Interview with Francesco Tapinassi, scientific director of BTO2021

We last met in February 2020. Then we lived through months that were, to say the least, complex and full of uncertainties, of changes, of digital acceleration and now of great hopes. What are the biggest transformations and related challenges that tourism must face today?

The 600 days that have gone by since BTO 2020 are more than just a short time on the calendar; they have a profound meaning for all of us. In fact, we have faced a pandemic that has also brought to the center of attention the infinite possibilities that the digital has offered in the management of our daily lives. The travel sector has suffered very serious repercussions, but it is faced with challenges and opportunities that have always been BTO’s priority topic.

Why was “New Frictionless World” chosen as the theme for this edition?

The simplification of digital experiences is the secret to the success of the main online platforms: I find it extremely interesting that the organizational model focused on the construction of fluid touch points, without friction and complexity, can also become an example in the generation of perfect destinations, facilities and tourist experiences for the contemporary traveler. A wish therefore that there can be a “new frictionless world” in tourism, starting from the end of the greatest friction of recent decades, the spread of Covid-19.

Lots of novelties for 2021, from the change of name, Be Travel Onlife, to the new hybrid format. Can you give us some more details?

We designed a completely new BTO; it seemed impossible not to take up the challenge of the profound change connected to the hyper-digitization of recent months. The pandemic has also strongly impacted the industry of events. For this reason we have created a new hybrid format: the public will use it mainly online with few seats in person; the speakers, on the other hand, will be predominantly in person.

The public nature of the BTO has also allowed us to re-define our positioning. We are a conference devoted to digital tourism, not a tourism fair. It was therefore natural to revise the name: from BUY TOURISM ONLINE of the first editions to the BE TRAVEL ONLIFE which perfectly reflects the current situation and is a logical continuity of the considerations regarding the concept of Onlife to which we devoted the preceding edition. In fact, the online, in a hyper-connected world, can no longer be conceived of as a channel in itself but as an integral part of our way of being, communicating and interacting with the world of travel. Strategy becomes decisive, being before acting. This is the key to facing the new decade and the challenges that the pandemic puts before us. Be Travel Onlife defines a new way of approaching the innovation of travel.

Finally, new pricing models, with a drastic reduction in cost (a gesture of attention to a sector in crisis seemed to us the right thing to do) and a modularity that attempts to meet the needs of our participants as much as possible.

Why is participating in BTO important and, above all, useful especially this year?

The program we are building (and when I say ‘we’ I refer to our advisory board made up of 80 people) is a photograph of the profound change we are experiencing and a look to the future, with many testimonies that aim at representing the richness and versatility of the tourism sector. Not a single voice, but a moment of discussion regarding experiences, which, taken together, contribute to the perception of a possible scenario in the coming months. As always, maximum attention is paid to the quality of the contents and the selection of speakers. Then a change of location, a splendid main hall and many surprises to make participation in the BTO more and more interesting.