Travel Vendors: Best Practices

Travel Vendors: Best Practices

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8395-0.ch004

Abstract

The private sector plays a fundamental role in tourism. This role is elaborated with specific attention to information and communication technologies. The tourism experience is disaggregated into stages and activities: pre-travel – stimulation, information gathering, planning, and execution (including booking); travel; and post-travel – posting photos and reviews and paying bills. Particularly important for vendors is the posting of reviews. Even one negative review can cost a vendor business; therefore, the management of reviews has grown by leaps and bounds. However, as Priceline.com found recently, managing reviews—positive or negative—must be done judiciously. If tourists suspect a site's reviews are less than honest, the vendor can lose important business. Best practices for vendors are forwarded.
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Travel Vendors: Best Practices

The discussion of best practices regarding the development of information technology within the tourism industry is complex for many reasons: the diversity of the industry; the variety of potential and actual travelers; the stages of tourism, as displayed in Figure 1; and best practices for whom or to what end.

Figure 1.

Market share of leading travel agencies, 2016 (%)*

The tourism industry is extremely diverse ranging from small, local vendors (traditional travel agents) to mega-scale international corporations (like Airbnb and Marriott Corporation). Within the tourism industry, the vendors (firms) display considerable structural diversity, such as most of the U.S. airlines with their traditional hierarchical pyramid structures to near virtual firms with flattened structures such as Airbnb or Uber. Firms may be privately held, publicly held, or some sort of public-private partnership. Firm entry point into the market also varies considerably. The range and scope of direct providers (hoteliers, transportation providers, tour operators) and providers that have no direct contact with travelers (software developers, consulting firms) are impressive.

Travelers are a highly diverse group of customers and potential customers, varying by generation as discussed in Chapter 3, incomes, personal values, and goals. Customer characteristics naturally may impact firm response in terms of offerings and other factors of the marketplace. For example, a financially well-off customer may seek an all-inclusive package while a less well-off individual may arrange their vacation independently, thereby trading time and effort for cost savings. The expectations and values of Gen X tend to differ from those of Gen Z. Families with children may seek a different type vacation than empty nesters or singles.

A traveler’s needs will change depending on the stage of the tourism process in which they find themselves. As described in Chapter 3, a trip will move through planning (pre-trip), execution (trip), and reporting (post-trip) stages with each stage requiring a different mix of services, including tech services. And it must not be overlooked that needs, including the needs all or partially filled via technology, will vary from traveler to traveler as a function of their generation, desires, and values. Travel organizations vary their offerings to meet the target market niche.

Each of the six generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boom, Silent, and Greatest) displays a different set of values related to travel and to technology. While there is considerable variation within a generation with regard to travel and technology, it simplifies discussion if we consider each generation as an ideal-type and for the time being overlook intra-generation variation.

Vendor best practices are often not consistent across generations due to variations in customer tastes.

For example, Millennials share some characteristics with Gen Z and Millennials and Gen Z certainly have more in common with each other than with Baby Boomers, Silent, or Greatest generations. At the same time Greatest and Silent generations will share some characteristics. Finally, a note regarding the best practices discussed herein. Much of the technology, literature, and practices regarding the relationship between tourism and information technology are simply too new to establish clear-cut best practices. Rather, the practices put forth in the following discussion are the more successful practices which are the best we have to date.

As noted above, best practices are a function of an organization’s goal(s). However, goals are not necessarily exclusive of one another. For example, if an organization has a goal to maximize market share, this likely correlates to a goal of high quality customer service, although this need not be the case, reductions in customer service might yield lower costs, thereby capturing cost sensitive customers and expanding market share, at the risk of losing customers who with less price sensitivity and higher expectations of service (Cendyn, 2017d; Hughes, 2017; Seaton, 2017). Many best practices in the tourism and travel industries focus on enhancing marketing (Dolnicar and Ring, 2014; Cox and Wray, 2011; and Abelow, 2017, May 2), especially with regard to on-line presence (Sickora, 2017; Abelow, 2017, May 2; Loesche, 2018, January 26; and Sexton, 2018).

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