The Open Network for Tourism (OnTour) project will develop and validate new ways of workflow in the business between suppliers, vendors and customers in the tourist value chain. Therefore, an open network for electronic commerce in tourist business will be developed offering new access to and distribution of information for the partners of the value chain. The network will integrate and facilitate interoperability of existing technologies – especially the Internet – to give also new impulses for innovating the workflow of other companies and branches of business characterised by supply chain management such as forwarding business, event tourism, mail order houses, etc.

The OnTour network will allow all kinds of companies in tourist business to offer and request services, enabling especially smaller and medium sized organisations to participate in the business as equal partners. Additionally, the traveller will get the opportunity to communicate directly to destination agencies and suppliers, such as car rentals and hotels. Thus, OnTour will offer a completely integrated solution supporting all kinds of communication during the tourist business chain. Entire business processes, e.g. information of the tourist, booking the journey, service at the destination and even all payments will be carried out via the OnTour network.

The objectives of OnTour are to enforce the role of SME as suppliers and transport providers by bundling destination services in the environment of a virtual organisation as well as to enforce the role of consolidators as information brokers for the customer markets. Subsequently, OnTour will be a platform for improving the marketing chances of SME’s in terms of destination agencies or transport providers, enabling virtual sales of tourism products and connecting customer- and supplier-markets by a common platform. The aim of OnTour is not to compete with travel agencies but to support them. Only travel agencies have the knowledge to advise the traveller which offer suits his needs best. OnTour will enable travel agencies to provide even better service than they can offer nowadays. On the other hand, travellers connected to the Internet (currently less than 10% of the European population) can use OnTour to get basic information but also to organise the travel completely on their own.

The functionality provided by the OnTour system cannot be substituted by already existing solutions. They only provide small subsets of the OnTour functionality such as travel offers but do not support booking, services, accounting transactions, electronic cash etc. A lot of these systems are of proprietary character and can only be used between some companies which makes it very difficult for other partners to enter the business. OnTour will evaluate which of these systems may be integrated into the OnTour system to utilise already working services. Within the OnTour project, a pilot installation of the network will be carried out, establishing a network that consists of a consolidator and two destination agencies with their associated suppliers. The network will be used in real business and give experiences that will be important for the final product that will be developed and marketed after the end of the project.

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