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Distribution and intermediation are increasingly recognized as critical factors for the competitiveness and success of the tourism industry in general, and small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMTEs) in particular. SMTEs have always suffered from the distribution function of their marketing. The rapid development of bookings through electronic media introduces several opportunities for innovative SMTEs that use ITs to develop their virtual size and to communicate with clientele and partners. However, traditional SMTEs that fail to adapt and take advantage of the new opportunities will face significant competitive disadvantages and may jeopardize their future prospects. This article builds on research undertaken in Greece, France, England, and Wales. A fairly comprehensive analysis of the European SMTEs illustrates their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and explains that strategic actions are required to improve their competitiveness in order to survive the intensive competition emerging in the global marketplace. Most of the research was based on personal interviews and the qualitative analysis attempts to illuminate the cost and benefits of the representation of SMTEs on the Internet. Exploratory research illustrates the factors often considered by SMTEs in adopting ITs and the Internet The article also argues that there is some evidence that investment on electronic presence and distribution through the Internet represents good value for money, as bookings start to materialize for innovative operators. The article concludes with a case study of small accommodation establishments in York, UK, which illustrates the above points. Concludes are drawn that innovative entrepreneurs who reengineer their business processes and take advantage of the emerging opportunities will gain major benefits and enhance their profitability and viability in the global marketplace.

Keywords: Cost and benefits; Information technology; Small and medium-sized tourism enterprises; Tourism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Tourism, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS, UK

Publication date: January 1, 1999

More about this publication?
  • 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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