What is digital transformation? Here are a few outlines and examples in the tourism industry.



The outbreak and spread of  covid-19 have forced the tourism industry to make some big changes. One of the reforms that many tourism-related businesses are making in the Corona disaster is “digital transformation.”


What exactly is digital transformation in the tourism industry? In this article, we will give you an overview of what is “digital transformation”, and some examples of what we can do with it.



What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a concept advocated by Professor Eric Sturgess of the University of Umei in Sweden in 2004. Through information and communications technology (ICT), tourist companies aim to streamline their operations and improve people’s life satisfaction and quality of life (QOL).


In 2018, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry established “Guidelines for Promoting Digital Transformation (DX) “. From here, it was defined as “to utilize data and digital technology that respond to changes with the business environment and match services based on customer needs.”



The difference between digital transformation and digitization

Digital transformation is can sometimes be confused with digitization, but there is a clear difference between the two. Whereas the former is the utilization of digital technology itself, the latter aims to create a business model that utilizes digital technology.


Given this characteristic, it can be seen that digital transformation is only possible on the premise that digitization has already taken place. What awaits us at the end of digitalization is digital transformation.



Digital transformation in tourism


It was great damage to the tourism industry when the coronavirus occurred in 2020 when the Tokyo Olympics was to be held and as the number of inbound tourists was steadily increasing. To fix this situation, digital transformation has already begun to be implemented mainly by major companies.


As of November 2020, progress had finally been made in vaccine development, but the specific distribution time and effects remain unclear. Although the “Go-To Campaign” in Japan has been successful, there are some who are still criticized and self-restraint remains high.


What are the effects and impacts that digital transformation can have on the tourism industry? We will introduce the efforts being made at the moment and explain more in detail.



Destination Suggestion by AI

It is difficult for travelers to decide when choosing a travel destination. Traveling has many series of choices, such as domestic or overseas, and if it is decided domestically, whether it is a city or a rural area. Efforts to support it with the help of AI are beginning to rise.


AI makes suggestions for travel destinations by the mood based on basic information such as personal hobbies. This is the final factor for travelers, and it is also appealable to those who are uncertain during a trip.


Additionally, AI also provides opportunities such as virtual experiences at home to stimulate consumers’ imagination. Users can also make suggestions to increase the satisfaction level of travel, such as presenting indicators such as the amount of energy used during travel and guiding destinations with good climatic conditions.



Realization of new forms of travel such as online tourism


Online tourism has become a hot topic during the coronavirus pandemic. It is to connect with local wifi through computers, smartphones, tablets and etc. to enjoy the feeling of traveling by watching the live video.


The appeal of online tourism is that you can direct yourself on where to travel and even talk to local guides and residents. The secret of its popularity is that you can experience a sense of realism that cannot be conveyed through YouTube or TV programs.


More and more businesses are planning not only to connect through the live broadcast but also to send local souvenirs to the participants’ homes. Since it is an online trip, the prices are easily lowered, so we have succeeded in dealing with those who have not been keen on traveling.


Emphasis on diversity in hotel management

In hotel management, just by analyzing customer information, it has become easier  to switch to an operating policy that emphasizes diversity. It’s an advantage to those who are raising children as a single person or those who are traveling alone.


During the coronavirus pandemic, it was expected that the number of people traveling to decrease, so digital transformation can be said to be effective for analyzing these data. In addition, it will help improve the corporate image by engaging in charitable activities such as accepting people in need.


Expansion of transportation by utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT)

What is significant in IoT is the change in transportation. It means that due to technological improvements such as autonomous driving, the full-scale spread of 5G will also greatly contribute to the development of IoT, and it will be possible to move using public transportation while quickly acquiring information on tourist destinations.


There is also a plan to digitally manage some passenger data, which will make it possible to incorporate the idea of allocating seats of people with the same taste and hobbies close to each other. This can also be used for traveling with a small number of people, romance matching, and can be the basis for creating new services.



Examples of digital transformation initiatives in the tourism industry

How are tourists using digital transformation? There have already been some cases of using DX led by major travel agencies. Let me introduce the details.



Establishment of a new company “Good Fellows JTB” by JTB

The major travel agency, JTB has launched a new company, “Goodfellows JTB”.A company made to utilize digital transformation. As a result, we have begun to develop support measures that meet current needs such as avoid the three Cs (Closed-space, Crowded places, and Close-contact settings.), non-contact, and automation.


Specifically, we are in the process of informing the latest facility management information to travelers in real-time and providing free terminals that can be used by hotels for contactless payments. In addition, when an infectious disease occurs, the contact person can be identified promptly by providing admission-certified data.


Development of VR travel service by TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor runs a campaign that specializes in “VR travel,” which is a type of online tourism. All of this sales will be donated to local guides, a service that acts as a barrier to protect valuable travel resources.




Digital transformation (DX) is the concept of creating new business models by leveraging existing digital technologies. DX contributes to travel support that makes full use of AI and IoT, and to the realization of new forms of travel such as online tourism.


Major companies and services such as JTB and TripAdvisor are already using digital transformation. There is no doubt that it will be the key to developing new travels after the aftershock of the coronavirus pandemic.



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