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Technology has transformed the lives of many people based on the way it has changed their way of doing things. Hospitality and tourism industry is one of the sectors that have witnessed greater changes brought about by technology.
It is not surprising that this industry is ranked among the best performing industry around the world. Technology has contributed a lot towards this success.
Technology is paramount in the success of Hospitality and tourism industry regardless of having some flaws as evidenced in the paper.
Hospitality and tourism industry is one of the best performing industry, both at regional/domestic and international level. According to the Tourism World Council (2004), the tourism industry contributes to around 10% of GDP in the world.
This rate is expected to increase by the year 2014 (World Travel and Tourism Council 2004).The force behind this rapid growth is the adoption of information technology in its management and operations.
Many businesses in hospitality and tourism incorporate information technology in their businesses thus standing a good chance of reaping huge returns of the same (Garzotto et al. 2004).
Computerised reservation systems are an example of an information technology system used in this sector to reach to the target customers.
Technology in the Industry
Before the advancement of technology, it was very difficult for the tourist and hospitality industry to market its services to its customers. It was also very expensive because customers are always physically apart, miles away, for instance.
However, the coming of information technology has eased the transaction of business besides boosting the customer base. The fact that people are able to communicate and interact with one another in different regions has made it easier and cheap to market their products and services.
In the past, inter organisational system, which connected organizations, was the most popular form of IT. However, because of high costs, many businesses could not meet the cost of using it (Chih-Yao 2011, p. 1986).
The emergence of global distribution systems allowed easy connection and communication across boarders. This allowed fast transfer of information that helped to boost the industry in terms of the number of bookings.
Global distribution was a form of inter-organisational system that emerged from computer reservation systems that helped to integrate information from the airline. These integrations boosted the tourism industry since customers were able to make their reservations at one common marketplace.
These systems were used in 1960s, and there integration to the modern computer was impossible. The advancement of technology has seen the emergence of internet and the World Wide Web, which have transformed the way people interact and or do their businesses (Cristiana 2008, p. 345).
Businesses market their hospitality services and tourism products through the internet. This platform has connected the world. It has turned it into a global village. People can interact in different locations in real time.
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They can share their views and opinions without having to meet physically. Technology has led to the development of different forms or platforms that enable interconnections.
Nowadays, social media such as MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and many others are sources of information that both tourism and hospitality industry have used to reach customers across the globe leading to an influx of tourists hence boosting the level of their income (Alexis, & Buhalis 2007, p. 389).
Clayton and Criscuolo (2002) argue that technology through the internet has brought about various changes on how people carry out their businesses.
The changes include providing an avenue through which ideas can be transformed into marketable innovation to be transmitted later to a wider market at low costs of accessing these markets and searching for the buyers.
It allows easier access to market offering new products. It has changed the way information is shared between individuals and organisations (p. 14). The benefits of technology on the hospitality and tourism industry are enormous.
Benefits of technology on the industry
The benefits of IT are manifested almost in every aspect of out lives. The internet has become an important part of people’s lives. People are able to share information in their remote locations through personal computers, fax machines, cell phones, emails, and the internet in real time (Cristiana 2008, p. 346).
The capability that has come with technology has been manifested in major sectors of economies. The hospitality and tourism sector is one of the sectors that require adequate marketing across the globe.
With the internet in place, this has been achieved with ease and at low costs. Business has hosted different sites that they use to advertise their products and services to the entire world. They are able to tailor the needs of the customers accordingly.
Another advantage of technology is that it has facilitated globalisation. The world has been constricted into one small village. People are connected through the internet networks and social media. Information is transmitted at a faster rate with just one click of a mouse.
Hospitality industry and tourism have used this opportunity to share ideas on various businesses. It has also helped to bring together people separated by geographical locations, as well as those from different cultures.
Since this industry depends on information, this technology has added a boast because people are able to access information about the locations that they can visit, spent their leisure time, and holidays relaxing.
According to Cristiana (2008), many people in the USA use the internet to book for their trips to various destinations (p. 344). The rate is increasing every day. For instance, it is estimated that more than 75 million people who travel across the globe use internet to get information on their destinations.
They therefore use internet to book, check and compare prices, and schedule their travelling to various tourist destinations. Many people who travel across their boarders spent their time and or are accommodated by the hospitality industry. Therefore, they contribute a lot to the industry.
Some travel for leisure. They therefore pay the host country foreign exchange for them to be hosted or to travel across the country visiting any area of attraction like game reserves and game parks. The number of bookings increased to double digit between 1996 and 2006.
The growth was high in 2001 at 58% and 25% in 2002 (Cristiana 2008, p. 344). Many online travelers said that they use the internet to get updates or information on their destinations and any other logistics about their travelling (Cristiana 2008, p. 344).
Therefore, they transact their businesses through the internet. For instance, they book the places of visit upon landing in their destination in advance. This shows how technology has transformed the industry.
In the past, it was very difficult and costly to travel because of the numerous tedious paper work processes that people went through. When they reach their destinations, they do not have to look for accommodation.
Therefore, technology has taken this a notch higher, as everything is done at the comfort of the houses (Dis 2010, p. 9).
A study carried on online travelers showed that majority of people traveling did so for pleasure, vacation/holiday, personal purposes, and business (Cristiana 2008, p. 347).
Technology has enabled people to search for their directions, maps for directions, accommodation/hospitality facilities, schedules, airfare, and the amount of money to be spent for a tour. These logistics are available on the internet. It has become a very essential medium of budgeting and choice making.
This is with regard to the places or locations that a person wants to visit. The availability of this information on the internet, for example, tourist attractions sites, tourist attraction scenes, and features create a platform for persuading people to travel and experience them.
Therefore, the internet has contributed to the increased booking and tourist visits hence explaining the increase in the gross domestic product that is generated by the industry (Cristiana 2008, p. 344).
Technology has evolved at a faster rate making it even possible to access internet through cell phones. People across the globe are able to access information on their phones even to the extent of communicating with one another. This platform has enabled the hospitability industry and tourist industry to market their products on the internet.
People travelling for leisure or any other reason are always in touch with their family members and friends. This has contributed towards the increased travel across the boarders by many people (Cristiana 2008, p. 348).
According to Jungsun and Hardin (2010), social media, Facebook, and MySpace host many users (p. 735). It is estimated that around 360 million people visited and used the media in 2007 for their interaction and other purposes (Jungsun & Hardin 2010, p. 735).
The media is used for sharing ideas and keeping in touch with people across the country. Therefore, they provide a good platform for businesses to market their products and services. Hospitality and tourism industry have the potential of using such media to reach out to many potential visitors.
People will get information about the tourist destinations and some of the hospitality services provided through such media. Therefore, they can contribute greatly to the success of this hospitality and tourism industry. However, technology has had its negative impact in this industry.
Challenges/disadvantages of Technology
Technology has some challenges. According to Jungsun and Hardin (2010), virtual world presents challenges of maintenance and follow up (p. 735). It requires a lot of investment in the internet use in terms of updating the links and responding to many blogs that are sent.
People or potential visitors may change their minds or plan to travel to a particular destination if their queries are not answered on time (Jungsun & Hardin 2010, p. 735). Another challenge is the increased risk of cyber crime and hacking.
Some people may gain entrance to a system hosted on the internet to gain access to any information that may be confidential. Such individual may falsify the information hence leading to misrepresentation and loss of customers.
Furthermore, the number of visitors that visit the website may not be enough as expected. This causes a huge loss since the company may not be able to raise enough revenue hence affecting the level of income of the company.
One of the disadvantages that technology has brought in the industry is that it has caused unemployment. Many people who worked in the hotels as managers, waiters, and cooks, as well as those in the tourist industry such as tour guides, lost their jobs to cut the cost and by utilising the internet.
Creation of jobs in these industries has also reduced because most of marketing and advertising is done through the internet. Privacy has also been affected with the coming up of the internet.
People have improvised ways of hacking or gaining into the websites of organisations to steal important information. This exposes the company to risk (Zipf 2002, p. 57).
Proliferation has increased on the internet. Many tourist websites are available on the internet. This is a challenge especially to small and medium tourist enterprises that possess inadequate skills and knowledge in website efficiency.
This proliferation is a sign that there is lack of organisation in the market that is already saturated. Many of these websites are not familiar to the clients. This becomes difficult for potential customers to locate them and even to have confidence in them to the extent of using them.
Intermediaries that are used to link the customers to various businesses provide another challenge on the internet. They are paid for their services hence leading to low profits, revenue, and homogeneity of the websites (Alexis, & Buhalis 2007, p. 389).
Therefore, in conclusion, technology has contributed greatly to the success of the hospitality and tourism industry across the globe. Countries that have positively embraced technology in their operations have benefited in terms of increased revenue.
The potential of this technology is exorbitant. However, it requires people who have a vast knowledge and expertise on how it operates to manage it well and to reap from its overwhelming potentials.
One the other hand, technology has rendered many people jobless. This has affected their living standards since they depend on their jobs as their source of livelihood. However, its benefits surpass the negatives as revealed in the paper.
Alexis, P. & Buhalis, D. 2007, ‘Exploring the information and communication technologies revolution and visioning the future of tourism, travel and hospitality industries, 6th e-tourism futures forum: ICT revolutionising tourism 26–27 March 2007, Guildford’, International Journal of Tourism Research, vol. 9 I no.5, pp. 385-387.
Chih-Yao, L. 2011, ‘The Integration and Development of the Leisure and Hospitality Information System Module with the Embedded Technology’, International Journal on Computer Science & Engineering, vol. 3 no. 5, pp. 1986-1994.
Cristiana, P. 2008, ‘The tourism industry and the use of internet’, Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series, vol. 17 no. 2, pp. 344-347.
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Zipf, A. 2002, ‘Adaptive context-aware mobility support for tourists’, IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 17 no. 6, pp. 57-59.