The Digital Visitor Economy

This research group is dedicated to researching, endorsing, and advocating the power of information technology and digital media in the visitor economy.

In collaboration with leading academic, business, public, and third sector partners across a broad spectrum of disciplines, researchers within this group provide rigorous and critical scientific foundation to deliver value to the visitor economy of tomorrow.

This research group focuses on three themes:

  • The digital transformation in tourism, hospitality, and events; including new media and consumer behaviour, new business models and disruptive innovation, transformation in business operations and performance.
  • Smart systems in tourism, hospitality, and events; including artificial intelligence and robotics, sensors and internet-of-things.
  • Data science and innovative methodologies in tourism, hospitality, and events; including data analytics, pattern recognition in big data.

The Digital Lab

Our research group is equipped with a world-class biometric research laboratory to facilitate various consumer behavior studies using psychophysiological measurements. The digital lab is outfitted with an integrated system of biometric sensor equipment including remote and mobile eye-tracking, facial expression, galvanic skin response (GSR), optical heart rate, etc. Using various biometric sensors in addition to other methodologies such as interviews and surveys, researchers are able to combine and synchronize data to enhance our investigations. Our lab allows us to experiment with the latest technology applications in tourism, hospitality, and events, such as virtual reality and social robots.

Our partners

Our body of staff and PhD students have extensive industry links across the hospitality, tourism and events sectors. Partners have included organisations specialising in digital media and technology, as well as a range of other prestigious organisations:

Our projects

We are involved in the EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded next generation paper project, which will develop a new form of interactive paper with hyperlinks to the web, making it easier for customers to move between sources in the reading process. It will assist in travel and tourism technology where people already read a combination of printed and digital information, by using travel brochures, guide books and leaflets alongside smartphone apps, e-books and TV programmes.

We are involved in augmented reality projects in arts and heritage attractions with partners such as Hampton Court PalaceVisit Surrey and Watts Gallery. The group also involves in multi-institutional projects that include investigating popular culture and retailing, a project with the Swedish Institute for Innovative Retailing (SIIR), social media in Arctic tourism, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, and social media use by local destination marketing bodies, funded by the Spanish Tourism Board.

Our work also looks at marketing and consumer behavior. We are co-founders of the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre.

    Postgraduate research centres

    • Betty Burke
    • Serge Chamelian
    • Christy Hehir
    • Frederik Dayour
    • Husna Binti Zainal Abidin
    • Julia Hwang
    • Mamnun Maola
    • Michael Humbracht
    • Niels Frederik Lund
    • Woojae Kim

    Contact us

    • Phone: +44 (0)1483 686300
    • Fax: +44 (0)1483 686346

    Find us

    School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
    University of Surrey
    GU2 7XH