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This article presents a query interface exploiting the intuitiveness of natural language for the largest Austrian Web-based tourism platform Tiscover. The results and our insights from analyzing the natural language queries collected during a field trial in which the interface was promoted via the Tiscover homepage are also described. This analysis shows how users formulate queries when their imagination is not limited by conventional search interfaces with structured forms consisting of check boxes, radio buttons, and special-purpose text fields. As another aspect of user-oriented evaluation of the natural language system, a usability study focusing on a comparison of a conventional search interface with the natural language approach was performed. The results of this field trial as well as the findings of the usability study are thus valuable indicators into which direction the Web-based tourism information system should be extended to better serve the customers.
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Keywords: Natural language processing; Tourism information system; User behavior study

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: *Electronic Commerce Competence Center–EC3, Donau-City-Strae 1, A-1220 Wien, Austria

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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  • Information Technology & Tourism is the first scientific journal dealing with the exciting relationship between information technology and tourism. Information and communication systems embedded in a global net have profound influence on the tourism and travel industry. Reservation systems, distributed multimedia systems, highly mobile working places, electronic markets, and the dominant position of tourism applications in the Internet are noticeable results of this development. And the tourism industry poses several challenges to the IT field and its methodologies.
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