Tourism and Hospitality
E-tourism or electronic tourism is a part of electronic trade which involves with various technologies including information and communication sector, marketing sector, strategic planning and so forth (Waghmode and Jamsandekar, 2013). Buhalis (2003), mentioned, e-tourism is nothing but the digitisation of processes and value chains in travel, tourism, catering and hospitality industry. Moreover, it is one of the most vital sectors of e-business engaging online booking/orders, marketing, sales processes etc.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is one of the major advancements which has been transforming the global tourism and hospitality industry dramatically. It makes the industry more efficient, competitive and reachable to the customers. It brings benefits for both the customers and the business as customers get contemporary service from the organisation where as the business receives maximum customer satisfaction. UK economists suggest that the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to increase the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and UK’s productivity.
Tourism and Hospitality Essay Example
The policy makers also agreed on this regard saying to give the opportunity to every individual, business and community to join fully in the benefits from the transformations brought by the ICTs (Martin, 2004). In this essay, the author will evaluate the role of ICT in the small and medium enterprise (SME) in the hospitality sector from a critical point of view. A series of logical arguments regarding ICTs impact in this large industry will be raised in the main body of this essay. At the same time, ICT’s challenge and opportunities will also be focused in the literature review part.
The report will emphasis on the dimensions which ICT brings to the tourism and hospitality industry with the case study of small/medium business. Here the name of the business is Hoxton Hotel, London. With this example of Hoxton Hotel, the author will evaluate how ICT has impacted the organisation. With a proper method he will evaluate the website of the hotel while checking its presence on the social networking sites, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), use of mobile technologies and so forth. There will be discussion on website in the later part.
Author’s recommendations and conclusion reflecting the results found will bring an end to the essay. This will be an individual essay however the writer will use others theoretical ideas to enrich his work with proper acknowledgements. Chapter-02: Literature review 2. 1. ICT: The abbreviation of ICT is Information and Communication Technology. However, there is no permanent or universally accepted definition of ICT because of its concepts, applications and methods are changing almost every day (Riley, 2012). They happen so fast but the better way to think about ICT is to judge all the digital technologies which help personnel, organisations.
Riley (2012), also mentioned that ICT covers any type of product which electronically may store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information in digital form such as: computers, digital television, robots, emails and so forth. The use of ICT is increasing sharply everyday and it will remain the same in future. The better use of ICT is now a prerequisite of a successful business. Nowadays, most of the organisations have a separate department which belongs to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). 2. 2. SME: According to European Union (EU) law, SME stands for Small and Medium sized Enterprise.
Now, to decide an organisation or a business whether it is small or medium the EU sets up two measurements: a) Employee numbers b) Business turnover or balance sheet total. The organisation categorised in the following way: Company category Employees Turnover OR Balance sheet total Medium-sized < 250 ? € 50 m ? € 43 m Small < 50 ? € 10 m ? € 10 m micro < 10 ? € 2 m ? € 2 m However, those above mentioned figures are only applicable for individual firms in European Union only. There are separate figures for the other parts of the world e. g. Asia, America.
If a business is a part of a larger group it may need to include employee//balance sheet/turnover data from that group as well (European Commission, 2013). 2. 3. ICTs in SMTE: Here, SMTE stands for Small and Medium sized Tourism Enterprise. If a small or medium sized business belongs to tourism sector then it is known as SMTE. In this project, the author will be using Hoxton Hotel as a SMTE. This hotel is located in Eastern part of London and famous for its outstanding service to the guest. The interior and exterior of the hotel will impress anybody. As a modern boutique hotel, it adopts ICTs in its various operations.
In modern days hospitality operations without ICT just cannot be imagined. ICT revolution in the hospitality industry especially internet has transformed the marketplace more virtual and electronic. It is believed, the increasing use of ICT will enhance the interactivity between the producers and customers resulting improved ability to outclass their traditional competitors and the newcomers (Buhalis and Kaldis, 2008). The first impact started when IBM and American Airlines made SABRE; an airline computing system back in 1953 for automation and networking of distribution channels (Daniele, 2003).
Today, because of increasing competition, a business has to come up with more effective strategies. Consequently, businesses are moving towards information and communication technologies to cope with the unstable business environment. Moreover, the quick development and commercialization of ICT in travel, tourism and hospitality sector is prompting hotels and other enterprises to adopt these technologies. It is also believed that ICT will improve the operating efficiencies and will enhance customer satisfaction and reduce costs (Law et al, 2009).
Connolly and Olsen (2000) in Shahadev and Islam (2005) mentioned that ICT is the greatest single force effecting various changes in the hotel industry. Buhalis (1998) pointed out this particular trend to both rapid advancements in the technology and rising of customer demands who always seek comfortable, specialized and interactive service, product and communication with principals. Moreover, ICT not only allows the customers to purchase modified tourism and hospitality product but also helping the suppliers by extending, managing and allocating the products without any time boundary and geographical restrictions to help the globalisation.
It also provides a podium to the business to access to the world marketplace (Shahadev and Islam, 2005). Leung and Law (2005) said, modern ICT helps the managers in decision making while supporting their regular operations. The invention of Point of Sale (POS) system helps many hospitality outlets (e. g. restaurants) to provide service very quickly while maintaining the exact sales history which will help later to make a business’s buying decisions. Moreover, POS system helps to keep customer’s purchasing record safely for the future uses (Entrepreneur, 2013).
Most of the accommodations providers (hotel, motel, lodging houses) have now introduced self check in and checkout process helping the customers to avoid the queue in the reception. Use of keys to enter the room is now old fashion instead outlets are using swipe card. In terms of security, the author of this report believes, the ICT has gone far away. Few years back, hotels were used to keep security guard in the hotel entrance but because of technological development now there is no need of security guard anymore.
Invention of Close Circuit Television (CCTV), camera and other devices help the organisations to be secure more than before. Nowadays, hotels are technically equipped in such a way so that the presence any suspicious activity automatically sends message to the local police authority which was used to be done over the telephone few years back (Maggio, 2009). In addition, Porter (2001) stated that ICT pushed businesses to rethink their products, internal process, structure and the relationship with the customer. The development of information and communication technology has reshaped the nature of competition in the market.
(Buhalis and Kaldis, 2008). Therefore, researcher thinking of a possibility when only the ICT enabled organisation will be able to exist and grow in the future (Turban et al, 2002 in Buhalis and Kaldis, 2008). Uses of ICT have been dramatically changed in the last decade, thanks to web 2. 0. Web 2. 0 is a business revolution in the computer industry and was termed by O’Reily media in 2004. It marked web 2. 0 as a platform which was caused by the move to the internet and an effort to understand the rules for being success on that new platform.
One of the major rules is building applications which connect network effects to be better the more it is being used by people (Neddleman, 2007). Because of fast development in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, the distribution channel has become even better and ICT shifts the power stability of tourism distribution channels. The use of traditional distribution channels such as travel agencies, tour operator has been reduced but businesses are more interested in e-enabled distribution channels (Barne, Gonzalez and Mugica, 2012).
It was first started in the hotel industry during 1970s through computerised reservation system (CRS) and global distribution system (GDS). However, the impacts paced up in the early 1990s after the invention of internet; the hotel industry started to adopt the new technology (Shahdev and Islam, 2005). Afterwards, Destination Management System (DMS) arrived into the scene to contribute the small and medium sized enterprise. According to Frew and Horan (2007) in Waghmode and Jamsandekar (2013), DMS is a system which combines and allocates the tourism product via different distributing channels and at the same time supports the destination management and marketing sector in a holistic entity by providing strong information and tools. Another remarkable use of ICT in e-tourism is search engine which helps a person to get information in internet in a particular field very quickly. Buhalis and Law (2008), stated consumers are now using search engines increasingly to decide and experience their tours and it is happening because of search engine’s carrying capability and the pace of information reclamation. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a remarkable technique which helps to rank a business’s website on the top so that it gets more visibility (Hubspot, 2013).
Therefore, if someone searches about a related sector, that business’s website will appear on the top. According to Hubspot (2013) SEO is a broader subject of marketing in particular Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEM involves with two types of searches: Paid search and Organic search. In paid search, an organisation has to pay money to the search engine authority to show the website of the business on the top when someone types the specific or related keywords. On the other hand organic search is not paid and it appears in the search result as well but the location is different.
Usually, people tend to look search their desired topic from the first two pages of search results therefore if a company has SEO for its website it can attract more people (Hubspot, 2013). 2. 4. Opportunities of ICTs in SMTE In the recent years, tourism and hospitality industry have emerged as the leading industry in online expenditure thanks to the ICT (Buhalis, 2008). The presence of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn in the company’s website help the business to reach the customers more quickly which is very important form marketing perspective.
As people are more interacting with the social networking sites therefore a connection with these sites give a business an extra advantage to know each other. Some reliable travel site such as trip advisor, expedia etc. review and rate a hotel on the basis of customers feedback which assist a hospitality outlet to communicate with customers in an easier way (Powell, Groves and Dimos, 2011). Moreover, ICT has changed the strategic management and marketing of the small and medium enterprise of hospitality industry.
Bakos (1991) in Buhalis and Kaldis (2008) mentioned companies which engage technology to improve performance and appreciate the probability of technology for expansion can get several benefits from scheme-wide internet and e-commerce although those two do not change the competition factors but they do affect the resource of competitiveness (Porter 2001, in Buhalis and Kaldis, 2008). Furthermore, ICT is blessed by mobile technology which is another wonder to reach to the customer. The use of smart phone, tablet, i-pad, laptop etc is increasing sharply and different applications are being made nowadays.
These applications keep the customer interacting with a business always. Those devices are portable and customer can use them from anyplace whenever they want. Having an app of a particular business on those devices make sure customer are aware of what is going on in that business. For example: Hilton Hotel has an application which allows the customer to know anything about Hilton from room description to even making reservation (Stair and Reynolds, 2012). Cloud computing is another remarkable use of ICT in hospitality industry which allows a business to keep connection with the users at all the time.
The term “cloud computing” refers to an idea where both the business and user can access the applications from any part of the word on demand (Lai, Tam and Chan, 2012). It is an emerging application which targets to share different data, calculations, deals among users. For business, one of the major benefits of having cloud computing is organisation pays little money in regard to computing and network resources rather than investing heavy money on data centres, high skilled workforce, software and other hardware (Lai, Tam and Chan, 2012). It also helps to integrate among different businesses.
Besides, internet-enabled distribution process can help an organisation to maintain the link customer demand and supply. ICT’s innovative uses improve the quality of product or service, make the distribution channel stronger and effective, reduce the labour cost and increase the online reservation in the hotel industry rapidly (Sangster, 2001 in Buhalis and Kaldis, 2008). 2. 5. Challenges of adopting ICTs in SMTE Even though ICT is growing at a faster rate however it is facing some barriers especially in the small and medium sized business where investment is not very strong.
According to Byrd and Marshall (1997), there is no relationship between ICT and productivity. Few studies also showed negative ICT productivity efforts but it is true that the research within hotel sector was limited on that period. This is probably because the research was carried out long time ago when there were only few ICT applications available (Sigala, 2003). Few of the challenges which organisations are facing to employ ICTs are: Lack of skilled employees is one of the major barriers which SMEs face to implement ICT in their operations.
Not everyone can take care of information and communication technologies and more importantly it needs especial care which is only be possible by the skilled workforce. Moreover, those skilled people need enough resources to establish ICT in the company (Alkhalifa, 2011). Lack of awareness of using ICT in the operation is another constraint which impedes an organisation to employ ICT because most of the employees don’t know how to use them or some of them may be even don’t care (Buhalis and Kaldis, 2008). Another major limitation of implementing ICT in small and medium tourism enterprise is high cost.
At the initial process, it takes large amount of money to adopt ICTs in a company however most of the SMTEs cannot afford this cost therefore it becomes very difficult to initiate ICTs in their operation (Alkhalifa, 2010). Security and privacy issue is another drawback which obstructs the implementation of ICTs in the organisation. In recent years, data protection and online security have become a major concern for company especially which is based on e-commerce (Alkhalifa, 2010). Online fraud, identity theft are common features of e-commerce.
These factors are pushing SMTE from adopting ICTs in the organisation. 2. 6. Website in SMTE A website is nothing but a set of web pages (documents which are accessed via internet). Website of a business means the business has a virtual presence where anyone can look into it via internet. Due to growing uses of ICT, website for a small and medium tourism enterprise has become mandatory especially if it wants to be competitive and exist in the market (Law, Qi and Buhalis, 2010). It is platform of a business where a person can access information of the business in a click.
For electronic commerce of a company, a website is prerequisite. Herrero and Martin (2012) said, a tourism business needs a website for three main attributes: information, interactivity and navigability. For an example: through a hotel’s website, one can search information, make online reservation. In business perspective, it is another form of communication with potential customers. A website helps a business to expand by attracting people. However, bad looking website can do the opposite. Therefore, web site design is very important.
Small and medium enterprise sometime faces some problems to design a good website. Cost is one of them. As the budget is limited, the business cannot afford to spent a lot money to design the website. Moreover, small and medium business often lacks expert people and IT resource to design a competitive website (Herrero and Martin, 2012). 2. 7. Website evaluation and its importance to SMTE To gain larger market segment and strengthen customer relationship, maintaining an effective website is very important. However, it is also crucial to evaluate the website’s performance in a regular basis.
A website evaluation is a process of assessing a website’s effectiveness. In other words, it is the act of deciding a correct and comprehensive set of user needs, making sure that a website delivers useful content which meets the user expectation and establishing accessibility goals (Law, Qi and Buhalis, 2010). For a small and medium tourism enterprise, it is vital to evaluate its website sometimes as it will inform the business about the usefulness, accessibility, functionality of the website. Website evaluation process is done in two ways: quantitative and qualitative.
Quantitative method normally produces performance score to inform the quality of the website whereas in qualitative method, the researcher assesses a website without producing any score (Law, Qi and Buhalis, 2010). Chapter-03: Case study As one of the best boutique hotels in London, Hoxton Hotel provides excellent care to the guest. Its stunning design is very impressive. The Hoxton Hotel has seven concepts rooms which are totally unique and are something that customers have never experienced these before (Hoxton hotels, 2013). Figure-01: One of the concept rooms of Hoxton Hotel (Hoxton hotels, 2013).
The hotel set a very high standard in terms of delivering excellent customer service ranging from accommodation to exclusive dining facility. Because of its high reputation, The Hoxton Hotel received many awards in recent years as recognition such as: ‘Trip Advisor Travellers Choice Award’, CNBC second best business hotel in UK, Guardian and Observer Travel Awards- Best UK Hotel and many more (Hoxton hotels, 2013). In an interview with the author, Mr. Timothy Griffin (2013) general manager of the hotel said: they use different other ICTs to give the customer best experience possible.
Electronic Point Of Selling System (EPOS) helps them to serve the customer in a quick time while keeping the customer record in a safer way. Moreover, use of Property Management System (PMS) helps the organisation to integrate with the back office to improve daily administration including some specific activities e. g. accounting, planning, marketing research and so forth. Moreover, the hotel uses extranet to communicate with other organisation, allowing business partners to distribute information and processes.
E-procurement is one major application of extranets which is used by the Hoxton Hotel to integrate various aspects of purchasing process, added by Mr. Griffin (2013). 3. 1. Website evaluation criteria: In this assignment, the learner conducted quantitative method to evaluate the website of Hoxton Hotel. The reasons behind choosing this particular research method are: it helped the researcher to test the variables in a quicker time compare to qualitative Moreover, as the respondent remained anonymous therefore the researcher was able to use sensitive data in quantitative method (Sheragy, 2013).
In the evaluation process, the student himself was the assessor where he developed a website evaluation form which is consists of few main points including appearance, content, design, usability etc. The evaluation has been done on the basis of those points. 3. 2. Website evaluation of Hoxton Hotel: a) Appearance is the outlook of the website. It includes the images, colour arrangement, theme, background design, front size of the letters, graphics and so forth. Costello (2012) mentioned, people quickly judge a website whether to visit it second time or not on the basis of appearance.
The appearance of the website of Hoxton Hotel was quite beautiful. The total score of appearance is 13 off 15. However, the scholar thought background image could have been better. Besides, using yellow colour in a major part of home page makes a bit awkward for the visitor. b) Another crucial factor to judge a website is content. Content is the provider of information. Kyrnin (2013) said, content is the reason why people visit a webpage. There are two types of content: text and multimedia. For a smooth interactivity it is important to have a good content for the website.
In terms of content, according to the evaluator, the website of Hoxton Hotel was one of the best he visited. All the information in the website of Hoxton Hotel was written in simple word which helped the assessor. Moreover, the information was correct and updated. There was presence of social media and fan page which means the hotel was able to connect with its customers and fans. However, more useful information could enrich the webpage. Content received 19 out of 20. c) The third point of evaluating the website was design. A good design of a webpage helps the page to load quickly.
It also assists to move from one page to another smoothly (Schneider, 2009). Modern website design relates with few more things such as presence of social networking sites where information can be shared in a flash and a business can know a customer in pretty quick time. This not only helps to contact with the customers but also increasing the website traffic which is very important. For example: if a website is mentioned in different other sites, blog etc it scores higher with the search engine. Thus, a website becomes popular.
However, Hoxton Hotel’s website, the assessor believed design of the website needed a little improvement. The reservation page could have been attached in the home page allowing the guests to book or check the price straightway like other better hotels. Addition of significant graphics could have been more interesting. The loading experience for the assessor was mix as it loaded quickly more often but took some time in few occasions as well. Anyway, the pages of the website were interactive and the reviewer found it easier to move from one page to another.
There was presence of social media (e. g. Facebook, Twitter) as well. The hotel shares its news including promotional offer through those social networking sites. Design section in the evaluation got 12 marks off 15. d) Accessibility is another term which has been considered while assessing the website. A good website should enable a viewer to access the site smoothly. This includes finding the information as well. Having a search option inside the webpage is also crucial as it aids to get the information very quickly through keywords (Powell, Groves and Dimos, 2011).
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is another issue of accessibility while evaluating a website. To appear the webpage on top in internet it must be optimized with search engine. In this context, the assessor was able to access the webpage of the Hoxton Hotel quite easily and the full mark in this section also represents the statement. Information was accessible in a flash via customised search engine. e) The final segment of the evaluation form was about few general topics such as: presence of any multilingual option, any apps to download for portable devices, use of credible link to other sites and so forth.
All of those things are very vital for a good website. However, after the evaluation process the evaluator felt that the website of the Hoxton Hotel required some general improvement as there were few important things missing. Such as: multilingual option for the visitor. Not all the visitor can understand or read English. If the webpage can be converted into few popular different languages it will allow the visitors to understand the information pretty quickly and they will have better experience. The website was also missing applications for the portable devices e. g. mobile, tablet. These applications help the customers to get the latest information regarding the hotel. People can access information from any part of the world at any time through these apps. An example can be Hilton hotel (Hilton, 2013). Even though Hoxton Hotel’s website is a user friendly website but it needs a certification from the website regulator ensuring the visitors that they are in a safe site where their information are protected. Radisson practices this and its website is TRUSTe certified (Radisson, 2013).
Moreover, the assessor has found the absence of significant and credible link of other sites in the webpage apart from trip advisor and social networking sites. Because of all those limitations, the general section received only 8 out of 20 which are really poor mark indeed. Finally when the all the section-wise marks were added, the evaluator found the overall mark was 62 out of 80 which he classed as “fair”. The full classification of marks and the web site evaluation form of Hoxton Hotel’s website is attached in the appendix section. Chapter-04: Conclusion and recommendations
After assessing all the literatures, examples the student comes into a conclusion that it is almost impossible for a business to run its operation without the assistance of information and communication technology. Because of growing competition in the market and customers awareness of product it is regardless about the size of the business, what is most important is how the service is. Modern hospitality businesses e. g. hotel sector are so much ICT dependent and people can easily view and book their rooms without going to the hotel physically.
Being ICT reliant, small and medium tourism enterprise can achieve an extra edge in terms of service. On the other hand, online review from previous customers, rating system made life easier than before for the potential customer for a hotel. However, for a small and medium tourism enterprise, it is always difficult for them to introduce sufficient ICTs from the beginning point as it needs high maintenance resources (skilled staff and equipments). Given the financial concern for those kinds of businesses it is a tough reality. Lack of awareness among the staff of an organisation also contributes to setback ICT application.
Nevertheless, those problems will always be in the small and medium tourism enterprises but they can be lessened with following some steps. Here, the author comes up with some recommendations: Increasing ICT awareness in the organisation ranging from owner to floor level workers. If the employees are aware of the ICT usefulness, it will be easier for the business to adopt the technology. Staff can be trained in ICT rather than outsourcing IT expert. This will help to reduce the staff cost significantly. Moreover, own staff of the organisation will look after the ICT system more carefully than the outside people.
They will monitor the website regularly and can work to improve the design of the website. Increasing budget for the ICTs. This can be achieved by counselling the owner(s) of the business about the importance of introducing ICTs in the company. They can also be advised about the importance of social media marketing, SEO, mobile applications etc. Business needs to take extra care of privacy and security aspects of ICT. Company has to make sure it has the link only with reliable sites. Introduction of multilingual option can enrich the website of a business.