Booking Online - Killing Solution for Tour Operators?

By: George Kuipers

Nowadays, moving a business from offline to online becomes a sort of good-style marketing among large and medium companies. If a company does not have at least a promo-website, that is considered to be either as oldie ignorance or as a scoped marketing. Indeed, the Internet sales are in the speedy reincarnation after the painful 2002 dotcom-crash. No doubt, doing business online becomes profitable and less-costly than selling stuff from offline shops or stocks.

Lets look what consequences this trend brings to the touristic sectors. The trend kicks first of all the so called tour operators, that organize and provide a complete tour packages including tickets, accommodation and excursions. In the old (no-Internet) days, that was a great offer for a traveler. Get one tour package that includes everything, without any calls and organization issues - that was great and easy. Therefore, we can see so many tour operators jumping from nowhere around us last decades.

However, with introduction of the internet-order-opportunities the tour operators are in danger. There are number of factors that lead a tourist to use the online-services instead of going to the tour operator office or website:
-Online booking services provide lower rates because they (a) have direct agreement with hotels, car rentals or airlines, (b) do not need to rent offline offices, and (c) they just have larger turnover.
-Normally, the international booking services (for instance for hotels - Booking, Hotels.com, Orange Smile Tours, HRS, Venere, HotelsDiscount) have much larger amount of hotels and provide extensive choice for their clients.
-A client can control his travel arrangement right from his home computer, without going to the operator office and signing the package.
-The online reservations can be easily cancelled sometimes even 12 hours before check-in.

These beneficial factors actually turn more and more people towards the online services. In order not to be forgotten and abandoned, some tour operators already started looking at the ways to bring their business to the online. Their mobility in this aspect might play an important role in their survival. Future will show how effective the tour operators can be in the online business. Anyway, our prognosis concludes that in several years we probably will not notice the standard tour-operator-offices at our streets anymore.

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