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Embracing the digital way to connect with our visitors

Chris Foy, new chief executive of Visit Aberdeenshire. 

Picture by Kenny Elrick.
Chris Foy, new chief executive of Visit Aberdeenshire. Picture by Kenny Elrick.

The evolution of technology continues to reshape the world as we know it, from accessing an app on your phone to remotely control your home heating, to using your mobile to pay for a coffee.

And now more people than ever before use technology at every stage of their travels. From the dreaming stage where inspiration comes online, to planning and booking, followed by the experience itself, and of course sharing the highs (and occasionally the lows) with friends through social media.

The importance of the booking part of that chain is borne out by the latest figures from the Association of British Travel Agents that show 83% of trips taken by Brits are now booked online, and of that, 43% of those digital bookings are made on a mobile or tablet.

It’s difficult to dispute the commercial value of embracing technology, and yet according to the latest figures from VisitScotland, only 39% of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire accommodation businesses have an integrated online booking system.

At a time when the accommodation capacity in the north-east of Scotland outweighs the demand, there is a strong argument for businesses to embrace technology to make the customer experience and purchasing process as easy as possible.

This is something we have been supporting industry with lately at VisitAberdeenshire.

In a partnership with VisitScotland and Digital Development Scotland, tech training sessions were held to help local tourism businesses, including attractions and accommodation providers, to understand how digital can add value to their company, and how to embrace this technology to secure more bookings.

Perhaps most importantly, the north-east has the digital infrastructure to facilitate this digital growth. In 2015 Aberdeen became Scotland’s first gigabit city, and the recent announcement of an additional £42million investment from City Fibre and Vodafone to further strengthen the superfast digital connectivity throughout the city will continue to ensure we are among the best digitally connected cities in Europe.

This is of particular importance in the growing business events sector. An increasing number of cities are recognising the value of welcoming higher spending professionals, whose status as a delegate can often transform into an investor, influencer, or repeat visitor.

Our strong digital connectivity combined with Aberdeen City Council’s £333million investment in the new high-tech convention centre futureproofs Aberdeen as a top business and entertainment events destination.

The all-new conference centre will be among the most energy efficient in Europe. It is the new AECC’s ability to cope with the demands of the current and emerging market trends which will help broaden the appeal of the North-east to a worldwide audience, acting as a catalyst to attract more visitors to the region.

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