2017 Program

2017 Program

8th International Congress on Rural Tourism

SMART RURAL – Technology supports the authenticity of territories and people

During 23th and 24th of February 2017, we invite you to join us at the 8th International Congress on Rural Tourism, the most important event for this sector in the south of Europe.

This year we focus on “Technology supports the authenticity of territories and people” – SMART RURAL. Our objective is to understand how a digital culture can assist the promotion and innovation in rural destinations.

Rural destinations can gain important innovative impacts by embracing the possibilities of advanced ICT. This should take as reference the landscape, society, natural environment, and local culture to

  • Assure an adequate development of the territory, at the same time inclusive, accessible, and inclusive.
  • Generate opportunities for interaction and integration between the visitor and the local community, providing a high quality of the experience.
  • Support the valorization of resources in a sensitive, real, participative, honest, and authentic way.
  • Improve the quality of life of local communities by promoting the rural life-style and territory.
  • Maintain a vital demography, with special attention to women and youth.

Innovation and authenticity can and must go together. We want to promote those technological innovations that include a strong dose of authenticity, making them more attractive, useful, and practical for the visitor.

The Congress wants to give answers to questions such as:

  • Can rural territories benefit from a smart development?
  • How to integrate territory, culture, landscape and communities into the smart dynamics?
  • Can the smart digitalization offer a solution for depopulation, open sales channels, or revitalize the territory?

The Congress will present innovative initiatives in this matter, both national and international, that show how to adapt rural tourism to the digital world and at the same time, benefit from it.

The programme is structured into four sequential panels along the 1,5 days of the congress:





23 Morning

State of Art

  1. Smart rural destinations. How to make them benefit, dynamics and key aspects of competitiveness. Proposals to generate value in smart territories, how can we adapt the services to digital consumers.

23 Afternoon

Communicate with a new audience

  1. Communicate with and for the new urban digital consumers. Challenges for integrating the communication with a new smart model.

The traveller and his needs

  1. Smart strategies for a social visitor.  Involvement and story telling.

24 Morning

Keys for transformation

  1. Intelligent rural destinations and the traveller of the 21st century: the urgent opportunity to reconfigure global destinations and create experiential products at cutting edge of marketing

Who should assist?  Destinations, territories, local administrations, tourism offices, rural tourism service providers, owners of hotels and other kind of rural accommodation, entrepreneurs in rural áreas, restaurants, active tourism and in general, any SME or professional interested in taking advantage of the digital culture and of the opportunities offered by innovative entrepreneurship in connected, smart territories.


The Congress counts with experts and speakers from six countries:  Spain, Austria, United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Holland.

Thursday 23th February

09:00 – 09:15    Opening of the congress

  • Opening address by Mr. Manu Ayerdi, Vice President of Economic Development of the Government of Navarre.
  • Mr. Luis Cortés, Director of the Congress
  • Ms. María Ángeles Ezquer, President of the Navarra Federation of Rural Tourism.

09:15 a 09:30 Presentation: The Keys to Measuring a Sustainable Destination.

Video presentation by Ms. Isabel Garaña, new Director for Europe of the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization)

Panel 1 – Morning session:

Smart Rural Destinations.   How to benefit, dynamics and key aspects for competitiveness

2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development of the UNWTO. Technology is applied in support of energetic efficiency, a responsible and efficient management of the territory, and a sustainable development of tourism communities. Spain already counts with a consolidated network of intelligent destinations, lead by ITH.  How do they work and how are they organized? Which are their objectives? What is their impact on the quality of life for local communities and on the experience of visitors? What should a rural territory take on board from the new dynamics of intelligent, smart destinations?  Identify the key aspects for competitiveness and the potentials for territorial development thanks to this methodology.

Panel moderated by Hotel Technological Institute (ITH)

09:30 – 10:00    Innovation and competitive intelligence: two pillars for the future of tourism industry.

Mr. Ávaro Carrillo de Albornoz, General Director of the Hotel Technological Institute (ITH) [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

10:00 – 10:10  Time for discussion

10:10 – 10:40    People will talk: the real value of online communities and how to manage them

Mr. Richard Millington, Founder, FeverBee [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

10:40 – 10:55  Time for discussion

10:55 – 11:15    Coffee Break

11:15 – 12.15    Roundtable:  Three best-practice cases of destinations that innovated under social, technological, and digital aspects, and how these were applied to a rural territory.

Moderator: Ms. Patricia Miralles, project coordinator of the Hotel Technological Institute (ITH) Biography ]

  • The Smart Reserve of the Transboundary Biosphere Iberian Plateau. North Portugal. Ms. Berta Nunes, President of the AECT ZASNET, managing entity of the Reserve. [ Biography ]
  • The study case of Finestrat, Alicante. “Technical, tourist and social dynamization: The intelligent development of rural environment.” Mr. Miguel Ángel Catalán. [ Biography ] [ Summary ]
  • The Island of El Hierro, interactive space. Mr. Iván González Gómez, of Eventium Project. [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

12:15 – 12:45    Time for discussion

12:45 – 13:15    Presentation of the global initiative “Navarra Smart” and the Intelligent Economic Services in the tourism sector.

Speakers Mr. Iñaki Pinillos, managing director of Nasertic;  Mr. Josetxo Arraras, managing director of Tracasa.

13.15  – 13:35    Diagnosis of the Strategic Plan of Tourism of Navarra

Mr. Juan Requejo, Consultant of the Strategic Plan of Tourism of Navarre. [ Biography ]

13:35-14:00    How can we measure the sustainability of a territory

Ms. Nagore Espinosa. The International Network on Regional Economics, Mobility and Tourism (INRouTe). [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

14:00-15:30    Lunch

Panel 2 – Afternoon

Communicate with and for the new urban digital consumers. Challenges for integrating the communication with a new smart model.

Leaflets, brochures, and guidebooks were the traditional tools for tourism promotion and commercialization.   In the case of rural tourism in Spain, the first was the “Guia de Casas de Labranza” edited in 1967, followed by the “Guia Oficial de Casas Rurales de España” first edited by Anaya in 1993, or the similar “Guia de Alojamientos con Casas Rurales” presented by El Pais-Aguilar in 1994.  Many of us used these guides to prepare our rural excursions or holidays.  Such printed guided disappeared …  what came instead of them?  Where to search for the information to prepare a rural trip?  Which are the sources that we use now?  And as a rural service provider, how to make use of them for my promotion and marketing?

15:30-16:00    The New Social Communication for a territory: involving the community in a social communication system that is easy to run.   

Mrs. Gemma Suñer Oller, Marketing & Promotion Department in Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board.

16:00-17:00    Roundtable:

  • Coherence, content and continuity: the keys to a good destination promotion.  Mrs. Ana SantosBiography ]
  • Calpe Emociónthe strategy of social implication.  Mr. Mario SchumacherBiography ]
  • The challenge of communicating the destination in a new context.  Mrs. Annie BennetBiography ]
  • Travel Inspirers travel bloggers.  Mr. José Luis Sarralde.Biography ] He will point out some keys to get a really effective promotion of destinations and establishments of rural tourism working with professional bloggers, such as those that integrate Travel Inspirers.
  • The Millenials – a new consumer profile. The technology at the service of the segmentation of markets and the capture of a technological client. Mr. Andrés Romero, project manager at Asiri Marketing and technology editor at Hosteltur. [ Biography ]

Panel 3 – Afternoon

Smart strategies for a connected visitor

Technology surrounds us in any moment of our day-to-day life. We no longer get lost in other cities, information on anything imaginable is at a finger-tip, social contacts are easier than ever, and mobility is everywhere.  But we remain in a real world where human beings set up relations based con complex cultural rules.  A visitor’s experience is determined by the history and tradition of a specific territory, as much as by his own capacity of interpretation.  In rural areas, how can we offer the technology that our urban visitor requires?  How to combine and adjust this to the social and cultural needs of the local community?  How to preserve culture and local identity through, not in spite of, technology?

16:40-17:00    Adapted communication and interaction strategies: integrate the local community in the experience of the visitor.

Mr. Joantxo Llantada.

17:00-17:20    The future of online search:  how to involve people

Mr. David Johnstone, Managing Director, After Digital [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

17:20-17:45    The business case for SEO ¬ how to get Google love you

Mr. Erik van Erp, Around the Globe [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

17:45-18:00    Time for discussion with speakers of the panel.

18:00-18:30    Round Table:  Tourism demand and Social Media –professionals and destination seen from the side of the 2.0 traveller

  • Viajando con Diego (“Travel with Diego”) – smile and empathy 2.0 in communicating a destination. How to use technology for telling memorable stories about my trip? Mr. Diego Pons, Viajando con Diego. [ Biography ]
  • One destination, one culture.  Communication strategy 2.0 of VisitNorway. Mr. Luca Bocci, marketing director at the Norwegian National Tourism Office in Spain. [ Biography ]
  • Contents that seduce the digital consumer. Practical case of a destination: Granada. Mr. Tirso Maldonado, form Witcamp.

18:30 – 19:00 8 theses for the success of the new entities of tourism promotion of destinations (DMO) in 2025

Mrs. Claudia Kohl, Managing director Kohl & Partner GmbH (Austria) [ Biography ] [ Summary ]


Panel 4 – Morning

Intelligent rural destinations and the traveller of the 21st century:  the urgent opportunity to reconfigure global destinations and create experiential products at the cutting edge of marketing

Focussing on what is really relevant in the end: generation of value. Which intelligent strategies made territories and businesses more viable, profitable, accepted, and commercially successful in the tourism market? Which were the brillant ideas that made this a success story?

09:00-09:20    Intrinsic values: the soul of a territory – how to communicate it?    

Mr. Jaime Izquierdo VallinaBiography ]

09:20-09:50    Smart Experiences: How Real Time Content Changes our Communication   

Mr. Günter Exel (Austria) [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

09:50-10:15    “Wie wir leben” – Winning through authenticity. How emotional stories of rural life fills beds in Austrian tourism farms.

Mrs. Marlies Glatz, of the Austrian organization “Farm holidays” (Urlaub am Bauernhof). [ Biography ]

10:15-10:45    Time for discussion

10:45-11:05    Presentation of two studies about rural tourism in Spain – TopRural (Mr. Joseba CortázarBiography ]) and EscapadaRural.com (Mrs. Ana Alonso [ Biography ])

11:05-11:30    Coffee Break

11:30-12:00    How to engage with your customer in the digital age – Design your digital customer experience 

Mrs. Catharina Fischer, member of Tourismuszukunft (Germany) [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

12:00-12:30    Smart SMEs for smart destinations

A destination can only be smart as its SMEs.  They must be capable of defining their strategies and taking the adequate decisions – both depends directly on their knowledge. Capacity building therefore is critical.

Mr. José Luis Córdoba Leiva, managing director at AndaluciaLab. [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

12:30-12:45    Time for discussion

12:45-13:40    Roundtable:  Smart visual Story-Telling in the territory.

Involving the new customers through stories and experiences. They later repeat them as nice memories in different places, generating image, promotion, and marketing for a destination and its services.

  • Fanzara, open-air art.  The most unusual and stimulating streetart festival in the world: el MIAU. Mr. Javier López López, President of the Miau Association.
  • La Casa del Rio – seduction by value (Huesca)
  • Riojania.  A product development strategy based on networks and cooperation in the territory
  • Tu eres el destino (“you are the destination”) – the council of the Matarraña area.  Mrs. Eli Díez Urquizu. [ Biography ] [ Summary ]
  • New technologies applied to cultural tourism. Mr. Egoitz Rodríguez, Director of Projects and Development of Baleuko.
  • Shepherd for one day: from experience in Gorbeia to storytelling in Basquemountains. Ms. Itxaso Bruna, Rural Development Association of Gorbeialde. [ Biography ] [ Summary ]

13:40-14:00    Time for discussions

14:00   Conclusions and closure

  • Mr. Klaus Ehrlich, Secretary General of Eurogites
  • Mr. Luis Cortés, Director of the Congress
  • Closure by Ms. Maitena Ezkutari, Director General of Tourism and Commerce of the Government of Navarre

Moderator: Mr. Klaus Ehrlich, General Secretary of Eurogites.
Director: Mr. Luis Cortés, Manager of Navartur, Events & Holidays S.L.

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