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Critically examine the ways in which tourism marketing strategies and activities are responding to progress in information technology. The objective of this essay is to examine the subject of tourism marketing, with the main focus on how tourism marketing strategies and activities are responding to progress in information technology. Firstly, there is a brief outline of the key concepts in both tourism and marketing, followed by an introduction of IT and how it has been applied in the past. The essay then develops further with a more detailed examination of IT as it is presently, and its affect on tourism marketing. Finally, there is a conclusion, with a summary of the main points illustrated. "Tourism involves the movement, accommodation, entertainment and general servicing of clients from one geographical location, to another. These activities must be combined differently, integrated and 'packaged' to suit complex and rapidly changing consumer requirements." (Poon, 1993). Governments encourage the growth of tourism, as it is a powerful source of economic activity. The marketing of tourism, like all businesses, requires a need to create customer value and satisfaction. Marketing (in brief) is about identifying and satisfying consumer needs at a profitable level. Part of this process is creating a suitable marketing mix that can be used to its fullest potential (by giving you a competitive advantage), which commonly comprises of product, price, place, and promotion. Of course, there is a lot more to explain about marketing, but the main focus of this essay is to look at IT with tourism marketing. "Quality is critical for competitive success. The potential of IT to improve the quality of travel and tourism services is currently under-exploited" (Poon, 1993).
It is the primary digital format for powerful marketing in use today. Consumers, on the other hand, benefit by being able to undertake on-line reservations, and in their own time, perhaps when other travel agencies are closed. They can access accurate, reliable and up-to-date information to purchase only the most suitable products for their own individual needs. Although in marketing it is difficult to satisfy everyone's needs, this process makes it that little bit more possible. To add to this, users are empowered to gain information on a whole range of additional data about the resources, history and, social/economic structure of their destination. Parallel with the Internet, there is the World Wide Web (WWW), another powerful marketing tool. The first and most basic commitment a company can make to the Internet is to establish its own Web site. This, again, allows them to build a relationship with users, inviting comments and feedback, so to "push" relevant promotional messages to the right markets. The website essentially acts as a channel of communication and distribution, offering users the opportunity to book online, hence enabling the delivery of information and selling simultaneously. They can reach a mass audience directly and tour operators, for example, can distribute electronic brochures and booking forms through the WWW directly to consumers, even niche markets. This saves the cost for developing, printing, storing and distributing conventional brochures, which is estimated to be approximately £20 per booking (Cooper et al, 1998). It is emphasised by Liu (2000) that in the travel business, the Web's flexibility and instantaneousness in information transmission is invaluable. However, it should also be stressed that such technology is likely to result in increased competition between some products.
An expansion or growth of this kind of technology is the new ticketless-travel or e-ticketing, where check-in is done with proof of identity and a booking reference number. This saves the cost of printing, postage and time. In conclusion to this essay, I will draw together the main points. First of all, tourism is an extremely important industry to the economy, and a growth industry. The marketing of tourism, like other products relies heavily on customer value and satisfaction. However, the various forms of information technology have allowed tourism marketing strategies and activities to be carried out more easily and effectively. For instance, companies can best enhance their competitive performance by effectively exploiting new technologies, such as CRSs, GDSs, Internet, WWW and many more. The electronic distribution systems have undoubtedly led to major structural changes within the tourism industry. CRSs have grown to a point where they are industries in their own right, and GDSs have brought about marketing opportunities that offer great potential for increased hotel sales. Besides this, the Internet and WWW have enabled an improved means of marketing directly with consumers. The interactivity and communication is fast and allows for immediate response to consumer needs, which in turn helps build on relationship marketing and customer loyalty. The consumers, on the other hand gain benefits of having the ability to purchase products that are suitable to their own individual needs, as well as getting additional information on the history and social/economic structure of their destination. Overall, IT has grown quite significantly in the last decade, and tourism marketing activities have successfully utilised the new technology to put them at a better competitive advantage, improving the service to customers.
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