During the last decade, Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have revolutionised the travel industry and as a result the global tourism industry is changing rapidly. According to many industry professionals, tourism as an industry requires a diverse range of information and lends itself well to the support offered by developing multimedia, communication technologies and information systems.
e-Tourism mirrors the digitalisation of all processes and value chains in the tourism, travel, hospitality and catering industries. It emerges as a term describing the entire range of applications of Information Communication Technologies on tourism and the implications for the tourism value chain. Since tourism plays a significant role in the Greek economy, our work here at Pittheus Business Consulting aims to explore the impact of the Internet in particular for the future competitiveness of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) in Greece.
New technologies have been changing the way in which tourism corporations perform their business and how the entire system operates. The dynamic growth of the use of information communication technologies results in dramatic changes in the structure and operations of travel and tourism industries. Changes are particularly obvious in the way that tourism organisations communicate with their individual and institutional clients and how they manage their distribution channels. These developments present a major opportunity for innovative tourism organisations and destinations to improve their relative position in the international market. By adopting and implementing new and innovative business models and electronic commerce (eCommerce) they can extend their distribution channel and expand their value chain dramatically. New technologies can produce an essential contribution to tourism development. In particular, the Internet offers to tourism corporations the potential to make information and booking facilities available to large number of tourists at relatively low costs. It also provides them with a tool for communication between tourism suppliers, intermediaries, as well as end-consumers. Organisations such the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and WTO (World Trade Organisation) indicate that the Internet is revolutionising the distribution of tourism information and sales. An increasing proportion of Internet users are buying on–line and tourism will gain a larger and larger share of the online commerce market.
Evidently, the Internet is having a major impact as a source of information for the tourism industry. However, the SMTEs are facing more rigid barriers to the adoption of new information technology, in particular, e-business. Part of the problem relates to the scale and affordability of information technology, as well as the facility of implementation within rapidly growing and changing organisations. In addition, new solutions configured for large, stable, and internationally-oriented firms do not fit well for small, dynamic, and locally-based tourism companies. Despite these challenges, SMTEs in Greece with well-developed and innovative Web sites can now have “equal Internet access” to international tourism markets. This implies equal access to telecom infrastructure, as well as to marketing management and education. Many industry leaders suggest that “it is not the cost of being there, on the on-line market place, which must be reckoned with, but the cost of not being there.” It is certain that embracing digital communication and information technology is no longer an option, but a necessity. Therefore, one of the most important characteristics of electronic commerce is the opportunity and promise it holds for SMTEs to extend their capabilities and grow. Our work suggested that SMTEs which can demonstrate their capabilities to use e-commerce will have a competitive advantage in the e-commerce marketplace.
Our research showed the following benefits and barriers for Greek SMTEs adopting an e-commerce strategy:
Benefits of e-Tourism in Greece
Providing easy and real time access to information on tourism products and services
Providing better information on tourism products and services
Providing convenience for customers
Expanding choices by customers
Creating new markets
Establishing interactive relationship with customers
Improving customer services
Improving image and public recognition of the small & medium sized tourism enterprises
Saving time for providing tourism services
Providing customised & specialised tourism products & services
Reducing operating costs
Simplifying the business process
Interacting with business partners
Finding new business partners
Barriers of e-Tourism in Greece
Limited knowledge of available technology
Lack of awareness of e-commerce
Lack of confidence in the benefits of e-commerce
Cost of initial investment
Cost of training human resources for e-commerce
Insufficient e-commerce infrastructure
Lack of government support
Resistance to adoption of e-commerce
The above is just a snapshot of our work on e-Tourism in Greece. If you would like to see the full report please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to provide you with our work.