For most of its existence, the tourism industry experienced very few meaningful changes or innovations. It was a relatively simple concept that did not and would not change: People like to visit other places. Hotels, local governments, restaurants, and other organizations found ways to profit from this simple concept while providing travelers a more enjoyable experience.
Up until recently, New York City tourism was not unlike Nashville tourism or London tourism, because the industry relied on the simplicity of this concept. However, that all changed shortly after the turn of the century, as innovations and advances from outside of the tourism industry began to infiltrate it-- and every aspect of human existence.
Developments like wireless internet, smartphones, GPS and other technological innovations completely changed the way humans communicate, do business and travel. Over the last decade, the industry has begun to adapt to the new digital world, although there have been a few growing pains along the way. Whether it was for better or worse, the following innovations, developments, and changes have completely revolutionized travel and tourism in every corner of the world.
To start with the most meaningful advancement, smartphones not only changed the way we travel, they have completely revolutionized every aspect of human life. We depend on these devices as much as any other material possession, and they have essentially become an extension of the human body for many modern people.
In terms of tourism, smartphones provide a number of services and devices that help us travel and connect to the world. A telephone, camera, map, newspaper, travel guide and countless other helpful elements rolled into one, people can now utilize a smartphone for nearly every meaningful aspect of travel planning and recording. While this may have been a bad thing for some areas of the tourism industry, it has been an immensely meaningful and beneficial breakthrough for travelers.
2. The Sharing Economy
Aside from the proliferation of smartphones, the most disruptive and revolutionary change for the tourism industry developed from the interconnectivity of the modern global community. Services like Uber have effectively put many taxi and travel services out of business, as people can request and quickly receive a personalized ride to anywhere they need to go.
Similarly, AirBnB, Couchsurfer and other travel apps have had a major impact on the hospitality industry, and traditional hotels have been forced to adapt. Concierge services like Guesty and Beyond Stays have helped these businesses adapt to the digital world by helping guests and hosts manage bookings, cleaning, travel requests and other services.
3. Enhanced Security
While many modern innovations have had some negative impact on traditional tourism, the enhanced security measures that have come from modern technology have been a good thing for everyone. Airlines, governments, and other organizations now have advanced networks that allow them to identify, keep track of and help manage countless travelers unlike ever before.
Biometric advances have provided many of the more meaningful and effective security techniques that are crucial to the safety of travelers and non-travelers alike. Facial recognition, fingerprint identification, automatic passenger control (APC), retinal scanners and other technological advancements have helped to keep us safer in a world that seems to grow more dangerous all the time.
Although the world and the way we tour it have been changed by these developments, the basic concept behind the tourism industry remains the same. People will always want to visit new places, experience new things and travel to new locations, and there will always be those in tourism to help guide and accommodate these experiences.
*Guest writer Costea Lestoc*