The coronavirus has significantly accelerated digitalisation in the tourism industry. As Barbara Heinbockel from the tourism agency Schleswig Holstein commented at Friday’s panel discussion on Digitalisation at the online We Love Travel! event, the crisis had demonstrated to some organisers that “our visitors are much more advanced than us.“ One example she quoted was the internet traffic lights that showed visitors how full the beaches were at St. Peter-Ording or Lübecker Bucht. She encouraged everyone involved to regard temporary measures due to the coronavirus as a prototype for future digitalisation work.
Even before the crisis the motoring organisation ADAC had found that the German camping industry was “missing something“, said Uwe Frers, who represented ADAC Camping. In contrast to its southern European counterparts, in Germany this fragmented, conventional industry had paid no attention to digitalisation. However, camping fan numbers had outstripped available places, so that customers were increasingly forced to plan and book ahead. And then the coronavirus arrived and operators received hundreds of emails and phone calls practically overnight and had to turn customers away. That was when they began putting up websites and platforms.
Lukas Hempel, whose platform bookingkit lets customers book extra services, told an uplifting story about Antonio, who organised tours on his boat in southern Italy. After the coronavirus broke out his turnover plummeted to zero. He thought about business after the pandemic and decided to register a website with Hempel’s company. After the lockdown he could barely move for bookings. In the meantime he has hired an employee and owns a second boat.