The airline and travelling tourism industry impacts the domestic and international economy. It has positively developed employment, economy and gross domestic product of various industries (World Tourism Council 2004). The industry is considered as one of the first industries to implement information technology in most of its operations (Garzotto et al. 2004) which has improved the nature of services offered to clients.
The airline and travelling tourism industry saw the need to transfer information from one organization to another and implemented electronic funds transfer and electronic data interchange, referred to as inter-organizational systems (IOS), to transfer information across organizations. The need to provide fast and accurate information and services to customers made the industry implement the first inter-organizational system (IOS) known as global distribution service (GDS). GDS started as computer reservation systems and improved systems that enabled airline travel agents and tourists to ‘make their reservations in a common market place’ (Joo 2002, p. 60). Some of the examples of GDSs are Amadeus, Sabre, Worldspan, and Galileo. The fact that GDSs use early architectures and codes, are not designed to use the internet, and cannot be interfaced with modern computers and network systems, made many players in the field look for alternative information technology infrastructures.
Hotel chains integrated Property Management System (PMS) with Central Reservation System (CRS) and GDS. CRS enables hotels to network with all players in their chain and sell and buy amongst each other (those within the chain). GDS, on the other hand, allows hotels to network with players beyond their chain networks. This encourages interoperation among many players in the hotel industry especially the CRS, which has been used in applications that require implementation of networks that cover wide areas (Brooks 1999).
The invention of the internet has enabled airline, tourism and travel industry to implement internet technology and has enabled it to gather information about tourists or consumers. The internet has enhanced global operation and global merging of the industry players (Werthner & Klien 1999). In light of extensively utilizing the internet, the industry implemented and is using web-based information systems. According to Werthner & Klien (1999), online technology positively impacted the way the industry operators communicate, relate, and transact with customers and amongst them. The internet has encouraged innovation, quick marketing, high speed access to new products and services, timely sharing of information, and ready availability of information.
The internet has enabled customers to book reservations online. Hotels and travel industries that have implemented the online systems allow customers to check for available products and services online in their preferred organizations and book and pay for the services and products they want. In this regard, they save huge amounts of money and time that they would have wasted by going to book at the sites. By booking online early, customers are sure that they get their preferred hotels and travel companies.
The internet has also permitted the industry to use many other technologies such as videoconferencing, email, teletext, and social networking sites. Since the industry covers a wide geographical area, managers in different regions can use videoconferencing to hold meetings and share ideas. The industry also uses emails to send email messages to customers and among themselves, and utilizes social networking media to communicate with customers or market their products and services.
The industry is currently using various information technology applications to assist them in making quick and informed decisions and provide efficient and effective services to clients. Managers use decision support systems (DSSs), such as flight and crew scheduling and planning, to make decisions regarding flight scheduling. The industry has also developed applications for intermediaries, such meeting and convention planners, to facilitate effective delivery of services. Food and beverage sections of the industry utilize restaurant management systems and point of sale systems to serve their customers effectively and efficiently.
The industry uses database management systems to store large amount of information that are very important in predicting future market trends. Future prediction is done through data mining. Data mining involves retrieving important information from the databases that enables management to predict future trends in the industry.
As depicted above, information technology (IT) has positively contributed to the airline and traveling tourism industry. It has enhanced communication, promoted and created new marketing techniques, encouraged globalization, improved decision making, and enhanced customer satisfaction by providing them with efficient and effective services. It has also enabled retrieving of data that assist in future decision making.
Future of IT in Airline and Traveling Tourism Industry
Information technology improves at an alarming speed on a daily basis. Many organizations usually utilize information technology as soon as they are in the market to gain competitive advantage over others. Many emerging technologies such as mobile databases, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and green computing have not been extensively implemented in the airline and tourism industry. The advantages of the emerging technologies would enable the industry to implement them in the near future. Green technology for example, would make the industry save a lot of money that it has been spending to pay for the power consumed by the servers they have. Like the manufacturing industry, the airline industry will implement real-time and artificial intelligence systems, such as robots, to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce employee expenses. Mobile technologies and databases will enable employees in the industry to access their databases from whatever location they will be.