The latest disruptive technologies are supporting the tourism businesses’ marketing mix elements as they improve the interactive engagement with individual prospects, enhance the personalisation of services, whilst providing secure pricing options. Many tourism firms are evolving from their passive, rigid, and product-centric state to a more flexible, dynamic, and customer-centric environment, as they monitor and detect any changes in consumer sentiment. Data-driven companies are increasingly capturing and analysing the online and mobile activity of prospective customers, as they delve into ecommerce and review sites, personal blogs and social media (Sigala, 2017; Kumar et al., 2017). Their analytics captures the consumers’ interactions with brands and companies through digital media. Therefore, big data is enabling them to target and re-target individuals and online communities with instantaneous pricing and access options, across multiple channels (via web-site activity, mobile, video, social media, ecommerce, among others). Large technology giants use mobile tracking technologies, to gather information on the consumer behaviours, including their shopping habits, lifestyle preferences , et cetera (Aksu et al., 2018).
Tech-savvy firms have learnt how to take advantage of on-demand, real-time information from sensors, radio frequency identification and other location tracking devices to better understand their marketing environments at a more granular level (Storey & Song, 2017). This way business could come up with personalised products and services, that are demanded by individual customers (Li et al., 2017). From a business perspective, it is important to acquire this data, quickly, and in high velocities. This paper reported that many businesses are already benefiting of the programmatic advertising environment; where buyers and sellers of digital advertising connect online to exchange available inventory (Busch, 2016; Stevens et al., 2016).
The challenge for tourism businesses is to recognise the value of smart technologies as effective tools that can analyse their marketing environment, including the customers as well as their competitors. The predictive-analytical tools can examine different scenarios; and the prescriptive analytics anticipate what will happen, when it will happen, and explains why it happens. These technologies can monetise data by identifying revenue generating opportunities and cost savings.
Other innovations, including blockchain’s distributed ledger technologies are improving data privacy, as it involves the verification and the secure recording of transactions among an interconnected set of users. Blockchain tracks the ownership of assets before, during, and after any online transaction. Therefore, this technology could be used by tourism businesses to facilitate their transactions with marketplace stakeholders, including suppliers, intermediaries, and consumers across borders. The block chain will probably be more convenient than other payment options, in terms of time and money. Therefore, blockchain’s ledger technology can possibly lead to better customer service levels and operational efficiencies for the tourism businesses.
The smart tourism technologies, including big data analytics are shifting how organisations collect, analyse and utilise and distribute data. A thorough literature review suggests that the crunching of big data analytics is generating meaningful insights and supporting tourism marketers in their decision making. Moreover, other technologies, including the programmatic advertising and blockchain’s distributed ledger system is helping them to improve their financial and strategic performance. In conclusion, this contribution calls for further research on data-driven tourism.