The conference theme is 'Sustainability of Tourism, Hospitality and Events in a Disruptive Digital Age'.

  • “Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time or war where every man is enemy to every man, the same is consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Hobbes, 1909-14)

Digital disruption may well follow the Hobbesian Philosophy, whereby change is constant, ‘nasty’, rapid and may result in the ‘violent death’ for unprepared enterprises that Hobbes proclaimed. For tourism and hospitality businesses and events, digital disruption is already a fact of life. Mobile devices have changed how people research, plan and book travel; how they remember and anticipate travel experiences; and even how they think about travel and customer service expectations.

Research published by Deloitte (2014), called ‘Harnessing the "Bang": Stories from the Digital Frontline’, suggest that disruption is actually accelerating in Australia. The question now is not IF tourism and hospitality industries can change, but HOW we change, and how can we do so sustainably to ensure that our social, cultural, economic and natural environments benefit from these changes. Mobile devices are remote controls, credit cards, tickets, entertainment, personal assistants, and much more. Being mobile and providing mobile experiences are now business critical functions.  As the pace of change increases, the challenges for the tourism and hospitality industries are how to extract the best opportunities to engage with customers and how we can maximise the opportunities of the digital age.

The digital experiences of tourists and the travel industries require transformation by businesses, staff, visitors, hosts, communities and consumers. All participants in the tourism and hospitality area need to develop innovative solutions, systems, business models, and approaches to ensure they remain relevant and competitive.

Tourism, hospitality and events educators must also consider the impacts that digital disruption will have on the skills and knowledges required by graduates. Changes will be needed within tourism and hospitality curricula to enable institutions to deliver contemporary and relevant skills and knowledge to graduates of these programs; ensuring they can meet the needs of the digital tourism age.