime or bad weather. All the services are provided in terms of a shared economy with an easy booking process and administration, leading users to integrate sustainability into their lifestyle. This way of living will give more space for networking, spending time with friends and family while the smart technology is covering all the basic needs. It saves time for technical service, saves costs for insurance and maintenance. Moreover, it actually gives an opportunity to choose a range of cars of different levels and support sustainability by using electric or hybrid cars. A new approach of mobility transforms people’s mobile habits into more sustainable habits (Šurdonja et al., 2019, p. 605). Smart mobility solutions – smart lifestyle.

For the public transportation providers

Along with the rise of private services and mobility solutions mentioned earlier, it is important to understand that public transportation can only be equally accessible and affordable to everyone when it is under the control of the public sector, who always prioritizes the public interest (Upstream Mobility, 2019). That is why it is the right time for public transport operators to get rid of paper-based systems. They need to keep up with fast-changing technologies such as automation and data technology and adapt to the higher needs of the public to ensure their overall management. However, many cities are facing difficulty in accommodating these technical developments due to the considerable amount of investment required (Upstream Mobility, 2019). Understanding profoundly about their situation and challenges, Upstream Mobility is gaining the leading position in the field of smart mobility solutions by building the digital mobility infrastructure for the cities and public transport providers.

This digital mobility infrastructure comes under the concept of Mobility as a service (MaaS). This can be considered as a digital networking platform that allows public transport providers to access all other mobility offers (Upstream Mobility, n.d.). So how can this bring values for the providers? They can save their time, effort and money in negotiating and networking with each individual service operator. Moreover, Upstream Mobility’s platform can be adapted anytime and allow the public transport operators to connect to it conveniently on shared computing infrastructure over the internet. It can be quickly and cost-effectively customized based on specific requirements of each public transport provider’s business model (Upstream Mobility, n.d.). Through the platform, anonymous user data can be collected, which is the key to finding out the solutions to solve problems regarding traffic control, operation and usage of resources.

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Source: Upstream Mobility’s website

 For the future of mobility and smart cities

Upstream is not only working on polishing their existing solutions but also on various research projects. They are analyzing the technologies and solutions that can help people to commute in a more convenient way in the future. Whenever they have new ideas, they will quickly build prototypes and test them pre-commercially to see the response of the public (Weinzettl, 2019). Currently working with cities and countries outside of Austria such as Hamburg and Switzerland, Upstream aims to cooperate with more cities around the world to develop their digital mobility platform. In this way, Upstream’s digital infrastructure stands a high possibility to become a real asset for public transport providers and cities in the upcoming years. We can say that the company is making a continuous effort in shaping the future with added social values and strategically contributing to the evolution of “tomorrow non-discriminatory mobility”.

References

Dimitrakopoulos, G., Uden, L., Varlamis, I. (2020). The Future of Intelligent Transport Systems. Integrated mobility for smart cities (231-238)

Šurdonjaa, S., Giuffrè, T., Deluka-Tibljaš, A. (2020). Smart mobility solutions – necessary precondition for a well functioning smart city. Transportation Research Procedia 45, 604–611

Tim Oesterreich. (2020). tim in der Stadt deiner Wahl. Retrieved 15 May 2020 from https://www.tim-oesterreich.at/

Upstream Mobility. (2019). Daten mit Mehrwert für Städte und die Menschen — Upstream Mobility. Retrieved 9 May 2020, from https://www.upstream-mobility.at/news/2019/5/23/daten-mit-mehrwert-fr-stdte-und-die-menschen

Upstream Mobility. (2019). Ein digitalisierter, Daten getriebener Mobilitätsmarkt braucht starke öffentliche Akteure — Upstream Mobility. Retrieved 9 May 2020, from https://www.upstream-mobility.at/news/2019/10/10/digital

Upstream Mobility. (2020). LeoMobil. Movement in Community. Retrieved 15 May 2020 from https://www.upstream-mobility.at/leomobil

Upstream Mobility. Ihr Einstieg in die digitale Mobilität — Upstream Mobility. Retrieved 9 May 2020, from https://www.upstream-mobility.at/starter-paket

Weinzettl, J. (2019). Upstream: Wie sich eine Zwei-Klassen-Mobilität verhindern lässt. Retrieved 9 May 2020, from https://www.derbrutkasten.com/upstream-interview-weinzettl/?fbclid=IwAR1SOQADUMTt2rQrLW0ZW5SBTAjJy1g8Spyv2iPulW1Yc5ULxKhatLUtWu8

Wiener Linien (2020). WienMobil: mit einer App die Stadt im Griff. Retrieved 15 May 2020 from https://www.wienerlinien.at/eportal3/ep/channelView.do/pageTypeId/66526/channelId/-3600060#176702

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: TourRadar

TourRadar – online intermediary specialized in multiday tours
«the world’s largest online travel agency for multi-day tours»
(Forbes, 2019)

by Veronika Surkic & Inna Milashevskaia

TourRadar is an Austrian company that was launched in the year 2010 by Australian brothers Travis and Shawn Pittman. It operates as an online marketplace and booking engine that specialized in the multi-day tours.
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The main goal of the company to make every tour in the world discoverable by bringing the key players in the tour industry closer together. The company serves travelers with an incredible interface to easily find necessary tours according to their preferences. For the tour operators, it is absolutely free of charge to be listed on the platform, the fee only applies to every confirmed booking. For travelers, it’s also free of charge to book through the TourRadar.

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Image 2: Example of tour in Austria listed on TourRadar (TourRadar, 2020).

Shifting the multiday tour image

TourRadar’s innovative approach to multiday tours is to sell the experience rather than the packages. They have altered the negative perception of multiday tours as ‘following an umbrella’ and shifted it into transformational experiences adding to the value proposition in their e-mediary role.

Technology innovation

“Around 90% of the multi-day tours are still booked offline, through offline travel agents.” Travis Pitman, TourRadar CEO (PhocusWire, 2019)

Making use of ICTs development, TourRadar created a platform with a meta-search function to offer travel information online. The platform was created using XML files and API files connected to the GDS system. Such technology-enabled tour operators to be visible online and largely increase the distribution. Strong SEO methods help the users to easily find the information online. The platform’s UI features activity- and experience-based filtering options in the type of travel search process. Their USP positively influenced the user experience for both tour operators and customers, which lead to an increased number of online bookings in the multiday tour niche.

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Image 3: Innovative approach of TourRadar (TourRadar LinkedIn Slideshare, 2016)

Step into the future

TourRadar is assessed as one of the most successful Austrian start-ups. Since their take off, they have raised more than €65M in funding. The company presents itself very strongly on the market for over 10 years and plans to further expand its team globally. Their future plans include investing in its technology to provide a more personalized user experience for customers.

The key challenges anticipated in the future are the rising number of competitors in the niche as well as the global impact of the Covid19 crisis. TourRadar’s advantage over the competitors is a quality partner network with more than 2500 tour operators. Their emphasis on strong customer support helps them deal with the Covid19 situation, which has highly impacted the tourism industry and the global economy in general.

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: Alice

“ALICE cures chaos”
“We’re creating the global operations platform for the hospitality industry”

by Antonia Leopold & Diana Catalina Martinez

alice

© ALICE

Imagine checking into a hotel, all the staff is happy and smiling at you and every operation during your stay is running extremely smoothly and you ask yourself why. Alice is the answer! The concierge is able to send you customized recommendations and booking confirmations, all done with a simple app or website function, allowing the guest to communicate his or her wishes more openly to the hotel and therefore receive better service. Customers wishes will be heard, analysed and fulfilled and will so recognize the effort and stay more loyal to the hotel, because they are more satisfied with their stay. The package management function is making receiving parcels easier, while never loosing track of their location with the lost and found tool. Operational functions enable the staff to communicate better with each other, simplifying teamwork. The preventative maintenance tool is allowing every employee to report problems and is so helping to ensure perfect conditions of hotel rooms and equipment, by constantly being aware of all necessary repairs. And the overall stay is made flawless by having the hotel room perfectly cleaned, whenever the guests wishes for this service. All this is what Alice can do (‘ALICE Suite’, n.d.).

Alice core value is taking care of people, they are a hotel staff’s best friend! Alice is a cloud-based software platform connecting the hotel staff and guests seamlessly to take care of the requests easier and better. The tool is connection teams of all departments with each other, simplifying communication and managing tasks (‘ALICE Suite’, n.d.).

Founded 2013 in New York, the three founders managed to expand their company enormously. After seven years, they have 150 employees working worldwide. They got awarded for the number one “Concierge Software” and one of the “Top 10 Best Place to Work in Hotel Tech” in 2020. Furthermore, they were able to get Expedia on board and to invest a total of more than $35 million over the years. They are working mostly in the American market with over 2.500 hotels worldwide, for example, Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott.  (‘ALICE Suite’, n.d. & Dickey, 2017).

Alice is offering its product as the package “Alice Suite”, which is divided into two categories. Firstly, the guest satisfaction side includes concierge service, guest messaging, guest app and website and logbooks. The second part of operational excellence incorporates service delivery, preventative maintenance, and housekeeping (‘ALICE’, n.d.).

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© ALICE Suite

The cloud-based hotel operations software is providing a birds eye view overall processes and things that are happening in a hotel. All events, tasks, requests, and progress can be controlled and tracked. All back of the house operations as well as guest-facing tasks can be taken care of. Alice is creating customized reports, so requests and processes can be improved. Guest data can be accessed for additional information and higher customer satisfaction through improved services (Galatolo, personal communication, May 2020).

Alice is charging monthly fees for their service. They range from two dollars per room per month to upwards of nine to ten dollars per room, per month. The pricing depends on the size of the hotel and the type of solutions the hotel chooses from the Alice Suite Package. With the different types of solutions Alice is offering as well as their ongoing helpful customer support, they achieve a customer satisfaction of their clients of more than 90 percent (Galatolo, personal communication, May 2020).

Alice Suite, as a cloud-based platform, can be accessed from a desktop and a mobile phone or tablet, it is compatible with Android and IOS systems and integration of SMS messages is also possible. It is replacing old fashioned radio systems used for communication in hotels. Notes, calendars, reminders and tasks can be shared between all employees, making sure al guest requests are fulfilled. This clearer channel of communication is improving employee satisfaction at the workspace, making work tasks clearer. Hotel guests are able to communicate with the staff, ask questions and make bookings with Alice. They get the option of downloading the Alice App, which is a white-labeled solution having the hotel brands design. The real-time status of guests’ tasks can be followed which leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty (“ALICE, Frequently asked questions, 2020 & Galatolo, personal communication, May 2020).

In total, all that is needed is a stable internet connection to access Alice. The software is integrated into the existing hotel´s PMS, combining both functions. Alice has an open API, that can connect other apps and third-party devices such as chatbots, Alexa, Google Assistant that a hotel is already using. Making Alice stand out from its competitors, is its extremely user-friendly user interface, making it understandable and easy to use for the hotel’s management, staff, and hotel guests (Galatolo, personal communication, May 2020).

The future of Alice will be impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis. Hotels are not allowed to operate and will invest less money into their operations because less revenue is generated. But the tools of Alice will simplify a reopening by maximizing the efficiency of all tasks and the hotel´s operations. By reducing contact points guests and staff have in the daily hotel activities and introducing more technical ways of communication the health and safety measures necessary will be easier to implement. All this in mind Alice is planning to continue their success story and be a true partner to hotels, that the real need. They want to provide the hospitality industry with the newest technological innovations and simplify and optimize their operations, while continuing to increase the hotel guest’s loyalty and satisfaction (Galatolo, personal communication, May 2020).

References and Further Readings

  • ALICE. (n.d.). Retrieved 2 May 2020, from https://www.aliceplatform.com/
  • Alice. (n.d.). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved May 17, 2020, from https://www.aliceplatform.com/faqs
  • ALICE Suite. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 April 2020, from https://www.aliceplatform.com/product
  • Dickey, M. R. (2017, August 30). https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/30/expedia-leads-26-million-round-in-hospitality-startup-alice/. Retrieved 16 May 2020, from https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/30/expedia-leads-26-million-round-in-hospitality-startup-alice/

References of Figures

  • ALICE Suite. (n.d.). Retrieved 17 May 2020, from https://www.aliceplatform.com/product

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: Alipay

Alibaba Group & Alipay

alipay

by: Michael Noggler & Diana Sogomonian

Alipay is a third-party mobile and online payment platform and is an application developed and launched in 2004 by Alibaba Group and CEO Jack Ma. Alipay currently has more than 800 million users worldwide and is the world’s number one mobile service organization (Abdullah, et al., 2019, p. 69).

Over 80% of all Chinese tourists use Alipay, reflecting the enormous potential for the target group of this market (Li, et al., 2019, p. 50380).

Opportunities for the Austrian Trade

Austria and especially the tourist region of Salzburg benefits enormously from Chinese tourists every year, this is because of the fact that Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace and furthermore the cultural background of the city is enormously interesting as well for the Chinese market. For the Austrian market, the Chinese tourist is an essential income factor with an incredible average expenditure per Chinese tourist of about 300 Euro per day. In 2018, for example, over 993.000 Chinese spent their holidays in various Austrian destinations.

This enormous frequency of Chinese tourists is on the one hand due to the ever-growing upper and middle class and the ever-cheaper possibilities to travel e.g.: airline pricing or accommodations. It remains to be seen whether the frequency of travel and the associated expenditure of Chinese tourists will be as high as, for example, in 2018, when over 150 million tourists spent an incredible 227 billion US dollars (ALIPAY Marketing, 2019, p. 2).

A very good example of the preference of Chinese tourists paying with the online payment application Alipay is the best practice case study at Munich Airport in 2019. All 56 shops at Munich Airport offered Alipay users an exclusive 10% discount on everything during the entire six-week period. This resulted in 92% of the average transaction value from China and Hong Kong paying with Alipay (ALIPAY Marketing, 2019, pp. 33-34; Wirecard, 2016).

As a result, Chinese tourists really reacted on this possibility and preferred paying with the Alipay app, which shows the enormous potential of the app for the target group of Chinese people. Naturally, we have to see what the future brings because no one knows how the coronavirus affects Chinese travel behavior.

Due to the fact that Asian tourists love to travel to Salzburg and Mozart’s City of birth, there can be assumed that they will like to come back to Salzburg when this difficult health issue is solved.

The functionality of Alipay

The Alipay application works with a so-called “End-to-End Marketing solution” and is actually separated in three different phases, which are adapted on the customer journey (ALIPAY Marketing, 2019, pp. 14-15).

The three phases are defined as “before the trip”, “during the trip” and “after the trip” phase and specially adapted on the typical customer journey of a tourist. Within the first phase, Alipay offers popular activities for the desired destination, presents various shopping opportunities, and informs the traveler about the desired destination. Furthermore, merchants also have the opportunity to present their business on the Alipay application. The “coupon and global page” provides the tourist with information about the destination, different products and also different offers and benefits which can be used with the Alipay application.

Alipay also offers a rewarding system, which gives Alipay users in various destinations the opportunity to get several benefits and special offers. The rewards system works through credits that grow as the traveler consumes. After a certain consumption, there is the possibility to become a Platinum or Premium Member, where further benefits are offered by the platform (ALIPAY Marketing, 2019, pp.16-19).

The “during the Trip” phase has various different modes of operation that are designed to make the traveler’s stay on-site easier during a trip. Using geolocated ads, the user is notified of all Alipay merchants within a radius of 500 meters by means of push notifications.  Furthermore, when using Alipay within a city, trendy shops and stores can be immediately identified through geo-based banners. The stores are shown in the lower part of the display and allow a quick look at more detailed information about the desired facility.

Another possibility targets on merchants who have entered into a cooperation with Alipay. They can be placed on various virtual banners within the Alipay app. Also, articles and custom tags can be positioned. As a further rewarding benefit, Alipay offers “big brands” vouchers that can be redeemed by users in the store and are associated with price reductions and special offers.

Probably the best marketing resource for merchants is banner advertising on the so-called “city page”, as this has the highest visibility of the entire app. There you can also position yourself in the upper and middle area of this page with banner advertising.

Alipay can also use GPS based Push Notifications to show all Alipay merchants within a 500-meter radius as well as special offers from the surrounding Alipay shops

In the last temporary phase of the customer journey, the “after the trip” phase, aims to share the experience within a certain destination with other Alipay users. This is done via the Lifestyle Account, which can be defined as a subscription-based B2C platform. There the user has the opportunity to get the latest information about certain destinations and also get simple business insights in orders, payment methods, or customer service. This information is generated by Alipay through the shared experiences of other users and can be used to provide recommendations for certain destinations. Users can also follow all Alipay merchants around the world to receive news, updates and special offers (ALIPAY Marketing, 2019, pp. 20-26).

The “after the trip” phase is particularly helpful from the perspective of the merchants, as Alipay uses the generated data to help the cooperation partners to better adapt to the needs of the customers, which gives them an enormous competitive advantage. This results in a strengthening of the Alipay cooperation merchants and leads to an increase of the average receipt volume income, especially in cities where merchants have increased cooperation with Alipay (ALIPAY Marketing, 2019, pp. 27-31).

 

 

References

Abdullah, S., Heng, B., Teng, P. (2019). Consumer Satisfaction of Alipay as the Market Leader of Mobile Payment in China. Malaysian Journal of Consumer and Family Economics. (Vol. 23).

Alipay. (2020). In – App Payment, Alipay for Global Business. Retrieved May 14, 2020, from https://intl.alipay.com/open/product-detail.htm?bizCode=OPEN_ONLINE_PAYMENT-App

ALIPAY Marketing. Opportunities for the Austrian Tourism. (2019). Zeevan GmbH.

Ant Group. (2019, November 20). Alipay Future Now: Our Aim to Serve 10 Million European Merchants, Medium. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://medium.com/alipay-and-the-world/alipay-future-now-our-aim-to-serve-10-million-european-merchants-747c7d6eb351

Ant Group. (2019, May 15). Fast Facts – a 60 seconds read about Alipay, Medium. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://medium.com/alipay-and-the-world/fast-facts-a-60-seconds-read-about-alipay-2967133e0404

Armstrong, P., Wang, Y. (2018, March 28). Is Alibaba losing to Tencent in China’s Trillion – Dollar Payment War?, Forbes. Retrieved May 12, 2020 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ywang/2018/03/28/is-alipay-losing-to-wechat-in-chinas-trillion-dollar-payment-war/

Finextra. (2020, April 08).  Alipay offers boost to Covid-19-hit Wuhan merchants. Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://www.finextra.com/newsarticle/35602/alipay-offers-boost-to-covid-19-hit-wuhan-merchants

Integration von Alipay am Flughafen. (2016). Wirecard. https://www.wirecard.com/de/knowledge-hub/case-studies/alipay-am-flughafen-muenchen

Li, J., Wang, J., Wangh, S. & Zhou, A. (2019). Mobile Payment with Alipay: An Application of Extended Technology Acceptance Model. IEEE Access. (Volume 7). Special Section on Artificial Intelligence and cognitive computing for communication and network.

 

Picture

Alipay. (2020). Home. Retrieved May 14, 2020, from https://intl.alipay.com

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: Giggle

How Giggle Helps Hotels to Compete with Airbnb and Outperform It by Being Themselves

by: Angela Pagiri & Diana Hauser

When Airbnb emerged and disrupted the status quo a decade ago, it took everyone by storm. The originality of its business model where everyone can be a host and get involved in the guests’ holiday experience seemed to fill the gap of the real human connection that traditional accommodation businesses have been lacking, if not absent. Hotels, on the flip side, were not entirely prepared for the unprecedented nature of competition, but the crux of the matter is in fact its reluctance to innovate on their offerings.

How hotels are operating nowadays goes back to as early as the 17th century, where the operation mostly relied on the hotel’s hardware: rooms, pool, wellness center, and food and beverage facilities. Holidaymakers have accustomed to this, taking hotel facilities as main determinants in their decision-making process. The experience economy that underpins Airbnb’s value proposition gave new impetus for hotels to innovate their business practice. This is where Giggle saw opportunities and set out on a mission to help hotels go out of their comfort zone and incorporate emotional aspects in their sales strategy by introducing tailored, authentic experiences for the guests, unique in their property.

Giggle became the newly found avenue for hotels to showcase their unique experiences through all available channels. Giggle hotel clients have since invested more in innovating their tailored experiences to offer to the guests, such as brewery workshop, kitchen party with the Chef, or a day in the mountain with Christian, the avid-hiker hotel staff, whom one can ‘rent’ to have an authentic holiday experience. As a matter of fact, studies suggest the more memorable experiences a tourist is able to get involved in, the more positive emotions it generates. The tourist associates these positive emotions with the hotel, resulting in guest loyalty and positive Word-of-Mouth. Giggle is an epitome of ways for hotels to earn additional revenue without spending a penny to refurbish their rooms or building a new bar.

giggle

© Giggle GmbH

The ingenuity of Giggle business idea gives hotels the head start to redirect their business strategy based on the theory of Jobs to be Done, infamously introduced by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, who also co-wrote an article on HBR breaking the theory down. This theory layout the very reasons why customers make the choices they do. When experiences offered by hotels matter more than the fitness center or the plush beds, hotels should start to bring an understanding of what kind of ‘job’ a family with two smaller kids tries to accomplish by staying in an alpine resort into the equation. The deeper understanding of the social and emotional dimensions of customers’ jobs should be the base for them while curating the experience offerings.

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: VOI Scooters

“Cities made for living free from noise and pollution”  

by: Danielle Stephanie Ferreira  & Uglesa Petrovic 

 In the past, wherever you traveled on the continent the situation was the same… 

City centers growled with traffic, pedestrians ingesting toxic fumes and cycle lanes so few and far between that cyclists took their lives in their hands whenever they rode the streets.  Today, the image is of course changing. Enter the solution to all these infuriating Modal problems! Voi Scooters! 

What is Voi? 

Voi Technology is a “micro-mobility” start-up that operates an e-scooter service on the streets of a growing number of European cities. It was launched in Stockholm, Sweden in 2018. Voi was founded by CEO Fredrik Hjelm, Douglas Stark, Adam Jafer, and Filip Lindvall. They all have a shared vision of easing Europe’s traffic-clogged city centers and reducing pollution.  They set out to offer a clean, efficient, cost-effective and zero-emission first-and-last mile alternative to cars and taxis.  Voi was the first European e-scooter sharing company to go live in multiple countries. The company is now introducing virtual parking spots for their scooters. They are the first E-scooter company in Europe with more than 500 employees.  They have over 4 million scooters.  

How to Voi 

It is quite simple actually. All you have to do is download the app (VOI Scooters: Get Magic Wheels) and then create an account. Once you have done this then you can locate an available Voi scooter in the app. You then have to find the scooter and unlock the app whilst standing next to it. Of course, you need some speed before you can use the throttle. Kick three times and head off on your journey!  

 But where do I leave my scooter?  

One of the many benefits of Voi is that you can ride and park almost everywhere in the city but the streets are not just yours – they belong to everyone.  

As you can imagine, the collection of scooters all over the city can be quite messy! So naturally, Voi came up with quite a simple solution. If you park in the ideal location you receive a discount, which in turn makes it easier for the collection of scooters. They created special zones for riding and parking. These zones are created alongside the cities to adapt to local needs.  

When using the application, the users are able to see the preferred parking spots, where they should preferably park their scooters once they are done using them.  If they park it in these “ideal” locations then they will receive a 50c return for helping to reduce the immense spread of parked scooters all over the city. 

The application itself is very user friendly as it shows the “Voi Hubs” (which are the ideal parking spots) in green, the normal parking spots without the discount in blue and the spots where they do not want you to park at all (the forbidden areas) in red.  Their ultimate goal is to free the city from traffic jams, loud noise and pollution. 

 What is the magic behind Voi? 

The main technological innovation of Voi Technology is the use of micro-mobility. Providing consumers with different sets of e-scooters shows that the company is focused on what consumers need for efficient and easy to access transportation. Scooters are shared to provide low carbon, convenient and affordable transportation for urban citizens. With the technology being focused on e-scooters they are set on making the best use of this technology by reducing CO2 emissions and to ensure the scooters are used and shared for as long as possible.  

It is time to download the app, find your scooter and hop on! You never know what magic you’ll find… 

References: 

Voi (2018), Get magic on wheels, retrieved from: https://www.voiscooters.com/ 

Hjelm, F. (2019, September). Voi technology Sustainability Statement . Retrieved from Voi Scooters: https://www.voiscooters.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Voi-Technology-Sustainability-Statement-.pdf 

Lerner, S. (2019, November 12). Voi Technology 85 Million Funding e-scooter. Retrieved from Phocus Wire: https://www.phocuswire.com/Voi-Technology-85-million-funding-e-scooter 

Maller, H. T., Simlett, J., Mugnier, E. (2020) Micromobility: Moving cities into a sustainable future, retrieved fromhttps://www.voiscooters.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200316_EY_Micromobility_Moving_Cities_into_a_Sustainable_Future.pdf 

 

eTourism Solutions presented by IMT-Students: Mapify

Get to know the all-rounder Mapify and “Discover a world of individual travel experiences curated for you by experts.” (Mapify, n.y.b)

Mapify is an eTourism solution which basically connects young travelers in a social travel network, aiming to combine all necessary steps for planning the next journey in just one application. Authentic, supportive, responsible, adventurous, unique, handy and personalized. Who does not want to become a global host in the Mapi Family?

by Nicola Christina Heß & Christine-Ellen Musel

Mapify (2)

© Mapify

What is Mapify?

Mapify is an all-in-one travel-app-solution. It is a social travel network and contains everything a traveler needs to plan his individual journey. Mapify was founded in 2017 by 5 students in Berlin.  (Mapify, About the Team, n.y.b) The Mapify community shares their own travel photos connected directly to the locations to share their travel experiences with the other members, whereby they inspire and support each other with their experiences and honest feedback. Through these shared locations a user can plan his or her personal and unique trip by first collecting the favorite spots in a bucket list. Later with the help of the tool “Mapify Plan” users can plan the whole journey including accommodation, transportation, activities, restaurants, etc. This booking option is quite a new feature and gives even more value to the Mapify users compared to TripAdvisor and Instagram. The app also provides additional information such as recommendations, weather and visa regulations and a lot more helpful destination information. The whole process is managed by 25 Mapify team members who are responsible for the wellbeing of the community and also offer individual travel planning for an even more personalized and individualized experience (Mapify. ,n.y.a; Kanzler, 2020).

Mapify

© Mapify

Business model

The entire concept is based on a word-of-mouth community that helps each other (Sehm, 2019). Mapify, therefore, follows certain values, such as authenticity, personalization, sustainability, community, adventure and nature travel. These values are core to the community and are also represented by the influencers taking part in their ambassador program and helping Mapify to create unique content especially in the initial phase. With the expansion of content, new inspiration opportunities and increasing user numbers, Mapify is no longer just a social travel network platform, now it is also a booking platform with which the company gains money. (Kanzler, 2020) Most users belong to the Y and Z generations who are used to social media. Currently, Mapify is focusing on the European market, especially the DACH region. Since 2018 nearly all destinations worldwide are offered in the app. (Häde, 2019) The progress was achieved through investors and cooperation with such as Airbnb, Apple, Kayak, MIT, Stanford and MIT (“Mapify” n.y.a.). It goes far beyond being a normal travel guide. Bringing an all-in-one-solution to the market and connecting so many travelers in an authentic and reliable community brings a lot of value to each member in the Mapi Family.

Mapify (3)© Mapify

Their challenges and future

During the COVID-19 journey containment, Mapify tries to develop its “Mapify Plan” feature and fix all the bugs so far to make individual trip planning even more exciting and easier for their community. Especially in those times, challenges appeared for Mapify as they had to bring their travelers safely back to their home countries before the borders closed. With a lot of overtime and effort, all travelers were brought home safely. Especially these unprecedented situations are new challenges that not only Mapify has to face. (Kanzler, 2020)
The cooperation with e.g. Airbnb will also play a role in the future, as they are trying to enable all parts of the customer journey to be bookable through their app (Sehm, 2019). Mapify also wants to promote responsible for travelling in the future. Going hand in hand with their values, slow, responsible and green tourism should play a bigger role in the future, not only due to Corona. Due to the limitations of COVID-19, however, it is not possible to give an exact outlook into the future, but Mapify will continue to focus on their community in order to connect with them even stronger and strengthen the authenticity of their work and their community, which makes them so special. (Kanzler, 2020)

Mapify (4)© Mapify

References

Images: Mapify.com