Tourism and technology are two of the most rapidly growing and dynamic industries. The two are inextricably interlinked and have changed the way in which society operates. It is important to acknowledge the extent to which the tourism industry relies on information. It is only until tourists get to their destination of choice as tourism is considered more of information rather than a physical product. The services related to travel are always produced and consumed in a physical world that has either a local or a regional setting (Tjoa, Buhalis, & Jafari, 1998). The purchase however of any tourism product is fundamentally based on the information that is received through a direct or an intermediary channel, perceptions of trust, word of mouth, prior knowledge or even the quality of services provided. The dependence of tourism product on information flow complicates tourism as whole; hence, only descriptions are relied upon to by the consumers when making their purchase decisions.
The tourism intermediaries fulfill certain functions such as structuring of tourism product information and reducing cases of uncertainty. Travel agents serve as intermediaries between the suppliers and consumers of tourism products. Nowadays information technology and the internet have been brought into the picture. The internet acts as a new channel in which the tourism products can be displayed through pictures and detailed information. The tourism and travel sector largely depend on business to consumer e-commerce activity. The internet has facilitated a means through which a direct link can be created between a supplier community that cuts across the world and consumers that are equally dispersed. The travel industry is largely based on speed, and the internet connection comes in handy especially in the provision of instant confirmation responses to inquiries such as flights or room availability. The extent to which the ICT has influenced the perusal of tourism products and their purchase is evidenced by the proliferation of websites on tourism/ travels (Marshall, Taylor, & Yu, 2006).
With the ever increasing literacy on ICT on the part of the consumers, their expectations of easy access to tourism products are on the rise. With such expectations comes the increased pressure on the product providers to offer product satisfaction instantaneously or risk losing potential customers. The plummeting of electronic markets and the growth in knowledge on ICT of the prospective customers has been put into realization by allowing them to bypass the intermediaries in the travel chain. This has been made possible by the direct bookings that can be done on the website and the whole achievement has rekindled questions concerning the necessity and ability of small tourism firms to become part of a larger networked community.
Marketing has become the focal point for management in the globally competitive field of tourism and travels. It has influenced the entire business as a corporate response embracing both the boardroom and the frontline staff. In a broader context, tourism may be viewed as a structural or central element of modern societies and that the aspect of marketing is still in the early stages of development that will be influential to the industry more so in the twenty-first century. It is equally important in both the private and public sectors of tourism and travel and also small businesses as well as international corporations. The rapid growth of demand for tourism around the world at the later parts of the twenty-first century cushioned many organizations from the effect of competition and delayed marketing from being applied entirely in the tourism business. Marketing of tourism at an international level has been made possible by the advancements in technology.
The tourism industry is one of the largest and most diverse industries in the world. It can create some form of connectivity among nations and different people in the world. More attention needs to be paid more so in countries that are rich in cultural, historical and natural attraction resources. Lack of marketing has rendered the role that should have been played by this industry in developing countries obsolete. In the todays society, marketing efforts have become more important than even sales and production. To make progress in the tourism sector, particular attention needs to be given to the development and marketing programs.
Marketing through the internet is very beneficial as one is able to reach a wider target group. This mode of communication is usually less troublesome and consumes less time compared to face to face interactions (Middleton, 1994). Ideas can be freely exchanged, and a person can find reliable professionals and experts who may assist in the adventures that have been listed for example in a website. The internet can play a significant role in developing countries by attracting tourism. Only small investments need to be made for higher returns or profits to be achieved. One of the most significant advancements in tourism is the E-tourism or virtual tourism that uses information technology. IT is a suitable marketing tool for tourists and tourism. With the ever increasing number of internet users, commercialization of tourism has been made possible. People need only to search for websites and find information on their desired tourist destinations. They also are allowed to have a prior knowledge of what to expect through the information and pictures that are posted on tourism websites and can book their flights and accommodation. In Europe for example, there was an increase of aboard trips from thirteen to seventeen million in 1999. A whopping four million were made for reserves and bookings were done online. About 73% of the bookings were meant for vacations and recreations while 27% were business related.
Concerning electronic tourism, the information and communication technology through the creation of information environment for different tourist institutions can create data sources in which the whole system can work in harmony to positively impact the tourism system (Batinic, 2013). Most of the sectors in the tourism industry and within the information environment can be dealt with by creating business opportunities in the market, establishing some corporation with the producers and intermediaries and also creating informal institutions that will develop tourism and provide services. The more technological changes are designed to ensure an effective collaboration and a tool for the global industry, the more beneficial it will be to the shareholders. Tourism network, just like any other systems should be viewed as a complex and dynamic organism with ever changing factors and technological influences.
Batinic, I. (2013). THE ROLE AND IMPORTANCE OF THE INTERNET IN CONTEMPORARY TOURISM IN TRAVEL AGENCIES BUSINESS. International Journal Of Cognitive Research In Science, Engineering And Education (IJCRSEE), 1(2), 119-122. Retrieved from http://www.ijcrsee.com/index.php/ijcrsee/article/view/63/180
Middleton, V. (1994). Marketing in travel and tourism. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Tjoa, A., Buhalis, D., & Jafari, J. (1998). Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 1998. Wien: Springer.
Marshall, S., Taylor, W., & Yu, X. (2006). Encyclopedia of developing regional communities with information and communication technology. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Reference.
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