What if…?

…the exhausted hiker in search of a cool beer would no longer have to stand in front of closed doors, even though the website said ‘open’?

…there was no answer such as “I don’t know!” to the question “Alexa, where can I go dancing tonight in Erfurt?”?

…dynamic startups would have all the up-to-date, authentic and correct data of Thuringia’s tourism, in order to develop innovative applications and offers without any obstacles?

The employees of Thüringer Tourismus GmbH asked themselves these questions based on the state tourism strategy Thuringia 2025. “We were looking for a way to make the data of Thuringia’s tourism available in an up-to-date, detectable and freely usable way, thus opening the way for innovations and new technologies,” says Detlef Klinge, head of the Competence Center Tourism 4.0 and continues. “In a changing world, where the omnipresence of information and its targeted treatment have become the indicator of modern marketing work, it is our responsibility as a state marketing organization to our service providers to prepare them and their services for coming challenges.”

Of course, this cannot be done alone, because only in its entirety does the data unfold its fantastic potential. Therefore, there must be a solution to centrally combine the tourism content from the existing data silos throughout Thuringia and to relate them to each other, so that a knowledge graph is created. This idea is not new, but there was no existing system that was able to cope with these challenges for Thuringian tourism.

Strong Partners for a Strong Idea

Google and Co get their information from Yelp and Wikipedia, but the service providers themselves have little opportunity to influence it. In this way, they give up a certain amount of sovereignty over their own data in the public sphere. This does not have to be…

A content database in which data is machine-readable, i.e. usable by search engines, put into a logical structure and made available to everyone in an up-to-date form as well as by the respective person responsible as open data, is the solution approach of Thüringer Tourismus GmbH.

The idea ThüCAT is born!

ThüCAT stands for Thuringian Content Architecture Tourism and will be the tool to lead Thuringian tourism into the digital age.

In its search for similar ambitions, the Tourism 4.0 competence team meets strong partners in the GNTB and the DACH-KG. Experiences are exchanged with the GNTB and the fit with the German Graph is determined. The DACH-KG, an international working group consisting of tourism organisations and research institutions from Germany, Austria and South Tyrol, has become the organ for the German-speaking region and its requirements for the global markup language schema.org.

In consultation with these and many other cooperation partners, the starting shot is given for the development of a specific database architecture for Thuringian tourism.

Many Stakeholders and Data, One Goal

The ThüCAT database will collect all data and structure them using the schema.org ontology, so that the data can later be combined with other systems and information sources and used in an interoperable way.

Project in Nationwide Implementation

However, in order to meet the special needs of Thuringian tourism, it is necessary to extend and adapt the existing scheme, while maintaining the order of the original annotation. This is a big challenge considering the diversity of the offer and the data to be described. In addition, the user-friendliness and logic of the input are of fundamental importance, because only a sensible structure can guarantee the correct allocation of the data by the subsequent editors and thus optimal search results. The harmonization of the award with the extensions by the DACH-KG and those of the competence team Tourism 4.0 under consideration of the usability as well as the clear definitions of terms become the pivot of the concept for the construction of the database.

But even an excellent framework is no guarantee if it is not filled with correspondingly high-quality content.

Of Enthusiastic Cooks and a Successful Porridge

After the ThüCAT has been constructed and the hurdles of developing its own system have been overcome, the Tourism 4.0 competence team is faced with the task of communicating the product and its great potential on the ground.

High-performance partners are enthusiastic about the idea of open data and ThüCAT and communicate the groundbreaking product across the board. This includes the DMO’s of the state and supra-regional, administrative institutions that acquire and coordinate the next level with the support of Thüringer Tourismus GmbH. In this way, next-level players such as tourist information offices or local management organisations also become important multipliers, directly attracting service providers and thus ensuring that ThüCAT is linked throughout Thuringia. The service provider will only be responsible for the objects for which he is the most competent contact person. The hotelier for his own hotel, the restaurateur for his restaurant and the museum for its own exhibition. In this way, not only the effort for each service provider remains manageable, but also the topicality and authenticity of the data can be guaranteed.

Project in Nationwide Implementation

Reliable, cleansed data in a logical structure and processed in a machine-readable manner will become the foundation of one of the technical developments and digital innovations of the coming years.

And it goes on…

The Thuringian tourism stakeholders and the Tourism 4.0 competence team are now in the middle of the implementation process. The first partners have been acquired and the date for ThüCAT’s Go-Life has been set. From this point on, the data will be available with CC-0, CC-BY or CC-BY-SA licenses and will become more extensive every day. Successively, the ThüCAT is filled and with every sentence, every picture, every opening time or every event it becomes more complex and valuable.

ThüCAT will be intensively communicated so that synergies can be created. Innovative formats such as BarCamps, User Day and another ThüCATlon are in the pipeline. In addition, ThüCAT will be presented at the Digital Festival and the Code+Design Camp.

An exciting process has begun and every player has the chance to be part of it. Thuringia is lifted out of its contour from countless existing data silos and drawn into a sharp picture for the world to see.

Everything is conceivable… From applications that plan the perfect cycling tour for the guest to the playout of culinary highlights of Thuringia depending on the taste of the respective guest in a digital guest portfolio, to tailored recommendations for relevant target groups on a wide variety of channels.

There are no limits to the imagination, except those in our heads!

Contact Thüringer Tourismus GmbH:

Thüringer Tourismus GmbH