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School of Management at the University of Surrey

3rd eTourism Futures interactive workshop and seminar at UniS

The 3rd eTourism Futures Forum was organised by the School of Management at the University of Surrey. The Forum attracted more…

The 3rd eTourism Futures Forum was organised by the School of Management at the University of Surrey. The Forum attracted more than 30 senior practitioners and academics to debate the eTourism developments and to explore how the Information Communication Technologies Revolution is expected to change the Future For The Tourism, Travel And Hospitality Industries.

The audience from both industry and academia debated a number of key issues and focused on the distribution of tourism for the future. Prof Khurshid Ahmad (University of Surrey) explain the benefits of Intelligent Knowledge Management and the opportunities that emerge in the management of Tourism. Dr Francesco Ricci (ITT) demonstrated how recommender systems are deployed in tourism organisations to lead consumers towards suitable products. Soren Langelund (OctapusTravel) and Kevin O`Toole (Airline Business) demonstrated that airlines are the front runners of eTourism Research demonstrate that 15% of the airline tickets are booked online and only 15% of the airlines that participate in the Airline Business IT 2003 survey do not use the Internet to sell tickets. Andy Phillips (Active Hotels), Alistair Watts (Summit Hotels) and John Seaton (Pegasus) explained that hotels are still struggling to understand the entire distribution system and are still uncertain about the opportunities and perils that Internet distribution introduces. The Merchant model had some significant implications for the hotel distribution. Hotel Chains are gradually learning from the experience and many decide to use distribution channels more selectively in order to maintain brand integrity and maximise their yield. Hotel properties are often in conflict with the chain headquarters as they often resolve to more tactical pricing than desired by headquarters.

Travel intermediation has changed dramatically and a certain maturity is now emerging in the market place with Expedia, Travelocity, Lastminute, eBookers emerging as strong players on a global basis. This is gradually developing an oligopoly in the marketplace and similar issues with Tour Operators may emerge in the near future. Global Distribution Channels are moving towards increasing their online direct sales through the acquisition of shares of OPODO and other players. Dynamic packaging is growing rapidly and that will threaten the traditional tour operating. Roberto Daniele (QUMC) argued that in three years time the online intermediaries may take over the traditional tourism tour operators and control a larger percentage of the market. Andrew Daines (VisitBritain) demonstrated the challenges for Destination Boards as a result of the emerging trends on the internet. As a result Tourism Boards and Destination Marketing is changing dramatically and Visit Britain is developing new tools to take advantage of the new tools. Equally Destination Management Systems are changing with companies such as Tiscover, and few others being established suppliers in the marketplace. Finally, Vaios Lappas (UniS) demonstrated that there is technological progress in space tourism and eventually we may be able to take regular holidays in space!

Participants concluded that more research is required and a closer interaction between industry and academia will provide significant benefits to both. The annual eTourism Futures will provide an opportunity for bringing together the two communities and encourage dialogue.

Dr Dimitrios Buhalis said that the event provided a real opportunity for informal discussion and debate and enabled participants to debate a wide range of contemporary issues in eTourism. Many felt that this was a unique forum in encouraging looking forward and visioning the future of eTourism.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.