Term Paper: Online Travel Agents

Pages: 22 (5998 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Recreation  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Disadvantages quoted at a recent TIA conference include: "They [the customer] would rather talk to a live person; their plans were not definite; they don't give credit card details online and are concerned about privacy of information; the internet does not give lowest prices or best deals; and the process of booking is too complicated" (quoted at (http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0VOU/9_304/76940598/p1/article.jhtml).

Question 4: What are the main reasons for buying or not buying from online agents?

As the majority of people turn to the internet to save money, one of the main factors in deciding not to buy from the internet is price: often, if a flight is required on a specific day, and this is a popular day, prices can be prohibitively high. Perhaps, though, in this case, individuals would decide not to travel, or to travel on a cheaper day, and would not abandon their use of the internet totally: once a convert, always an online booker.

Question 5: What are the characteristics of online agents?

Online agents are, by their very definition, internet based. Some of the most successful (for example, www.lastminute.comor (www.cheapflights.co.uk) usually offer a complete travel experience, from flights, to accommodation, to car bookings etc.

Question 6: How do online agents really work?

Online agents pool information from airlines, hotel chains, car hire agencies, regarding availability and costs of the products on offer. They then offer these products to the customer through interactive databases, which the customer then uses to build his or her own holiday experience. The payment is taken by the host of the database, who take a margin of the sale, and then pass the profit on to the provider of the service.

Question 7: What is driving the growth of online travel agents?

There are many explanations for the growth in online travel agents, chief amongst which are the great benefits to be derived from booking online, in terms of cost effectiveness, comfort and independence.

In addition to convenience, however, as explained at http://www.cendant.com/media/trends_information/trends_information.cgi/Travel+Distribution+Services/62,the increase in online travel bookings has everything to do with price. The vast majority of online travel bookings are for leisure and personal trips (80% in 2000, according to Jupiter Research), and sixty percent of respondents to the PhoCusWright survey cite price as the single most important attribute when making personal travel arrangements (http://www.cendant.com/media/trends_information/trends_information.cgi/Travel+Distribution+Services/62).

Through the initial analysis of these pertinent questions, then, we can see that the internet has brought a revolution to the travel industry, for personal travellers, and corporate travellers alike. Bookings through traditional high street travel agents have been decreasing year on year since the rise of internet travel agents, as the following figures from the TIA (Travel Industry Association) report: The market for online travellers has grown 252%, from just 28 million internet travellers in 1996 to 95 million travellers who surfed the net in 2001 (http://agency.travelwisconsin.com/Research/MarketResearch_Active/internetuse.shtm).The incidence of Internet use among travellers has increased from 19% in1996 to 68% in 2001 (http://agency.travelwisconsin.com/Research/MarketResearch_Active/internetuse.shtm).As the quality of travel Web sites improves, 94% of the 65 million travellers who planned or booked travel online were satisfied with their experience (http://agency.travelwisconsin.com/Research/MarketResearch_Active/internetuse.shtm).

The internet is seen as a useful tool by many travellers, and the message from many regulators of high street travellers, for example, ABTA and the TIA, is that high street travel agents need to become more flexible for them to be able to regain the market share, or rather, to maintain the market share they currently hold.

High street travel agents need to be aware of the fact that they cannot sit still at this moment in time: they need to make a concerted effort to win back clientele, by making the 'visitor experience' more comfortable and therefore more inviting.

What, however, is the view of 'insiders' within the travel and tourism industry? The next sections will attempt to elucidate this opinion, through the use of a questionnaire, distributed to 'key players' in the UK travel and tourism industry at the World Travel Mart in November 2003.

The next three sections will look at a review of the literature pertinent to the three hypotheses under analysis in this thesis; the next sections will look at the Methodology utilised in the uncovering of the riddle behind the growth of online tourism, and the Findings and Conclusion sections will bring together the main conclusions found throughout the course of the investigation.

Literature Review Hypothesis

The characteristics of online agents are quicker, meaning that it is quicker, and often easier, for people to book their own travel through online agents, than through using traditional ('high street') travel agents"

As we have seen in the general Literature Review, it is widely suspected that people prefer to book their tickets online, as it is quicker and easier for people to do so, in terms of not having to travel agencies to do so, and in terms of avoiding the stresses inherent in booking a holiday or flight in a typical UK high street travel agency (which is often described as akin to, perhaps even worse than, having a tooth pulled). This opinion is widely propagated in the literature, as we have seen; the subsequent sections dealing with the questionnaire, which forms the basis of the research portion of this thesis, are intended to provide evidence for this general assumption.

Literature Review Hypothesis

The prices offered by online travel agents is the main factor that drives the growth in online travel and tourism agents"

As we have seen in the general Literature Review, it is also widely thought that people prefer to book their tickets online, as it is much cheaper for people to do so, in terms of the base price of the travel/tourism options being far cheaper per unit, and also in terms of the savings made on travel to high street stores. This opinion is widely propagated in the literature, as we have seen in the general literature review; the subsequent sections dealing with the questionnaire, which forms the basis of the research portion of this thesis, are intended to provide evidence for this general assumption.

Literature Review Hypothesis

Consumers really do genuinely believe online agents to be a better option than high street ('traditional') travel agents"

As we have seen in the general Literature Review, it is widely suspected that people prefer to book their tickets online, as people genuinely believe that online agents provide a better service than, and are a better option to use than, traditional agents. This opinion is widely propagated in the literature, as we have seen in the Literature Review: Overview section; the subsequent sections dealing with the questionnaire, which forms the basis of the research portion of this thesis, are intended to provide evidence for this general assumption.

Methdology: Overview

Obviously, in order to uncover the reasons behind the rise of online travel agents, especially in terms of the three hypotheses proposed to explain this growth, it is necessary to talk to some of the people involved in travel and tourism. These would include such people as those involved in running 'traditional' high street travel agents; people running online travel and tourism agencies; people using travel agencies (both online travel and tourism agencies); and, the people responsible for promoting travel and tourism within the UK (journalists, PR people etc.).

Only through a balanced analysis of the opinions of these different groups of people, will a clear picture of the reasons behind, and the reasons for, the rise of online travel and tourism bookings become clear. Further, only through a balanced and unbiased method of elucidating the motivations behind this growth in online travel and tourism bookings will the real reasons for this growth be uncovered.

Thus, a questionnaire, distributed to a number of the people described above, and distributed within a setting conducive to attaining honest and fair results, is the best method of finding the reasons behind the growth in online travel and tourism bookings.

The questionnaire was designed to incorporate as much openness as possible, to generate open answers from the respondents, which would show the opinions of these people regarding online vs. traditional travel and tourism agents. A copy of the questionnaire is given in the Appendix.

The author was lucky enough to be able to travel to the World Travel Mart in November 2003, and managed to distribute this questionnaire to a number of people, as part of a larger research study in to the sociology of the rise of e-commerce, in particular the online travel industry.

The questionnaire was distributed to approximately 100 delegates of the World Travel Mart, divided equally between those people as involved in running 'traditional' high street travel agents; those people running online travel and tourism agencies; people using travel agencies; those people using online and traditional travel and tourism agencies, and finally, the people responsible for promoting travel and tourism within the UK (journalists, PR people etc.).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Online Travel Agents.  (2004, March 8).  Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/online-travel-agents/3096566

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"Online Travel Agents."  8 March 2004.  Web.  24 April 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/online-travel-agents/3096566>.

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"Online Travel Agents."  Essaytown.com.  March 8, 2004.  Accessed April 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/online-travel-agents/3096566.