Digital Technology as a Catalyst of Change: Technological Enablers and Barriers of the Tourist Experience

 

The way people experience travel has changed!

Digital technologies have had a major impact on how people experience travel. One of the most extensive transformations has been promoted by the increase of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in everyday life and travel.

That’s why tourism research and management have been increasingly interested in exploring the role of ICTs to as a major driver for change, central instrument for innovation and differentiation.

 

How exactly did digital technology cause a change?

The impact of digital technologies on the tourism sector is vast. Technology has changed business models, processes, internal operations structures, booking systems, customer relationship management platforms and communication structures.

One of the most fundamental impacts of digital technology is that it has transformed the customer experience along the entire customer journey. Surrounded by the ubiquity of technology, customers do their research, information gathering and booking online, interact and share with peers, businesses and locals through social media, and go through experiences that are at the intersection of the physical and the digital.

With the increase of digital technologies, social platforms, mobile devices, the opportunities of supporting a whole spectrum of tourist activities has proliferated.

“Digital technology is a key driver of change in experience design.”

It is a driver of change that facilitates, empowers and intensifies experiences on multiple levels, and has the ability to unlock entirely new types of experiences in the digital and virtual space.

Digital technology has lots of potential, we probably all agree on that. However, one of the questions that keeps coming up is whether technology is an enabler, or if we take a critical stance, may even be a barrier to tourist experiences?

Is digital technology an enabler or barrier of tourist experiences?

A recent study by Neuhofer, Buhalis and Ladkin (2015) has examined this question. Is digital technology always an enabler and enhancer, or could there be scenarios in travel, when technology represents a barrier to people experiences travel?

The study has shown that digital technology has several key benefits for tourism experiences along the customer journey, but may also create some distinct barriers when people use digital technologies during travel on-site. ICTs are pivotal to contemporary experiences. They enrich communications, help gather information, share, co-construct and augmented experiences.

There is also a flipside.

The study found that digital technologies provide potential barriers to experiences, especially when ICTs have deficiencies that limit the creation and enhancement of tourist experiences, such as entry and usage costs, and a series of software and hardware, along with usage and usability issues. These issues could potentially cause frustration and in turn, affect the pleasure of the travel experience negatively.

Taking one of the experience design principles of Pine and Gilmore, what we need to do is to create positive cues and eliminate negative cues.

This means that we need to focus on promoting the positive technological experience enablers, while making sure to eliminate the potentially negative barriers for experiences to make the most of the physical and digital environment and develop their full potential.

If you are interested in finding out more, see the paper by FH-Prof. Barbara Neuhofer, Prof Dimitrios Buhalis and Prof Adele Ladkin. The study bridges the gap between #enablers and #barriers and identifies on the one side the technological enablers that foster, on the other side barriers that limit the creation of tourist experiences, and what consequences this has on tourist experiences.

 

More information about this study

This is how you can cite the study:

Neuhofer, B., Buhalis, D. and Ladkin, A. (2015) Technology as a Catalyst of Change: Enablers and Barriers of the Tourist Experience and Their Consequences. In  Tussyadiah, I. and Inversini A.Technology as a Catalyst of Change: Enablers and Barriers of the Tourist Experience and Their Consequences 2015, Lugano, Switzerland: Springer Verlag, pp. 789-802.

Here is the link to the publisher: Springer Link

Here you can download and read the article on Research Gate and Academia

 

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