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PT304 Information Systems Management for Travel and Tourism

Published : 29-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10

Question:

The introduction of information systems into the travel and tourism industry has changed the way customers book airline reservations and holiday packages, when compared to the old methods of visiting the high street travel agency. Today customers have 24 hour access to booking and reservation facilities and are no longer restricted to the 9-5 high street business model, or location due to the mobile access provision.
 
You are to write a report discussing the benefits and disadvantages of the new 24 hour access model that is not restricted to location; as was true of the old high street model.
 
Deliverables:
You are required to produce a report detailing:
A critical investigation into the changes from the high street travel agents to the 24 hour online equivalent.
Evaluate how this technology changes the methods of conducting business, when compared to the old ‘Bricks and Mortar’ businesses.
Critically analyse ‘who benefits?’ and who does not?
Critically analyse what are the benefits associated with the use of mobile-apps, alerts and mobility when selling/buying travel & tourism services.
Discuss the security issues that is associated with having a web presence.

The report must include an executive summary; a section looking at disruptive technology and how it has revolutionised professional travel advice services; a section to review information systems; a section discussing the advantages/disadvantages of conducting business via the internet; a comprehensive conclusion and recommendations. 

Answer:

Introduction:

The tourism and travel sector comprises of various suppliers who provide travel services to the people with the best travel experience. High street travel agents as well as travel agencies have played and play an important role in providing the best promotion of travel and tourism to the people (Mossaz and Coghlan 2017). Today, the travel industry is one of the largest and the most energetic industries in the world. The travel agencies along with the travel agents have been acting and serving as a link between the service providers including the tour operators, airlines and hotels and the customers (Lai 2014). With the introduction of the internet and advancement in the information and communication technologies (ICT), many businesses including the travel industry got affected with this change and thus adapted to the online method in order to survive in the competitive market.

This report discusses on how the ways of conducting business in the travel industry changed over time from customers consulting the high street travel agents to now opting the 24-hour online services. It highlights how internet and the use of technology added to this change in the approach of the customers for the travel services, leading the brick and mortar business to suffer the most. Several advantages and disadvantages of the online booking system as well as the traditional travel agency are also mentioned in this report. This report also discusses the benefits of using the travel related mobile apps to both the customers and the travel agencies as well as points out the security issues related to the travel agencies online presence and how these issues could be tackled.

Discussion

A critical investigation into the changes from the high street travel agents to the 24 hour online equivalent. 

With the rise of digitalization, people have become more dependent and addicted to the use of internet in their daily life for various activities ranging from socializing with people to conducting business online. Today, with more people preferring to opt for online booking services over the traditional way of going to the travel agents for their holiday bookings, several of the tour and travel agencies as well as the high street travel agents belonging to the travel industry had to suffer a great deal (Standing, Tang-Taye and Boyer 2014). While many of these agents and travel agencies succumbed to this change, many went ahead to adapt to this change by getting themselves familiar with the use of internet and introducing the option of online bookings to their customers. The dominant role played by the high street travel agents in the traditional distribution of the travel booking and services declined with the growth of online travel agencies and airlines and hotels’ directly distributing through their websites.

According to a report by Kayak, a travel search engine, the travel booking habits of majority of the people in the United Kingdom (UK), has changed extremely over the past decade. The percentage of British people choosing high street travel agents to book their holidays declined from 57 percent to 19 percent in the last ten years (Romero 2017). With the rise of the online method of holiday booking, from thirty five percent to seventy-nine percent of the people opting this method, many of the travel agents now have their own websites to provide the booking services online. Today, more Brits are choosing to go with this online option, as it is more convenient for them to plan and book their holidays online by browsing through the websites of the airlines as well as hotels. Many travel companies including Thomas Cook has significantly improved their methods of providing travelling service to their customer including safer option for online transaction through various channels. Apart from this, airlines like British Airways have come up with the option of ‘Customize Your Trip’ on their official website (Davenport 2013). This allows their customers to create and plan holiday trips including the multi-destination ones by flexibly choosing the flights at different airports as well as book rooms at multiple hotels throughout the duration of their holiday.                  

Evaluation of how technology changed the methods of conducting business, as compared to the old ‘Bricks and Mortar’ businesses.

Brick and Mortar (B & M) travel companies and agencies acts as brokers who provides various travel related products and services generally offline to the public from a certain geographical location (Pozzi 2013). These agencies being brokerages gets commission from the clients and this acts as the main source of their income, provides information in order to connect their customers with the travel services. With the decline in the sale of the services from individual agents, the agencies had to witness great decline in the annual income. With more people choosing to book their holidays online, very few are nowadays opting to go to the B&M agencies for directly dealing with the travel agents for their travel and holiday plans. The various services provided by the online agencies includes preparing the clients documents and their travel route, providing the travelers with the required support and the needed consultation and making it easier for their customers to purchase as well as reserve their airline tickets (Inversini and Masiero 2014).  Thus, with the introduction of the internet in the travel industry, the traditional brick and mortar businesses got threatened with the entry of the online travel agents and agencies.

Online agencies have no fixed location like the B&M agencies, thus they have low entry and exit barriers as well as lower cost of operation. Apart from this, they also came with the offer of online transactions and the marketing strategy of having the destination images and videos on the website. To this, the B&M agencies reciprocated with developing and acquiring their own websites and opening up physical stores at local locations to provide more human-to-human contact to the customers (Kayani 2014). Moreover, with the adaptation of the ICT in the travel industry, more travel related information became easily accessible to the customers. A tremendous role has been played by the Computer reserve system (CRS) or the Global distributed systems (GDS) in the travel industry over the past decade. With the help of advanced technologies and internet facilities, the customers got access to better negotiation power and could directly interact with their travel service providers without the need of any intermediary. Apart from this, several other changes that developed with the advancement of technology includes availability of reviews given by other travelers online, various online travel related articles, option to compare the prices and services provided by different travel agents and the option to do numerous search with specific set of criteria. This further led the B&M agencies to provide their clients with the options of customized services at competitive price (Chen et al. 2014).

Advantages and Disadvantages of traditional and online booking 

Along with the substantial growth in the e-commerce businesses in the recent years, the demand for the travel companies providing travel services through their websites have increased and become more popular. One of the reasons for this growing demand is that the online reservation systems have become more efficient with the option for the customers to make all their travel related purchases on the internet (Guo et al. 2013). The technological impact is felt on regular basis with most of the packaged travel trips and plans as well as cruises still getting booked through a travel agency.

The advantage of a B&M traditional travel agency is that it turns out to be convenient for many of their customers who instead of wasting their time searching for the information all on their own, choose to consult a travel agent (Lee et al. 2015). These travel professionals assists them by offering the best travel plan as well as provide further help and support during their holiday duration. The major let down of the traditional travel agencies is the amount of service charge that is most of the time higher than the margin provided by the online agencies.

The advantages as well as the disadvantages of the online method to the travel agencies as well as the customers are as follows:

  • With the availability of the high-speed internet, the communication between the agency and the clients got faster along with booking a holiday trip online faster (Xiang, Magnini and Fesenmaier 2015). The agency’s productivity increased sufficiently along with improvement in the customer satisfaction level.
  • One of the advantages of selling travel services online is the lower maintenance cost due to low cost it takes to maintain the agency’s website. Apart from this, the agencies on its online web portals, allows their seasoned clients the options to compare prices, read other customers reviews and feedback and early reservations.
  • The disadvantage of online travel services is that it contains a huge amount of data stored on its website regarding different holiday destinations and offers (Amaro and Duarte 2013). This makes the clients who are less experienced in travelling and holiday plans get lost with the multiple options available.
  • The agencies that have low maintenance websites do not offer certain options to their clients including help or advice services.

Critical analysis of the benefits associated with the use of mobile-apps, alerts and mobility when selling/buying travel & tourism services. 

According to a 2015 statistic, the tours and travel industry is a massive industry with approximately 6.3 trillion dollar invested in it (Www.goodworklabs.com 2017). The major players to contribute to this success in the travel industry are the travel mobile apps. With the growing collaboration between the travel industry and the technology, both have made a lot of progress and are continuing to provide better services to the people. Today, there are numerous apps available that enables one to do almost all the travel related activities including booking travel, accommodations as well as availing cab services. Unlike previously using the printed maps and guidebooks, today with help of the travel apps including Google Maps that comes preinstalled in the mobile phones, people around the globe are enabled to carry along with them majority of these online resources they need for their travel expeditions ( Lu et al. 2015). Apart from this, the users of these travel apps also can easily and quickly pay for their travel online from their smartphones as well as tablet devices. These apps also allows the users with the option to work on the go as well as remotely access all of their work related documents, thus improving their productivity and flexibility.

The apps related to travel and tourism have been found to be the seventh most downloaded apps by the people according to the demographic statistics. The same statistics also shows that 60 percent of the users of smartphones globally, have downloaded and installed certain travel apps into their phones, with 45 percent in this group using these apps on regular basis to plan their holidays and tours directly from their mobile (Www.goodworklabs.com 2017). The above facts, makes it clear that the travel agencies along with time have been successfully able to make their apps’ presence strong in the market and also have been able to reach out to more customers. Thus, in order to survive in the competitive market of the travel and tourism industry, it has become crucial to invest in the latest technologies including mobile apps (Dickinson 2014). These apps help the travel agencies to attract more customers towards it by offering more friendliness and other high-end functionalities that a normal brick and mortar agency who operate from a single street shop.        

Discussion of the security issues associated with having a web presence.

Almost all the travel agencies as well as airlines in the travel industry now have a strong customer presence on their websites with more people choosing to book their travel online. Unfortunately, with the increase in popularity and adaptation of the online method, these websites have become a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals ( Millet 2015). Majority of the time, the customer’s personal as well as financial information is put at risk as their travel information does not get protected rightly against the various phishing attacks via emails. Though, the travel agencies do spend a lot in marketing it services to attract potential customers, it fails many a time in protecting them. Some of the various security issues with having a web presence is as follows:

  • The websites of the travel companies collects personal information including the customer’s name and contact details as well as their payment mode. With any kind of breach in the security of the website, these information can be accessed easily by the cybercriminals leaving the customers vulnerable.
  • Various online agencies and the loyalty websites either have a four digit personal identification number (PIN) or a six character password as their only mean of providing protection to their customer’s account. Thus, they need to implement strict security with either two factor authentication or one time passwords sent to the customer’s registered mobile number as security measures (Beck and Swensen 2015).
  • The customers on the other hand also need to ensure that their account does not get hacked by avoiding to use the same username and password combination on several sites. Usage of the same combination would make it easier for the fraudster to hack all the other accounts of the customers if he succeeds in hacking any one of the accounts of the customers (Jansen and Leukfeldt 2015).   
  • Many a times, the hackers are interested to take advantage of the loyalty programs of various brands who awards their customers reward points that are accumulated over time and are considered equivalent to the currency (Roger-Monzó, Martí-Sánchez and Guijarro-García 2015). They steal these accumulated reward points without getting traced digitally. Thus, these airlines and agencies with loyalty programs needs to be proactive with the email security to protect their customers, brand and business.

Recommendations:

In order to survive and thrive in the competitive market, the travel agents are recommended to do the following things:

  • They must develop themselves as one of the specialist in providing help to the customers to pick a certain destination for their holidays as well as give the customers personalized service that they are seeking.
  • The agents must make themselves, more experienced and unique while dealing the clients and help them in booking complex trips.
  • The agents must constantly change and adapt with the market and provide flexibility in the travel prices and focus less on collecting the commission.  

Conclusion: 

This report contains discussion on how the travel industry had to suffer a great deal with public adapting to online services and new travel related technologies and in order to counter these changes, most of the agencies have shifted their prime focus to conduct the sales online. The agencies allowed their clients to book holiday trips online, without having to face any kind of constraint of the working hours of the agencies or the need to manage their own busy schedule. This report discusses the advantages and the disadvantages of both the online and offline travel agencies and the various existing security issues related to their websites that needs to be paid great attention to in order to ensure that their customers information remains safe and protected from the hacker and the fraudsters. Thus, this report concludes with a belief that the traditional high street travel agents and the brick and mortar agencies will without a doubt remain functioning in the travel market, till the time customers continue with the demand for the packaged holiday travels.  

References:

Amaro, S. and Duarte, P., 2013. Online travel purchasing: A literature review. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 30(8), pp.755-785.

Beck, J.M. and Swensen, C.L., Directpointe, Inc., 2015. Token based two factor authentication and virtual private networking system for network management and security and online third party multiple network management method. U.S. Patent 8,973,122.

Chen, G., Wu, S., Zhou, J. and Tung, A.K., 2014. Automatic itinerary planning for traveling services. IEEE transactions on knowledge and data engineering, 26(3), pp.514-527.

Davenport, T.H., 2013. turning towards a smarter travel experience.

Dickinson, J.E., Ghali, K., Cherrett, T., Speed, C., Davies, N. and Norgate, S., 2014. Tourism and the smartphone app: Capabilities, emerging practice and scope in the travel domain. Current Issues in Tourism, 17(1), pp.84-101.

GoodWorkLabs: Mobile App and Software Product Development 2016. 2017. How Mobile App Impacts on Travel and Tourism Industry | GoodWorkLabs. [online] Available at: https://www.goodworklabs.com/how-mobile-app-benefits-travel-and-tourism-industry/ [Accessed 8 Dec. 2017].

Guo, X., Ling, L., Yang, C., Li, Z. and Liang, L., 2013. Optimal pricing strategy based on market segmentation for service products using online reservation systems: An application to hotel rooms. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 35, pp.274-281.

Inversini, A. and Masiero, L., 2014. Selling rooms online: the use of social media and online travel agents. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 26(2), pp.272-292.

Jansen, J. and Leukfeldt, R., 2015, July. How people help fraudsters steal their money: An analysis of 600 online banking fraud cases. In Socio-Technical Aspects in Security and Trust (STAST), 2015 Workshop on (pp. 24-31). IEEE.

Kayani, K.K., 2014. Impact of ICT on the bricks and mortar travel agents and changes in the supply chain positioning.

Lai, I.K.W., 2014. The role of service quality, perceived value, and relationship quality in enhancing customer loyalty in the travel agency sector. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 31(3), pp.417-442.

Lee, W.S., Moon, J., Lee, S. and Kerstetter, D., 2015. Determinants of systematic risk in the online travel agency industry. Tourism Economics, 21(2), pp.341-355.

Lu, J., Mao, Z., Wang, M. and Hu, L., 2015. Goodbye maps, hello apps? Exploring the influential determinants of travel app adoption. Current Issues in Tourism, 18(11), pp.1059-1079.

Millet, A., 2015. Airlines vulnerabilities to a cyber-attack and the potential consequences (Doctoral dissertation, Utica College).

Mossaz, A. and Coghlan, A., 2017. The role of travel agents’ ethical concerns when brokering information in the marketing and sale of sustainable tourism. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(7), pp.989-1006.

Pozzi, A., 2013. The effect of Internet distribution on brick?and?mortar sales. The RAND Journal of Economics, 44(3), pp.569-583.

Roger-Monzó, V., Martí-Sánchez, M. and Guijarro-García, M., 2015. Using online consumer loyalty to gain competitive advantage in travel agencies. Journal of Business Research, 68(7), pp.1638-1640.

Romero, K. 2017. The high street travel agency 'will be DEAD within five years' due to new technology. [online] Express.co.uk. Available at: https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/671470/The-high-street-travel-agency-will-be-DEAD-within-five-years [Accessed 8 Dec. 2017].

Standing, C., Tang-Taye, J.P. and Boyer, M., 2014. The impact of the Internet in travel and tourism: A research review 2001–2010. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 31(1), pp.82-113.

Xiang, Z., Magnini, V.P. and Fesenmaier, D.R., 2015. Information technology and consumer behavior in travel and tourism: Insights from travel planning using the internet. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 22, pp.244-249.

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