By Pauline Faye V. Tria
The biggest problem in the country’s tourism industry is that we’re not using the technology that is right under our noses.
Filipinos are far behind in the tourism industry compared to other countries, and that is because we are not using the technology that is at our disposal, according to tourism experts in the Philippines.
“I think the challenge we have is we have all of this technology, but we’re not leveraging it. And that risks us being less competitive with other destinations, other countries around the world who are really leveraging technology, you know, to enhance the tour experience,” says Colin Christie, director of Digital Information at Enderun Colleges.
We need to be more aggressive in applying these technologies, he adds during the Tourism and Hospitality Tech Summit and Expo 2018 Press Launch last Nov. 8.
Christie says it’s vital to look at the customer, to be mindful of what they’re looking for, and to use technology to satisfy the customer.
Technologies that we could use are the Internet and mobile applications, so that people looking to stay in the Philippines can get information right at their fingertips.
“If they want to look up information about a tourist destination, [and] it’s three in the morning, they can do it on their own time,” Christie says.
Ibrahim Bernardo, chief officer of I AM Cardboard PH Inc. says that we should use technology to make things more convenient.
“Basically, how do you make it more convenient? How would you make finding a place, booking a place, paying for a place more convenient?” he says.
Bernardo adds that the Philippines should have more online presence and a standard payment system, such as PayPal, GCash, PayMaya, and more.
He recounted a time when he didn’t have cash on him and he decided to use his credit card to pay for a meal at an international airport, and to his astonishment, he was told that they didn’t accept credit cards.
Bernardo says it’s also important for GPS systems to be integrated into mobile apps to make the tourism experience easier for tourists.
“Clear directions [must] be integrated into Google Maps, into Waze, and all of those little things [to] make life so much easier for the consumer,” he says.
Alistair Israle, CEO and founder of Shore Suite says that the Philippines is way behind the tourism standard worldwide.
He adds that only a fraction of resorts in the Philippines are not even on online travel agencies, which the industry is now shifting away from.
“The industry is already moving away from online travel agencies, and they prefer to run their own booking engines, but they can also offer promos and packages that the online travel agencies cannot support,” Israle says.
All of these technologies are well within reach of even the small hotels or resorts, he adds.
“I think it’s really a matter of educating the rest of the industry, even just for free stuff like Facebook,” Israle says.