Virtual vs. Traditional Tour Operator Report (Assessment)

Introduction

Virtual tour operators offer online tourism services while traditional tour operators use other mode of services but not online services. Lastminute.Com is one of the leading online tourism operators offering variety of online travel services.

The company headquarter is located in London and it is currently performing well in the London stock exchange. The company was founded in 1998 with an aim of providing online deals for late holiday booking.

It had about 500,000 regular users by 2000, and it has continued to improve its services to include gifts, entertainment, and travel. The company has also continued to charge lower prices for their services, which have continued to attract more and more customers.

The company offers all its services online and customers can see and choose the services they would like and charges for the services. As Campo and Yague (2008) argue, perceived price quality and satisfaction is very important to the consumers (p.20).

Moreover, “The choice of tourist destination depends so much on their finances” (Schetzina, 2010, p.28). For instance, the company offers prices for their travel services to different destinations and their respective prices.

Lastminute.Com Company also offers variety of services in the UK and Ireland. The hotels offer quality services and at the same time charge rates that are affordable.

The company also offers theater services at very affordable rates that have attracted customers from all parts of UK and Ireland. Thus, this company has continued to excel in the virtual tourism operations.

On the other hand, Kuoni.Com has continued to use traditional tourism services in the UK. Kuoni.Com is a tourism company owned by the Kuoni group of companies and offers variety of services for tourists.

The travels services include travel services, hotel services search as venues for retreat and honeymoon, and medical services to the tourists among other services.

The company provides its services using traditional tour operations where customers have to visit their offices or those of their agencies in order to book for their services. People have chosen the two companies because of their different mode of operations.

Business model in tourism

According to Rachman and Richins, “tour operators are very important for they facilitate services for tourists” (1997, p.78). The two companies have continued to use different marketing strategies as well as offering quality services as way of attracting and retaining their customers.

Customers of tourism services would like to have a tourism agency that is offering a variety of services that will meet their expectations. In tourism industries, quality services and lower charges are important requirements from the customers.

Tourists will give a priority to a tourism company that offers services at lower charges without compromising quality when they are selecting their agencies. These two companies have continued to offer different discount rates for different services as a way of attracting and retaining their customers (Broadus, 2003, p.45).

For instance, Lastminute.Com Company gives its customers 5 percent discount for different travel destinations and this has made many tourists to choose their travel services just because of the fair prices.

The two companies have also continued to give quality services and this has satisfied their customers making them come back repeatedly. Kapoor and Quinby (2009) note that, “Online travel agencies have continued to outperform the traditional agencies” (p.15).

For instance, they offer medical services to their customers when they are traveling. They also give different beverages to their customers when they are using their services. These factors have enabled the companies to develop and build loyal customers who will always choose their services.

These strategies underscore distributing channels, which are very important in tourism (Williams and Richter, 2002, p.404).

However, the traditional mode of tourism has been seriously affected by the new technology (Sangpikul, 2010, p.110) but Machlouzarides observes that traditional modes of business are still used to govern operations of tourism and travels, (2010, p.161).

Last Minute.Com Company has continued to use online services as way of reaching more customers. All the potential customers in all the parts of the world easily access online services at any time they want them.

Through online services, the two companies advertise all their services and carry out all the booking services with their customers at very low charges. Khare and Anshuman (2010) argue that use of technology has improved online transactions.

Traditional tour operations took place through agencies, which took a lot of time before they were completed. Customers had to apply for these services earlier enough before the actual date, which was costly in terms of time. However, online booking services are very fast and customers can book even in the last minute.

Hailin, and Dong (2009), observe that it is very easy to buy air ticket online (p.203).

These services do not require customers to book a few days before the actual date of services; they just need to place their order one day before or even a few hours before the actual time for using the services, which has brought convenience on the side of customers especially those who like to book at the last minute.

Again, online booking services are very efficient based on the installation of all the customers’ requirements in the system. Mistakes and errors that made by traditional system are not common with online booking and this has made many customers to prefer online services as compared to traditional services.

These companies have also used online services as a marketing strategy where the operators place all the information about services offered on the internet. Customers are informed about different offers such as discounts offered by different travel companies as well as other services on offer.

As noted by Javanbakht, Alipour and Hajaliakbari (2009), “tourism and internet is the same thing” (p.267). Kim, Chung, and Lee (2009), support this argument by observing that online tourism services are very important for success tourism industry (p.256).

Criteria for evaluating website for travel agency

Evaluation of the website for travel agency involves determining whether the website is meeting its objectives for which it was established. The main aim of this website is to reach the potential customers and giving them all the information they require about the services offered by the agency.

First, the website must have the right authority as a way of authenticating information provided.

Secondly, the agency ought to provide different services to its customers.

Thirdly, it also needs to provide the prices charged for these services.

Fourthly, it needs further to provide other services offered to the customers such as help services.

Fifthly, the information provided over the website should meet the needs of the customers. According to Chaiprasit, Jariangprasert, Chomphunut, Naparat, and Jaturapataraporn (2010), quality of information is very important on travel agencies website (p.45).

Company Evaluation

The websites of the two companies are different given that, one of them is virtual tour operator and the other is traditional tour operator. Though the two companies’ websites are meeting their objectives, virtual tour operator is doing it better than the traditional tour operator is.

Lastminute.Com Company meets almost all the aforementioned criteria since it has provided all the information about their products in its websites. The company displays different discount rates in the website in a way that will capture the attention of the customers.

According to Park and Jemieson, (2009), a good monitoring system is important in tourism (p.46). On the other hand, the Website of Kuoni.com Company does not have all the necessary information about their services.

It also lacks online booking facilities that are very important to the customers. Therefore, it is important to evaluate online services in order to ensure their quality (Tsang, Lai, & Law, 2009, p.306).

Conclusion

The two modes of tour operations are very different. Virtual tour operator employs modern tourism services while traditional tour operators still use the traditional modes of operation. From this research, it is evident that virtual modes of tour operations are better than traditional tour operations.

Use of technology in the virtual tour operations has improved the efficiency of this model where customers can do all their booking without any physical movement.

The virtual tour operations are very convenient to the customers since they will not be required to prepare or do their bookings many days before the actual events. Use of online services has also improved marketing services in the tourism industry. I would therefore like to work for Lastminute.Com because of its efficiency.

References

Broadus, H. (2003). Travel and Tourism in Africa: Opportunities, Expectations, and Realities. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Campo, S., & Yague, M. (2008). Tourist loyalty to tour operator: effects of price promotions and tourist effort. Journal of Travel Search, 6(4), pp.16-25.

Chaiprasit, K., et al. (2011). Tourist Expectations toward Travel and Tourism Websites In Thailand. International Business & Economics Research Journal, 10(3), pp.41-49.

Hailin, Q., & Dong, J. (2009). A study of perceived risk and risk reduction of purchasing air-tickets online. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 26(3), pp.203-224.

Javanbakht, N., Alipour, M., & Hajaliakbari, F. (2011). The Impact of Web-Marketing Mix (4s) On Development of Tourism Industry in Iran. International Journal of Business & Social Science, 2(6), 267-274.

Kapoor, C., & Quinby, D. (2009). Online Travel Agencies 1H10: Led by Priceline, OTAs Power Ahead. PhoCusWright Report, 4(2), pp.10-24.

Khare, A., & Anshuman, K. (2010). Travel and tourism industry yet to exploit the Internet fully in India. Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management, 17(2), pp. 106-119.

Kim, M., Chung, N., & Lee, C. (2009). The Effect of Perceived Trust on Electronic Commerce: Shopping Online for Tourism Products and Services in South Korea, Tourism Management, 32(2), pp.256-265.

Machlouzarides, H. (2010). Destination marketing through a utility business model: the Case of Cyprus, 5(2), pp.161-177.

Park, S., & Jamieson, W. (2009). Developing a Tourism Destination Monitoring System: A Case of the Hawaii Tourism Dashboard Asia Pacific. Journal of Tourism Research, 14(1), pp.39-57.

Rachman, Z., & Richins, H. (1997). The status of New Zealand tour operator website. Journal of tourism studies, 8(2), pp.62-78.

Sangpikul, A. (2010) Marketing Ecotourism through the Internet: A Case of Ecotourism. Business in Thailand. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 11(2), pp.107-137.

Schetzina, C. (2010). Destination Unknown: How U.S. and European Travelers Decide Where to Go. PhoCusWright Report, 3(3), pp.1-28.

Tsang, N., Lai, H., & Law, R. (2010). Measuring E-Service Quality for Online Travel Agencies. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 27(3), pp.306-323.

Williams, P., & Richter, C. (2002). Developing and supporting European tour operator distribution channel for Canadian Aboriginal tour development. Journal of travel research, 40, pp.404-415.

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