Marketing Effects of Online Reservation Sites to the Travel Agencies The massive developments in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have tremendously impacted on the tourism sector. The most affected segment is the travel guides whose roles continue to be unpopular with the clientele. According to Jupiter Research, online reservation started gaining ground in the 1870s when the internet availed platforms like Yahoo Travel, Cheap Tickets, Expedia and Priceline to the clients to book for airlines, hotels, rent cars and reserve rooms. Since then, online booking has become popular as many people now have access to internet (Singh, 2008).
Today, online travel is overtaking the traditional offline reservation system in which clients were compelled to physically travel to the tour agents’ offices so as to make their bookings and reservations. Because of this, more than 40% of bookings are done online. This not withstanding, it is projected that it will overtake the offline system in the near future. Meaning, if the trend continues, the travel agents will become obsolete and eventually get eliminated from the market especially if they fail to adapt with the new changes (Leask, Fyall &. Barron, 2014).
As a result of the use of Smartphone, tablets and computers, many people now prefer online booking because it has got many advantages. Unlike the traditional offline booking, it is cheaper, convenient, faster and friendly. So long as one has access to the internet, one does not need to travel to the tour agents, but use their Smartphone at the comfort of their homes or offices at any time of the day (Ritchie et al., 2011). Besides, it is flexible and can grant a client and opportunity to compare services and rates offered by different organizations before making their choice.
Indeed, the rapid shift to online booking has been a bad news to the tour agents. Should they fail to come up with smarter and more brilliant ideas, they might not survive. For this reason, many tour agents have also decided to adapt to these changes since it is the only choice for them (Ferrer et al., 2015). They have blended online and brick-and-mortar strategies. This simply implies that the tour agents now offer offline and online services. The provision of these services makes them more attractive as they are seen to be flexible and dynamic. So, they can cater for the interests of the clients who require online or offline services. Therefore, anyone who does not want to meet the agents will only have to be served through the internet.
In conclusion, embracing technology means that the agents use high tech devices such as faster internet connectivity, text messages, voice communication, instant video and highly developed software like Unit4’s Central Command at all times. These are necessary for ensuring efficiency, timeliness, effective and cost-friendly services. It is therefore incumbent upon tour agents to adapt so quickly to these changes. If it is properly done, the tour agents will not be faced out of business, but will still have to enjoy a large share of the market no matter how competitive it might be. Such changes must be embraced because they have become part of the tourism sector and won support of the market.
Ferrer, J. G. et al. (2015). ‘Social Tourism and Healthy Ageing’. International Journal of Tourism Research. Volume 17, Issue 3.p 232-239.
Leask A., Fyall A. &. Barron P. (2014). ‘Generation Y: An Agenda for Future Visitor Attraction.’
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