This book written by Peter O' Connor (CABI Publishing, Wallingford, 1999) provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of electronic information distribution channels in…
This book written by Peter O' Connor (CABI Publishing, Wallingford, 1999) provides a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of electronic information distribution channels in the tourism and hospitality industries starting from their very early origins to their most recent applications that state-of-the-art technological developments have enabled. Having established the context of information distribution in tourism, individual chapters focus on the development of the Airline Reservation Systems and Global Distribution Systems, Hotel Central Reservation Systems, Destination Management and Marketing Systems, Internet and WWW.
The real contribution of the book to the field is that by reviewing a wide-ranging literature, it structures the development of these channels under an easily understandable but implicit framework. The text provides a well researched overview of their development in terms of their information content, operational functions, their network configuration and accessibility and so, their target audience. It is also discussed how decisions and changes in the implementation of each of these fields can and have crucially affected their economics, i.e. their costs/benefits to both the bottom line and the competitiveness of the firm.
The final section is a fruitful speculation on the technologies which will have an effect on tourism distribution, namely hard storage devices (CD-ROM, CD-I, DVD), multimedia kiosks, intranets/extranets, interactive TV and intelligent agents. However, because of the speed of IT change, the reader should be aware that such analysis was a good idea at the time the text was written. The book would benefit from an update in order to incorporate the latest developments, such as palmtop devices allowing internet accessibility, third generation mobile phones equipped with screens and cameras etc. On the other hand, the reader is stimulated to assess the potential effects of future technological developments under the above mentioned framework. The book fails though to highlight that in the new era of electronic distribution boundaries of industries are blurring; indeed, any firm irrespective from its industry can become an information broker, i.e. information publishers, TV broadcasters, IT suppliers such as IBM's travel site, retailers' e.g. Sainsbury's travel site. This could have given a speculative explanation of the crucial role that mergers, alliances/partnerships and outsourcing options could play or had already played in some cases in the tourism industry.
A major strength of the book is that each chapter is followed by case-studies which clearly illustrate how the previous discussed arguments are being implemented in practice. Written in a very accessible, narrative and free from technical terms style the book is a useful and a "must read" source for students and practitioners alike, who want to understand what has driven the evolution of current electronic distribution channels and how further developments will challenge the future of tourism distribution.
PhD Research Student
School of Management Studies for the Service Sector
University of Surrey
Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.