How Information Communication Technology Has Revolutionized the Travel and Tourism Industry

Manohari Perera

27 November 2015

Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Caesar's Palace, Chen, Siyuan (Mar 2010)

How Information Communication Technology Has Revolutionized the Travel and Tourism Industry

Busy Airport sounds – Music

Manohari Perera: Welcome, I am Manohari Perera. I am investigating how Information Communication Technology has revolutionized the travel and tourism industry. In this podcast I will explore the cutting edge technological resources available for today’s savvy traveler.

Chen, Siyuan. *Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Caesar's Palace. *Photograph. 17 March 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. < https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1Lasvegas_strip.jpg>

I love Las Vegas. The gambling, musical shows from Celine Dion, Shania Twain and other shows, the strip, hotels and other attractions excite me and I long to go there someday, hopefully in the near future. So when this project came up, I picked the ICTs and travel and tourism topic, just to do research to find out the travel deals and accommodations available in Vegas. Anyway, let me put Vegas aside for the moment and talk about the real podcast.

Here’s Ranil Perera, my co-narrator, with a bit of history on ICTs:

Ranil Perera: Dimitrios Buhalis in his article “*Tourism and information technologies: Past, present and future*” (41-58), talks about how the proliferation of the internet and the World Wide Web in the late 1990s completely transformed communications. Organizations were able to offer their products and services globally, through multimedia interfaces. As a result most travel and tourism companies had to restructure their management and marketing strategies to take advantage of these new tools.

Pesce, Maurizio. Two Jolla Smartphones. Photograph. 25 Feb. 2014. *Twitter, Facebook, Together, Exchange Of Information*. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. < https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jolla_smartphones.jpg>

Manohari: What is ICT? ICT Stands for Information and Communication Technologies. ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. These include Internet wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums. In the past few decades, information and communication technologies have provided society with a vast array of new communication capabilities. For example, people can communicate in real-time with others anywhere in the world using technologies such as instant messaging, voice over IP, and video-conferencing. Modern information and communication technologies have created a "global village," in which people can communicate with others across the world as if they were living next door.

Ranil: Hannes Werthner and Stephan Klein in their article* “ICTs and the changing landscape of global tourism distribution” *(256-262), explains how tourism incorporates many of the features of the information society such as globalization, mobility and information richness. People from all nations, social rank, professions are potential tourists. Tourism links a worldwide supplier community with consumers, equally distributed worldwide. Its physical and virtual networks enable worldwide travelling, bringing together very distant cultures and habits. Information systems in tourism have been among the pioneers of leading edge technology applications: Computer Reservation Systems or Global Distribution Systems have been among the first international inter-organizational systems. Tourism marketing systems typically represent the forefront of multimedia and virtual-reality applications. The World Wide Web is profoundly changing the production, distribution and consumption of touristic products. Information and communication technology is probably the strongest driving force for changes within the tourism industry.

Manohari: Smartphones and fast mobile Internet access have transformed nearly all facets of life, but travel has seen some of the most dramatic changes. Gone are the days of paper maps and awkward conversations trying to figure out a foreign transit system. Today's smartphones and apps can translate words live on screen, give real-time transportation advice, locate you anywhere in the world, act as your boarding pass, book your dinner reservation, and even help you find a cheap, last-minute hotel room.

I talked to a few people to get their insights on how travel applications have helped them with travel decisions and this is what they had to say:

Zanita Shams: *So when I decided to go to Las Vegas, it was for my husband’s trade show. I didn’t want to an agent I wanted to book the trip myself. I looked at all the hotel reviews using Trip Advisor. I read all the reviews and settled on the Flemingo. The only bad review about the Flemingo was that the casino wasn’t large enough. I didn’t care about that at all. All I cared about was the swimming pool at the Flemingo. It had lots of pictures of the swimming on TripAdvisor. I didn’t book through TripAdvisor, but booked through the Flemingo website. I booked in advance and saved a bit*.

Brayan Satgunam: *Well I mainly used Google to look for destinations. Also through Google I found travel forums to research destinations I like. I researched destinations through a couple of agents, but for booking the trip I mainly used the travel website. Looking for hotels I used Airbnb that is a good website. I also looked at Travelocity and other websites, but Airbnb is the one I chose*.

Bavittra Balachanthiran: *Yes I have researched travel destinations to decide where to go. My go to be always Google and sometimes even asking friends based on their experience, depending on whether they’ve been to places I like or someplace new. I usually trust their word on it. I use apps for mostly car rentals and hotels. When I do book I use Groupon, Hotwire, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Travelocity as well as Expedia*.

Annemarie Ali: *So the right technology helped me when I was looking for hotels and looking for reviews on which hotels with a particular star rating would be appropriate. Also how much it would cost and which dates were cheaper. Technology helped me chose hotels I wanted with the right price and the right date and to decide which hotels I didn’t want because of the bad reviews*.

Pixabay.com. 22 Mar. 2014. Photograph. *Twitter, Facebook, Together, Exchange Of Information*. Web. 23 Nov. 2015 < https://pixabay.com/en/twitter-facebook-together-292994/>

Manohari: Imagine that you are planning a family vacation. You want to book your flight and hotel, take the family to a few restaurants and check out the local attractions.

I picked the travel sections of three popular magazines; Time, PCMag.com and Time Out.com to illustrate the travel applications people currently use. The writers of these magazines list apps for every stage of the travel experience such as research and planning, booking, navigating and communicating. Best of all, nearly all of these apps can be found on a variety of mobile platforms for free.

Ranil: Trip Advisor is everyone’s favorite online source during the research and planning stage of a trip, particularly because it has in-depth reviews of hotels, restaurants, and pictures. Photos uploaded by other users are helpful for getting a glimpse of a place from an unbiased point of view. TripAdvisor is one of the richest resources because it has a huge and active community.

Manohari: After deciding on a destination and moving on to book your trip, Kayak.com offers the best deals on flights, especially when travelers are picky about what time to leave, number of layovers, and which airlines to use. Travelers can prepay for flights, hotel reservations, and even car rentals. Additionally, Kayak includes in its searches other aggregation services, like Orbitz and Priceline, to truly make sure the travelers find the best deals.

Bozanowsk, Kuba. Photograph. 7 May 2009.*Boeing 737-8FH OK-TVF Travel Service*. Web 23 Nov. 2015 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boeing737-8FHOK-TVFTravelService_(3512072647).jpg

Ranil: Google Flights is another app to add to the list of flight-search sites to check before typing in a credit card number. You can search for round-trip, one-way, and multicity flights, but you have to link to another site to make the purchase. It's ideal as a tool that quickly gives you a price check with alternative dates of travel to save a few bucks. Sure, Kayak can do the same thing, but Google Flights does so with a different interface.

Manohari: SkyScanner also offers a wonderful search interface for finding cheap flights. You can look for a flight on certain dates from your home airport to anywhere in the world based on where it might be inexpensive to fly during that time. You can also adjust your search using an interactive graph to find the cheapest surrounding dates to travel. SkyScanner partners with a site called ebookers.com for the actual sale, and SkyScanner prices are in U.S. dollars while ebookers' shows up in British Pounds. The company makes separate apps for hotel and car rentals.

Hopper is another site that predicts the optimal time to find a flight by analyzing millions of airfares daily and picking out those brief moments when a price drops below its average. Travelers with flexible dates can use Hopper’s colour coded calendar to spot the cheapest dates in a month. Hopper’s handiest feature “Watch a Flight” sends a push notification when the price of a given route tends to bottom out.

For a small fee, the Options Away site lets users lock in an airfare two days to three weeks ahead of a purchase. If the airfare drops, the user will automatically get the cheaper ticket, If not they can pay the original price.

Ranil: Orbitz Flights, Hotels, Cars searches for the best travel deals, lets you book them, and offers a price guarantee if another user books the same travel as you for less. Orbitz's app is the kind that anyone would want for planning a trip ahead of time to find low prices, as well as last-minute bookings from the road.

Manohari: Airbnb is a popular site that lists over a million rental properties. Rental options range from castles to vans to watchtowers, and an endless supply of apartments, rooms and sofas to accommodate just about anyone’s budget. You need to authenticate your identity and work out the key hand-off arrangement with the host.

Manohari: While on the move, Maps.Me mobile app lets you browse around the globe, zoom in on any region or city, and download a detailed map of that area to use offline. You'll see an option to download just the map or the map with directions enabled to get you from point A to B without an Internet connection. It's a must-have travel app for those who wander off the beaten path.

Manohari: Snag a dinner reservation in less than a minute with the OpenTable app. OpenTable is pretty widely used in major cities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as in London. It lets you find restaurants that meet your criteria, see opening times, read reviews, and make reservations online at no charge. It's a great restaurant resource when you're in any city, but especially while traveling.

Manohari: If you want to sell a prepaid reservation for a trip that you cannot make but want to recoup some of that otherwise lost cost, go to Roomer and the website roomertravel.com for help. If you need a hotel in a pinch, you can also see if anyone on Roomer is trying to offload a hotel room in your desired location.

Ranil: TripIt is a mobile app for Android and iPhone that connects to your email accounts and automatically compiles your travel information based on confirmation emails you receive. TripIt finds the important details for flights, hotels, rental car reservations, and even restaurant bookings, and then organizes them in order into an itinerary.

Manohari: With the Uber car service app, you can request a car and tell the driver where to pick you up by dropping a pin on a map. The app gives you a fare estimate for a ride to your destination, and the driver can see it on the map, too. When your ride is over, Uber charges your credit card the right amount, and you don't have to tip. Uber is worldwide, with service more than 50 countries.

Ranil: If you don't drive but want to take a road trip, try Wanderu. This app and website is a search aggregator and price comparison tool for bus and train tickets. Enter the dates you want to travel, plus your beginning and ending point and Wanderu will look for fares on Amtrak, Greyhound, MegaBus, Bolt Bus, TrailwaysNY, BestBus, and other bus and train carriers.

Manohari: Yelp is an app that offers user-generated recommendations to find local restaurants, and other businesses in any given city. If you show up at a destination and want to find a decent cup of coffee within walking distance, Yelp will probably do the best job. Yelp can also help you find auto repair shops, health clinics, and other places you might need to visit unexpectedly while on a trip.

Ranil: The iExit app tells you what services are available at upcoming highway exits. Using your location, iExit looks at the upcoming exits and gives you a list of restaurants, hotels, gas stations, rest areas, and more. If there's a particular restaurant chain or other service you love, you can mark it as a favorite and iExit will tell you if it's coming up anytime soon on your route.

Manohari: Gas Buddy keeps a running tab of the cheapest gas stations in your area. Tap on a gas station to pull up driving directions on Google Maps. The prices are reported by users, who are incentivized to keep prices up to date by racking up points, which they can later redeem for free prizes.

Ranil: Communicating while on your trip can be very expensive with cellphone carriers, especially when it comes to international charges. Bypass the fees with Skype which routes calls over a Wi-Fi network for 2 cents a minute. Calls placed to other Skype accounts, which has a user base of 250 million people, are free of charge.

Manohari: Google Translate team has launched a feature for international travelers: Conversation mode. Just open the app; hold the mobile device between two people speaking a different language and listen as it translates the conversation live.

Ranil: For a more personal postcard, upload a vacation picture to Postagram, type in a greeting and Postagram will print out the card and send it through snail mail for 99 cents in the US and a 1.99 worldwide.

Perera, Manohari. Sunset in Port Elgin, Ontario. Photograph. 9 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. file:///C:/Users/mperera/Desktop/photosunsetinportelgin.htm https://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/blog-season1/9bc0e62e-9469-4cdb-9388-a1e5e308ebf9

Manohari: In conclusion Barbara Neuhofer, Dimitrios Buhalis and Adele Ladkin in their 2015 article “Technology as a Catalyst of Change: Enablers and Barriers of the Tourist Experience and their Consequences” (789-802), talk about existing ICT insufficiencies that can provide potential barriers limiting the creation and enhancement of tourist experiences. Such barriers can include restrictions in telecommunication bandwidth, Internet accessibility, hardware and software functionality, equipment, usage and connection costs as well as privacy, security and legal concerns.

Thank you for listening.

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