3rd world conference on smart destinations

Antonio Bernabé - Director at VISIT VALÈNCIA The Valencia Conference Center has made a clear commitment to smart tourism, being a pioneer in digitization and sustainability, for example with the measurement of its carbon footprint. In fact, the III World Congress of Smart Destinations is going to measure its carbon footprint and compensate it

Attendees: 1300 subscribers

Client: Fundació Visit València together with the Spanish Government, the Generalitat Valenciana, the Valencia City Council and the World Tourism Organisation.

Event: Congress

Type: Technological

Date: 21 to 23 November 2022.

Days: 3 days

1. Challenge

This congress turned into an open forum to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the tourist destinations that were the centre of attention for the main players in this field at an international level. The conferences were aimed at people from government, business, research and academia, technology centres, civil society, local stakeholders and universities from all over the world.

The event overcame major technical challenges to show, in a virtual way, the Next Concept TICs (Tourist Information Centres), created by the Fundació Visit València. It was a global project in terms of experience, which included the entire user management process, from the moment the individual thinks about where they are going to travel, to what their visit is going to be like, in addition to ensuring their loyalty once the adventure is over.

For this reason, the organisation wanted to make a firm commitment to this idea in all areas of the event, creating simulations that would serve as an immersion in places created for potential visitors to the city and allow them to see what it will be like.

The key question around which the exhibition concept revolved was: How are we going to create value for tourists in the short term by improving what we are already doing?

In addition, the natural absorption of the equivalent level of emissions to the validated carbon footprint of the event was planned, audited and certified with the intention of offsetting its impact on the environment.

2. Solution

The Valencia Conference Centre helped provide the logistical support for the staging in an efficient and sustainable way: LED screens, totems, etc. The exhibition area of Conference Centre was divided into demonstration spaces so that the user could experience each place one after the other while being given an explanation.

Firstly, you could observe a large, 9-square-metre transparent LED screen. Next to the screen, was a representation of what will be the future offices of Turismo Valencia. In addition to being a spacious, futuristic place with more personalised service, you could see how all the furniture was adapted for wheelchair users, i.e. the tables and booths were designed at the perfect height for everyone. They also explained the new ‘At Home’ concept, i.e. bringing the tourist information office to your home. How do they do it? They are currently developing a videoconference system in which the user can choose a slot in his or her language and connect with a guide in order to be assisted, informed and inspired.

Secondly, you could go to the booth where you could travel in situ to the metaverse, thanks to the most advanced technology, in this case developed at the Universidad Politécnica de València. It was there that you could try on the virtual reality goggles and open your eyes to appear in a room that simulated the Tourist Office. Inside the room you could walk around, watch videos, see the guide and even interact with other users who were inside the same metaverse room.

Thirdly, just a stone's throw away, following the route through the Conference Centre, you could immerse yourself, in this case, in a 3D museum. This technology allowed you to deposit and pick up virtual gifts using virtual reality controls and goggles. The aim of this simulation is that, in the near future, people will be able to visit many of the city's emblematic sites and enjoy incredible experiences without moving from the sofa.

Finally, at the end of this little tour, you could also sit and relax in the Coffee Corner by L'or. This space simulated a quiet place inside the tourist office itself where people could escape from reality and switch off by watching videos and looking for travel ideas in person at the Visit Valencia offices. Relaxation plus tourist information accessible to all. The path that Visit Valencia is following and will continue to follow is to redesign the offices and equip them with technology to reconceptualise the interpretation of cultural heritage with photogrammetry and interpretation and thus, through screens, be able to see a 3D representation of the city's emblematic buildings.

After this tour, another highlight of the congress were the Valencia Lab workshops. These workshops focused on sustainability, technology and data in order to rethink tourism.

3. Acomplished goals

Visit Valencia together with the Conference Centre succeeded in offering a unique experience to the more than 1300 registered participants, most from other countries. Many of the speakers also came from abroad, such as Anouk van Eekelen, Director of Destination Development, Dutch Tourism and Convention Board, Heitor Magalhães de Sousa Kadri, National Secretary for Investment Attraction, Partnerships and Concessions, Ministry of Tourism of Brazil, and Pavel Pavón Vargas, Director of Technologies and Systems at the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba, among many others.

Furthermore, once the carbon footprint of the event had been audited and certified, a new project was created to offset it; a project that is being implemented today.

4. Curiosities