Reinventing the package holiday business : new information and communication technologies in the British and German tour operator sectors
Tour operators and travel agents are threatened with disintermediation in the travel and tourism industry, especially as a consequence of altered customer demand and new information and communication technologies which foster direct bookings. In this thesis, however, it is argued that major European tour operators are reinventing their business activities to adapt to these changes and to secure their strategic position in the package holiday business. These tour operators are in particular developing and implementing new information and communication technology strategies to support both their production and distribution of holiday packages and, moreover, to enable them to automatically assemble and market individually tailored holidays. Data to support this argument was gained from an extensive empirical survey in Britain and Germany. A total of 44 tour operators were interviewed in Britain and Germany, which controlled over 65% of their respective national market shares. The interviewed tour operators also included ten of the top twelve European tour operator groups. Leading tour operator associations and charter airlines were interviewed in addition. This research provides a detailed insight into the tour operator sector, particularly in Britain and Germany, thus contributing to research in the travel and tourism industry. Moreover, a theoretical framework is developed and proposed, largely based on industrial organisation and new institutional economics literature. The application of this framework in this thesis for the study of the package holiday business contributes to travel and tourism research, and provides a useful methodology for the study of a sector or industry.