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Distribution channel in hospitality and tourism: Revisiting disintermediation from the perspectives of hotels and travel agencies

Rob Law (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Rosanna Leung (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Ada Lo (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Daniel Leung (Department of Tourism and Service Management, MODUL University Vienna, Vienna, Austria)
Lawrence Hoc Nang Fong (Faculty of Business Administration, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 13 April 2015

12916

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to reexamine several issues about disintermediation from the perspectives of tourism product/service suppliers (hotels) and traditional intermediaries (travel agencies), considering the move of the current distribution landscape toward disintermediation. Internet and mobile technologies offer various tools for consumers to search and purchase products/services from suppliers directly. Consequently, the necessity and role of traditional intermediaries in the industry become questionable.

Design/methodology/approach

In all, six focus group interviews were conducted to collect primary data from ten managers of three traditional travel agencies and 11 managers from three business hotels in Hong Kong, which is a major travel destination in Asia with many world-class hotels and tourism facilities.

Findings

Despite their different business backgrounds, the interviewees agreed on the increasing importance of Internet technology in the distribution of tourism products. The interviewees also posited that traditional travel agencies are still needed to serve certain customer groups, albeit their role may have little importance.

Practical implications

Practitioners should adapt to technologically induced changes to remain competitive in the e-business era.

Originality/value

This paper provides several original contributions. First, this paper supplements the extant literature by revealing how modern practitioners perceive disintermediation in the tourism and hospitality industry. Second, this paper is the first to investigate the disintermediation issue from the perspectives of tourism product/service suppliers and intermediaries. Finally, this paper provides a reference for industry practitioners to establish adequate strategies that take advantage of Internet technology.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on improving an early version of this paper. The authors would also like to thank the interviewees for their participation and contribution. The work presented in this paper was supported by a grant funded by the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (GRF Project Number: 15503814), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71471011) and an internal grant from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Citation

Law, R., Leung, R., Lo, A., Leung, D. and Fong, L.H.N. (2015), "Distribution channel in hospitality and tourism: Revisiting disintermediation from the perspectives of hotels and travel agencies", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 431-452. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-11-2013-0498

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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