Rising demand for new services
Every year millions of people flock to holiday areas to relax at the beach, explore nature or go sightseeing. The tourism industry has been experiencing a sustained boom for years and is continuously generating increased revenues in the holiday regions. Since digitisation does not stop at tourism, innovative solutions come into focus here as well. Data-driven services like apps and online communities are increasingly in demand and are frequently used for travel planning. However, a prerequisite for these services is the availability of data.
Benefits of Open Data
Published in June 2018 on the European Data Portal, the article The benefits of Open Data re-use are gaining awareness in tourism sector elaborates that the use of Open Data in tourism is predicted to have great potential. The availability of data and the openness of platforms in tourism were also discussed during the 11th Tourism Camp in cooperation with the network Tourismuszukunft and outdooractive, with a particular focus on active cooperation. The aim was to create more transparency about existing industry projects. A panel of experts discussed how an Open Data infrastructure in tourism, based on a Linked Open Data (LOD) approach, can be implemented in the future to achieve sustainable digital transformation in tourism. Initiatives and approaches to standardise real-time data flow in tourism already exist at the European level. A project of the Salzburger Land Tourism Association already provides tourist information as Linked Open Data and stringently pursues the goal of building up knowledge graphs for tourism in other regions as well. These enable interoperability between the technical systems as well as hierarchy levels and thus enables the compatibility of different systems and collaboration of different actors in the tourism sector.
The time is ripe
The dissemination of standardised data will become even more important in the future and the tourism sector can benefit from it. The accessibility of data related to tourism offers the provision of information regarding region and location descriptions, tours or sights that can be read and processed by interfaces, databases and machines. The large IT companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, who have an extensive understanding of data, already offer communication solutions in almost all areas - including tourism. Google, for example, provides the app Google trips where the user benefits from the extensive database of the search engine giant. With the user's consent to access his or her personal data in combination with existing data obtained by Google, the app analyses the mail traffic and the Google calendar so that flight data and destinations are available and additional journeys and offers can be suggested. In order to stay competitive smaller actors in the tourism sector are now realising that they have to share their data to offer tourists seamless and value-added services.
First steps into the future of Open Data in tourism
Open Data plays a key part in promoting the tourism sector. The company outdooractive manages many tourist data with the open central database solution. These include events, current news, region and place descriptions, tours and activity trail networks, accommodation reviews, excursion destinations and sights, and stories, pictures or videos.
With its app, outdooractive offers the user the possibility to plan a complete tour from start to end. Users of the app can become part of the community by publishing their own planned and recorded tours on the app’s platform. This is only possible because of the complete synchronisation between the website and application.
This example illustrates initiated plans for the use of Open Data in tourism. If the tourism industry succeeds in organising itself jointly and building a comprehensive, open and interoperable data infrastructure, this could promote competition and innovation, enable new business models and reduce dependencies. More and more people are able to travel and are interested in such services, which is why innovative ideas within the tourism industry are far from being exhausted. For this reason, the industry should now start to move closer together and make use of synergy effects.
Let the journey begin!