Internet Usage for Travel and Tourism. the Case of Spain

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Introduction

The impact of the
Internet on travel
agencies
Rob Law
Kenith Leung and
James Wong

The authors
Rob Law, Kenith Leung and James Wong are all Faculty
Members in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management,
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon,
Hong Kong.
Keywords
Leisure activities, International travel, Tourism, Internet, Online databases, Hong Kong
Abstract
This paper examines tourist perceptions of the potential for the elimination of travel agencies in the presence of the
Internet. The opinions of 413 tourists on making transactions through both Internet-based (hereafter, online) and
traditional distribution channels were analysed.
Experimental results illustrated that tourists still used
professional services and advice offered by travel agencies. Tourists also agreed that more information could be found
through the Internet. Following the findings, the paper
suggests that both online and traditional distributional
channels can coexist in the future.
Electronic access
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregister
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is
available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0959-6119.htm

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management Volume 16 . Number 2 . 2004 . pp. 100-107
# Emerald Group Publishing Limited . ISSN 0959-6119
DOI 10.1108/09596110410519982

The rapid growth of the travel industry requires
sophisticated information technologies (ITs) for
managing the increasing volume and quality of
tourism traffic. Prior studies have indicated that
modern travellers demand more high quality
travel services, products, information, and value
for their money (Christian, 2001; Lubetkin,
1999; Samenfink, 1999). The emergence of
new tourism services and products, coupled
with a rapid increase in tourism demand, have
driven the wide-scale adoption of ITs in
general, and in particular, the Internet as an
electronic intermediary. In other words, the
Internet serves as a new communication and
distribution channel for e-travellers and
suppliers of travel services and products. This
new channel also enables tourism businesses to
improve their competitiveness and
performance.
Tourism researchers have emphasized the
importance of the Internet on travel and
tourism. For tourism suppliers, the Internet
provides a way for them to sell their products
globally to potential travellers at any time.
These suppliers can remotely control their
servers to display information on
services/products at an electronic speed
(Inkpen, 1998; Law, 2000). The successful
factors for a travel Web site, from a supplier’ s
perspective, are lower distribution costs, higher
revenues, and a larger market share. For
travellers, the Internet allows them to
communicate directly with tourism suppliers to
request information, and to purchase
products/services at any time and any place
(Olmeda and Sheldon, 2001).
To the extent that the Internet enables
e-travellers to easily arrange and purchase their
own services/products, the future of travel
agencies ± the traditional intermediary ±
becomes uncertain. In the travel and tourism
context, the topic of disintermediation, i.e. the
All of the authors are faculty members at the School
of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong
Kong Polytechnic University. This project was part
of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management’ s
International Visitor Survey in 2001. An abridged
version of this paper was published in the Proceedings
of the Fifth Biennial Conference on Tourism in Asia in
May 2002.

100

The impact of the Internet on travel agencies

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management Volume 16 . Number 2 . 2004 . 100-107

Rob Law, Kenith Leung and James Wong

elimination of the middleman by using the
Internet in the traveller-agent-destination/
supplier network in the travel...
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