"CETT Smart Tourism Congress Barcelona is the space of reference and meeting point for professionals, academics and scholars about the smart concept"
Daniel Imbert-Bouchard Ribera is the director of the 4th edition of the CETT Smart Tourism Congress Barcelona. The congress analyses the smart tourism movement in depth and articulates the synergies that can shape the future of smart tourism from all possible perspectives. The congress will take place on 9 and 10 November at the Hotel Alimara BCN.
It is the fourth CETT Smart Tourism Congress in Barcelona. Can we describe it as a well-established initiative?
We could say it is. The organization of this fourth edition and the good results in terms of knowledge generated in the three previous editions can lead us to say that the congress has consolidated as a reference meeting place for professionals, academics, and scholars on the smart concept both locally, nationally and I would dare to say, internationally too. In fact, since the celebration of the first edition in 2016, there has been a growing general interest in smart tourism in society from different perspectives and directions. At that time, CETT, together with the UB Chair of Tourism, Hospitality, and Gastronomy CETT, was a pioneer in organising a congress that led and promoted research and knowledge transfer in its areas of activity: tourism, hospitality, and gastronomy. From the beginning, there is the collaboration of the Provincial Council of Barcelona and the Barcelona City Council and for this fourth edition, in addition, there is the participation of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
It was, therefore, a groundbreaking event at the time.
CETT Smart Tourism Congress Barcelona was one of the first international congresses to deal with this topic from a theoretical point of view, bringing together high-level scientific contributions from the beginning. In the three editions held, up to 25 universities and 175 authors of papers from up to 27 countries have taken part in the event.
Let us talk about the two core topics of the congress. One of them is Intelligent Tourism Management. Why this topic? Is it more necessary than ever?
The approach of the congress is based on two main differential areas that bring together the way of conceiving tourism from an intelligent point of view. On the one hand, first, it focused on the ability to apply innovation and differentiation in the management processes of tourism organisations and, on the other hand, on the implementation of technology to find efficient and effective solutions in the sector. The first core topic focuses on intelligent management, considering the need to find a balance and relationship between sustainability, technology, innovation, and knowledge to achieve more sustainable and quality tourism. In that respect, decision-making should also involve visitors, hosts, companies, and destinations in the management systems to successfully address the many challenges of today's tourism. In this 4th edition, the CETT STCB wishes to go one step further and delve in detail into one of the most decisive and, at the same time, transversal aspects on the work agenda of destination managers: mobility and tourist accessibility. For example, flow management in tourist destinations, the efficiency of services, infrastructure, and transport fleets, or the creation of products based on mobility as part of the experience. However, other aspects, such as governance and efficiency in tourism, the application of sustainability, social responsibility, and ethics in tourism, and the revaluation of identity and culture through creative methods, will also be dealt with under this theme. The participants will exemplify this through cases of good practice and successful models.
Digitalisation in Tourism Businesses and Destinations
The other core topic is Digitalisation in Tourism Businesses and Destinations. What are the challenges in this field?
In the same way as the other topic, the congress also focuses on the continuous and exponential technological progress in all spheres of society, which simultaneously generates uncertainties and opportunities in the tourism sector. Instability and volatility are some of the characteristics of today's sector that must be analysed in the future. This changing context forces us to continuously rethink business models and the way we understand the relationship between companies and destinations and their clients and visitors. Among the challenges presented, this year's edition focuses on applying the new 5G connectivity in the tourism sector: a development that can improve the digitization of all kinds of organisations. Such development mainly focuses on faster data download and upload, high connectivity capacity between devices (IoT), and shorter latency (time between request and response). Furthermore, this new scenario will allow promotion via video marketing, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence and will also start to define "immersive tourism" (where the user is the protagonist of the tourist experience and can amplify his participation and interaction with the product, service or destination). Thus, the congress will present different cases of 5G application in the fields of tourism experiences, management, and promotion of the sector, as well as solutions that provide answers to energy efficiency goals.
Whom is the congress aimed at?
The congress is for anyone interested in finding out about the trends that will shape tourism in the coming years and at the same time wants to share ideas and initiatives in a meeting place. The profile of participants is quite broad, and in some ways, it also fits in with the conference's structure. We will welcome people from the tourism business world, professionals and political decision-makers, people with an entrepreneurial spirit or a desire to innovate in their business, to scholars, researchers, and members of the academic community who are committed to smart tourism in their field of research.
Internationally recognised speakers
What is the profile of the speakers?
Since the first edition, the congress has counted on the outstanding participation of internationally recognised speakers in the tourism sector who have contributed expert knowledge and practical solutions from academic and professional sources. As a result, this year's event also has a firm yet highly heterogeneous speakers profile. These will be made up of representatives from technology companies, technical teams from leading urban destinations, and researchers from internationally recognised universities who will give the academic presentations. In this regard, we should highlight the large number of papers presented from up to 10 different countries, which will also have the opportunity to showcase their scientific work.
The first edition of the congress was held in 2016. What changes has the congress undergone to adapt to the new times?
In terms of content, to talk about smart tourism is to talk about a changing and modular idea that has been taking on new forms and applications in our sector over time. Mainly, smart tourism is understood as integrating tourists, residents, businesses and destinations in efficient management systems through technology, innovation, and knowledge to achieve a more sustainable, accessible, and quality tourism. This premise has been reflected in previous congress editions with examples and innovative cases of all kinds and approaches. Thus showing there is an extensive versatility in this field that is expected to grow in the coming years. In terms of format, the congress has had to adapt to new times and circumstances. In particular, the celebration of the third edition. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was held online. However, it was also successful with more than 1,000 registered professionals. That edition was used to address the reactivation of the post-pandemic sector based on innovative, intelligent, sustainable formulas.
What would you say to someone considering attending CETT Smart Tourism Congress but has not yet decided to do so?
I would say that the congress will provide them with expert knowledge in smart tourism from an academic, professional, and entrepreneurial perspective. In two days, you will share space with both academic and professional experts to join synergies capable of outlining the future of smart tourism and defining its trends from all possible perspectives.