Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New technology to drive tourism SMEs

Economies of scale may be making big businesses more powerful in the tourism field, possibly at the expense of SMEs. New software for handheld devices can give tourism SMEs a better chance at competing.
New technology to drive tourism SMEs
As large tour operators and multinational chains in Europe take a bigger piece of the tourism pie, small tourism businesses across the continent are struggling to stay afloat. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as incoming tour operators, travel agencies, local restaurants and museums must optimise their offerings and improve their marketing efforts to remain competitive.

The EU-funded project 'Mobile destination-management for SME's' (Aladdin) studied how to offer the services of incoming tour operators and small tourism businesses through mobile phones and other handheld devices. It considered offering different types of holidays to different segments of travellers.

Aladdin tested its new system in three destinations and published two books on the subject. The first book models how a Chinese traveller could visit Budapest and how a business traveller could visit Stockholm, for example. Business processes, multilingualism and software architecture are also addressed in the book. The second book covers the system's testing in the three locations, including challenges in communications, software and hardware.

With rising use of mobile devices and reliance on their technology, the project met with a high level of interest from stakeholders in relation to the new system. Among its advantages, the proposed system took into consideration trends such as shorter holidays, value for money and added value for travellers. It supported business travellers such as in organising conferences or events, as well as individual travellers planning spontaneous trips. Package travellers at the destination, tour companies and tour guides were also supported during the Aladdin project, creating the ultimate guidebook and work tool for different market segments.

Such personalised navigation and location-based services combine both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) environments to the benefit of tourism-related SMEs and Europe's economy. Localised content, customer relationship management (CRM) and other features have the potential to transform this system into a veritable tourism driver.

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