In 2016, the Chair of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy CETT-UB
promoted by the Campus of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy CETT and the
University of Barcelona took the initiative to organize the first edition of
the Smart Tourism Congress Barcelona (STCB), an international congress focused
on one of the most innovative areas of tourism today: Smart Tourism.
Smart Tourism can be considered a logical progression of e-tourism. Thanks to the wide use of information and communication technologies (ICT), e-tourism has been a driver of innovation in the sector's processes and management, generating changes in the way services are consumed. Generalized use of social networks and a growing trend towards mobile tourism has driven the appearance of dynamics that create information in massive quantities, which can be used to improve, both in terms of quality and variety, tourism services and consumer experience.
Therefore, in the field of tourism destinations, Smart Destinations transcend the urban space, making use of resources dedicated to Smart Cities. These are highly useful resources for smart tourism, which aims to improve the tourist's experience by making companies and destinations more competitive through more sustainable and responsible management of the environment.
Smart Tourism is, without a doubt, a new step in the evolution of ICT in the sector because it has an effect on the territory and also on shared governance between the administration, private sector, and citizens. Smart tourism acts in a digital environment where new levels of intelligence are achieved in tourism systems. This is attained with the transformation of information flows and the way in which tourism experiences are created, exchanged, consumed, and shared.
With regard to companies, the widespread use of ICT has redefined ways of managing and producing, driven by the flow of big data and new information systems. Furthermore, new sales and marketing channels and strategies (e-commerce), as well as new business models are leading to changes in traditional economic sectors, as is the case with the sharing economy and the appearance of new gastronomic formats.
From the consumer's (the tourist's) perspective, ICT have transformed not only the idea of travel, but also pre- and post-travel; at the same time, by using wearables or new sensorial spaces, a new field of tourism experiences has been created. The tourist, constantly connected, has become the main focus, and is the writer and co-creator of their own tourism experience.
Taking this new reality into consideration, and in keeping with the objectives of the CETT-UB Chair of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy to lead and promote research and the creation, dissemination, and exchange of theoretical and applied knowledge on tourism, a new line of research specifically dedicated to the phenomenon of Smart Tourism has been defined.
The first edition of the Smart Tourism Congress Barcelona was the
first project to emerge from this line of research, with the aim of generating
a meeting space where, thanks to the participation of different international
experts linked to the reality of the Smart Tourism, this phenomenon could be
analyzed in depth and synergies capable of drawing the future of intelligent tourism
from all possible perspectives would be articulated.