Intelligent Technologies for Tourism

Intelligent Technologies for Tourism

Dimitris Kanellopoulos (University of Patras, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch337
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Abstract

Nowadays, the tourism industry is a consumer of a diverse range of information (Buhalis & O’Connor, 2005). Information communication technologies (ICTs) play a critical role for the competitiveness of tourism organizations and destinations. According to Staab and Werthner (2002), ICTs are having the effect of changing: • The ways in which tourism companies contact their business; reservations and information management systems; • The ways tourism companies communicate; how customers look for information on, and purchase travel goods and services. In the tourism industry, the supply and demand sides form a worldwide network in which tourism product’s generation and distribution are closely worked together. Most tourism products (e.g., hotel rooms or flight tickets) are time constrained and nonstockable. Generally, the tourism product is both “perishable” and “complex,” and itself is a bundle of basic products aggregated by intermediaries. Consequently, basic products must have well-defined interfaces with respect to consumer needs, prices, or distribution channels. In addition, a tourism product cannot be tested and controlled in advance. During decision-making, only an abstract model of the product (e.g., its description) is available. Besides, the tourism industry has a heterogeneous nature, and a strong small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) base. Undoubtedly, intelligent technologies are increasingly changing the nature of, and processes in, the tourism industry. This chapter reviews, in brief, such technologies applied to the e-tourism domain.
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Introduction

Nowadays, the tourism industry is a consumer of a diverse range of information (Buhalis & O’Connor, 2005). Information communication technologies (ICTs) play a critical role for the competitiveness of tourism organizations and destinations. According to Staab and Werthner (2002), ICTs are having the effect of changing:

  • The ways in which tourism companies contact their business; reservations and information management systems;

  • The ways tourism companies communicate; how customers look for information on, and purchase travel goods and services.

In the tourism industry, the supply and demand sides form a worldwide network in which tourism product’s generation and distribution are closely worked together. Most tourism products (e.g., hotel rooms or flight tickets) are time constrained and nonstockable. Generally, the tourism product is both “perishable” and “complex,” and itself is a bundle of basic products aggregated by intermediaries. Consequently, basic products must have well-defined interfaces with respect to consumer needs, prices, or distribution channels. In addition, a tourism product cannot be tested and controlled in advance. During decision-making, only an abstract model of the product (e.g., its description) is available. Besides, the tourism industry has a heterogeneous nature, and a strong small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) base. Undoubtedly, intelligent technologies are increasingly changing the nature of, and processes in, the tourism industry. This chapter reviews, in brief, such technologies applied to the e-tourism domain.

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Background

E-tourism is defined as the use of ICTs in the tourism industry. It involves the buying and selling of tourism products and services via electronic channels, such as the Internet, cable TV, and so forth. E-tourism includes all intranet, extranet, and Internet applications, as well as all the strategic management and marketing issues related to the use of technology. ICTs include the entire range of electronic tools that facilitate the operational and strategic management of organizations by enabling them to manage their information, functions, and processes, as well as to communicate interactively with their stakeholders for achieving their mission and objectives. Currently, e-tourism makes use of (syntactic) Web technology for tours, infrastructure, related interesting information, such as public transport, timetables, weather, online reservation, and so forth. However, the major barriers using the syntactic Web are:

  • Creating complex queries involving background knowledge on tourism issues.

  • Solving ambiguities and synonyms.

  • Finding and using Web services for tourism

From another perspective, the characteristics of the tourism product require information on the consumers’ and suppliers’ sides, involving high information search costs and causing informational market imperfections. These outcomes sequentially lead to the establishment of specific product distribution information and value-adding chains. Given such a framework, Staab and Werthner (2002) state that intelligent Information Systems (ISs) should:

  • Be heterogeneous, distributed, and cooperative.

  • Enable full autonomy of the respective participants.

  • Support the entire consumer life cycle and all business phases.

  • Allow dynamic network configurations.

  • Provide intelligence for customers (tourists) and suppliers as well as in the network.

  • Be scalable and open.

  • Focus on mobile communication enabling multichannel distribution.

Hereafter, we present intelligent technologies for tourism.

Key Terms in this Chapter

CRS (Computerized Reservation System): A CRS enables travel agencies to find what a customer is looking for and makes customer data storage and retrieval relatively simple.

GDS (Global Distribution System): A GDS provides travel information services, such as real-time availability and price information for flights, hotels, and car rental companies. Dominant GDSs are Sabre and Galileo.

LA_DMS (Layered Adaptive Semantic-Based DMS Based on P2P Technologies): It is a DMS that is adaptive to tourists’ needs for tourist destination information. It uses a metadata model to encode semantic destination information in an RDF-based P2P network architecture. Its metadata model combines ontological structures with information for tourism destinations and peers.

DMS (Destination Management System): A DMS provides complete and up-to-date information on a particular tourist destination. It handles both the pre-trip and post-arrival information, as well as integrates availability and booking service too. It is used for the collection, storage, manipulation, and distribution of tourism information, as well as for the transaction of reservations and other commercial activities. Well-known DMSs are TISCover, VisitScotland, and Gulliver.

IFITT (International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism): The IFITT ( http://www.ifitt.org/ ) is a not-for-profit organization aiming to promote international discussion about ICTs and tourism.

DMO (Destination Management Organization): It is an entity or a company that promotes a tourist destination such as to increase the amount of visitors to this destination. It uses a DMS to distribute its properties and to present the tourist destination as a holistic entity.

OTA (Open Travel Alliance): The OTA ( http://www.opentravel.org/ ) is an organization that develops open data transmission specifications for the electronic exchange of business information for the travel industry, including, but not limited to the use of XML.

WTO (World Tourism Organization): The WTO ( http://www.world-tourism.org/ ) is a global body concerned with the collection and collation of statistical information on international tourism. It represents public sector tourism bodies from most countries, and the publication of its data makes possible comparisons of the flow and growth of tourism on a global scale.

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