Information and Communication Technology (ICT) techniques are seen to be an answer to such a dynamic business environment. Five themes driving the future of international hospitality industry include information technology, assets and capital management, capacity control, safety and security, and management skills (Olsen in Olson and Connolly, 1999). With the example of airline reservation systems in the 60s to the Central Reservation Systems to the current Global Distribution Systems providing holistic tourism products such as information, reservations and linkages with stakeholders, ICTs have become indispensable. Further with the society changing into 'information knowledge society', business organizations are turning to newer information technologies for survival and competitiveness (Gratzer et. al, 2003).
Go (in Buhalis, 1998) identifies some of attributes of ICTs acting as drivers of tourism globalisation. These include, 'cost drivers' in terms of increased efficiency, low distribution cost, low communication cost, low labour cost, minimisation of waste factor and facilitator of flexible pricing; 'market drivers' satisfying sophisticated demand, offering flexibility in operation, supporting specialization and differentiation, providing last minute deals and accurate information, supports relationship marketing strategies for frequent flyers / guests, there is quick reaction to demand fluctuation, multiple / integrated products can be offered and results in better yield management, corporate research and marketing research; 'Government and regulatory drivers' such as support from Government, deregulation and liberalisation and 'competitive drivers' as strategic tool, managing network of enterprises, value-added skill building, flexibility, knowledge acquisition and a barrier to entry.
ICTs: Implications for Tourism Industry
Poon (in Gratzer et. al, 2003) has described the implications for tourism industry caused by information and communication technologies (ICT). These include, change of rules in the industry; change in role of each player involved in the process of value-creation; facilitation of 'new, flexible, and high quality travel and tourism services that are cost-competitive with mass, standardized, and rigidly packaged options' and transformation of tourism from 'mass, standardized, and rigidly package nature into a more flexible, individual-oriented industry.' Marcussen (in Gratzer et. al, 2003) cites the example of European online travel market to be worth 14 billion Euros by 2006. Buhalis (1998) suggest a multi-dimensional strategic framework for use of information technology and illustrates the strategic implications of information technology for the tourism industry.
Strategic Framework for Information Technology in Tourism
(Source: Buhalis, 1998, pp. 417)
Buhalis (in Buhalis, 1998) illustrates role of information technology in facilitating both intra- and inter-organisational communications and functions. Within a tourism organisation, information technology facilitates management functions such as 'strategic planning, competition analysis, financial planning and control, marketing research, marketing strategy and implementation, pricing