Last week Dr. Afiya Holder joined key tourism and hospitality professionals in a workshop hosted by Traveltech for Scotland, Orange xdLab and the University of Edinburgh’s ‘DeCaDE’ Centre. The session aimed to explore how Edinburgh’s tourism stakeholders can leverage digital transformation and the possibilities of Web3 to unlock new opportunities and enhance transactional experiences for tourists and suppliers.
The tourism sector is constantly evolving with one of the most recent advancements emerging at the intersection of travel technology and Web3. This reality has prompted the event hosts to send a call out for Edinburgh’s experts to share insights on future possibilities for the region. However, one key question sparking the curiosity of all attendees was: What is Web3 and how is it used or could be used among the different stakeholders? Some stakeholder opinions revealed:
“I am just here to poke my nose in as I am really curious about it all….”
“I am curious and a bit sick, to be honest, people fear for their jobs, people fear that we may lose the human touch in hospitality… but I challenged myself to come after attending Joshua Ryan-Saha’s [Traveltech for Scotland] webinar introducing this phenomenon”.
Unanimously, attendees admitted being in a conundrum battling between, ignorance, curiosity, fear and eagerness for digital preparedness and readiness. Nonetheless, the collective curiosity and desire to position Edinburgh’s tourism as a prime contender for innovative practice created the right recipe to combine talents, knowledge and expertise to leverage digital transformations occurring in Traveltech and Web3.
Dr Holder mentioned some benefits during the discussions: “Digital transformation in tourism is inevitable and leading the trail has significant benefits for tourists, operators and residents alike. For example, megaevents such as the Olympics are already exploring Web 3 e-ticketing solutions that have positive implications for secure identity management, tokenisation and sustainable waste management.”
Web3 in a Nutshell
Often referred to as the “Decentralised Web”, Web 3 encompasses blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, privacy and security in an equitable and fair online environment that is more user-centric. To date, we have seen Traveltech and Web3 revolutionize seamlessly how we search, compare and book multiple travel transactions, for example, utilising one platform to book hotels, airfare, car rentals, and tours encouraging more transparency in pricing and available options. Other examples include the use of AI, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) to enhance user experience with capabilities for customisation and real-time immersion.
Getting Web3 Ready
In true innovative style, the hosts moderated a creative, design-thinking, roundtable-style workshop. This approach encouraged a cross-section of Edinburgh’s tourism, hospitality and event experts to explore creative solutions and potential use value for Web 3. The top 3 reflections from the discussions include:
- The importance of understanding the tourism ecosystem, its Stakeholders, Pressures and Collective Goals to exist, thrive and compete in an evolving Web 3 landscape.
- Delving deeper into Prioritizing Relationships and how decentralised possibilities can benefit each stakeholder based on their assets and capabilities.
- Leveraging key Capabilities of primary and secondary stakeholders for enhanced tourist experience, increased economic benefit and consideration for sustainable and efficient operations.
Towards an Innovative Future
The day of discussions ended on a positive and hopeful note. The partnerships and connections cultivated in the room were essential. Tourism academics left with a stronger appetite for further collaborative research explorations. Edinburgh’s tourism industry practitioners expressed satisfaction, and greater awareness and felt more prepared to embrace and leverage the future possibilities of Web 3 and Traveltech in a decentralised tourism ecosystem.
The Tourism Research Centre has tourism scholars who specialise in research on Digital Transformations in Tourism, for more insights on the topic or collaborative opportunities see link for more information.