Critically examine the ways in which tourism marketing strategies and activities are responding to progress in information technology.

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Introduction

Author: Winnie To Date: 6 December 2001 Course: Tourism Marketing (BA) 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.

Middle

The marketing opportunities offered have great potential for increased hotel sales. Hotels can use GDSs to aim their promotional efforts at a highly targeted section of the world's travel agency population. Therefore, the technology creates a flexibility and responsiveness to customers, especially as marketing messages are sent directly to the point-of-sale in travel agencies. However, hotel chains would have to ensure commitment to keeping their information up-to-date. Whilst electronic distribution systems led to major structural changes within the tourism industry, further expansion was launched in the mid-1990s in the form of the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW). Since the Internet is such a huge subject, it will not be covered fully, but primarily made relevant to tourism marketing. According to Inkpen (1998), the Internet is one of the most powerful movers and shapers of the travel and tourism industry both at the present time and, no doubt in the future. It has particular relevance to tourism, as it eases interactivity between the enterprise and the external world, however distant. For companies, it provides such a vast number of uses in management areas, mainly in marketing and promotions; for the consumers, it is an opportunity to make travel planning and implementation much easier and more informed.

Conclusion

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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