MODERN TECHNOLOGY V. TRAVEL AGENTS: IS THERE STILL A ROLE FOR TRAVEL AGENTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY?
Vaughan, Isaiah John
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Various articles and literature have indicated that the advancements of technology such as the advent of the internet; the emergence of smartphones and tablets; and the implementation of updated hardware and software, has had an influence and effect on the role and business of travel agents. Due to the fluidity of external factors that is affecting the macro-environment of the tourism industry, there has been some significant changes and shifts in consumer behaviour, particularly towards the use of travel agents as a mean of platform to arrange and book holidays. The aim of this study is to explore the impacts of technology on the role of traditional travel agents and their position as a component of the tourism system. To this end, the research question is as follows: “Is there still a role for travel agents in the 21st century?” In this context, technology to an extent is the key determine to the future of travel agency, as well as the information searching and purchasing behaviour of tourists and consumers alike. The research questioned is answered through an experiment that entails, two semi-structured interviews which was used to collate qualitative, ultimately to get an insight from a business internal perspective of the impacts of the technological advancements. A questionnaire survey was also conducted, both online and face-to-face. This was utilised to get an in-depth understanding and awareness of the consumer behaviour towards booking online and in-store. The quantitative data collated from these research approach was used to triangulate with corresponding theory and literature. From this research shows compelling findings of the impacts that technology has imposed on the role and business of travel agents. Though, predominantly it has provided considerable benefits to both consumers and travel agents, such as high-speed internet, instantaneous accessibility, ease of use, endless choices. It has brought to the attention of the researcher that the negative implications of modern technology, in the likes of security issues and disintermediation, balances out the outcomes. As far as consumer behaviour is concerned, technology is a highly influential factor to the decision-making process and the buying behaviour.
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