Greece needs to move quickly and decisively to respond to new challenges as the digital revolution has already begun and enormous changes are taking place in all fields, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said on Tuesday.
Opening the confederation’s annual conference “Tourism in Transition: #someTHINKdifferent”, Retsos underlined that Greece lags behind other European countries regarding its performance in digitization.
“We urgently need a structured action plan which, within a very short time, will implement an overall digital strategy… that will include entrepreneurship at the center of digital transformation,” Retsos said, underlining that the digital transformation of the entire Greek economy is essential.
“It is obvious that tourism must be included in this enormous challenge,” he added.
Underlining the significance of the title of this year’s conference, Retsos stressed that Greek tourism is in a crucial transition process.
“We are at a crossroad of great developments that force us to think differently… the development of a tourism strategy must now begin and end with our adaptation to the new era,” he underlined.
“On our part, we approach all new market trends, invest in knowledge, education and the human factor and strive to stand competitive on the new challenges,” Retsos said.
Digital transformation: A government priority
On her part, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura noted that digital transformation is a government priority, underlining that a further increase in arrivals can be achieved through innovative products.
“With the aim of establishing tourism in Greece all 365 days a year, we are using all available digital tools to promote our tourism product,” Minister Kountoura said and presented the ministry’s already implemented actions, as well as future plans in the digital field.
The tourism ministry’s actions include support to tourism start-ups and existing enterprises for their digital transformation, the codification of Greece’s tourism legislation and digitization of tourism education.
Minister Koutoura also mentioned that the ministry is also in the process of launching a new digital portal of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO).
“The VisitGreece portal is being enriched and will be available to visitors in ten languages, with smart interactive applications, utilizing modern virtual and augmented reality technologies,” the minister said.
In its 17th year, SETE’s annual conference this year focuses on innovation, strategies for the future of tourism, new business opportunities, start-ups and successful examples of city image creation such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
The conference kicked off with marketing innovation expert and futurist Paul Papadimitriou, founder of Intelligencr, who informed the audience on the way the use of digital technology is changing the business environment and how holidaymakers are looking for their travel experiences.
“As we are growing, as the economy is growing, there will be more and more competition and there will be more people traveling,” Papadimitriou said, focusing on the megatrends that are affecting travel.
“The world is bigger, the world is cheaper and technology goes faster,” he underlined.
“Technology is everywhere… Everybody is self-reliant. Travelers do not plan ahead of time anymore, but they visit a destination and decide what to do once they are there (with the help of their mobile phones)”, Papadimitriou said.
“We all have a ‘brain’ in our pocket. When we are not sure about something, we google it or go to wikipedia… Travelers are now self serving, they know everything on the spot and they do everything on the spot,” he added.
Papadimitriou: Cities, tourism entrepreneurs must find “their magic”
Referring to today’s travelers, Papadimitriou said that they are looking for new experiences and to attract them, cities and tourism entrepreneurs must “find their magic”.
“First you have to find your magic, think about what differentiates you from others… And then you create your magic.”
Giving advise to the audience on how to attract millenials and keep them as visitors, Papadimitriou said that honesty is a key factor.
“Millenials are loyal but they are not loyal to lies and bad experiences… They are loyal if you bring them nice experiences… There is loyalty but to people who are honest.”
SETE’s conference is taking place with the collaboration of marketing destination agency Toposophy and weareJARVIS, the new content studio of technology hub Found.ation.