In recent years, there has been significant development in the technology world, where consumers have the ability to access the continually evolving Internet through different mediums and at a faster rate. Nearly all computers now have the capability to connect to the Internet, and henceforth, producers of tourism products are utilising the Internet as an alternative distribution channel to sell their products, instead of using a tour operator. This allows consumers to book directly with their producer, whether it is cheap flights with EasyJet, or a hotel in Bangkok. This saves both consumers and producers money as they cut out the cost of an intermediary.
Furthermore, the smart phone is a fundamental driver towards DIY in tourism. More and more people are buying smart phones, such as the iPhone or a Blackberry, which can also access the Internet at a fast rate when you are on the move. This is reflected by statistics showing that by 2016, smart phones will account for 90.8% of all handsets sold in the UK (PR Newswire, 2011). A smart phone allows a consumer to access the Internet to book holidays, download boarding passes and even share their experiences. Twitter is a popular social networking site through which people often ‘tweet’ their experiences, or ask others for their travelling experience (Guardian, 2011). This is a driving factor towards DIY in tourism, as people spread positive and negative feedback on particular experiences, enabling others to learn and perhaps try that particular hotel or flight for themselves.
Conversely, there is evidence to support a growing trend in demand for tour operators in recent years, as a direct or indirect result from the Internet revolution. For example, the online Chinese travel provider, Ctrip.com, recorded increases in sales for all aspects of travelling. They saw rises in net revenue of 49% from 2005 to 2006, and are expecting a growth rate of 30%, year on year (Cooper et al, 2008, p.644). Furthermore, although the Internet has made it progressively easier for consumers to book their own holidays, there is still a significant size of the market, which considers their time too valuable, and can afford to pay tour operators to organise and book each individual aspect of their holiday for them.
The economy is another key driving factor behind the emerging trend towards DIY in tourism. Over recent years we have seen a sharp decline in spending on holidays, due to the worldwide, economic recession; for example in North America, only 21% are planning to go on holiday over Christmas, compared to 28% last December (Travel Agent Central, Dooley, 2011). Therefore, we may see increasing trends in spontaneous holidays, as consumers book with budget airlines,...