In this statement we define the “integrated Single Window for Travel” or iSWIFT concept, differences between iSWIFT and “travel one stop shop” and explain why we believe iSWIFT is a sustainable approach towards responsible tourism. And finally, we provide an example of iSWIFT concept.
What is integrated Single Window for Travel (iSWIFT)?
- The aim of iSWIFT is to create an online environment which is sustainable and profitable for local economies as well as travellers from all around the world.
- iSWIFT borrows its name from well known “Single window for Trade” concept. Many concepts of iSWIFT has already been tested and known to the international trade community.
- It is a traveller oriented concept.
- iSWIFT is using different sets of operations or processes to address the needs of travellers in different stages of travel (prior to travel: as destination researchers, during travel: as travellers and after travel : as destination advocates).
- On one side, It integrates with different service providers manually or through an Application Programming Interface (API) and with destination researchers, travellers or advocates on the other. A traveller in Europe can ‘live book’ the services of local service providers or get more clarifications about the service through direct communication exchange. In that case, Service providers need to focus on providing good quality service to their customers without being worried about managing websites, handling online payments, etc.
- Follows one destination at a time approach. Destination could be a city, country or even a block of countries. The mutual targets defines the size of the destination.
Only an estimated 20% of the tours and activities market is currently online worldwide.
A local boat owner who takes groups of tourists on a day trip around an island, or a local minibus owner who also acts as a tour guide and takes tourists on a city tour. A destination will have many boat owners and many minibus guides. This is one reason why the tours and activities market have not followed the rest of the travel industry in terms of consolidation and online-first distribution. The local boat owner may not have a website or become available for online booking (Eye for Travel, future of travel and tourism, August 2017).
That is one reason why iSWIFT follows one destination at a time approach. iSWIFT pursues “one destination at a time”, making it possible to integrate in different levels with many local service providers across different travel sectors of a destination.
iSWIFT vs. Travel “One-Stop Shop”
‘One-Stop Shop’ definition:
According to Investopedia, a one-stop shop is a company or a location that offers a multitude of services to a client or a customer. The idea is to provide convenient and efficient service and also to create the opportunity for the company to sell more products to clients and customers.
Travel “One-Stop Shop” could be considered as a subset of iSWIFT. Also another difference is the collaborative and community based nature of iSWIFT. And after all, Travel industry as one of the fastest growing markets in the world deserves to have a unique business model instead of using “one-stop shop” which is used by many businesses with different agendas.
iSWIFT follows a collaborative and community based approach meaning each stakeholder has a role to play in this ecosystem.
• Tour Operators/Travel agencies
• Tour Guides
• Accommodation service providers (Ho(s)tels, eco-lodges, room rentals, etc.)
• Transportation service providers (bus, train, airline, cruise, car rental, etc.)
• Travel related associations
• Government/public agencies
• Local and International Travellers
• Travel bloggers, vloggers, Press, etc.
• Tourism professionals
• Academic institutions
iSWIFT could be considered as a public-private partnership and multi-stakeholder initiatives to achieve mutually agreed goals and targets.
Why iSWIFT Concept Is Unique?
- It empowers local travel and tourism related service providers with no access to sufficient resources (professional and financial) to promote and present their services (their city, hotel, activity, restaurant, etc.) online.
- Replicable to any destination by creating a local travel eco-system with unique brand name. For example PersiaPort for Iran, FeelFrance for France, etc.
- It integrates with local service providers of any size, big or small via APIs and many other online or offline solutions. It is a branding opportunity and a marketplace for smaller local vendors and a new distribution channel for big players or international brands active in that destination.
- It provides an opportunity for local service providers to diversify their services or offer niche experiences to their customers (Such as food tours, tours for local events, nature discovery tours and more).
- Bringing all pieces of the puzzle together. Different solutions are available in various shapes and statuses. The idea is to bring all these pieces together.
How iSWIFT helps sustainable tourism:
- Destination Research tools allow travellers to be Well-informed, do their own research with ease and learn about local customs, traditions and social conditions and make smarter and more knowledgeable decisions. Destination Research tools allow everybody to do their research about that destination, explore things to do and see based on their own preferences and narrow it down as much as needed based on a defined scenario. For example find out about “UNESCO registered World Heritage Sites” AND “Ski Resorts” and narrow it down to specific cities or region(s).
- Providing information free of charge and online reduces the need for printed brochures, maps, etc. which paves the way for a paper-less travel experience.
- Different service providers are facing different kinds of automation challenges, especially in developing countries. iSWIFT could provide seamless integration with service providers of any kind and size. It helps service providers to expand their reach beyond their borders without being worried about automation, going online and providing different languages for different clients or even payment.
- It promotes trust among different stakeholders. iSWIFT gives travellers the opportunity to have access to services of all such providers and benefit from direct prices and at the same time to be protected and receive high quality services.
- Empowering local communities such as tourist guides in a rural area, ecolodges or even a simple driver to build an online brand and sell their services directly online. It is also an opportunity for traveller to support local economy by hiring, for example, tour guides with in-depth knowledge of their local community.
- Support or promote responsible initiatives. For example in accommodation search and where the criteria are the same (i.e. price, etc.), properties that are supporting usage of renewal energy will be shown first.
- Empowering travellers to have the possibility of travelling slow with lesser environmental footprint and even lower budget (for example by booking public transportation in advance from all over the world directly from local service providers) and at the same time respecting the environment by travelling with public transportation, hiring local tour guides (which reduces unnecessary movements of non-local guides).
- Empowering travellers to foster fair competition via providing travel reviews about anything such as the food they liked, a local tourist guide or even a challenge they have faced during their stay in a hotel all in one place. Travellers have the possibility of sharing their own stories or upload images of places they liked or activities they have tried.
- Combination of “Research tools” and “having equal opportunities to present products and services”, help to reduce regional imbalances and give local communities the opportunity to prosper within their community.
- Empowering women and girls to have equal work opportunities.
- Engaging local communities could potentially address overtourism issue.
- Destination Research tool helps raising awareness of less known destinations.
What is PersiaPort?
PersiaPort is an early stage implementation of iSWIFT for Iran. PersiaPort’s vision is:
to become a major source of inspiration for local travel SMEs to provide sustainable services and a one-stop online shop presenting all Iran travel services of all local providers across the country.
We firmly believe that through facilitating the access to first-hand information, we can make a difference. To this end, we provide rich online information of different types and formats such as virtual reality tours and possibility to do destination research with ease and also connect travellers from around the world to local service providers including eco-lodge owners, private tour guides and local agencies and have an authentic local experience.
What PersiaPort means for Travellers?
- Bridging their knowledge gap by providing information about places, activities, events, etc. in a destination in their own languages
- “One-stop shop” for all travel-related products and services in a destination
- The possibility to search, find, and compare services from different local service providers, and communicate with them directly all in one place
- Getting services cheaper thanks to accessing local service providers directly
- Sharing their travel stories, tips and comments via blogging, voting and reviewing
What PersiaPort does for accommodation service providers?
- Covering all types of accommodations including ecolodge, hostels, home rentals etc.
- Receive online bookings and online payments;
- Add a virtual tour of their property so travelers could have the feeling of being in their accommodation even before starting their journey;
What PersiaPort does for local tour operators or DMCs?
- Covering point of interest/events management workflow. Possibility to add attractions/activities/events manually (by editorial team or by travelers) or semi-automated (by integrating to freely available big data such as dbpedia)
- Covering online content translation workflow (automated translation of content from one language to another, human verification by a translator and final approval by the translation administrator).
- Possibility to add services manually or using APIs;
- Offering tailor-made or pre-arranged tour packages;
- Sell services directly using their own brand name and dashboard;
- Communicate directly with potential travelers for further customization;
- Handling promotions.
What PersiaPort means for local tourist guides?
- Manage their own page with information including guiding destination(s), guiding fee, areas of expertise and even languages they speak and start building a personal brand.
- Manage availability calendar
- Define countless services (such as a half-day museum tour, daily excursions etc.) and market/sell them directly.
- Receive SMS notification when there is a new booking request;
- Communicate with travelers directly via PersiaPort communication system including the dashboard.
- Possibility to work full time, part time or seasonal based on availability calendar.
What PersiaPort does for Restaurants?
- Add all its menu items including additional dietary information about each food.
- Welcome each customer in their own language and provide restaurant menu items in different languages;
- Provide detailed description of the food, history behind the food or even nutrition facts about that meal.
- Add a virtual tour of the restaurant so travelers could have the feeling of being in that place from their home even without starting their journey. Here is an example : virtual tour of Milad Tower Revolving Restaurant ;
- Add different prices for one food based on different toppings options, etc.;
- Communicate with customers directly to book a table in advance.
We believe that implementation of iSWIFT is not only a necessity for emerging destinations, but also could be considered as a “nice to have” for other well-known destinations.