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Tourism expert to discuss Airbnb and new tourist tracking app


Jessica Nelson
19 March 2018

Imagine being tracked during your holiday. For the first time anywhere in the world, a team of researchers has tracked tourists, with their consent, for the duration of their holiday, simply by using an app.

Dr Anne Hardy will present her ground-breaking Tourism Tracer research project and about the trends and impacts of Airbnb at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus on March 22 (and Lismore Regional Art Gallery – The Event Space on March 21).

Dr Hardy said the Tourism Tracer team from University of Tasmania established the project in 2016,  initially to find out where visitors to Tasmania travelled and to develop an individual tourist profile, using technology that had never before succeeded in answering such questions.

“We set out to do this research not only for academic reasons, but to provide the tourism industry and the community with highly valuable information from which it could make better informed decisions around investment, infrastructure provision, messaging, advertising and road safety,” Dr Hardy said.

“Let’s be upfront and honest, for many forms of tourism research, the days of paper surveys are over. We can now track the tourists who are happy to be tracked, and the app tracking can be turned off for a time if tourists would like a break. It is very user friendly and unobtrusive.”

The award-winning technology uses Global Navigation Satellite Systems through an opt-in app, with built-in surveys collecting information from participants. The information is then visually represented on the Tourism Tracer website with interactive heat maps of regions made accessible to community and businesses.

Dr Hardy said the team was looking for new opportunities and said there was huge potential for what could be achieved on the Gold Coast. The technology is now being rolled out in Sweden, and is gaining plenty of interest from other countries such as Japan.

“This technology has totally revolutionised how we can do research and also helps to directly inform business decisions, including how businesses can best work together. We asked industry exactly what they wanted and designed the technology and research based on that,” Dr Hardy said.

“Engaging with and having industry support was crucial from the start, with airports and shipping docks allowing our recruiters to interact with passengers on premises, which helped us greatly and meant the research was very relevant to the local tourism industry.”

Dr Anne Hardy will present her Tourism Tracer project and her ongoing research into Airbnb at a free guest lecture at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus at 4pm QLD time, located next to the Gold Coast Airport, on Thursday, March 22 at 4pm. No registration required.