‘E-Business is here - what’s next?’ was the overall topic of ENTER 2005, an international conference for Information Technology and Tourism, which took place from January 26 - 28 in Innsbruck/Austria.
The presentations at the conference, which saw 300 experts from 40 nations in Congress Innsbruck, had a special focus on the market, the business, and the technology view of E-Business, on future prospects of destinations as well as the industry’s expertise in tourism.
Basically, three e-driven consumer trends in tourism can be detected: the readiness to spend more on trips, more frequent vacations but shorter stays and an increasing importance of the so called ‘Golden Oldies’ for the tourism industry.
Future developments in E-Business will happen alongside a complex customer adoption process. A convergence of the Internet, wireless applications and the so-called iObjects is likely and will lead to an augmented reality. Information will be processed and distributed in an ‘Infosphere’ (Beat Schmid) where smart business networks gain importance. With respect to the representation of in-formation on the web there will be a shift from the syntactic web towards a semantic web which offers new ways of searching for and personalisation of information. Additionally, pervasive computing applications will provide new services and greater convenience for customers.
“Almost all our speakers pointed out that future distribution models will become increasingly focussed on serving customer needs rather than simply being a channel for sellers and intermediaries”, said IFITT President Josef Margreiter, in his conference summary. IFITT, the International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism, is the organising body of the annual ENTER conferences. Signifi-cant investments in new ICT infrastructure will need to be made by hotel groups and other travel key players in order to facilitate this increasingly customer-centric environment. At the same time the challenge of processing information and finding content of value is not being met by current technologies - busi-nesses as well as Destination Management Organisations (DMO) have little control over how their content is found and used.
The DMO of the future should promote the exploitation of the open marketplace by businesses rather than protect their former role of marketing lead. “There is a real need for structural change in DMOs if they want to meet present and future challenges”, so IFITT-President Margreiter. The increased empowerment of the customer who can now enter a vast “universe of data” at any point will make the old hierarchical DMO model redundant.ÊÊ
The significance of research in the field of E-Tourism varies for the various players in the tourism industry. From an academic point of view research is the driving force to accumulate knowledge and gain new insights into a specific problem. Private research institutes on the other hand primarily focus on the economic point of view by seeking to create a competitive advantage for their clients.Ê