June Trends Chat

Academia This month we asked our Academic Members to share some of their recent industry research, initiatives, and to discuss their place within the tourism industry with us.

Academia

This month we asked our Academic Members to share some of their recent industry research, initiatives, and to discuss their place within the tourism industry with us.

If you missed the discussion, you can rewatch it here. ⬆️

The guests:


Kitattipoom Kiatkawsin

Assistant Professor, Sejong University

Michelle Callanan

Deputy Dean, Deputy Dean, School of Business, Tourism & Creative Industries, University College Birmingham


Richard Behan

Lecturer in Tourism & Aviation, University College Birmingham

Juho Pesonen

Head of Research, University of Eastern Finland


Sejong University

Blockchain

Kitattipoom Kiatkawsin starts the discussion by exploring blockchain technologies. He explains that there are over 10,000 documented forms of blockchain.

Blockchain can be categorised into the three following generations:

The first generation of blockchain attempted to transact value digitally, proving decentralisation is possible with anonymity and transparency. The term "cryptocurrency" is misleading, due to the root word "currency": it carries the assumption that this is the same as USD/GBP etc. Blockchain instead is a token that contains a value, not specifically the same as money.

The second generation introduces the concept of "smart contract". To explain how smart contract works, Kitattipoom compares it to "vending machines": you choose a drink and pay for it accordingly, then it is automatically given to you from the selection. Similarly, a smart contract allows a user to select the desired product and the transaction is automatically processed in order to record the value and allows for interest to be built.

The transaction is processed when both parties have adhered to their part in the contract. Kitattipoom highlights though that there are real-world practical limits due to this nature.

The third, current generation is made by smart contracts which are ready for "mass adoption". In this generation, there are three hurdles that smart contracts brought on:

  1. Scalability
  2. Interoperability
  3. Sustainability

A common problem with blockchain is the lack of interoperability: one source of blockchain is exclusively exchangeable with that source. Sustainability is also a relevant concern, as the way networks are run consumes an excess of energy: for example, the entire Bitcoin harvesting system uses more energy than the entirety of Switzerland. These are some of the issues that the Third Generation aims to solve.

Kitattipoom goes on to explain how the tokens that carry blockchain are decentralised, as there is not a single server for them. He then explains how tokens work: every transaction from a participant miner (first/second generation) or validator (third/future generation) earns them a token as a reward. Investors and traders can also buy tokens at a crypto exchange. Blockchain projects are looking for ways to keep people interested in the same frame of mind as the stock market.

Kitattipoom mentions the booking platform Travala.com as an example of a platform adopting an innovative blockchain system to increase customer loyalty. In this case, their token is the "AVA Coin": the more AVA Coin owned, the more benefits become accessible to the owner. Travala themselves also pays a base 8% interest for AVA Coin. The rise in AVA Coin's value is as follows:

To close off, Kitattipoom believes a projected fourth generation of blockchain is likely to consider metadata and reputation as significant innovations in order to further the goals the third generation has set up. He also provides an evaluation on what stage is blockchain at right now as technological revolutions go through a 5-stage life cycle displayed below.

In his opinion, blockchain is yet to reach the stage of Irruption, more of a trial and error stage. He believes this as there still exists massively lucrative blockchains that have yet to have a function outside of value and no smart contracts and no response to the questions brought up by the experimental third generation.


University College Birmingham

UCB's D Model

Michelle Callanan talks about the long relationship UCB has had with the tourism industry. Over the past year, the pandemic has had a great impact on the industry, with many small/medium-sized businesses struggling to pivot and survive. Michelle talks about the University's D Model – how they frame their work in order to help tourism survive during the recent pandemic and similar crises.

Michelle encourages organisations and businesses to reach out to universities for collaboration, especially as they have enthusiastic post-graduate students, in order to truly optimise their outreach and resources.

She then focuses on five emerging topics UCB is addressing with its current programmes and research:

Disruptions: during the pandemic, organisations re-evaluated their response strategies and how they communicate with stakeholders. UCB aims to provide examples of efficient and inspiring strategies that generate revenue.

Divisions: Michelle coined the term "Covided" (made of the words "Covid" and divided") in 2020, as a way to describe the state of travel during the pandemic, which has impacted the brand and community of many destinations. This also relates to the issue of borders closing and an emerging nationalistic approach to tourism, displaying the pivot the industry took as a result.

Diversity: Taking a current social conversation, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and carrying the message on for marketing plans in order to reflect real experiences with real people. This has prompted universities and industry to question their approach, celebrating diversity in their campaigns. Another important trend is "decolonising" students curricula, in order to truly allow for a narrative that's less Western-centric.

Divergent Thinking: Activating "regenerative tourism" means, as a visitor, to leave a destination better than when you first arrived. Richard Behan elaborates on this by talking about projects the university is running together with the industry: these are opportunities that give students a real taste of working in the travel industry, showing how UCB prioritises practicality in a real-life scenario. In order to develop their understanding of diversity, they have partnered with the West Midlands Growth Company to maximise opportunities brought about by the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Digital: Working with companies to develop applications that enhance the seamlessness of the user experience. There is a restrictive nature to the dichotomy between digital and real-life experiences due to the current pandemic, and it is UCB's goal to make it much more seamless.


University of Eastern Finland

Research and its Place in Industry

Juho Pesonen's interest stems from the gap between research and the industry itself, understanding the impact it really makes and how it is applied. There is a disproportionate amount of research that gets picked up by the industry and the research that is being conducted.

Businesses, organisations and individuals pay indirectly for academic research through taxes: as researchers, it is their duty to work together with the industry about current trends and solutions. Juho believes that one of the problems currently is that there are great ideas from researchers, but there is a challenge in transforming those ideas into innovation: working closely with the industry could be a solution.

Juho endorses the collection and open distribution of data in order to make research available to smaller organisations that don't have the same opportunities as larger ones have in working directly alongside universities. Juho enforces Michelle's earlier point and suggests DMOs reach out to local universities in order to develop their initiatives in order to effectively collaborate.

Lastly, Juho commends students and the direct impact they can have on the travel industry: they are working on projects to ensure a more resilient and innovative future for the industry. They are as important a link between academia and industry as any other.

Finally, Nick wraps the talk up with some evocative questions: how do we make sure that this brilliant research is accessible for the industry? Academia carries a stigma of not being completely practical: how can this be countered?

Juho thinks it is just a matter of time. What Academia believes is a large revelation simply takes time to get picked up. Smart tourism is one example of this. The research needs to be understood and embraced by one of the many actors in the travel industry. Juho encourages businesses to have an academic approach as a possible way of improving the speed at which research is picked up.

Michelle agrees, believing that organisations don't always have a specific question in mind, so opening a platform for discussion is always a valuable opportunity to provide as an academic institution. Michelle believes it is an academic in tourism's duty to protect their local community by establishing a relationship with businesses so that the gap between the two parts of the industry are brought closer together.

Kitattipoom explains that not all academics fall under the same umbrella, the same as industry professionals. There are conceptual, behavioural, engineering specialists that are all valuable to the process of understanding the progress of the industry.

Academia

This month we asked our Academic Members to share some of their recent industry research, initiatives, and to discuss their place within the tourism industry with us.

If you missed the discussion, you can rewatch it here. ⬆️

The guests:


Kitattipoom Kiatkawsin

Assistant Professor, Sejong University

Michelle Callanan

Deputy Dean, Deputy Dean, School of Business, Tourism & Creative Industries, University College Birmingham


Richard Behan

Lecturer in Tourism & Aviation, University College Birmingham

Juho Pesonen

Head of Research, University of Eastern Finland


Sejong University

Blockchain

Kitattipoom Kiatkawsin starts the discussion by exploring blockchain technologies. He explains that there are over 10,000 documented forms of blockchain.

Blockchain can be categorised into the three following generations:

The first generation of blockchain attempted to transact value digitally, proving decentralisation is possible with anonymity and transparency. The term "cryptocurrency" is misleading, due to the root word "currency": it carries the assumption that this is the same as USD/GBP etc. Blockchain instead is a token that contains a value, not specifically the same as money.

The second generation introduces the concept of "smart contract". To explain how smart contract works, Kitattipoom compares it to "vending machines": you choose a drink and pay for it accordingly, then it is automatically given to you from the selection. Similarly, a smart contract allows a user to select the desired product and the transaction is automatically processed in order to record the value and allows for interest to be built.

The transaction is processed when both parties have adhered to their part in the contract. Kitattipoom highlights though that there are real-world practical limits due to this nature.

The third, current generation is made by smart contracts which are ready for "mass adoption". In this generation, there are three hurdles that smart contracts brought on:

  1. Scalability
  2. Interoperability
  3. Sustainability

A common problem with blockchain is the lack of interoperability: one source of blockchain is exclusively exchangeable with that source. Sustainability is also a relevant concern, as the way networks are run consumes an excess of energy: for example, the entire Bitcoin harvesting system uses more energy than the entirety of Switzerland. These are some of the issues that the Third Generation aims to solve.

Kitattipoom goes on to explain how the tokens that carry blockchain are decentralised, as there is not a single server for them. He then explains how tokens work: every transaction from a participant miner (first/second generation) or validator (third/future generation) earns them a token as a reward. Investors and traders can also buy tokens at a crypto exchange. Blockchain projects are looking for ways to keep people interested in the same frame of mind as the stock market.

Kitattipoom mentions the booking platform Travala.com as an example of a platform adopting an innovative blockchain system to increase customer loyalty. In this case, their token is the "AVA Coin": the more AVA Coin owned, the more benefits become accessible to the owner. Travala themselves also pays a base 8% interest for AVA Coin. The rise in AVA Coin's value is as follows:

To close off, Kitattipoom believes a projected fourth generation of blockchain is likely to consider metadata and reputation as significant innovations in order to further the goals the third generation has set up. He also provides an evaluation on what stage is blockchain at right now as technological revolutions go through a 5-stage life cycle displayed below.

In his opinion, blockchain is yet to reach the stage of Irruption, more of a trial and error stage. He believes this as there still exists massively lucrative blockchains that have yet to have a function outside of value and no smart contracts and no response to the questions brought up by the experimental third generation.


University College Birmingham

UCB's D Model

Michelle Callanan talks about the long relationship UCB has had with the tourism industry. Over the past year, the pandemic has had a great impact on the industry, with many small/medium-sized businesses struggling to pivot and survive. Michelle talks about the University's D Model – how they frame their work in order to help tourism survive during the recent pandemic and similar crises.

Michelle encourages organisations and businesses to reach out to universities for collaboration, especially as they have enthusiastic post-graduate students, in order to truly optimise their outreach and resources.

She then focuses on five emerging topics UCB is addressing with its current programmes and research:

Disruptions: during the pandemic, organisations re-evaluated their response strategies and how they communicate with stakeholders. UCB aims to provide examples of efficient and inspiring strategies that generate revenue.

Divisions: Michelle coined the term "Covided" (made of the words "Covid" and divided") in 2020, as a way to describe the state of travel during the pandemic, which has impacted the brand and community of many destinations. This also relates to the issue of borders closing and an emerging nationalistic approach to tourism, displaying the pivot the industry took as a result.

Diversity: Taking a current social conversation, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and carrying the message on for marketing plans in order to reflect real experiences with real people. This has prompted universities and industry to question their approach, celebrating diversity in their campaigns. Another important trend is "decolonising" students curricula, in order to truly allow for a narrative that's less Western-centric.

Divergent Thinking: Activating "regenerative tourism" means, as a visitor, to leave a destination better than when you first arrived. Richard Behan elaborates on this by talking about projects the university is running together with the industry: these are opportunities that give students a real taste of working in the travel industry, showing how UCB prioritises practicality in a real-life scenario. In order to develop their understanding of diversity, they have partnered with the West Midlands Growth Company to maximise opportunities brought about by the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Digital: Working with companies to develop applications that enhance the seamlessness of the user experience. There is a restrictive nature to the dichotomy between digital and real-life experiences due to the current pandemic, and it is UCB's goal to make it much more seamless.


University of Eastern Finland

Research and its Place in Industry

Juho Pesonen's interest stems from the gap between research and the industry itself, understanding the impact it really makes and how it is applied. There is a disproportionate amount of research that gets picked up by the industry and the research that is being conducted.

Businesses, organisations and individuals pay indirectly for academic research through taxes: as researchers, it is their duty to work together with the industry about current trends and solutions. Juho believes that one of the problems currently is that there are great ideas from researchers, but there is a challenge in transforming those ideas into innovation: working closely with the industry could be a solution.

Juho endorses the collection and open distribution of data in order to make research available to smaller organisations that don't have the same opportunities as larger ones have in working directly alongside universities. Juho enforces Michelle's earlier point and suggests DMOs reach out to local universities in order to develop their initiatives in order to effectively collaborate.

Lastly, Juho commends students and the direct impact they can have on the travel industry: they are working on projects to ensure a more resilient and innovative future for the industry. They are as important a link between academia and industry as any other.

Finally, Nick wraps the talk up with some evocative questions: how do we make sure that this brilliant research is accessible for the industry? Academia carries a stigma of not being completely practical: how can this be countered?

Juho thinks it is just a matter of time. What Academia believes is a large revelation simply takes time to get picked up. Smart tourism is one example of this. The research needs to be understood and embraced by one of the many actors in the travel industry. Juho encourages businesses to have an academic approach as a possible way of improving the speed at which research is picked up.

Michelle agrees, believing that organisations don't always have a specific question in mind, so opening a platform for discussion is always a valuable opportunity to provide as an academic institution. Michelle believes it is an academic in tourism's duty to protect their local community by establishing a relationship with businesses so that the gap between the two parts of the industry are brought closer together.

Kitattipoom explains that not all academics fall under the same umbrella, the same as industry professionals. There are conceptual, behavioural, engineering specialists that are all valuable to the process of understanding the progress of the industry.

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