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Creating new value with data: a case of smart tourism
Leveraging data in novel ways is a great way to develop new services. But how to make sure that your service is something that users really want? And what about the business model? Who will benefit from the service and who will pay for it?

Smart tourism

We speak of ‘smart tourism’ when it comes to using large amounts of data to develop new services for travelers, visitors or holidaymakers. To plan and book their visit or holiday, people want (real life) information about where to stay and what to see and do. Traditionally this information was provided by tour operators and paper travel guides. Nowadays people like to find their information on the internet and via apps and book their travels online. But finding what you really like is not so easy as there are so many offers to choose from and so many places to look for information.

Smart tourism platform

In the European project 3cixty we wanted to create a full overview of everything that a city has to offer to its visitors. The project developed a platform to collect data from many different sources and combine these into a single integrated database. The platform then provides the apps with which a user can find those places and events that really fit her needs and preferences. It can tell you “which 3-star hotels are close to a metro station on line 1”, or “which Japanese restaurants are in walking distance from the concert that you like to attend”. This data driven service makes the city transparent to its visitors. Envision researchers Timber Haaker, Melissa Roelfsema, Ruud Kosman and Mark de Reuver were involved in developing viable business models. For this they used the business model canvas and business model pattern tools, which are also on this platform.


Multi-sided business model

The service was built with the needs of city visitors in mind. But also local service providers can benefit. For them it is not so easy to be found by customers. They can use the platform to make potential customers more aware of their existence. And it doesn’t stop there. The mayors of cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam are concerned about the overwhelming numbers of tourists visiting their city. With the platform, the city’s offerings are more transparent and the available infrastructure can be utilized more efficiently.

So, different types of users can benefit from the platform and its services. We call this a multisided business model. There is even a fourth type of user: other application developers can build new apps and services on top of the platform and database.


Who will pay?

A key question is who is going to pay for the platform? Visitors could pay for downloading the app but may expect the app to be free. Service providers like venue owners might be willing to pay for any business that is generated through the app and platform. Developers may pay for using the platform if it helps them to be more effective in developing their apps. And finally, the mayor may pay for the platform to promote the city in a new way.

So, there are several options to generate revenues with this multisided platform.


Interested to read or see more?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6_ylq1ufH8&, short video about 3cixty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk3QrT3ZYgg&t=23s,  short video about platform

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-25013-7_28, paper on 3cixty as a multisided platform.