Information technology has influenced all walks of our lives over the last few decades in a tremendous manner with the Tourism and Travel sector being one of the chief beneficiaries. The introduction of computers can be traced back to the early 60’s when the vacuum tube was the primary component of computer systems. This was largely inefficient and error prone and soon gave way to transistors which were replaced by Integrated Circuits. Now the technological advances have allowed advanced graphics integrated with moving images and sound to be incorporated into the modern computers.From this source nordic-destination.com/mols-bjerge/trehoeje.
The Tourism product being largely intangible stands to gain a lot from technology. Travel was considered a risk in the early days mainly due to the fact that the knowledge about the terrain, climate, culture etc of the destination was limited or unknown. Only the adventurous and men in quest for newer pastures ventured into such journeys. With the advent of IT into the travel sector, things have changed. Travel has become much more enjoyable and comfortable. The modern day traveller has a plethora of options to choose from, with Internet being the favourite haunt for the potential traveller. Places of tourist interest and scenic beauty often do not catch the attention of the customer largely due to the fact that they are not marketed well. Internet in the early days did not support graphics, video, sound etc. Hence the tourism products could not be marketed over the net effectively. Now things have drastically changed with the introduction of protocols like the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). This has led to easier transmission of graphical images, music, videos etc over the net with speed and clarity. Thus tourism has been effectively marketed over the Internet. This has led to the mushrooming of Tourism and Travel sites.
There are number of software which cater to the needs of the tourism and hospitality sectors. Travel agencies, tour operators, hotels etc use modern systems equipped with powerful applications that work on huge databases. Computerised front office has lent elegance to the modern offices which are largely paperless. Office automation has led to efficient and accurate information processing. A person armed with the right information is the most powerful in the modern era. Computerised systems are used to extract information out of the voluminous quantities of data store in databases. Querying a database, be it for reservation enquiry or booking a ticket is in the hands of the end user. The customer is the king and rightly so has a number of options to choose from when embarking on a journey or getting information about a tourist spot.
Earlier users of computer systems were required to be experts. Even starting up the system required a computer operator. Only then the application could be run. Now systems with Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) technologies, even a layman or a child is able to operate a computer or access internet. A person who doesn’t know the local language at a place has information at his finger tips with the advent of touch screen facilities. Almost all banks have now introduced ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) facilities at their premises so as to allow the customers to access their accounts any time of the day.
Global Distribution Systems
Global Distribution Systems (GDS) have evolved over the years and has played a major role in making online travel possible. A Computer Reservation System (CRS) is used to store and retrieve information and conduct transactions related to travel. They were originally developed by airlines, but it was later extended to travel agents as a sales channel. A functionality of CRS has been extended and what is known as the Global Distribution Systems came into existence. The major CRS operations that book and sell tickets to multiple airlines are known as GDS.
Many airlines have opted to divest most of their holdings to Global Distribution Systems due to which many systems are now accessible to consumers through Internet gateways for hotels, car rental agencies, and other services as well as airline tickets. A traveller or a travel agent can chalk out an itinerary using a GDS which is a global system interconnecting airlines, hotels, travel agents, car rental companies, cruise liners etc. The four major Global Distribution Systems are AMADEUS, GALILEO, SABRE and WORLDSPAN. AMADEUS boasts of a market share of 31% and is followed by SABRE with 30% of the market, GALILEO with 26% and WORLDSPAN which has captured 12% of the market.
Property Management Systems
As the term indicates, property management systems refer to systems which have been used world wide to manage and effectively control the various day to day and other procedures related to managing large properties. Even in Kerala, these systems are used in large scale.
The core functions which a PMS can handle are reservations, front office operations, some back office operations and some managerial functions. A PMS is commonly used for handling the accounting functions of the various departments in a Hotel. This is in addition to being the hub for all interconnectivity with other systems in the hotel. Just as a person, who is cut off from the rest of his colleagues during work a standalone computer is not of much use. Hence a networked environment is provided whereby a server can cater to the needs of the end-user who may be a manager to receptionist or a waiter. This is achieved by networking the systems and sharing of resources. Software may be developed to suit the needs of the hotel which may have a front end and a back end. A front end is user interface, through which data may be entered or information retrieved. The back end may consist of a RDBMS which acts as the storage hub. Queries and reports may be used to retrieve information. For example, if a guest wants to know details regarding tariffs during off season, a click of the mouse may be sufficient to retrieve information.
Virtual Reality Systems
Virtual reality is a relatively new area which is related to artificial intelligence and neural networks. Artificial intelligence is an area where technology has made rapid strides in recent years. Human beings have been blessed with intelligence which ranges from their ability to remember things to inventing gadgets and making life more meaningful. It goes without saying that human brain is an amazing and intricate organ which has till date not been surpassed by even the fastest super computer. It is doubtful if such thing will happen in future too. But artificial intelligence has paved pathways to new gadgets and robots which help man in potentially dangerous and intriate tasks.
Tourism has in addition to the natural attractions, theme parks, man made rides, simulations etc. Singapore, Disneyland etc house some of most fabulous man made wonders thanks to IT and its applications. Particularly theme parks and rides along with recreation of fantasies and dinosaurs have added mileage to tourist destinations.
With the ever increasing need to use the net, Tourism has entered a new era. Virtual travel has gained popularity and a tourist if he wishes can use the various tools and internet and sit at the comfort of his office or home and do a virtual travel. Earlier there used to armchair travelogue creators who used to design the show from articles and hearsays. But now travel writing has been simplified just because there is a plethora of information in CD’s, brochures and on the net.
There are even virtual travel agencies on the net which offers a tour through its gallery and offers a great deal of information. Gone are the days when a guide used to take travelers for ride narrating several cock and bull stories and feeding the customers with false information. Virtual travellers are more informed and many of them do not even need an introduction to a destination which they plan to visit.
In addition to the virtual tour of the real world, artificially created virtual worlds are there, waiting to be explored. These sites offer a free package for a week which can be downloaded. After going through this demo, the user can see the real stuff, if he registers online and pays for it. This is a trend which is fast catching on. After all globalization has shrunk the world and it wouldn’t be long time before new destinations in the cyber world comes up.
Travel Recommender Systems
Travel has become a part and parcel in the lives of human beings. Efforts from travel agencies and tour operators coupled with inputs from Governmental organizations have resulted in great changes which have eased the hardships placed on the traveller. The modern day traveller has a plethora of options to choose from when planning his trip. Travel Recommender Systems though in its infancy has established its utility value in travel planning. In the coming years, its importance as tool in aiding travel planning will be indispensable. A few recommender systems are available in the market that give the tour operator or the customer options to remove the intangibility associated with the product. Austria is one of the few countries which have introduced Recommender Systems to the travelling public and have found favourable response from the users. Recommending a travel plan consists of many aspects such as the destination type, location specific information, seasonal specific recommendations etc. All this has to be presented to the user in a customer friendly manner so that he or she can input the options to the system which in turn will suggest the most recommended travel plan. These systems use artificial intelligence and fall under the category of expert systems.
Geographic Information Systems
The usage of maps dates back to centuries. Man has been using maps for guidance and for locating places. With the advancement of computer technology and graphics, maps have been digitised and used for providing accurate and timely information to users. Databases have been combined with computer graphics in the area of GIS.
GIS is used to display and analyse spatial data which are linked to databases. This connection between spatial data and databases is the driving force behind the working of a GIS. Maps can be drawn from the database and data can be referenced from the maps. When the database is updated, the associated map also gets updated. GIS database include a wide variety of information including geographic, social, political, environmental and demographic data. GIS technology is a computer based data collection, storage and analysis tool that combines previously unrelated information into easily understood maps. A GIS can perform complicated analytical functions and present the results visually as maps, tables or graphs, allowing decision-makers to visually see the issues before them and then select the best course of action.
GIS finds wide applications in Tourism especially in mapping Tourist destinations, hotels etc. The end user can pin point a destination and even browse the hotel room in which he or she plans to stay.