The Effect of Technology on Tourism

New WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara Manzo gives her vision of the travel and tourism (tech) world today

With a background in the IT world, we thought it would be interesting to get Gloria Guevara Manzo’s take on the current state of affairs in the sector and thoughts towards the future…

Indeed, I have a degree in Computer Science, and I’ve been involved in technology for many years. The technology that places the traveller in the centre at the end of the day is the one that is going to get the largest adoption and the best use. A good example is biometrics, a technology that’s been around for several years and I believe that the stars are aligning, and I believe that if we get this right, we will see broad adoption in our sector. In the financial sector it’s already commonplace, and even smartphones leverage this technology. So, it’s been around for a while, but it is about time that the private sector in the travel industry should start using this technology to the benefit of the traveller. Another one is Artificial Intelligence. It has been around for a long time. Even my thesis in college was going to be about that. But in the past, it was very hard to connect the benefits with its use on a daily basis. Now when we see what’s going on right now and we see that in 2020, the Internet of Things will really start taking off with 50bn devices that will be connected around the world, then the use of AI is going to be really very important. We know 70% of corporations this year are going to be using AI somehow, so at the end of the day, again it’s for the benefit of the traveller – of the user – so if you can capture the preferences of the traveller in the most effective way, and use AI exactly for that, I think companies are going to be very successful and it will make the experience much better.

What about AR and VR?

Here, we have already seen some advances in the past couple of years. In our case, virtual reality will allow you to position yourself in a destination that you haven’t been to before, allowing you decide where to travel, giving you a little teaser or taste of that destination. It will not replace the travel experience, but it will help you decide between destinations. Augmented reality will be very useful for places where there’s a lot of culture; cities that are living museums. It’s going to fascinating to use your phone or your iPad and see how they were before. For instance, I took my son to the colosseum a couple of years ago. He was ten years old, and he wanted to see the gladiators. In his mind, he was hoping to see the colosseum as it was before. Thankfully a company I knew that was developing AR had created a virtual tour, and I had it in my iPad, so I could show him exactly as it was before with the gladiators and so on. That greatly improved my son’s experience of the place. I can imagine this kind of thing in Chichen Itza with the Mayans! So, AR will make travel an even better experience, and VR will help you to see and decide before you get there.


How wi l l changes in demographics affect us?

In two years, 75% of the workforce are going to be millennials, who love to travel, they want to travel now, and many times, which is wonderful. They are the best allies for the travel and tourism industry, because they also care about the destination, the culture, the nature, and sustainability. Furthermore, we are seeing a large rising middle class – especially in Asia – who are travelling internationally for the first time. So, there are a lot of demographics moving around that will impact our industry, for whom we will need to be prepared, primarily through the use of technology, so we can keep up with the volumes that we’re going to be seeing.

Photo: Gloria Guevara Manzo – President & CEO, WTTC