One School of Business professor traveled to China to present tourism data on Charleston. Bing Pan, associate professor of hospitality and tourism management and head of research for the Office of Tourism Analysis spoke at the 2015 International Smart Tourism Conference. The inaugural e-tourism conference took place on October 17 and 18 in Hangzhou, China.
Pan’s talk titled “The Pros and Cons of Tourism Big Data” explores the effects tourism big data has on research on tourism in Charleston. He studied mobile phone data that represents one third of Charleston tourist population and measured the number of tourists and their behavior.
Big data in tourism, according to the Office of Tourism Analysis, is the digital traces left behind by visitors in various forms, including mobile phone data, search engine queries and transaction information, that can be used to provide better and more targeted services and experiences.
He found that tourism big data helps forecast tourist volume and hotel occupancy; big data can reveal more accurate visitor origins, hidden patterns, trends and provide highly customized experiences. However, it is costly to implement and legal, commercial, and privacy barriers prohibit its wide adoption.
Pan also explores “smart tourism,” which aims to enhance a tourist’s experience and help tourism organizations remain agile and effective.
“My collaboration with Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau influenced my interests in tourism big data research,” said Pan.
Organized by Zhejiang University, China Tourist Attraction Association and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the forum provides a platform for e-Tourism experts, academics, and government officials to discuss recent developments in smart tourism worldwide. There is a high demand for tourism experts and this conference gives researchers the opportunity to collaborate.
This year’s theme “New Normal, New Travel, New Experience and New Paradigm,” attracted the likes of more than 700 participants. Key topics included social media, information technology and product innovation.
The International Smart Tourism Conference is supported by the Asia Pacific Programme of United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
About the Office of Tourism Analysis
The Office of Tourism Analysis is part of the College of Charleston’s School of Business and is supported by industry and community leaders charged with proposing the office’s research priorities. The Office collaborates mainly with the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to provide information for the hospitality and tourism industry throughout the Lowcountry.