E-Tourism : the Role of Ict in Tourism Industry,

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E-Tourism : The Role of ICT In Tourism Industry, Innovations and Challenges Hooman Tahayori ¹ , Masoomeh Moharrer ²
1 - Shiraz University, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Shiraz, IRAN 2 - Tarbiat Modarres University, Dept. of Industrial Engineering, Tehran, IRAN tahayori@shirazu.ac.ir

One of the major limitations of all of the information distribution channels in tourism industry, is that they, for the most part, all ultimately flow through the GDSs. Of course, this has several implications in terms of cost, audience and information content. As a result, many tourism suppliers would like to bypass the GDS route and use electronic distribution to sell directly to the consumer. With the phenomenal growth in the use of the Internet and the World Wide Web both in the home and in the workplace, and the opportunities presented by falling hardware and communications costs, the potential now exists for tourism suppliers to both distribute information to and process reservations from customers directly. In his paper by considering some of the trends shaping modern business strategies such as the mass customization of services, the interactive design of products with customers, the service envelope around the most basic products and the increasing information intensity of products, we illustrates how such trends apply to the tourism industry and describes the way ICT can support or enable such strategies. Then we analyse the role of ICT in tourism industry by introducing a framework to classify and analyze related organisations around three dimensions, distinguishing what happens (1) at the boundary of the firms, (2) in their relations with their customers and suppliers and (3) on the markets they reach. The actors that we primarily consider are the following: (1) the service providers (hotels, airlines, congress organizers, etc.), the travel agencies, and other intermediaries, (2) the final customers (both corporate and individual), and (3) the countries (often represented by their tourism offices). Finally, we describe some innovative ways of using ICT, among others, to expand an actor's business. Keywords : E-Tourism, ICT, GDS

Tourism is reputed to be the world’s largest industry. Its revenues support a significant proportion of the economies of many nations and it is one of the largest employers worldwide. Its contribution to gross national product, employment and regional development are well documented and, unlike many other sectors, it is forecast to grow in importance in the coming decades as leisure time increases. Tourism is acknowledged to be very information intensive. Tourists need information before going on a trip to help them plan and choose between options, and also increasingly need information during the trip as the trend towards more independent travel increases. In modern societies, time has become a scarce commodity. Therefore, for many consumers their annual holiday represents a major emotional investment that cannot easily be replaced if something goes wrong. Therefore, since travellers cannot pre-test the product or easily get their money back if the trip does not meet up to their expectations, access to accurate, reliable, timely and relevant information is essential to help them make an appropriate choice. It is notable that the greater the degree of perceived risk in a pre-purchase context, the greater the consumer propensity to seek information about the product. This need for information is heightened by certain characteristics of the tourism product. Foremost among these is its intangibility- unlike manufactured goods, the tourism product cannot be inspected prior to purchase and therefore it is almost completely dependent on representations and descriptions to help

consumers make a purchase decision. It is also fixed geographically, and thus the customer must travel-and thus in effect consume the product- in order to experience what they are buying....
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