"Tourism is a major energy consumer in the public establishments where it operates?

Adolfo Borrero, CEO of Aalto Consultores

Smart Tourism

Adolfo Borrero, Industrial Engineer and MBA from the Instituto San Telmo, chairs the commission of Smartcity of AMETIC and the Digital Agenda Commission of CEA. Founding partner of the company Cactus Soluciones Energéticas and the technology startup accelerator Bolt Accelerator. 

He currently holds the position of CEO at Aalto Consultores, a consulting firm specialising in the Smart Cities and Territories ecosystem, which focuses on advising local entities to turn them into "Smart Cities and Territories".smart? using strategic plans and specific techniques.   

They have been successful in collaborations with national institutions and in linking with the energy sector. In addition, they work on the digital transformation of cities nationally and internationally, including projects with Seville and Malaga, and participate in smart destination networks in Argentina. 

It also maintains a productive partnership with Zabala Consulting and collaborates closely with Informaria in the dissemination of technology and its application to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. 

Aalto has more than 30 years of experience in smart cities and territories. How would you say that the advance in digitalisation and the application of technologies has affected the tourism sector in recent years? 

In a very unequal way, whether we consider the destinations or the companies according to their size. Let's start with the latter: the large Spanish hotel chains have been able to carry out a digital transformation, adapting their processes to the new possibilities that ICTs have been offering the sector. However, tourism SMEs have been left behind in the process. As for local administrations, which are responsible for the management of Tourist Destinations, something similar is happening, but in a less intense way, thanks to the extraordinary programmes of the Ministry of Tourism, which have been able to capture the extraordinary Nextgen funds, reaching small municipalities.   

It is clear that digitalisation is changing the very management processes of tour operators. We only have to think about how tourism promotion is done nowadays, such as interactive guides on mobile devices or how we interact with a portal through chat bots with Artificial Intelligence in natural language.

Today, tourists are fully digitised and expect both companies and destinations to offer them all their leisure options through apps and interactive websites that adapt to their profile; many already do, but there are still countless digitisation actions in the private sector as well as in destinations managed by the public sector. 

Smart Tourism involves improving tourism management in terms of efficiency, mobility, the environment, digitalisation, etc. These are some of the areas in which Aalto plays a special role. How does your company contribute to the implementation of modernisation in tourism? 

Aalto Consultores focuses its activity on the development of smart tourism strategies for Tourist Destinations. We do this by acting in three main areas: 

  1. Development of the destination's own smart and sustainable strategy. By defining objectives for the digitisation of processes in the different areas of government, to private sector interlocutors. This in turn generates a set of actions to respond to these objectives. We order the actions in time and align them with financial funds for their possible execution. In other cases, we assist in the preparation of documentation for funding applications. And finally, although not very often, we assist in the preparation of technical specifications for potential tenders. 
  2. Supporting the creation of urban laboratories on specific use cases in which the destination wants to develop its activity. This can be complemented with the development of startup accelerators to generate a local ecosystem to attract talent.  
  3. Creating events and congresses that position the destination on the map with themes aligned with the strategy that we have previously defined. Aalto is in charge of defining the contents and proposes the speakers that define the congress part of the event. 

How would you describe the relationship between urban mobility management and the development of the tourism sector in smart cities? 

The mobility of a destination is fundamental for the comfort of the tourist and, much more importantly, for the resident who often suffers from the phenomenon of tourist saturation. That is why we focus especially on the Management of People Flows in destinations. To this end, we recommend to our clients solutions from companies that allow them to alleviate these problems by redirecting flows to other parts of the city. We have recently collaborated with Orange and MB3-Gestión in a consultancy for Segittur for this essential use case, as well as participated with the Seville City Council in the conception of their urban laboratory.

Given your long experience in the sector, how would you say energy challenges are being addressed in the context of Smart Cities and Smart Tourism and how does this contribute to Energy Efficiency? 

Aalto Consultants' close collaboration with energy service companies (ESCOs) and extensive experience in the energy sector makes us particularly strong in this vertical of smart cities. Tourism is a major energy consumer in the public establishments where it operates. Our proposal is clearly aligned with the ESCO model for several reasons: 

  1. FinancialThe ESCO model, which is based on public-private or private-private partnerships, allows investments in energy saving measures and renewable generation to be undertaken by the private company, which enables the customer to use its own financial sources for other needs, thus multiplying its capacity for action. 
  2. The ESCO model will be equated to an "outsourcing" of the energy management of the destination, which, in small towns, without sufficient and specialised human resources, allows significant efficiencies in addition to guaranteeing the stability and comfort of the service. 
  3. The model allows for the maintenance of energy generation and consumption assets throughout the ESCO's operating period, thus guaranteeing the service to the public. 
Smart tourism
+3.4 million tourists in 2022, in Seville. Source: Diario de Sevilla.

Aalto is committed to sustainability, energy conservation and the environment. What initiatives are being promoted to ensure technological and sustainable development in tourism? 

We do this along the lines of energy as discussed in the previous section, which has a direct influence on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, flow management allows us to reduce our footprint. Our participation in multiple projects of "Tourism Sustainability Plans in Destinations" (PSTD) has enabled us to define sustainable actions with the destinations.  

And in relation to this, how would you say your company is ensuring that it is meeting the goals of the UN Agenda 2030 and that the digitalisation and innovation of the tourism sector is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals?

Our consultancy is fully aligned with the compliance of the United Nations Agenda 2030, focusing on the SDGs as a priority in the actions through indicators that allow the destination to see how they are progressing in their sustainability policies. We focus especially on SDG 7 for 'Affordable and Clean Energy' and SDG 11 for developing 'Sustainable Cities and Communities'. Clearly, all of this influences SDG 13 for Climate Action. And recently, we have moved into the Blue Economy and Blue Tourism, so we are focusing on SDG 14 on 'Underwater Life', which we will be discussing at the next conference ?Sun&Blue? in Cabo de Gata in Almeria. 

What is the role of city networks, including Smart Tourism Destination (ITD) networks in this digitisation process? 

City networks are an essential pillar of the Spanish Smart Cities ecosystem, and in particular for Tourism, the Destination networks. The conversation between the digital industry, the central administration, UNE and the Academy that is uniquely brought together in Spain, facilitates that government programmes, both central and autonomous, are fully aligned and hence the success of their calls for proposals. Internally, the networks of cities make it possible to share best practices in each discipline that shape the intelligence of the destinations and determine the best solutions in the market. 

Would you highlight Artificial Intelligence and IoT among the enabling technologies that are changing the landscape of tourism the most?

And in an international framework, what are the technological trends for the development of smart cities and tourist territories in the coming years? 

I would highlight Artificial Intelligence and IoT among the enabling technologies that are most changing the landscape of tourism.. In addition, there is the concept of ?Digital Twin? which brings together both technologies to enable the planning of cities and therefore their tourism. Many companies are deploying this type of technology in the cloud (Cloud computing) with a mass of data from sensor and other systems, which without the help of AI would be unwieldy.  

Although it is not exactly a technology, the standardisation of tourism data following semantic and ontological norms will make it possible to take a very important leap for the interoperability of tourism "Data Spaces". Here we must highlight the "Intelligent Destination Platform" (IDP), promoted by SEGITTUR, as the next quantum leap in the tourism sector. Projects such as Gaia-X will be boosted by this initiative in its tourism vertical.

And finally, what future projects do you plan to implement in Aalto, in order to further promote the development of tourist destinations and the smart cities?? 

We continue with new territorial projects in different areas of Spain, as well as in leading cities, supporting them in their digital growth. We currently have projects in many Spanish destinations at the moment, but I would highlight those in which we already have ongoing initiatives such as Seville, Almeria and Extremadura.  

We will soon be supporting our customer base who will be able to benefit from the Smart Destination Platform initiative. 

We will continue to support the business development of Smart Cities companies that rely on our consultancy to achieve greater penetration in this segment. 

We have already implemented projects in all of them and we continue to support congresses such as the Tourism Innovation Summit (TIS), the Sun&Blue on Blue Economy and Tourism and Iberttur, which we hope to promote for its third edition in 2024. Obviously, we will continue to collaborate with the new editions of Digital Tourist (Benidorm) and the two key FYCMA congresses in Malaga: Greencities and Transfiere.

We have three more in the pipeline that will soon see the light of day. The most mature one is "Bluegeen" in Torremolinos focused on energy efficiency for the hotel sector which will be held in the first third of 2024.

In short, a non-stop agenda in the smart and sustainable cities and territories industry, complemented by the recent entry into the Blue Economy sector.

We are talking about technology, tourism and destinations

Do you want to know
our solution?