Innovation typology in tourism
interest on sharing information rather than goods has increased (Freeman and Soete 1997). Moreover, investments in intangibles might be more important for organizations than tangible investments in capital goods. In this context, the tourism industry can be highly IT-Intensive. Information plays a major role, whether it is provided to tourists, stored in databases or used to improve the strategy of the organization. Examples of the use of IT in tourism are the implementation of Data Warehousing in organizations in order to combine and analyse data from diverse sources, or the use of internet platforms to collect and share information about tourism destinations.
Nevertheless, services are not only intangibles. As it has been mentioned before, the tourism product is a combination of different elements tangibles and intangibles. Consequently, it seems necessary to identify which elements form this product. In this matter, Gallouj (2002) recognizes three groups of characteristics for products. First, service characteristics, which are defined as the utility provided by the product from the user’s point of view. Second, technical characteristics that describe the internal structure of the technology. Third, process characteristics, which are related to the production methods of the service. This contribution thus regards the utility of the service from the user’s point of view, its internal composition and the production process. Gallouj’s set of characteristics can be applied to tourism services. In a guided visit, for instance, the information and the entertainment provided to tourists constitute its service characteristics, the means of communication, the guide’s know- how and the objects observed its technical characteristics, and the modes of preparation and development of the visit form its process characteristics.
Another approach that contributes to identify the particularities of services is the one introduced by Miles (2005). His approach, though, is not based on service characteristics, but on types of services. He distinguishes between three groups of services. First, physical services such as transport or catering. Second, human services, regarding basically public services dedicated to individuals. Third, information services such as consultancy or entertainment. Consequently, the tourism product might be also considered as a combination of the three types of services.
In this chapter the characteristics of innovation types in tourism have been studied in detail. Four innovation types have been identified: product, process, organizational and marketing innovations. Besides, it has been pointed out that innovations in tourism emerge from incremental changes rather than from radical shifts in the current technology. Furthermore, several topics in relation with the specificities of the tourism product have been mentioned: tangibility and intangibility, coterminality, personalization, imitation and standardization.