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Digital wallet still offers many undiscovered treasures

Tourism expert Reinhard Lanner speaks to the audience on stage.

Tourism expert Reinhard Lanner: From the guest card to the digital wallet

Travel trade professionals should dispense with their favourite terms and structures in order to embrace intelligent advances in their traditional guest cards. This was the advice given by the Austrian tourism expert Reinhard Lanner on Thursday at ITB Berlin. One way is to issue registration in the form of a plastic card instead of depositing it in the wallet of a smart phone, thus making it more widely usable.

Most of the necessary technology is already available: for example “pay-as-you-go” functions. Personalisation can be taken a lot further electronically, provided that the holders are prepared to reveal their preferences. This would enable a VIP guest at the Salzburg Festival to be provided not only with an admission ticket at the venue but also background details and other content, thereby improving the whole experience.

In addition the issuer could mark the card in such a way as to remove the need to offer discounts in order to achieve a better uptake: “after all, we want to earn money with it”. Whether a plastic card or wallet, this expanded check-in system can also be exploited as a status ¬symbol.

For other forms of evaluation Lanner presented the example from Hungary. There check-ins and -outs by hotel guests are automatically passed on the tax authorities who, in turn and in an anonymised form, send them to the local tourist offices. In addition to the fiscal aspect of the recording of such information, a wealth of data is also available about the distribution of the flows of tourists.

Lanner said that there are two possibilities for the future. Either the tourism industry waits until the EU Issues uniform terms of reference, or alternatively they can become creative, collect the data, subject to approval, of course, and just get started themselves. There is in fact no reason why a “guest card” should be the same for all guests throughout the season, instead of taking their individual wishes into account and making it as easy as possible to meet these wishes. In this respect he called upon the public to come up with new terms for this new technology.