Interview with Giulia Eremita and Rodolfo Baggio, coordinators of DIGITAL STRATEGY

1) People are in the centre! Introduce yourselves in just a few lines. We will read your professional CVs in the biographies on the website. Here, we want to know about the human aspect – what you are like in life.

Giulia: I really didn’t imagine how difficult it was to express yourself regarding your human side… Let’s start with the fixed points: I’m the mother of Daniele and Michela. As a wife, I’m a mixture of Martian, Sardinian and citizen of the world. In my life, I take care of my children, teaching them above all to respect others, but also to express themselves freely and to follow the rhythm. I grew up in the countryside and by the sea, which was a great privilege. Today, I live in the city and I miss that dimension very much… Recently, with the birth of my youngest child, a girl, I have been feeling the need to engage as best I can in re-establishing a gender balance. It is a delicate and complex topic that I am studying hard in order to find the keystone. Meanwhile, “I am doing some networking” especially online, with women and men, on this topic and also on tourism-related topics, so that they can be addressed with the right depth of analysis.

Rodolfo: By nature, and also as a result of my education, I have always been pathologically curious (and a little bit lazy). I take very few things for granted and I try to verify everything as much as possible, which makes me a bit of a pain in the neck. I have been working in the world of technology for nearly 40 years, and I consider the human factor crucial as the basis for a decent use of technologies in every aspect of the life of an individual and of society. For the past fifteen years, I have been involved in university education and, above all, research into the use of information technology in tourism, into complex networks and systems and into the application of analysis and simulation models to tourist destinations. I have published half a dozen books and about a hundred articles for international scientific magazines and conferences. I have been lending a hand in organising BTO ever since the first edition. I steer clear of being defined in any way as an expert on anything and I consider myself merely a person with a keen interest in the subject.

2) In the working group that you coordinate, what are you dealing with specifically? What are the themes and goals of the topic of DIGITAL STRATEGY & INNOVATION?

In the Digital Strategy & Innovation group we are working to put together all the proposals put forward by the members of the committee, find the connections to Onlife, this year’s central theme, and give an increasingly international slant to the event. We follow the developments of the Advisory Board’s various proposals, trying to achieve the best summary of the newest and most important topics. We are a very diverse group, with people coming from advertising and others from the world of Universities, governance and technology. Finding a shared vision of innovation and digital strategy is not simple, but it is very stimulating. This year’s goals are to provide a meaningful framework for addressing innovation day after day, from technological choices to work patterns.

We must be aware of the fact that innovation is a collective learning process. Today, true innovation means doing the same things we have always done, but differently: being open to change and willing to change the variables each time.

On the subject of digital strategy, as the word itself tells us, strategy is central: nobody can tell you what your business goals are; you need to have the courage and ambition to imagine them, find the resources and the way to achieve them, staying focused and committed every day. Today, nobody gives us anything for free. Everything needs to be earned.

3) Can you give us a little preview or tell us about anything new?

This year, the topic is “Onlife”: it puts humans in a central position and finds a method for decoding the present, so as not to be overwhelmed by all things new. Therefore, compared to last year, we decided that it would also be useful to focus on work patterns. When a digital strategy is planned, absolute discipline and control is required, as improvisation does not get us very far. In this BTO, you will find the predominant topics to be ones like time, people and project management. We believe that, in Italy, where the tourism sector is mostly populated by small and very small companies, training is required on the tools that innovation provides to planning (Big and Small Data, Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence) in order to achieve goals and successes. In the strictly digital part, there will be no lack of operational toolboxes, which are increasingly effective and always in great demand; they will focus on Google tools, on SEO, and we will talk about Facebook, influencer marketing, digital payments, content strategy and revenue.

4) How will the “Onlife” theme be organised under the topics you are dealing with?

As previously explained, time, people and project management are extremely important aspects of work organisation and are often neglected. We will undertake a mini management programme that helps us to deal with technology so that we can use it to our advantage.

Several “onlife” stories will help us to understand that it isn’t necessary to stop what we are doing when something bigger bursts into our life, especially when the work we do is “always online”: it can simply serve to re-establish our priorities and move forward.

Several real-life testimonials will allow us to understand what to do.

Last but not least, it would be great if the speakers were to make themselves available to participants in specific corners, as this would be very human to human, and we are currently assessing the feasibility of this. On this topic, we are working with the speakers and planning their presence and speeches with them.

5) A quote, a phrase, a book or a concept that inspires your work in the world of tourism. In short, a thought that you want to share with all of us.

Giulia: Lately, I have been seeking inspiration more in people than in quotes. However, one particular quote that inspires me and that often comes to mind in sterile and fairly useless contexts is this one: The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, what the world needs most are dreamers that do. (Sarah Ban Breathnach).

Rodolfo: Curiosity, that inborn property of man, daughter of ignorance and mother of knowledge, when wonder wakens our minds, wherever it sees some extraordinary phenomenon of nature, a comet for example, a sundog, or a midday star, has the habit of asking straight away what it means. (Giambattista Vico)

6) In your opinion, why is BTO 2020 an event not to be missed?

Giulia: Because it has a soul and a mind and this is what differentiates it from the rest. As always, it will include two exciting days that could even change the course of your life. Be sure to be there!

Rodolfo: What a difficult question… Because, in 12 years, BTO has become an important reference point for those involved in tourism and technology and because we have, so far, managed to balance today’s world’s need to understand with the visions of development of this fascinating union.