Tourism is one of the sectors that has suffered most from the effects of the pandemic. According to data provided by the OECD, the reductions in global flows oscillate between 60% and 80% compared to 2019. The World Tourism Organization (Unwto) estimates economic losses of 1,100 billion euros, three times higher than those determined by the economic crisis of 2009.
Italy, which in 2019 was among the most visited countries in the world with 94 million foreign tourists, was one of the most affected countries. Assoturismo estimated at the end of 2020 a drop in arrivals of 61.8% and a drop in overall presences of 55% (foreign presences -71.2%; presences of residents -38.7%), about 50 billion euros in less consumption for accommodation activities and tourism services. But all is not lost. According to the ENIT (Italian Tourism Agency) in 2022 not only will we return to pre-Covid levels but, even, there will be a growth of two percentage points.
“We are ahead of an evolution of the tourism and hospitality model, a model that simply did not exist before ”says Luca Bernardoni CEO and co-founder of Vikey, the Roman startup that is innovating the hospitality sector by launching the virtual reception. Self check-in, but also control of consumption and noise and prevention of domestic accidents such as flooding and fire and a 2.0 welcome service always available for guests. “We wanted to give a concrete answer to the needs of a new way of understanding the stay” continues Bernardoni.
Yes, because the emergency we have experienced has accelerated and spread some macro trends that were already present in the world of tourist accommodation. Giving value to time is not just about the way you travel – the famous slow tourism – but also about the guest’s need to carry out, quickly and without having to revise their plans, bureaucratic duties related to the stay: from payment to registration.
Prefer a green approach: more and more travelers are looking for virtuous solutions that have little or no impact on the environment both when traveling – even traveling by bicycle – and while staying in accommodation facilities. In fact, the guest looks for hotels, and in general places to stop, that have been designed to have little impact on the environment: choice of materials, attention to consumption and particular care also for what concerns the menu.
Privacy and security: the covid emergency has increased our security levels in terms of security, not just health. Smart working with the passage of millions of sensitive data to digital, often without the necessary security filters, has greatly accentuated our need for protection. A need that has also touched the world of tourism. The guest’s request, therefore, is increasingly to increase digitization during the check-in phase to reduce potentially risky contacts and for greater protection of their personal data also to respond to the new guidelines imposed by the GDPR.
“Our intuition was to introduce self check-in also in the hospitality world, digitizing the reception “bureaucracy” – registration of guests, sending of documents and tourist tax – and providing the guest with a virtual key that would allow them to enter the hotel or apartment independently “says Bernardoni” Today with Vikey4 the bet is to move to a 2.0 phase of ‘hospitality allowing the hospitality professionals of remotely manage rooms and apartments saving time and having less impact on the environment, let’s think about the possibility of turning off an air conditioner that has remained on in an empty room… “. A revolution that involves hosts and hospitality professionals who can thus manage more entrances and better.
But it is not just the sector that is evolving. Even the tourist changes his skin. In the post-covid, the “analog tourist” is destined to disappear: according to the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, only 2% of Italian travelers between 18 and 75 years old did not use the internet for any activity during the last vacation. Digital customer relationships are a very important factor in supporting customer loyalty.
The ability to maintain a long-term relationship with the tourist constitutes one of the main factors of competitive advantage for tour operators. The availability of digital or automated channels is certainly the key to making continuous and repeated interaction possible. “Vikey precisely intercepts the needs of this new type of digital guest – concludes Bernardoni – who today seeks greater freedom, zero constraints and the ability to manage their stay according to their own times”.