Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Cloud Revolution In Calas De Mallorca

There I was, one day saying how little one tends to hear about resorts on Mallorca's east coast and the next day talking about creative solutions to tourism and to Mallorca as a whole. And then, blow me, the two subjects suddenly appear together in perhaps one of the more unlikely parts of the island.

Or maybe it isn't an unlikely part. Calas de Mallorca is one of the island's resorts which falls under what the tourism ministry refers to as "mature" resorts (an odd categorisation as there are few resorts which aren't mature, but be this as it may). Such resorts, the ministry has stressed, need modernising, and in the case of Calas de Mallorca, it would be modernisation of what was initially created in the 1960s. It hadn't been one of the even more mature resorts that had been earmarked for development between the wars, such as Cala d'Or, a short distance down the coast. It was one which caught the wave of the great tourism boom.

Despite its maturity, one suspects that Calas de Mallorca would not be the first resort name on a prospective tourist's list of Mallorcan resorts. I am unaware of research which has ever done this (though there probably is some), but in terms of name recognition or awareness my guess would be that Calas de Mallorca would be some way down the list behind the more usual suspects. Indeed it is said that it is one of the more forgotten of Mallorca's resorts. It could benefit, therefore, from a spot of marketing. And this is exactly what it is to get, and it is marketing with an innovative edge. Calas de Mallorca is to be the first tourist "Cloud Destination" on the island.

Cloud Destination is a registered trademark. It is one for an initiative that has been financed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (itself part of the Ministry for the Economy) which has been in development for some three years but which was first being advanced at the Madrid tourism fair in 2011. It involves a consortium of technology companies, three of them Mallorcan, in putting together a web-based "strategy for comprehensive touristic management" and in creating a "new business model for ICT (information and communications technology) tourism".

These quotes come from a PowerPoint presentation which explains Cloud Destination. You can see it for yourself if you so wish**  but to give an idea as to what it entails, it embraces cloud computing in establishing a platform to cover the life-cycle of a tourist and to provide web services for different stages of this life-cycle. And by life-cycle, this refers to the tourist "experience" before, during and after he or she has stayed in a destination.

If this all sounds like jargon heaven for techy and management-technique freaks, then that is what it is. The before, during and after encounter is littered with acronyms and concepts that appear to be light years away from simply flogging a sun and beach holiday. But its jargon does not detract from what, on the face of it, is a pretty decent innovation. Included are elements such as a "touristic observatory", basically the gathering of data on all manner of things that the tourist gets up to, including how he spends his money, and something called TURSEM, which features a "travellers' social network", an objective of which is to "define the motivations and emotions of travellers when they choose a tourist destination".

In January next year, a new tourist web portal is due to go live which goes under the title "Calas de Mallorca, a window to nature". This will be the visible front page of the whole exercise and it will include the kinds of things you might expect, such as different activities, special offers, information on hotels and beaches, booking system. Linked into all of this will be different social media channels.

But it will be what goes on behind the portal that will be of crucial importance, as the system will enable the type of data gathering and profiling which will give a more sophisticated understanding of the tourist and greater ability to mould promotion accordingly.

It's an ambitious scheme and it will be fascinating to see how it works in practice and also to see how it translates into actual business generation. Much would depend on how the technology is used. So, for example, having the social media channels will require, at the least, constant interaction with the users. It looks like a very good idea and one that might just transform Calas de Mallorca and especially its "mature" image.

** (straight download)

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