Trendy, digital, human (and "scary") WTM LONDON 2016


06.12.2016 News

Trendy, digital, human (and "scary") WTM LONDON 2016

Even the digital world needs a touch of humanity. That’s one of the main messages of this year’s World Travel Market in London. The whole world has come together for the tourist industry’s marketplace and – with Slovak humility, stemming from the awareness of the power of its greatest players –  with it, the team of Košice Regional Tourism. (Under humility, we don’t mean doubts and eyes cast downwards to the ground, but a healthy sense of awe, a desire to learn from the global leaders and keeping our eyes and ears open to new concepts.)

Even though the speakers at these events do not reveal the depth of their knowledge in its entirety, their experience and case studies are, for us, of immeasurable value. They are also a way for them to get ahead of their competition, which doesn’t attend such events. This is because keeping with the times doesn’t just mean what’s ‘on trend’ at home, but understanding trends from the other side of the globe, which can precede their development in our own country by months, or even by years.

Specialists from different industries all meet at the WTM, often from at first glance, unrelated fields (for example, digital marketing). However, they all have to do with travel industry, tourism industry and trends. Thanks to the ‘reach’ of the internet, it becomes quite easy to analyse, determine and foretell trends in advance. For instance – how long does the fear of terrorist attacks last for? According to the behaviour of tourists on the internet (includes research, goes as far as bookings at a certain destination), it takes just 6-7 months for the fear to dissipate from our conscience.

The digital aspect- that’s a big part of today’s tourism industry, as well. My colleague Martin, who works in our team as a philosophical, analytical and hypothetic consultant, defined it simply and to the point: ‘THE FREAKY’ IMAGE OF THE FUTURE. Virtual reality simulation shows us today- opportunities that were still unimaginable yesterday. And tomorrow it will show what had been unrealistic today. However, just as the word DIGITAL held the crown last year, just one year later, the word of the year is HUMAN. Even the biggest technology enthusiasts just appreciate that if the essence of humanity, authenticity and originality is missing, one is (simply put) talking about a ‘piece of ice’. Very sophisticated, well made, superbly crafted, nonetheless – still a piece of ice.

The highlights from the WTM London 2016 were:

  • Digitalisation has greatly contributed to a substantial reform of the tourism industry as we know it from the 20th century.
  • Content is crucial- one’s own, original, authentic and exceptional.
  • Whoever cannot stay flexible enough to bend with the current flow of developing trends, places his existence is under threat.
  • Only the satisfaction of the locals of a given location can give way to the satisfaction of its visitors.
  • Virtual reality opportunities are always expanding (according to Martin, to a freaky extent☺), they don’t just simply provide a visual sensory experience, but the much more complex experience of having experienced an authentic event.
  • Shared economics (Uber, Airbnb…) has been causing providers of conventional services ever deeper wrinkles and it’s going to be interesting to watch the legislative activities in their individual states. They will either forcefully slow down this natural trend, or they’ll keep watching a small air swirl become a tornado, which will organically mess with the accommodation, transport, guided tour, and who knows with what other, services.