Information is the mainstay of most industries in today’s world. Organisations need information in order to determine what product or service to offer, what price to sell it at, where they should be located and so on. Equally consumers need information in order to make decisions about what to buy and who to buy from.
The tourism industry is one that offers ‘intangible’ products and services – that is; it is not normally a physical product that you can touch and take home, useful for many years to come. It is a service that once provided cannot be used again.
For example; when a customer purchases a ticket on an airline they are not actually buying the seat itself, rather they are paying for the right to use that seat in order to get from point A to point B. When booking a hotel room they are not buying the room or the bed – just the right to use it for a given period of time. Once the service has been supplied they have very little to show for the money they spent aside from an album of photos of their holiday and a pocketful of memories – memories that could be either good or bad depending on the quality of information they receive.
This means that the information you provide to a customer must be accurate and up to date as well as informative, so that they can make the right decision about what to do and see. For example; visitors arriving in Cairns, in January, from half way around the world for what they believe will be a sunny, adventured filled holiday will not be pleased when they discover that it is monsoon season and it pours with rain during their entire stay. A word of advice from their travel agent may have convinced them to change their date of travel to a time when the weather is better!
Providing correct information for customers is essential and can contribute greatly to their travel experience. Certain areas of the tourism industry provide more information than others – some are more specialised and some more general.
Airline cabin crew might provide specific information about the flight such as safety procedures and may even be asked to provide information about the flight’s destination to their passengers.
Travel agents must provide very specialised information to travellers. Vital information that deals with such things as; customs & immigration requirements such as passports & visa, currency exchange rates, travel insurance, sightseeing opportunities in each country the client is travelling to and so on.
Hotel staff, on the other hand, provide information of a more general nature such as best shopping in the area, local attractions & restaurants and so on.
Identify current information sources appropriate to the information to be sourced.
Depending on the sector of the tourism industry you belong to and your role within it, you will need to provide information to visitors that might be quite general, or very specific.
Some of the sectors of the industry include;
information and coordination services
retail travel agents
… details of each are provided in the learner guide …
Access information sources and review for relevance.
There is an endless supply of information available for you to research tourism products and services. Some of these are;
The internet – We begin with a note of caution! Accessing and updating information in today’s world of the World Wide Web is not a difficult task. Endless information on all manner of subjects is freely available at the press of a key. Having said that it is important that care is taken over where you get your information – just because you found it on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean the information sourced there is correct. Sources on the internet are not all official and anyone who has the time can upload information outlining their personal views and understanding on any given subject. While the internet is an excellent and freely available source of information, for business use, only those sites approved of by product or service operators & suppliers, government or regional councils etc should be used.
Liaison with other organisations and suppliers. Other organisations such as industry associations, clubs or suppliers can be an excellent source of information. Information received from these sources will usually be very specific depending on the nature of the association or club. For example:
AFTA (Australian Federation of Travel Agents) will provide all the information you will need to know about being a travel agent including statistics, latest industry news bulletins, information about latest trends, etc.
AHA (Australian Hotels Association). The AHA will provide similar services as AFTA
These types of organisations often hold national or regional conferences and trade fairs where information is exchanged and latest developments are discussed.
Clubs that offer opportunities for tourist sightseeing or adventure such as sporting clubs, bushwalking and outdoor activity clubs etc.
Networking and developing relationships. There are endless opportunities to develop relationships with local businesses and suppliers that can provide information, products and services that could be useful in your role. Some of these include;
Local chamber of commerce – will have knowledge of a range of businesses or organisations in the local area that might provide useful information.
Attending business functions (breakfasts or evening get togethers) where contact can be made with both industry partners and people from
Transport terminals; airports, bus & rail terminals will often have racks of information and brochures on the local area. These will include information on accommodation, attractions, sightseeing opportunities and so on.
Timetables – from airlines, rail and bus companies will give information about transport to and from a variety of places. This information is extremely useful to have in a tourism office as visitors will rarely carry timetables with them