The Role Of Information Technology on Travel Agents
UK travel agents industry, part of the tourism industry, has experienced a vital change over the last fifteen years (www.findarticles.com). The development of modern sophisticated technologies and systems along with the rapid evolution of the Internet have facilitated the endeavours of travel agents to pursue an efficient strategic planning in order to gain and sustain competitive advantage within both global and domestic market (Travel Industry Monitor, April 2003).
However the emergence of IT and especially the more and more extensive use of the Internet by both customers and travel agents have manipulated the structure of the distribution - one of the most important elements of the marketing mix - for tourism industry (Buhalis, 2001). For example booking a holiday in the travel agents used to be a very slow process. Enquiries about flight destinations, about 25 years ago were all done via telephone, and searched through paper files (www.ft.com).
This process was obviously slower and prone to error, because if the files were not kept in order, or papers were lost, it would be impossible to determine whether flights were available to the customers.
Also, total integration of the holiday booking, i.e. flights, transport to and from airport and booking of hotels all had to be done separately by the customers as the technology simple did not exist for them to do so and it was difficult for travel agents to control the management of such information. This procedure was putting the cost of booking a holiday on, encouraging the customers to travel just for few days a year especially on the summer season (Mintel, December 2001).
On the other hand nowadays the introduction of more efficient information technologies has forced the redesign of distribution channels and provides unprecedented opportunities for...