This chapter analyzes how the development and use of mobile and Web technologies are changing the way to search information, to plan, to buy, and to travel. The new technologies are changing several aspects of our life, such as the way in which people work, buy, learn, travel, and how they relate to each other, and so on. The tourist sector certainly represents one of the most dynamic markets, able to capture innovations and opportunities provided by the Web, in such a way that gets to be an out-and-out model of e-business. Internet access now is not restricted to personal computer. In fact the use of mobile devices is becoming increasingly important. The chapter’s goal is to analyze social implications of Web applications and mobile devices and how they are improving the attitude of the customers both the fruition of tourism services and to development of sustainable tourism.
The widespread use of Internet and Web technology in every aspect of our daily life has brought great change in the consumers habits in any field but mainly in the tourism sector. Every year, million of tourists approach to Internet in order to find tourist information: vacations, flights, guides, last minute, cruises, destinations and routes. This situation is changing the concept of tourism. In particular, tourism was defined by the World Tourism Organisation as “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, holidays, business, health treatment, religion and other purposes”.
A new concept of “intelligent tourism” is spreading, based on all those innovative technological solutions offered by Web that allows achieving information on cultural, artistic and other kinds of natural interest.
The Web imposes itself more and more as relevant reference and indispensable resource in the tourism sector both for customers and tourism companies, thanks to undisputed advantages such as:
Speed for information exchange,
Improvement of interaction among people located in different places,
Improvement of information sharing, knowledge and services availability for all the users.
These above three aspects are very important because they are producing the markets globalisation and the spatial and of temporal boundaries break down. Moreover the information and knowledge production and sharing improves both quality development of social inclusion. Moreover, the success of the Web and mobile technologies in the tourism sector is given by very competitive prices, but also by the ability to differentiate the offer, by the improvement of possibility to reach the market niches and by proposing new services with a good usability degree. The user is not a passive subject and when s/he visits a business site s/he knows that s/he will not be able to find negative aspects of a choice. This has brought to the creation of virtual communities where users share their own travel experiences with other tourists and where the potential tourist consumer finds relevant information. The tourist seems in fact to prefer descriptions and testimonies of other people that have already visited that place.
In the next sections we introduce the passage from the old economy to the new economy in tourism sector, in particular we describe how the advent of e-commerce has marked the passage from traditional travel agencies to Internet. In succession we describe the different tools tourist used for Web and mobile and their social aspects. Finally we describe the new scenarios of tourism using the new technologies and how the mobile devices can develop the sustainable tourism, increasing both tourism demand and tourism supply.Top
From Travel Agencies To Online Tourism E-Commerce
The tourism initially involved an elite activity. In the last years it has beenbecoming a mass phenomenon shared by million of people all over the world, and it has been becoming one of most relevant economic sector of most countries. Data provided by World Tourism Council (1997), in fact talk of seven hundred million of arrivals of tourists all over the world. The tourism represents the 7% of the total occupied people and the 2% of global gross domestic product. It is a dynamic phenomenon, mutable and complex, it can be defined as a “social fact”, it changes with transition of tendencies, of orientations, of necessities and needs of society.
In the past tourists had to go to the travel agencies, i.e. in the physicals commercial places where to plan and buy a travel. These agencies execute activities of reservation and selling of single tourism services or services packages confectioned by Tour Operators. This means that people, have to go to a physical place to use such services. The choice of the agency can be limited by the physical distance. Moreover services obtained depended by operators, by their personal skills and by their limited information.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Mobile Interaction: The relation between users using mobile devices, it allows users to communicate and to access Web applications from any place.
Social Network: A community of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Each user create contents and uses others’ contents.
Online Tourism: The purchases, the selling or the consultation about services tourism on Internet, both Web and mobile technologies.
Sustainable Tourism: A tourism which meets the needs of the present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future.
Mobile Technologies: A parent category for mobile telephony, mobile computing, and miscellaneous portable electronic devices, systems, and networks.
Web Interaction: The relation between users and Web applications in order to search information about their own needs or for fun.
Virtual Travel Community: A group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as forum, blog, chat room, instant messaging and that are interested in sharing information about tourism or travel.