Digital Innovation in Tourism

Work Team


The Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory was established in 2014 to study and understand the evolution of one of the most significant economic sectors in Italy: Tourism. Competitiveness in this sector is increasingly influenced by the use of digital technologies as regards tourist relations and service management. Particularly interesting are the new concept of “tourist” that is taking shape, the different modes on interaction between sector players, and the integration of digital and non-digital channels and tools. The goal of the Observatory is therefore to guide Italian companies in understanding digital travel dynamics and identify the opportunities that such tools can provide in developing business strategies and to institutions. To become a point of reference also as regards digitalizing business trips, the Business Travel Observatory (link alla pagina) has been founded in 2019 in collaboration with the University of Bologna, which has been studying the dynamics of the Italian business travel market in depth for over 15 years.


Activities planned by the Observatory in 2019 are:

  • conduct Research to understand the state of adoption and the impact of digital tools in leisure and business travel and outline the sector’s main digital scenarios in both demand and offer sides of the offering. For example:
    • Digital Tourist Journey;
    • Tourist retailing;
    • Omnichannel solutions (customization and Artificial Intelligence);
    • Mobility;
    • Accommodation (hotels and self-catering units);
    • Innovative Business Travel tools;
    • Startup Travel;
    • etc.
  • organize workshop, laboratories and focus groups on Research relevant themes dedicated solely for the Observatory Community;
  • organize a public conference at Rimini Fiera TTG to communicate and promote Research results, in particular the evolution of the digital offering;
  • organize a high visibility conference at the Politecnico di Milano to present Research results and discuss with main sector stakeholders and important players in the tourist sector, with particular attention placed on the evolution of the innovative tourist demand;
  • write various Reports, Graphs and Video selections with main Research results distributed both in paper and electronic form;
  • participate at public events organized by Partner companies or trade associations;
  • continuous presence in general and trade Media to enhance Research results’ cultural effect and promote opportunities.


The activities are based on measuring the impact that the various digital tools have on some prominent supply chain players (e.g. Travel agencies, Local authorities, Destination, accommodation facilities, etc.) and to work closely with such players through Innovation Labs, direct comparisons with related sectors, and establishing Advisory Boards to support activities.


The Observatory thus enables the players involved to understand how to prepare themselves to face the challenges and grab the opportunities of digital tourism.


The Observatory’s research is structured according to the following topics:

  • Cross analyses: quantify the digital Tourism in Italy (revenue generated through digital channels); startups and innovation drivers (evolution of the frontier of innovation, trends and innovative business models);
  • Digital tourist journey: behavior of the digital tourist in all travel phases (products and services purchased and channels used, etc.) with particular focus on Millennials and high level spenders (long range destinations), inspiration phase and Chinese tourists;
  • Tourist retailing: define, map, and quantify channels (consultants, eMarketplace, peer-to-peer, etc.) and identify innovative forms of retailing also in other sectors;
  • Customization and artificial Intelligence in omnichannel terms: map experience customization and artificial intelligence tools through the various stages of the digital traveler journey to intercept prospects and consolidate the relationship with acquired customers;
  • Mobility: an in depth evaluation of the offer (innovative startups, integration of services and multimodality, etc.) and the requirements of the demand;
  • Accommodation: quantify the sub-sector especially focusing on quantifying the non-hotel section;
  • Business travel: quantify the market, innovative tools used through the Digital business traveler journey (focus on booking tools and payment systems), innovative tools (mobile and not) for end-to-end management of business travel, cost-benefit analysis of the most innovative solutions, business travel management within the company (mobility manager, CFO, Travel manager, HR manager, Procurement manager) etc.


Research relies on different methods:

  • monitor sector literature and top news (national and international) to identify the most meaningful trends;
  • investigate supply chain players (both demand and offer sides);
  • study of successful and unsuccessful cases of innovative retailing solution application;
  • study Business Travel cases to learn more about the impacts (costs, benefits, criticalities) on companies adopting mission management digital tools for end-to-end management of missions or single process phases (booking, payment, etc.).


Impact is evaluated through original analytic and quantitative models designed by the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano and applied to real business cases in Italy.


Sponsorship opportunities

Every year more than 300 companies join the Digital Innovation Observatories activities, getting in touch with the corporate, institutional and academic decision makers

More Details

Partners and Sponsors

For further information, collaboration and support requests for the other researches of the Digital Innovation in Tourism Observatory, please contact Filippo Renga(email: filippo.renga@polimi.it).