New technological tools to adapt to COVID tourism

Destinations

People and contact tracking

One of the tools that in theory will spearhead this new era is the new mobile application COVID radar, promoted by the Government.

The app was put to the test last July during a pilot program on the Canary Island of La Gomera and it is expected to be launched nationwide from September 15.

During the test carried out in La Gomera (in which four waves of fictitious outbreaks were simulated), the app allowed doubling the data collected by the manual trackers. Specifically, thanks to COVID Radar, an average of 6.4 close contacts was detected for each positive, when the capacity of manual trackers in the Canary Islands is around 3.

A user downloads the Radar COVID mobile app. Photo: EFE Cati Cladera

The app uses the Bluetooth of mobile phones to notify its users if they have been within two or three meters of an infected person in the fourteen days prior to a new diagnosis.

Radar COVID does not use geolocation or collect any data from users, but instead assigns random numbers to the mobile phones of citizens who voluntarily install it to warn them that they have to contact the health authorities for having recently been close to an infected person, who is never identified.

The application will also be available in English, for tourists visiting Spain.

Inspiration and trip planning

Other applications installed on travelers’ smartphones will allow planning trips with greater health guarantees.

For example, Google maps has introduced driving alerts to notify users of COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along their route.

In addition, the page google.com/travel shows notices about travel restrictions to selected destinations and allows you to filter the search for hotels by those with free cancellation policies.

  • Google adds COVID-19 data to its travel searches

Platforms designed for travel planning, where users share content, have also had to adapt their product and strategy to the COVID era, according to Diego Rodriguez CEO of Passporter.

“Since we saw that the pandemic was accelerating, we rethought the product applying all the needs that we considered that users would demand of us. The first of this meant focusing a large part of the offer at the national level ”.

Furthermore, “users not only demanded a national offer from us (unique, created by local travelers, which you cannot find directly on Google), but also asked us for itineraries and experiences that were away from the crowds for security reasons. That is why the whole team focused on generating itineraries that would flee from the big cities ”.

Another tool that facilitates travel planning to destinations away from urban crowds is the new platform “Interactive National Parks of Spain”. It includes the limits of all National Parks, routes and points of interest for visitors. You can also consult the longitudinal profiles of the trails, load your own routes on the map and print and share the resulting maps.

Among the outstanding functionalities, for the first time the option to navigate on 3D models at very high resolution of three National Parks (for now): Picos de Europa, Sierra de Guadarrama and Ordesa y Monte Perdido is offered.

Custom video conferencing

At a time when it is more important than ever for travelers to have the most up-to-date information possible on sanitary conditions in destinations, changes in schedules, open establishments, etc., tourist offices are also adapting to these new needs with the help of new technologies.

For example, the information and attention service to tourists offered in person by the Network of Tourist Offices of Catalonia has also become available in the digital environment, through a live chat located on the Generalitat’s tourism promotion website and a new personalized video conferencing.

  • Catalonia will inform tourists by personalized videoconference and chat

As explained by the Department of Business and Knowledge of the Generalitat, through this Virtual Tourist Office of Catalonia “Users can make inquiries, expand information and resolve doubts about any tourist experience in the destination, in a space managed by a team of 35 informants of the General Directorate of Tourism “.

With this new tool, indicates the General Directorate of Tourism of the Generalitat, “potential visitors will receive a service of the same quality as if they attend in person, thus facilitating the planning phase of your trip. “

Chatbots for tourist destinations

When it comes to providing information about a tourist destination where the new situation caused by the pandemic is taken into account, automated systems such as chatbots also come into play.

So, Valencian Community Tourism and the Castellón company SemanticBots have developed a chatbot pilot project for Santa Pola and Vinaròs.

“The objectives that are sought to be achieved with this chatbot are several, firstly, that digital information related to tourism in municipalities is more accessible for people with disabilities. Second, to facilitate municipalities and tourism technicians the possibility of giving a faster response and adapted to the needs of tourists. Last but not least, try to respond to the new needs that are being generated by tourists related to the coronavirus in the municipalities, so that they can improve their response to this situation, providing greater security and information to tourists, ”explains the team that has developed the project.

In this way, and thanks to the experience of the tourist offices, the chatbots have answers to multiple questions worked together with the tourism technicians of Santa Pola, Vinaròs, Invattur and the technical team of SemanticBots, related to accessible tourism, the municipality, its monuments, its services and the tourism security measures against the coronavirus.

Information on seats and free tables

Also in the Valencian Community, three entrepreneurs have created an application for smartphones called Findyt, which allows users to know in real time the availability of tables in a hotel or leisure establishment and to receive a notification when one becomes free. Key information for the user in times of capacity and schedule restrictions.

This tool, which is currently used by 6,000 establishments in the Valencian Community, Albacete and Murcia, also facilitates internal management for companies and increases security by avoiding queues at the doors of their businesses, report from the company responsible for the project.

The application also allows you to access the establishment’s menu and search for places by filtering whether they have a daily menu or not, if they are open, if there are free tables or if they have a terrace.

With this initiative, Valencian entrepreneurs intend to “support the hospitality industry and promote the distribution of people in the different places to activate the economy” in the face of the crisis generated by COVID.

“Thus, in addition to promoting themselves and getting more customers, establishments can use the application as an internal management tool with which they will have the possibility of controlling the staff, see the status of the tables or add the daily menu,” he adds one of the creators of this tool.

Orders and payments via app

We also find the mobile application BR Bars & Restaurants, which allows the customer of a bar, restaurant or hotel to place their order directly through the app, without the need for the waiter to approach to take a note.

“In the same way, it is possible to order from any part of the accommodation: rooms, swimming pools, bar, hall, etc”, according to this company.

Application to request an order in bars, restaurants and hotels. Photo: BR Bars & Restaurants

“Guests can order directly from their mobile what they need, from snacks, drinks, meals, towels and other products, while they are in the pool or in any other part of the hotel. In this way, direct contact with employees is avoided. They will receive the order and leave the order where the user has requested it. Hotels will have the possibility of including all the services they wish to offer through the app so that users have access. In addition, through the app you can request services such as a gym, spa, massages, etc. ”, explains the company.

The platform digitizes the entire process, since it allows you to order and pay directly from your mobile, in addition to offering delivery and take away services.

Air connections

The air capacity and route cuts carried out by airlines in the wake of the pandemic have greatly complicated the planning of trips where two or more flights are required to connect.

“Travelers are now looking for more creative options to get to their destinations and at the same time some people can experience connections as a stressful experience, as they travel through an unknown airport and fear losing their connection,” he explains. Kiwi.com, a trip planning website, whose proprietary algorithm allows users to combine flights and ground transportation from more than 800 operators, including many that do not normally cooperate with each other.

Help desk for passengers in transit. Image: Kiwi.com

To respond to these new needs of travelers, this company is partnering with airports through the introduction of a Smart Pass, “which will help the passenger in transit to pass safely through the airport and, in some cases, will have a dedicated counter where you will find assistance from the airport staff ”.

“For those passengers looking for speed, the Smart Pass allows a broader selection of connecting flights, since the minimum connection time between landing and departure can be shortened (…) The counter is equipped with Kiwi.com telephones that passengers can use to call customer service. “

Reduction of physical contact in hotels …

Once the client has reached the destination and registers at the hotel, they can find new technologies typical of the COVID era.

For example, the Spanish hotel chain Ilunion has implemented an accessible digitization project in its establishments “with which it is guaranteed that customers and workers can maintain a safe distance in the facilities and thus avoid the risk contact associated with Covid-19”.

  • Ilunion Hotels is committed to accessible digitization

“The project, as a result of the recommendations of the health authorities, was created to guarantee security in the hotels that the company has opened in recent weeks. It consists of the placement of QR codes throughout the hotel’s facilities that allow digital access to information that was traditionally available on other media ”, the company explains.

The new tool also has a fully accessible development for people with physical, visual or hearing disabilities.

… And in tourist apartments

If the client chooses to stay in an apartment, we also find new technological tools that facilitate social distancing and reduce physical contact.

“The installation of smartlocks and security systems in apartments to ensure the comfort of owners and guests is increasing,” says the tourist apartment management company Olala Homes.

This company is using in Spain the Avantio platform developed in Barcelona to manage reservations, the HoomVip smartlocks control systems – based in Madrid – and the Murcian StayMyWay, as well as the Roomonitor noise detection and measurement system, which is based in Barcelona.

“We understand that all these tools will soon be essential for the management of tourist apartments in this new normal, either for a matter of hygiene, to comply with local regulations, or for safety issues, explains Ittai Savran, CEO of Olala Homes.

Temperature control

A need that has arisen due to the pandemic is the daily control of the temperature of the people who come to a workplace. It should be remembered that in Spain companies can take the temperature of their employees, but there is a gray area when it comes to customers. See Can a hotel or a nightclub take a client’s temperature?

Among the technological innovations in this field, the temperature control system by reading on the wrist stands out, launched by B + Safe.

Temperature control system by wrist reading, developed by B + Safe

“The new system is autonomous and does not require third parties, since it is the user himself who performs the entire process, and it can be easily connected to different access control systems -the gate, gate, turnstile, etc.- so that This control can only be passed when the temperature does not exceed 37.5º “, explains this company.

The system includes a sensor for non-contact body temperature measurement, “with an integrated infrared device, and the temperature sensor can be placed at different heights to make it accessible to people of all heights, children and people with reduced mobility.”