2018 has broken historical records in visits of foreigners to Colombia so that its tourist activities business can get to see great profitability, especially if it is encouraged to transform digitally.
The tourism sector is one of the most competitive in the country, but at the same time, one of the fastest growing year after year. In the first quarter of this year, the sector’s share of GDP was 6.9 %, while in 2017 it was only 1.6%, a growth that leaves any economist speechless.
In addition, purchases of goods and services by non-resident travelers reached $ 3,530 million dollars in the first half of this year, 12% more than in the same period of 2017.
Entrepreneurs in this sector have seen large multinationals such as Airbnb and Booking reached a strong reception so that small and medium entrepreneurs have a great challenge: to become a digital world.
And the figures show that it is a reconversion that is needed most urgently. According to figures from Migración Colombia, during the whole of 2018, a total of 3.1 million foreign visitors entered the country.
Paula Cortés, president of the Colombian Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (Anato), affirms that, “if the trend continues in this way, we would close the year with a figure higher than 4 million foreign tourists, based on data from Migration Colombia, that is, an increase of 19.5% when compared to 2017, whose figure was 3.3 million people “.
Achieving digital transformation
Pablo Mendoza, CMO and Business Intelligence Manager of the A3SEC Group states that in order for your business to succeed in this challenge it must take into account 5 essential factors: think digital, build efficient business models, put the customer at the center of the entire strategy, employ open source technologies (collaborative) and exploit Big Data opportunities . “Who does not digitize and reinvent, in a short time will end up being irrelevant,” he says.
Therefore, initiatives that encourage entrepreneurs to modernize are essential. Eduardo Maldonado, general manager of Tourbitz, software for tour operators, affirms that “an important problem is that SME tourism entrepreneurs continue to carry their entire operation in pencil and paper or at best in Excel. They have a lot of information that they keep filling by hand and that makes their operation complicated, prone to human errors and have slower response times by international standards. ”
In 2017, the Tourist Information Center of Colombia (Citur) accounted for 27,206 tourism service operators in the country, from travel agencies and accommodation and lodging establishments to theme parks and tour operators.
And although the look always tends to go to the hotel sector, the tours and activities are one of the main interests of foreigners who seek to know all the ecological, cultural and gastronomic wonders that the country offers.
“It is one of the most dynamic segments of the tourism sector with a lot of potentials, in 2020 there will be almost 180 billion dollars for this market worldwide where 20% will be transacted online , and in Latin America we see that The number of online transactions of this type of companies is in the order of 5% “.
For this reason, Maldonado decided to create this platform, after having made part of Procolombia and seeing all its potential. “We want to help the tour operators in the whole issue of digital transformation in an integral way. Many times we talk about this and we think it is to have a website with a shopping cart but it is really much deeper, is that through technology we can leverage the operation to scale the business orders to larger magnitude, “he says.
How does it work?
In the portal, tour operators can upload all the inventory of tours they have available, focused on standardized activities such as a gastronomic tour in Bogotá, departures in the Coffee Region, trekking in Salento, Quindío, hiking in the snow park in Manizales, or bicycle tours in Medellín.
People can start to transact through a module that in less than 5 minutes allows them to give a quote, which is quite efficient because the old-guard businesses tend to take between half an hour and an hour to deliver a quote. Then they send the client a payment link so that the person can make the transaction.
“When you buy, you automatically generate an invoice for those companies that are a common system, an equivalent document for those companies that are simplified, we create electronic tickets, we allow you to see the reservations through a calendar view , we let you have reports of all transactions and also analytics in real time “.
In the future, entrepreneurship hopes to be able to involve also suppliers, such as the guide, transport and in some cases for tours that are longer than one day, hotels. “The idea is that once in the reservation we are automatically sending text messages and mail to these providers and Uber type, the first to accept the reservation is the one that stays with it. This looking to automate this process that normally was to pick up a phone and start dialing guide 1 and guide 2, “he says.
And about the great power that other platforms have, Maldonado, hopes to be able to involve it to give entrepreneurs the opportunity to expand their sales much more. “We want to have integration with Tripadvisor, Viator, Expedia, Get Your guide, which is the leaders of the online tours and activities market in the world to help them also sell from their channels.”
“We also have a widget so that they can have all the inventory they upload to Tourbitz on their own website easily with a cart so that in 3 steps the customer can buy.”
This software currently works with 15 tour operators and has 200 tours on the platform. “This type of companies, do not have too many resources to bet on technology, then the model we have been working with is that we do not charge any membership or permanency clause, but it is a pay as you go model, that is, we charge one fee per transaction, and we only start to win at the moment the company starts to win. ”
The platform charges a commission of 10%, but Maldonado says that this will be adjusted until reaching a flexible model where the sales volume will be charged commission.
” Our idea is to reach 10% of the market, that is, to be working with approximately 250 tour operators in Colombia. In sales we expect to close 2019 with more or less one million dollars in transactions “, concludes the businessman.
So you know, if your business or that of your family operates on this front, maybe it’s time you start to reflect on all the opportunities that digital transformation has to offer.