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

Chun Hung Roberts Law, Rosanna Leung, Sau Yee Ada Lo, Yiu Chung Leung, Lawrence Hoc Nang Fong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-452
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Disintermediation
  • Distribution channel
  • Hong Kong
  • Hotel
  • Internet
  • Travel agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

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