1. Opening Session

Chairperson’s Welcome Address

The Breeze February 24, 2016 9:05 am - 9:15 am

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Dr. Marianna Sigala

Technological advances and social media are transforming the way people interact with each other, with the companies and the institutions, the ways they find, read, create and share information and so, the consumer behaviour and decision-making processes. Customers and virtual communities are now empowered to own and control the conversation influencing significantly not only brand images and reputations, but also creating and owning brands. Customers have evolved from passive consumers to active co-creators of business value by engaging in co-marketing, co-production and co-innovation activities through social networks (such as Airbnb, Uber, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), which subsequently disrupt the companies’ value propositions and challenge the current rules, institutions and practices of tourism markets.

However, tourism firms have traditionally viewed the customer as the sole decision-maker of purchases and who generates firm value solely through consumption and purchase behaviour. On the contrary, having no longer control of the customers, their behaviour and activities, firms need to re-define and update their strategies moving from a transactional to a conversational management mindset aiming to motivate and increase customer engagement in marketing strategies. Nowadays, technologies also enable the firms to faster and more effectively collect, analyse and use customer intelligence for better learning the customer and providing personalised interactions through the entire customer experience journey.

It is the aim of the Digi – Travel Conference and Expo to help forward thinking tourism professionals to build successful digital marketing strategies by providing best practices and answers to the following questions:

  • What are the technological tools, applications and trends that driver change in the digital tourism marketspace?
  • What policies need to be developed to address the needs and profile of the new social tourist generation and its disrupting practices?
  • How firms can exploit the travellers’ information resources and social media metrics for better personalising their customers’ interactions and business offerings?
  • How firms can convert tourists to effective co-marketers by motivating and crowdsourcing marketing content creation and distribution to them?
  • How big data trends can help tourism firms to build an enhanced customer learning capability that will enable them to instantly respond to customer behavior on real time?
  • How can firms monitor who, how, when and what content is created about them for managing their online reputation and gaining back control of their branding strategies?
  • Can tourism firms convert the peer communities of the sharing economy from a perceived threat to value co-creator collaborator?