The Use of IT in Tourism and Hospitality Sector

The Use of IT in Tourism and Hospitality Sector

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IT has bought with it a number of changes and challenges that affect business and tourism. IT developments that have taken place with respect to the tourism industry are overviewed in this paper. Challenges they pose for the sector and tourism operators generally are also identified. Tourism has a significant economic impact at an international, domestic and regional level. Today we can’t think of anything without using IT. At night we go to bed after watching time. We get up by using the alarm. We communicate with others by using a mobile phone. At the workplace, we use laptops/computers for assignments. And the whole thing we are using is IT.

travel echnology

Tourism has become a key sector in the world economy. According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals total 940 million during 2010, increasing 7%. Apparently, the tourism industry has a great potential to grow, about 5% each year (UNWTO, 2011). The tourism industry could gain more opportunities in the market from the use of the internet (Gratzer et al, 2004); for example, China is fast becoming a booming tourism source country, as an ever-increasing number of its citizens travel overseas. (Xiaoqiu Ma et al, 2003).

The spread of ICTs has a great impact on ensuring sustainable global and tourism development, above all in less developed areas (UNCTAD, 2004). However, there is also a digital gap between tourist markets and destinations within and among countries and this inequality creates the so-called Digital Divide (Minghetti & Buhalis, 2010; Shanker, 2008).  Digital Divide arises from this inequality above all in less developed countries, excluding them for potential opportunities in the tourism market.

In this article, I’ll try to focus on the use of it in tourism sectors & its effects, and its probability in future life.

Tourism and Hospitality

Travel and tourism are one of the world’s largest industries, comprising more than 9.3 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product. Every year, over a billion tourists, visit destinations by air, land, and sea. Hotels alone account for over half a trillion dollars worldwide in annual revenue. The industry is very broad, meaning there are plenty of opportunities and specialty fields, both visible and working behind the scenes. In fact, one in eleven jobs in the current world economy is related to tourism and hospitality. Tourism and hospitality include attractions management, convention planning, customer service, event planning, food service, gaming, lodging, marketing, sales, and travel.

 

Information Technology

Stands for “Information Technology,” and is pronounced “I.T.” It refers to anything related to computing technology, such as networking, hardware, software, the Internet, or the people that work with these technologies. Many companies now have IT departments for managing the computers, networks, and other technical areas of their businesses. IT jobs include computer programming, network administration, computer engineering, Web development, technical support, and many other related occupations. Since we live in the “information age,” information technology has become a part of our everyday lives.

IT In Tourism and Hospitality

Information Technology has played an important role in the hospitality and tourism industry over the last decade. Technology has helped reduce costs, enhance operational efficiency, and improve services and customer experience. Both customers and businesses can benefit from improved communication, reservations, and guest service systems.  Technology has helped tourism and hospitality industries replace expensive human labor with technological labor. This helps reduce labor costs but also helps avoid customer service issues.  Here are some examples of the ways that IT continues to improve the hospitality and tourism industry.

travel echnology

Internet and Marketing

The internet has a powerful impact on hospitality and tourism. A customer’s first experience with a business is a visit to their website. This includes looking at pictures and reviews from past guests. It is vital for a business to effectively utilize online advertising, social media, blogs, and online purchasing to help convenience their customers, especially when your competitors are doing the same thing.

Computer Systems

Computer systems allow communication between larger hotel chains with multiple locations to connect easier. They also help keep staff on the same page and make it easier to access information, making your guest’s experience much better. Guest requests, housekeeping information, and reservations can all be found on one system.

Mobile Communication

Mobile tablets and smartphones have replaced large desktop computers, making them virtually extinct. This is helpful because many travelers take some type of mobile device with them on a trip. This helps hospitality businesses keep customers advised of changes and delays to their reservations, offer deals, and advertise by using GPS tracking.

The use of Technology in the hospitality and tourism industry has helped speed up operations and helped the traveling process much more enjoyable and efficient. Technology not only helps large chain hotels but can also be useful to B and Bs and other smaller companies in the industry.

The contribution of IT in the Tourism and Hospitality sector is written below,

Accommodation for Visitors

ICT is increasingly recognized as a critical part of the strategic management of accommodation organizations irrespective of size (Buhalis, 2003 p51). Studies of the significant intra-firm impacts of new technologies have been paralleled by broader analyses of ICT’s ability to alter distribution networks and global industry structures (Nodder et al, 2003).

Internally there has been a focus on the impact of technologies in both front office and back office areas with an emphasis on point of sale (POS) technologies, in-room entertainment, back-office accounting, human resources management, and supplier relationships (Anon 2002b; 2003b, Baker and Sussman 1999).

Emphasis on the broader impacts of ICT has been placed on airline-based Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and Computer Reservation Systems (CRS), Property Management Systems (PMS), and Destination Management Systems (DMS) (Milne and Ateljevic 2001). The latter has been used by enterprises to enhance performance in the global distribution channels that dominate international tourist flows, and to create a seamless integration between internal technology use and the outside world (Go and Pine 1995; Gray et al, 2000).

In simple terms, tools that facilitate the transmission of information and a level of interactivity between tourism operators and consumers are indispensable to each stage of the tourism value chain, especially when considering distribution and the ability to enter new markets (Buhalis 2001a, b).

There are a number of ways that Information and Communications Technologies can enhance the performance of an accommodation enterprise and assist in gaining a competitive advantage. These include allowing a quicker response time to market and immediate processing of inquiries; integrating different applications to allow seamless processing with reduced error; sharing of resources; increasing capacity of workflow and worker productivity; customization and/or standardization of key product offerings; flexibility and the adaptability needed to keep pace with the fast-moving market, and the ability to creating communities of online suppliers and clients (Murphy 2003; Mutch 1998; Sigala et al 2001).

The relationship with the customer can therefore be enhanced at the information gathering and pre-arrival stage, during the arrival, check-in, and stay stage, and also in the departure and post-stay stage. The ability to ‘mine’ data gathered from clients and to measure the performance of individual workers and departments also makes it easier to benchmark, compare and contrast performance across global boundaries while also creating localized improvements (Van Hoof 1996, 2003).

Food and beverage serving activities

Restaurant service has been changing dramatically as a result of new technology. A challenge that the industry faces is to provide a meal when and where the customer wants it, with guaranteed food safety and nutritional value, offering authentic recipes and customer-specific engineered menus. Guests give their order to a waiter holding a wireless POS the order is transmitted to the Kitchen, speeding service, reducing errors, and increasing time spent by server staff with guests. The data from the handheld device, now in the restaurant‘s computer system, pass through an interface to the inventory and supply ordering software. The software breaks down an order into its components – starter, main course, side orders, and beverages to be reordered from the suppliers. The advancements of mobile technology often put the power in the hands of the consumer enabling greater control over the meal experience before even the meal experience has begun.

An article by PRNewswire-FirstCall (2006) reports that customers can utilize their mobile phones allowing them to pre-order their meals with American Airlines. Other airlines that have followed suit and offered the service to some of their flights include Japan Airlines, Air Berlin, and Northwest airlines. Wireless point-of-sale systems are ideal for difficult-to-wire environments such as pool areas, casino floors, leisure centers, or common areas, as well as historic buildings and properties with large open spaces, providing point-of-activity revenue opportunities and new service offerings. Wireless pen-based terminals integrated with leading-edge restaurant systems can provide food & beverage facilities with breakthrough solutions that optimize efficiency, diminish lines and eliminate waits in a wide variety of hospitality applications.

Wireless customer pads enable customers to give feedback if they are dissatisfied before they leave the restaurant. Guest pagers that light up or vibrate mean that the hostess does not have to hail customers on a loudspeaker system. Pagers can alert waiting for staff when orders are ready in the kitchen. Guest-initiated pagers alert servers when a table is ready to have their order taken, saving time and preventing unnecessary trips to the table. Restaurant processes such as order taking, payment processing, inventory control, wait-list management, valet parking, frequent diner program interface, and other applications can dramatically increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve customer service, (Smith and Gregory 1996). Table seating software has often been part of the epos system such as the Micros, but increasingly standalone table seating systems such as the Prohost (2009) are improving revenue by enabling a higher customer satisfaction through speedier error-free seating of customers and a higher turnover of customers. The future of such systems in combination with touch screen technology will be that arriving customers will be able to choose their table without waiting if they had not made a reservation and a table was available. If they had made a reservation, they could easily find their pre-allocated table simply by using their credit card as a method of identification. Similar services already exist for example ClickaheadSeating (2009) allows the customer to confirm their seat up to seven days in advance with parties that are smaller than 6 people. The service can be used via the customer’s personal computer or mobile phone.

Transportation

According to Pillar, during the last decade, significant development of “smart” information technologies for vehicle routing management has emerged, based on technological advances in more accurate geographic information systems, new-generation of computers with increased processing capabilities, and developments of better planning systems and techniques.

With the use of ITS, transport operations are performed optimally in terms of traffic flow (speed and time routes). Jarašuniené states that the integration of ITS allows the exchange and coordination of information, information acquisition and integration between vehicles and the road infrastructure, the exchange of information with private sectors (logistics service providers), and the exchange with non-transport-related organizations, such as electronic payment institutions.

Then, Intelligent Transportation Systems are the interconnection of different information systems aimed to capture, communicate, compute and assist decision-making, allowing to properly management the flow of vehicles and transportation means. For the proper management of a transport system, the integration of technologies such as the Internet, electronic data exchange, wireless communications, computer technology, programming, and technologies designed to capture and analyze the required information.

When referring to ITS, it should be noted that they are grouped in two broad categories, ITS located in vehicles (such as communication systems and technologies inside them, and the so-called “intelligent vehicles”); and the ITS located in the infrastructure or in the transportation mode, (such as dynamic signals, infraction control systems, etc.). In both categories, great efforts and work to improve efficiency, based on the development of hardware, software and programming models to optimize routes and traffic flow, have been made.

Perego classifies the main technologies for information and communication for logistics and freight transport, using four families, as follows:

Applications for transportation management – TM

Applications for supply chain execution – SCE

Application for Field Force Automation – FFA

Fleet and Freight Management Applications – FFM

TM applications are tools that allow the planning, optimization, and execution of transport activities. They usually include cargo offer, routing, scheduling, tracking, freight payment, and auditing systems. SCE applications manage and automate the exchange of information, and manage the execution of the distribution schedule in real-time. FFA applications are supported on mobile technologies and enable the integration between remote elements and business processes. FFM applications are used to report vehicles and freight information as well as to obtain real-time information to manage distribution operations in a more dynamic and efficient way.

Tour Agency

Services to clients are increasingly focused and travel is becoming more experiential-based than destination-driven. Technology is providing the data needed to help agency managers streamline their operations, reduce costs, and improve revenues. GDSs, high-traffic portal travel sites, and start-up agencies can access similar flight and hotel booking systems. This helps agents quickly filter travel options for their clients; it also enables travelers to do self-service booking independently of an agency.

Customer service is becoming easier, faster, and more cost-effective. Social media is one technology tool that enables a small staff to handle large numbers of inquiries, forward automated alerts to update travelers on delays and wait times and share interesting industry information. Even luggage tags have become part of the increased efficiency/data tracking system. Technology-based luggage tags have tracking systems that track the traveler’s luggage and can send real-time data via text message, email, or a special app.

Gamification is not just a newer cost-management incentive program. Gamification is another way technology is meeting travelers’ demands for more enriched travel experiences. Another interesting “experiential” technology is augmented reality (AR). AR combines the “physical world and virtual information” to change and expand how travelers experience their travels. As one industry writer noted, online data gathering is pervasive and a bit creepy, yet it also is useful in that it enables the travel agent to more effectively customize travel to the client’s interests, comfort, and well-being.

Official works in a hotel

To assume revenue, night audit, guest folio, check-in / out, communication with employee, history, loyalty program, etc. are used by using IT. There have different programs for different work. Opera is the most used for room management, room audit, folio, reservations, availability of rooms, etc. Security was also important for everything. Security alarm like a fire alarm is also controlled by using IT. CC cam is used for preventing unexpected occurrences. The hospitality industry stores the history of every consumer, which is helpful for the security of any country. They also store a consumer’s priority to consume a service. When the consumer back, without asking they can get their desired services, which makes them more satisfied.

Attraction Sector

Both manmade and natural attractions owners need to communicate or inform their potential customers about the features, specialty, location, and accessibility. National Tourist Offices or other related government organizations promote the destination through promotional videos, interactive websites, television advertisements,s and travel documentaries. E-Visa has been introduced to avoid unnecessary waiting for stamping on passport, e-customs clearing and immigration check-in ports have also been implemented.

Dependency on IT of Consumers

While traveling to a destination, a tourist may easily come to know about the attractions, the standard of accommodation, and quality packages through travel apps installed on his/her mobile or laptop or visiting relevant websites. S/he may also confirm their hotel booking, food, and transports, and therefore can avoid facing any hassle prior to the journey. Owing to the advancement of digital technology, tourists nowadays rarely face natural disasters or any other awkward circumstances. With the help of a digital route map and global positioning system (GPS), a tourist can easily roam around. Apart from these, tourists can stay out of being deceived in any destination while on travel. On the other hand, the service providers offer a wider option of services and attractive posts with a view to drawing the attention of potential tourists. The tourists can also make the booking of their packages as per their choices and of the best bargain and give feedback immediately of service – things that earlier looked impossible.

Threats and Challenges

  • The low-cost internet has resulted in the creation of many useless websites in the form of small and medium travel enterprises possessing inadequate skills and insufficient resources to conduct websites effectively.
  • The internet reduces distribution costs as intermediaries’ commissions are eliminated, however, the squeeze on price, yield, and revenue and the homogeneity of websites is in fact annoying. It is not clear whether individual small agencies are able to use this business intelligence, or recognize its value.
  • The internet is a commonly available technology, however, awareness of its functionality and resources and expertise to take advantage of this functionality is required. It is observed that many online agencies either are not aware of this or do not possess or have ready access to resources needed to make the most of the opportunities potentially available. To achieve the full benefit of IT full exploitation of web services is necessary.
  • In order to satisfy tourism demand and service in long term, there is no choice but to incorporate technology and enhance the interactivity with the marketplace. It can be fruitful only if certain prerequisites are satisfied. Most important, innovative business processes-engineering and top management commitment are required with long-term planning & strategy and training throughout the hierarchy.
  • There has not been any specific policy or coordinated approach so far for the development of information products on tourism at the national level. An example of a claim of TATA & Sons onwww.oktatabyebye.com is an example

FAQ

What is the role of IT in tourism?
In the tourism, travel, and hospitality industries, ICT plays a significant role. For the success of the tourism business, ICT must be integrated into the industry. From any location, at any time, an individual can access information about tourism products via ICT.

How is information technology used in tourism?
In the field of tourism, information technology is of particular importance. Transportation, lodging, and tourist attractions all rely on information technology. In order to keep up with and meet the ever-evolving needs of the tourism industry, these technologies are employed. Traveling for recreational, leisure, or business reasons is known as tourism.

What is ICT tourism?
Technology applied to travel, tourism, and hospitality is referred to as travel technology, tourism technology, or hospitality automation. IT or ICT is the application of these technologies in these industries.

What is the meaning of ICT?
Information and communication technologies.

What is the disadvantage of computers in tourism?
Unemployment is one of the consequences of technological advancement in the industry. As a result of a reduction in hotel costs and the use of the internet, many hotel managers, waiters, and cooks as well as those in the tourist industry, such as tour guides, lost their jobs.

Conclusion

We are witnesses to the revolution in the tourism and hospitality market by the information and communication technologies and the Internet in particular. ITs seem to be the most important challenge for the hotel industry. Among others (like innovation, co-petition, collaboration with customers) IT conduct to design a new scientific paradigm of tourism development based on modern e-technologies.  The results of the research show the awareness of the importance of IT usage in the hotel industry is quite high. The half of interviewed hotels apply IT, but the level of IT usage is limited to websites, online reservations systems (for example HRS), a list of accommodation on the municipality website, fan page on social media, and front office computer systems. The respondents noticed many advantages and benefits of IT use in hotel operating and management process, among them, the most often indicated as service quality and speed improvement.

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