Icts in the Tourism Industry and Its Influences on the Tourist Consumer Behaviour

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The tourism industry often needs a various range of information to satisfy and attracts its consumers and most of this information is delivered promptly to the customers with the help of the information and communication technologies (Poon, 1993). And as result, the global tourism industry is rapidly changing and the information and communication technologies ( ICTs) such as the internet is altering the structure of tourism industry and how it market his products and conducts its promotion. In order to understand the role and impacts that ICTs has in the wider tourism industry and to find its influences on the tourist consumer behaviour, it is advised to first know what ICTs are and to comprehend the study on consumer behaviour based on the tourism industry. Information and communication technologies are defined as the collective term given to the most recent development in the mode (electronic) and the mechanisms (computers and communications technologies) used for the acquisitions, processing analysis, storage, retrieval, dissemination, and application of information (Poon 1993 cited in Buhalis 2003, p 7). It can also be defined as “the use of digital tools for business functions and processes” (Cooper et al 2005, p.704). When tailing about ICTs, it consist of hardware (self service terminals), software (front office applications), and telecommunications (broadcast of images, teleconferencing ...), and the groupware (tools for group communications such as email). The last one is the humanware which consist of skilled people responsible for the maintenance and programming. Any of these are used in the tourism industry for a better management of operation and communication between stakeholders. The Tourism industry had really gained from the evolution of information technology with the emergence of computerised networks that change the whole stage of the distribution and marketing of tourism products. The most popular and successful applications of ICT used in the tourism industry are the computer reservation systems, the global distribution systems and the internet. In the early 1970s, the airline industry developed the computer reservation systems, an application that became the most important channel of distribution for airlines, and even big hotel companies and tour operators started using it after they recognized the benefit of computerised system. The computer reservation system (CRSs) is” essentially a database which manages the inventory of a tourism enterprise, whilst it distributes it electronically to remote sales offices and external partners” (Buhalis, 1998). It created the possibility for suppliers to quickly confirm the booking reservations made by consumers but the consumers were also able to use the CRSs to access information of different destinations, packages holidays, and hotels, and used that information to compare prices to find the best deal. The computer reservation system gave tourism organisation the power to manage their products and trade with the rest of the world. The mid 1990 saw the computer reservation system emerged into the global distribution systems (GDSs), the “system that distribute reservations and information services to sales outlets around the world” (Giaoutzi and Nijkamp 2006, p.24). It did not just contains information of flights and hotels like the CRSs but had a wide range of services and products linked to tourism such as entertainment, car rental, lodging, train ticketing. Both the CRSs and the GDSs are known also to reduce the cost of communication, and to provide information on the competition. During the time that the GDSs was developing, the internet and World Wide Web was providing direct opportunities for tourism suppliers to interact with its customers by offering less expensive information on services and destinations. Companies like easy-jet uses the internet to offer its services directly to the customers and because the internet also offers consumer the possibility...
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