An increasingly competitive market warrants tourist destinations to constantly update and acquire a unique identity, while creating a story is key to promoting any product as a brand, the International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT 2019) said on Friday.

“Innovation is pointless unless it is commercial. We must create an ecosystem conducive for growth by supporting new talents and building start-up incubators,” business information systems expert Brian Marrinan noted at the ICTT 2019 in Kochi.

Citing an example from a small city in his native Ireland, he explained how Shannon in the province of Connacht has been a world leader in travel technology since World War II. “Shannon was the first airport in the world to introduce duty-free stores. Today, can you imagine an airport without a duty-free outlet?” the speaker said. “But there is a gap in innovation, what I prefer to call an ‘opportunity gap’. These opportunity gaps can be addressed through travel tech accelerators.”

Taking the point further in his session titled ‘How Innovation in Travel and Tourism is Driving Economic and Job Growth’, Marrinan said Ireland has been instrumental in building the first start-up accelerator: Propeller Shannon, the world’s first early stage aviation, aerospace and travel tech-specific accelerator.”

“See, 10.4 per cent of the world’s GDP is gained through tourism, yet the innovation in the sector has been very slow,” added the speaker, managing partner of Journey Partners. “We need to give tech start-ups the ecosystem to develop newer products for boasting tourism with the support of the government.”

The two-day ICTT, being organised by the Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI) in association with the Kerala government’s Department of Tourism, had its final day overlapping with the World Tourism Day (September 27).

Professional storyteller Ivana Perkovic, in a separate session on Friday, said the brand story reveal’s the firm’s identity and aim. “It sets the stage for every interaction the customer has made with your brand,” she pointed out in her presentation titled ‘How to Create a Good Story About Your Brand’.

The brand story, the speaker suggested, should define the purpose of the company to both the staff and the customer. “It must be defined by three building blocks: relevance, promise and proof. ‘Relevance’ signifies the importance of the story for the target audience, ‘promise’ signifies the relationship of trust you build through the story, while the ‘proof’ is what strengthens the bond,” added Serbia-born, Netherlands-raised Bangalorean.

“A brand without a story is just a brand,” Perkovic stated. “The story is important to more than just yourself. It resonates with your employees and customers, cultivating a community of brand advocates who stand behind and support your story.”

The final day also saw experts Sean Patrick Si speaking on Program Tips for Improving E-A-T SEO, Heather Heuman on ‘How to Create an Attention Grabbing Content/Blog’, Jessica Dante on ‘How to Use YouTube for Destination Promotion’ and Isabel Mosk on ‘Instagram Growth Strategies’.

The two-day event, with 200 delegates largely from across India, brought various stakeholders of travel and tourism on to a single platform. The participants chiefly included owners of hotels and resorts, online tourism marketing managers and tour operators.

The inaugural ICTT was held in 2013, followed by a second edition in 2017 — all with idea of meeting the demand and supply of changing business situations even as the tourism community is comprehensively reliant on expertise and modernisation.

The conferences typically focus on preparing the travel and tourism industrialists in India and neighbouring countries by getting feedback in acclimatizing to the varying technology, obtaining skills in surviving/winning over competitors, comprehending the significance of web marketing and the use of the resources accessible online to run business.

By Manoj

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