SEGITTUR iUrban Smart Talk: 3 Steps for digitalising your tourist information centre to stay connected to the tourist throughout the entire travel cycle

What is a tourist information centre? Is it a closed space where visitors receive information? Or can it be a website or social media platform?

Tourist information centres aren’t just the tourist’s first point of contact with the destination. Their efforts cover the entire travel cycle, which makes information centres more than just a place to visit at the destination; they’re all the channels (website, social media, digital totems) where you can provide service to the tourist as a way to draw them to the destination. For us, it means creating a positive, unique experience that will turn them into repeat visitors. How? We’re going to break down the three steps for digitalising the tourist information centre of a smart tourism destination.

If the tourist is in an ever-increasing number of channels, how can I interact with them with the resourcesI have? When we look at a destination, we usually find a situation like the photo below, a “field of mushrooms” where the information isn’t unified, but rather scattered in a way that keeps the destination from meeting SEGITTUR’s Challenge 2. Stay connected with the tourist at all times This requires a tourism platform that can receive all the information and respond to the three stages of the traveller, and to do this we use artificial intelligence (in our case GPT-4) to maintain a presence on all digital channels with the same number of staff.

Plataforma de turismo-Captar el email del turista

History of tourist information centres

Ever since the first “oficina de turismo” opened in Barcelona in 1906 on the ground floor of the city hall building in Plaza Sant Jaume, tourist information centres in Spain have always served as the point of contact with the tourist at the destination, a space designed to enhance the tourist’s experience through interactions in their own language.

Etymology The words “oficina de turismo”, translated literally as “tourist office”, come from the Latin “officina” (workshop, factory), a contraction of “opificina”. It is composed of the root of “opus” (work) and the root of “facere” (to do), while the word “turismo” comes from the Latin “tornus” which means turn or movement. “Turismo” comes from the English tourism, which comes from the French “tornare”, or turn on a lathe. That’s why the purpose of an information centre isn’t just to serve the visitor, but also to work together with local agents to create experiences in the destination that will boost tourist satisfaction and turn them into repeat visitors.

As we saw in the article “5 fully digital tourist information centres”, Bruno Goval from the Association of French Tourism Information Centres (FNOTSI) clearly defines the roles that a tourist information centre must play:

. Attracting and securing tourist visit (Before)

. Satisfying the tourist at the destination (During)

. Building customer loyalty once the tourist leaves the destination (After)

How the tourist information centre interacts with the tourist at these three key points of the “customer journey” is decisive, so let’s analyse the three steps of how to interact with the visitor throughout the entire travel experience and get to know them better so that they become repeat visitors thanks to the digital tourist information centres.


     1. Have a presence on social media.

     2. Make it easy to interact with the tourist from your town’s website

     3. Immediate response. Send personalised materials before their arrival


     4. Digital registration Inform, register and survey at the same time

     5. Tailor the trip to their stay and send it to their mobile phone

     6. The counter area. Make a visual impact to make the visitor stay longer

     7. Waiting area. Avoid queues by using digital media


     8. Provide information when the office is closed

     9. Collect tourist data to build visitor loyalty

     10. CRM to keep them coming back

Before their stay

          1. Have a presence on social media

According to a survey by StratosJets, by 2023, 83% of tourists will book their travel online rather than through traditional travel agencies and 70% of them will use their mobile phones to do it. That’s why being online on all possible channels before the visitor arrives to the destination is essential.

Before choosing their destination, visitors look at the reviews on the two most popular tourism websites, Tripadvisor and Google. That makes knowing your online reputation and responding to what tourists think of your destination vitally important: a Trustpilot study confirms that 26% of users see responding to negative reviews as an important part of business activity.  Having a presence on Instagram and Facebook as official channels to highlight what sets the destination apart will also be critical, although tourists will have already sought the opinions of third parties before they arrive.

redes mas utilizadas

Tip: If you’re a small town and you’re near a big city, tag the city with hashtags in your post so that when a tourist is searching for information about the most nearby town for touristm, your post will pop up and enhance your destination’s visibility.

     2. Contact tourists directly from a town website

You’ve seen how important it is to make visitors feel special by responding to their online reviews, which means that opening an official channel of communication with tourists is key, mainly for two reasons.

     1. Like Goval said, to attract and secure the visit

     2. To see what requests tourists make so that you can adapt your tourist offer.

The main problem with tourism websites is that they lack information about the tourists who visit the destinations, since there are very few ways to get their contact/email address. Which means you have to give them a way to communicate with you. Contact forms are obsolete: users need a faster response to their requests. You’ve got two solutions:

               a. By connecting your website or social media to WhatsApp. This way you’ll already be on the user’s phone and you can engage in a conversation with them. You can also connect it with an online translator and translate any conversation. The only downside is that if you don’t have staff to provide an immediate response, in which case it’s better to set up automatic messages to keep users from getting frustrated.

               b. With chatbots or autoresponders. This is a great solution for answering basic requests such as what accommodation is available, restaurants, city map, city guide, etc. The old bots didn’t sound natural, but GPT-4 has shifted the paradigm and they can even identify PDFs and website links in seconds and translate them into any language, turning these solutions into fundamental tools for providing immediate responses.


     3. Send personalised materials before their arrival

Whether it’s following an initial contact by phone or online, you need to log all the tourist’s requests and be able to send them targeted information according to their requests. That’s why we mentioned the importance of a platform that feeds your database, allowing you to contact the tourist from any channel so that you can then contact them later through a CRM. Which means that instead of sending along a link to the website with all the content, all the downloadable information from the centre, you can filter and attach only the information the visitor is interested in most, using a “microsite” that they can see on their phone or computer.

To make this possible, you’ll need to have the offer pre-packaged by segments and ready to send, or use a tool that will let you filter information by interests, family tourism, food, millennial, etc. This way, you’ll only send tourist information that adds value, an easy way to make them feel special. Some useful services for attracting tourists:

     . Show events and activities in real time

     .  Book services or guided tours

     . Itineraries by days and interests, tailoring the experience to the tourist.

webapps mas utilizadas

During their stay

  4. Digital registration Inform, register and survey at the same time   

Forget about tourists wanting a map! They used to, just like they wanted paper menus in restaurants and the tiny bottles of soap and shampoo in hotels instead of wall dispensers. One of the good things that came out of the pandemic was the shift towards sustainability that happened through using less paper and more mobile solutions.

 How much do information centres spend on printing? Maps, posters, campaigns, etc., and all in different languages. Digitalising all this information is important and has three key objectives:

     1. Saves paper

     2. Tourists won’t have to wait while you first give them information and then log their information

     3. You’ll be able to send info to their phone to better track what they’re doing and what their interests are

How long does it take to convert all the paper logs to digital so that you can send them at the end of the month? It is becoming increasingly more popular to log tourist info using a web form for instant registration, providing tourist statistics and, most importantly, personalising the information you send to the tourist to stay connect with them throughout the duration of their trip.

The pandemic and the subsequent intensive use of QRs means that visitors are now prepared to open any URL using webapps without having to download any new app from the marketplace, an enormous help when it comes to meeting the above objectives. You can update content without having to print it again, and you’ll also have statistics about what information the tourists look at when they leave the tourist information centre. Which means the webapp needs to cover a few basic things:

. Provide the information in the visitor’s language.

. Be connected to a map manager like Google Maps or Open Street Maps that allows the visitor to move in real time via the webapp.

. Have updated records that can be exported to communities, provincial councils and town associations, or simply to “Q de calidad” or SICTED.

registro movil

    5. Adapt the tourist experience to the length of stay.

Whether you’re interacting with tourists on the website before they arrive, at the counter during their visit or through digital media, it is essential to adapt to the visitor. To this end, you need to cover two key variables in your tourism offer:

What is the visitor interested in? So that you can segment the tourist offer by type of traveller.

Heritage, museums, monuments

.   Green routes, parks, outdoor activities

. Entertainment and shopping Food, crafts, local experiences

. Attractions, events, etc.

. Millennial. Top instagrammable spots, nightlife.

How long will you be staying in the destination? Make it easy for the tourist to find the most important things to visit according to the duration of their stay and how far they want to travel (in kilometres).

. 1, 2 or 3 day itinerary

. Historic centre itinerary

. Hidden gems itinerary

. Local entertainment itinerary

This makes having packaged itineraries and itineraries of the top visited spots a practical solution. You can also link lesser known tourist attractions with more popular ones to boost these areas.

6. The counter area. Make a visual impact to make the visitor stay longer

Just because we help tourists with packaged products doesn’t mean that we’re not trying to get them to extend their stay for two reasons:

     1. Extend the tourist’s stay in the destination

   . By showing hidden gems

   . By showing relevant events that are going on during their stay

2. By showing a lesser-known attraction so that they’ll want to come back and see it

   . Festivals and events

You can show tourists the attractions and events to give them a better idea about the destination and its traditions regardless of the time of year they chose to visit. There are two types of large-format supports you can use for this purpose:

   . Video wall with LCD screens. The most popular options are either sharing one 55″ screen from a PC (installed on a wall or stand) via cable or Bluetooth, or with a 2×2 m video wall with four 46″ screens. This is the most cost-effective option and its modular features also makes it possible for you to display different content on each screen and adapt it to any space.

   . LED video wall. Of much higher quality and especially suitable for information centres with direct sunlight and where display visibility is compromised by reflections, you can also cover any surface with 50x50cm panels without any visual “breaks” like there are with the LCD option. The quality of the LED screen depends on the distance between the bulbs, from 2.6 to 10, which is the option with the least sharpness, designed for exteriors where there is a distance between the user and the display.


2 x 2 LCD video wall  

videowall LED

LED video wall

atril 32

32” interactive kiosk   

totem 55

55” interactive digital totem

Monitor táctil a pared 55”

55” wall-mounted touchscreen monitor

7. Waiting area. Avoid queues by using digital media

Queues mainly happen in the high season when there isn’t enough staff to meet demand, and this is when you can refer tourists to different interactive points that will help them plan their trip in their own language and avoid the frustration of waiting. Some of the most popular options include:

.  Interactive kiosk: They can be horizontal or vertical, are easy to install and their size (usually 32″ or smaller) means they have a limited visual impact, they can be used to display the most important information about the destination.

.  interactive digital totems: Designed to make an impact with campaigns when no one is interacting with them, they can be wrapped in vinyl to provide information at any point, from offices and museums to visitor centres, etc. They range from 32″ to 55″.

Wall-mounted or portable touch-screen monitors: They are less costly than the digital totem but more limited in terms of installation, since you have to include the computer and cable to the screen, which will be installed flush with the wall.

These tools manage to reduce waiting times by more than 60%, but they need to be updated to really fulfil their function. Given the current heavy workload of tourist advisers, it’s essential that the content displays information from local sources to avoid dumping the content on different platforms, and that it is automatically updated without requiring any staff management.

After their stay

    8. Provide information when the office is closed

This is crucial, particularly for those towns that don’t have a tourist information centre, or limited opening hours, so that they can continue to provide information even when it’s closed, whether because it’s the weekend, lunchtime, or late in the evening. A smart tourism destination has to be able to provide information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are two strategies available to achieve this:

     1. QR codes on the façade. This is the cheapest option, although it has the least impact on tourists, since it is more difficult to grab their attention. Tourists use their phones to get information.

     2. Interactive façade screens. There are two strategies, depending on whether the centre has glass or if it’s an old building:

            1. Interactive window displays. We attach a 23″ to 55″ screen to the inside of the glass to prevent vandalism and provide information from outside, but the touch screen isn’t as good as an outdoor screen and doesn’t work with all windows (if the window has an air chamber, for example, or is thicker than 1.8 cm).

            2. Sustainable displays on the façade. They don’t require construction because they’re wall-mounted and draw from the centre’s power and internet. The touch screen works better than the interactive window displays, although they are covered in security glass because they’re outdoors and more exposed. They range from 18.5″ to 32″. From this size upwards you can move on to digital totems. If the façade is protected, you can place a stand in front of it to avoid having to attach it.


32″ interactive window display at an information centre

pantalla 18,5

18.5″ outdoor screen with USB mobile phone charging port

If your centre isn’t in a good location or you want to look for points of impact outdoors, you can choose other more traffic-prone locations such as squares and avenues to display your campaigns. You’ll have to get a permit to do the construction work for the installation, mainly in the case of the LED unipost, which is usually located in roundabouts. You’ve got two options:

      1. 32” to 55” outdoor digital totems. They require some construction (footings), but these large impact screens make an impact with travellers outside of the tourist information centre, which means that they can cover more of the destination’s tourist attractions

      2. LED unipole. Large format screens with an average height of 3 metres, designed for digital signage with no user interaction, only visual impact, suitable for roads or spaces with enough distance to be able to see the content clearly. Formats range from 2.5 x 2 m, 3 x 2 m, etc. The cost will always depend on the quality of the LED, as well as the associated installation costs due to the large format and the construction it requires. You gain in impact, but you lose out on the interaction and understanding of the tourist.

totem con peana2

Totem with 32″ base

totem exterior

49” exterior interactive digital totem      


2.5 x 4 LED unipost

9. Collect tourist data to build visitor loyalty

In 2016, 83.7% of the tourists who visited Spain had already visited the country before. Of those who rated their overall satisfaction as outstanding, 70% said they intended to return4 . In 2020, around 19 million international tourists visited Spain, 60 million fewer than in 2019. France overtook the United Kingdom as the main source of tourists for the first time. This has led to the need to build tourist loyalty again, and to do so, it is essential to track tourists’ travel experience before, during and after their trip. There are two ways to get to know the traveller better:

1. Tourist registration:

     a.   Before. On the website or the town’s social media outlets via a short survey that tourists have to answer before downloading a guide, map or personalised travel plan.

     b.  During. At tourist information centres, registering all their details to personalise their experience at the destination.

     c.  After. At the digital totems to down information, send a selfie as a souvenir, take advantage of a special deal at a local store, take a survey, etc.

2. Monitor their interactions. If you have an omnichannel solution that covers the entire customer journey, you can get statistics and reports on everything that the tourist “touches”. The main KPIs that you should track to make better decisions about the attractions to feature include:

a. Most visited content both in total and by language.

     i,  Number of total and unique users who have interacted with you.

     ii. Points of interest, tours, agenda and events, types of shops, etc.

     iii. Number of downloads: guides, maps.

     iv. Satisfaction surveys, particularly important if the user has had a negative experience and has left their contact information. You can use it to contact them and apologise for the situation, ask questions to find out more about what happened and build visitor loyalty as a result.

     V. Tourist resources consulted: you can track whether they have used the different QRs for the points of interest visited.

cicerone total

10. CRM to keep them coming back

What do we do with all the tourist data? Whether they come from web contact forms, information centre registrations, or interaction on any digital display totem/app/QR, the goal is always to get their contact information so that you can start building visitor loyalty.

     a.   Before. Once a visitor has downloaded a guide or customised their trip, you can send them a message with the information they’re looking for in their language along with valuable info and a point of contact for any questions

     b.  After. Once the visitor has left your destination you can get real feedback that will tell you more than a survey the tourist takes at your centre with the specialist standing in front of them. Once they return home, send a survey with a single question (just like they do at restaurants and certain tours): would they come back again and why or why not?

     c. Get them to visit off-season. If you segment your database you can send campaigns to bring tourists back:

            a. Culinary events, sports events, festivals, etc.

            b. New activities or itineraries created for families, couples, etc.

         c. Or simply a video or photos of what your destination looks like in the off-season (uncrowded beaches, deserted mountains), any excuse for a getaway during the off-season is a good one (especially if you remind them of it).

Is it expensive to digitalise my tourist information centre? Not at all and many of the solutions described here can be accomplished with smaller budgets, prioritising the ability to provide information when the office is closed and helping advisers speed up waiting times in high season to get that outstanding rating that will keep visitors coming back, and creating tourist resources that are tailored to visitor’s interests, making the traveller the focus of everything you do.


. Oriol Miralbell Izard 12/2011. Gestión de oficinas de turismo.

.  Goval, B. 1996. L’accueil dans un office de tourisme. Une mission à accomplir et à faire partager. Cahier Espaces, 48, 162–163.

.  3 HABITUR REPORT 2016 Survey of International Tourist Habits in Spain Spanish Tourism Board 2016

. https://es.statista.com/estadisticas/475075/numero-de-turistas-internacionales-en-espana-por-pais-de-residencia/

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