Tourism Search and Metasearch Engines for Online Booking: What Do They Offer?

Tourism Search and Metasearch Engines for Online Booking: What Do They Offer?

Trinidad Domínguez (University of Vigo, Spain), Noelia Araújo (University of Vigo, Spain), Jose Antonio Fraiz (University of Vigo, Spain) and Elisa Alén (University of Vigo, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1054-3.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter aims to analyze the different tourism search and metasearch engines for online booking based on supplier perspective (accommodation, flights, leisure and package deals) and taking into account the possible relations generated by the structure and content variables of web offers. A literature review is carried out to study user experience and provide greater in-depth knowledge which will, in turn, in addition to observation of online booking, trends, data, and profile and user preferences. With this information, the study establishes the main attributes of strucuture and offer content of webs focused on the user preferences. The empirical analysis is based on a representative sample of e-commerce of tourism websites, its main characteristics and possible correlations according to the structure and content of their offers. Based on this, the work identifies competitive advantages that will set the trends for the sector and future short-term strategies.
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Introduction

The emergence of the Internet and the ease with which it can be used and accessed has no doubt changed many aspects of our lives. Certainly, one of these aspects is the way we buy. This has led many companies to review the way they market their products, focusing their efforts on the management of online marketing. Within this context, two main concepts arise:

  • E-commerce, and

  • E-business.

E-business is the use of information technologies in various business operations, while e-commerce is the latest step in the evolution of business transactions process. It comprises the sale of goods or services through computer networks, i.e., it uses internet as a channel. As a matter of fact, e-commerce may be considered as a set of e-business applications used in commercial transactions (Kalakota & Robinson, 2001).

Among the various activities that can be found within e-commerce, we are particularly interested those of businesses serving end consumers with products and / or services (Kumar & Raheja, 2012). B2C e-commerce sales include all products and services ordered or booked throughout the Internet on any search. B2C e-commerce sales worldwide reached $ 1,471 trillion in 2014; this represents an increase of nearly 20% with respect to 2013. However, e-commerce growth will slow down and settle at around 10% by the end 2018, with sales reaching $ 2,356 trillion (eMarket, 2014; United Nations, 2015). With the clear growth trend of e-commerce in the forthcoming years supported by an ever-increasing Asia-Pacific market and the continued presence of North America and Western Europe, B2C becomes of strategic value to the company. One of the sectors in which it is increasingly becoming relevant is the tourism sector. According to the report of the United Nations (2015), travel-related items (such as tours, hotel reservations and airline tickets) rank among the top five items consumers wished to buy online in 2014 throughout all regions; that is to say,

  • Asia and Oceania (the Pacific Islands),

  • Europe,

  • Africa and the Middle East,

  • Latin America, and

  • North America.

Furthermore, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism in the world in 2014 generated 9% of GDP (direct, indirect and induced impact), 1 in 11 jobs, US $ 1.5 trillion in exports, 6% of the world exports, 1,133 million international tourists and 6 billion domestic tourists. Moreover, tourism is expected to generate 1.8 billion international tourists by 2030 (UNWTO, 2015). A market opportunity will thus be created and supported by the continued medium and long-term growth of this sector along with the ever-growing e-commerce activity itself.

As in other sectors, tourism is also undergoing many changes and internet is to blame for most of them. Internet is the main source for travel planning. Travelers are turning to internet for travel inspiration in the same way they would turn to their own family, friends or colleagues for advice (Ipsos MediaCT & Google Travel Study, 2014). Supporting this statement, the gross bookings of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) exceeded $ 150 billion in 2013. This represents 38% of the global online market and 13% of the overall travel market for that year. The online travel sales figure is estimated to be growing at 12% per year. Overall, global leaders of online travel include Priceline and Expedia which each sell more than 22 million and 12 million hotel room nights per month, respectively. The world's largest online travel platform, TripAdvisor, receives 315 million monthly unique visitors (Forbes, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Metasearch Engines: Mega search engines that allow web users to browse various search engines and web directories at a time ( Ho, Lin and Chen, 2012 ). That is to say, this system locates information in the most commonly used search engines. It lacks its own database and uses other search engines to show a combination of the best pages returned by each one of them.

Online Travel Agencies (OTA): Only available on the Internet with no physically located establishment (Vázquez-Casielles et al., 2009 AU158: The in-text citation "Vázquez-Casielles et al., 2009" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). In addition, customers may find a single tourist product, such as a flight or a set or combination of flights, as well as last-minute offers (Rensmann, 2012 AU159: The in-text citation "Rensmann, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Booking Online: Process throughout customer's concluded arrangement with a goods or services supplier (carrier, hotel, restaurant, publisher, etc.) representing a completed sale, using networks. Also called reservation or transaction. An online booking tool is a tool used by organisations to manage their business travel online (Taft, 2014 AU154: The in-text citation "Taft, 2014" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Electronic Commerce or E-Commerce: May be considered as a set of e-business applications used in commercial transactions (Kalakota and Robinson, 2001 AU157: The in-text citation "Kalakota and Robinson, 2001" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). There are different types as result of transaction combinations of business, consumer and agoverment.

Business to Customer or B2C: Electronic commerce between company that operate in the net/network and customer (Montane, 2010 AU156: The in-text citation "Montane, 2010" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Business Commerce or E-Business: The use of information technologies in various business operations, while e-commerce is the latest step in the evolution of business transactions process. It comprises the sale of goods or services through computer networks, i.e., it uses internet as a channel (Kalakota and Robinson, 2001 AU155: The in-text citation "Kalakota and Robinson, 2001" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Search Engines: Intermediaries are limited to providing information and contacting the members of electronic channels ( Rodriguez, 2002 AU160: The citation "Rodriguez, 2002" matches the reference "Rodríguez, 2002", but an accent or apostrophe is different. ).

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