Redefining Tourism with Digital Platforms
By Mr. Quek Choon Yang, Chief Technology Officer, Singapore Tourism Board
Travellers today are more discerning than before. They seek quality experiences and timely access to relevant information and services that meet their needs.
To provide a seamless and personalised travel experience for travellers before, during and after their visit, is the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) aim.
However, as most of the experiential touchpoints are owned by the industry, we cannot do this by ourselves. Our approach has been to co-innovate with partners in content, services, and data to accelerate their transformation as well as to be the flag bearer in how a successful transformation could happen.
The transformation of the tourism industry in Singapore hinges on leveraging technology more effectively in three main areas: 1) to deepen our insights on visitors’ needs with data analytics through an amalgamation of data from STB, third-party data providers, and industry stakeholders, 2) to deliver quality experiences for both visitors and locals, and 3) to connect businesses for more efficient and effective sharing and exchange of content and services.
To accelerate the transformation of the industry, we made significant investments over the past two years in two digital platforms: the Tourism Information and Services Hub (TIH) and Singapore Tourism Analytics Network (Stan).
TIH is a one-stop digital resource platform that enables businesses to deliver key tourism information and services to consumers easily via their mobile and/or other digital devices. Tourism businesses can draw information and services from TIH to enhance their consumer-facing platforms to enable a more seamless and enhanced experience for visitors. With TIH, businesses just have to list or update the information about their tourism products once, and the information will be updated across TIH’s entire network of tourism players via their digital platforms, such as websites and mobile apps. If they are integrated with TIH through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), information will be updated in real-time. Drawing on the content that is available in TIH makes available smart travel software services for businesses too. For example, the enhanced navigation service on TIH will enable anyone to layer the points of interest (POIs) contributed by the industry onto their own digital experiences.
Our vision is to transform the tourism sector through technology by enabling industry players to pre-empt visitors’ needs and wants, and offer the relevant information and services at the right place, at the right time
This open and free platform offers businesses increased exposure, and makes the sharing and updating of content & services to a much wider audience much more efficient and effective.
TIH also includes a variety of free quality Singapore images, videos and other tourism-related content from STB. APIs are also available on the developer portal for businesses to integrate their systems. The beta version of TIH was launched earlier this year and businesses and developers can register on tih.stb.gov.sg to contribute or access these content and services.
Stan is a data analytics platform that will leverage tourism-related data aggregated from both STB and the industry to derive actionable insights about our visitors. As Stan progressively integrates more data sources, uses new analytics tools, and puts in place processes and capabilities, we aim to become better at using data to aid us in decision-making to drive tourism strategies and growth.
While STB’s own data assets allow us to draw insights about visitors to Singapore, industry businesses also hold valuable data that can complement STB’s own data. Hence, as a government agency, we play the role of an honest broker that aggregates the data from the various sources, be it private businesses or other government agencies. This aggregated data would allow us to paint a more holistic picture of a tourist’s behaviour in Singapore.
As contributors, businesses could get access to the data analytics and insights without revealing competitive information. Stan would allow business to make better data-driven decisions, optimise resource deployment, and improve the relevance of their services and offers for tourists. It will create a more level playing field and hopefully allow smaller niche players to have access to tools and insights that would otherwise be out of reach.
Stan has gone live internally to allow us to put in order our own data assets prior to scaling upwards and outwards. Initial industry engagements on Stan have been encouraging, and we look forward to keen involvement from partners to collectively answer the industry’s key business questions. We are confident that as our data sets and sources grow, Stan’s analytical ability would grow in tandem as well.
Besides TIH and Stan, we are also working on enhancing our visitor touch-points.
In the last 6 months, we launched a beta version of the Visit Singapore app to enable our visitors to explore Singapore with greater ease and convenience, as well as a smart kiosk prototype. Through the app, visitors are able to navigate places of interests easily and experience augmented reality at certain attractions. These are intended to showcase TIH’s content and services capabilities as a means to encourage more tourism businesses to contribute and draw on TIH’s rich trove of information and services for their own platforms.
Together with our visitor centres, the app and kiosk form a spectrum of STB’s consumer-facing touchpoints which will allow STB to gather useful data on user preferences while delivering rich experiences.
Our vision is to transform the tourism sector through technology by enabling industry players to pre-empt visitors’ needs and wants, and offer the relevant information and services at the right place, at the right time. Doing so, we believe, would give us an edge in an increasingly competitive tourism landscape.