The ICT department is concerned with supporting the other functions of the organisation and the clients externally of the organisation. Its job is to ensure that ICT is being used as a support to help the other functions to operate as effectively as possible. Mr Povey has been involved in the implementation of standard kit throughout the NWTB as well as the organisations with whom they have a relationship externally. He has also been responsible for helping the clients (e.g. hotels, tourist attractions) to use ICT to effectively promote themselves and in turn the Northwest as a tourist destination.
The NWTB is aiming for competitive advantage, e.g. they want tourists to visit the Northwest more than any other region in the UK. ICT can act as a tool to aid in the process of competitive advantage. The ICT department’s role is to ensure that whilst ICT investment comes at a huge initial cost to the organisation, it is worthwhile, will provide value for money and is necessary in the long run to ensure stability and survival for the business in the future.
Whether or not the ICT systems provide value for money will depend on how effective the systems are that are implemented and how well the user uses them. The ICT department are responsible for evaluating the systems in place and updating them as necessary to ensure they continue to support as opposed to hinder the operation of the organisations.
The ICT department is split into 2 areas. The area responsible for maintenance of the current system and providing a service to the users within the organisation of the NWTB. This involves daily troubleshooting tasks like fixing broken machines and printers as well as maintenance of the network. It also involves the identification of training needs of those who use ICT within the NWTB as well as provision of training for those users. Secondly, the responsibility that Mr Povey has of promoting the effective use of ICT to destinations across the Northwest ensuring they can compete and provide tourists with excellent service e.g. by booking rooms or tickets on the internet or over the phone. This aspect of ICT falls mainly under the Operations function of the NWTB because it is this aspect of ICT that covers the providing of a service. The NWTB provides a service to it’s members e.g. the local hotels and tourist destinations, helping them to employ effective ICT systems, they in turn can provide a better, more competitive service to tourists. Mr Povey’s role does not involve in any way the maintenance of the systems used by members, he simply acts as an advisor to members and can inform them of any funding they may apply for to help with purchasing ICT equipment. He does also help to identify training needs of members and organise training events.
Some of the benefits of using ICT within the NWTB
* Improved accuracy – from basic typing of letters to automation of financial spreadsheets
* Faster processing leading to faster responses e.g. e-mail communication between departments, purchase orders being completed using computers etc.
* Information available for management that previously wouldn’t have been available in time or may not have been in enough detail or as concise
* Tighter control as a result of easily accessible financial information
* Reduced costs as staff can be more productive with the support of ICT e.g. use of mail merge reduces the time and effort required for typing and sending a standard letter to a number of clients.
* New sources of information to allow for improved marketing
* Faster, more effective communication with regional and sub – regional partners
* Some of the benefits of using ICT to the NWTB members
* Promotion – can advertise to a wider audience not previously reached because of distance from the location, via Internet.
* Sales – improved marketing information results in increased sales. Ability to sell tickets and accept on-line booking improves sales as the business becomes available to a wider audience
* Management information – increased advanced ticket sales and bookings enables management to plan better and so be better prepared for requirements in terms of stock levels, number of staff needed, car parking issues etc.
* Access to competitor information – using the Internet management can research into what competitors are doing e.g. special offers and can compete with their own promotion ideas.
* Production of promotional materials – management can use their own systems to produce their own leaflets and flyers so saving money on printing costs
* Financial Information – management can store details in an automated spreadsheet making financial monitoring and planning quick and easy.
* Data Storage – management can store information about clients on a database which requires littler physical space and can be searched more quickly as opposed to sifting through a large paper based directory or file to find customer details.
* Faster, more effective customer services – customers can be dealt with quickly and efficiently if business data is stored on an easy to use system e.g. hotel booking systems. On some hotels customers can run up a bill using the bar, restaurant, leisure facilities etc if the business has a centralised computer based facility. Customers can see their billing information for a stay in the hotel on one printed sheet as opposed to keeping hold of a number of receipts. The customer is not required to pay for services individually as they pay for everything at the end. This can enhance the customer’s experience of staying in a hotel. Happy customers will usually spread the word and recommend a hotel to friends and relations as well as planning a return visit themselves. This all helps the businesses in their pursuit of competitive advantage.
* More effective communication – the businesses will be able to communicate with clients, suppliers, service providers etc via e-mail.
How does ICT help NWTB to operate effectively?
Suppose that there was a huge tourist event being organised in Southport. Then there are a number of jobs to be done within the NWTB to ensure the promotion and success of this event.
The marketing department will carry out some research to establish the make-up of the target audience for the event and will then decide on the best methods of promotion for the event. For example, texting a large group of people, producing and displaying posters throughout the region, distributing flyers, sending leaflets directly to people’s houses, radio and TV advertising etc. ICT may be used to design a questionnaire to establish the target audience and those interested in attending the event. ICT may be used to input and analyse information about the potential audience
The marketing department will have a large database with the details of people who have been to events in the past and will also have access to information about the make-up of households in the area. ICT may be used to access databases with people’s contact details and mail merge this with a standard letter to be sent to the households of the target audience.
Marketing will need to speak to finance about the available budget for promotion and advertising. A spreadsheet may be used to calculate the amount of money available from the NWTB budget. A further spreadsheet may be created by the marketing department to allow them to keep track of all financial transactions that take place in relation to this particular event. This may also help them to make important decisions about how much to spend on aspects of the promotion.
Information will be sent to local hotels and guesthouses about the event to inform them that there may be business to be gained from the event in that people who attend from outside the region will need somewhere to stay. This may be done using e-mail and attachments.
Marketing will need to send copies of invoices and bills for the production of leaflets, posters etc. to the finance department so that the finance department can pay the bills.
Administration will be responsible for word processing and sending the standard letter to households promoting the event.
After the event the marketing department will need to evaluate the success of the event and it’s impact on the region. Was the event worthwhile to the region? They will need to collect and analyse information from a variety of sources to assess it’s impact. ICT will be useful at all stages in this complex evaluation process.
What are the external relationships that NWTB has?
Department for Culture, Media and Sport – National Level
DCMS champions good quality and service for tourists, from the UK and overseas. We encourage and help the tourism industry to improve what it has to offer for all our visitors and to promote a positive image abroad.
DCMS Ministers are very keen to modernise and reform the tourism industry, working more closely than before with the industry, and current tourism policy is focusing on improving structures, marketing, data, quality and skills, as follows:
* The industry has formed a new body, the Tourism Alliance, to represent its views better to Government and catalyse actions to help delivery of policy objectives
* VisitBritain was set up on 1 April 2003, bringing together the English Tourism Council (ETC) and the British Tourist Authority (BTA)
* The relaunched body has a new and significant marketing role for England, including the development of e-tourism
* Funding which previously went to Regional Tourist Boards via the ETC will now be channelled via the Regional Development Agencies
* Major reviews on quality and data have been initiated, consulting the industry and others as appropriate
* Industry and Government are working in close partnership on the skills agenda, and the Government is strongly supporting the establishment of a Sector Skills Council for Tourism
Current policy as described above builds upon Tomorrow’s Tourism, the Government’s 1999 strategy for the development of tourism in England. Good progress has already been made in delivering Tomorrow’s Tourism, which has also brought together a number of Government departments who are working closely with DCMS and the tourism industry to implement the strategy. Important areas not mentioned explicitly above, such as sustainable development of tourism and increasing access to tourism, are now considered as a matter of course in policy development and delivery.
In April 2003 the strengths and resources of the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council were combined in one organisation, renamed VisitBritain.
VisitBritain is responsible for promoting Britain overseas and England to the domestic market. Its key roles are to boost Britain’s income from tourism through professional and effective marketing, and to provide a framework within which the tourism industry can work in closer partnership. With its network of overseas offices, VisitBritain helps the over 120,000 tourism businesses in Britain reach overseas customers cost-effectively. For England, VisitBritain provides a central coordination role to make the most of the collective effort of all sectors promoting tourism in England to a domestic audience.
A greater role in tourism for Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England is a major strand of the Government’s programme of tourism reform. Since 1 April 2003, the RDAs are playing a stronger part in the strategic leadership of tourism, working both individually and together with each other within the new national framework for tourism strategy and marketing. The Regional Tourist Boards are the RDAs’ natural partners and will be funded by the RDAs, for the next three years at least, at a level equivalent to the project funding they received in 2002-03 from the former English Tourism Council. This amounts to ï¿½3.6 million per year.
This arrangement excludes London, for which there are separate arrangements with the Greater London Authority.
Regional Partners – Other regions of the UK who all work together to help implememtn the strategy for the whole of the UK
Sub Regional Partners – regions that make up the Northwest. They share good practise and work together to promote the region as a whole.
Lancashire Tourist Board
Cheshire County Council
North West Development Agency
The Mersey Partnership
Cumbria Tourist Board
The NWTB also has a relationship with a number of smaller businesses within the sub regioanl partners e.g. small hotels, tourist attractions etc.
The NWTB also has a relationship with all the organisations listed below as a business cannot function independently of these.
The Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise, Insurers, ISPs, Data service providers, Computer and communications equipment suppliers, Courier Services, Utilities,
Local authority departments, Advertising Agencies, Printer Firms.
How is information used in the NWTB?
* Work Scheduling- The NWTB will use this daily as they need to gain up to date information from all organisations. They will need to know where employees are in case another job comes up that is more important.
* Delivery- The NWTB would need to make sure its customers where kept up to date with the latest technology, however, it is then up to the organisation as to whether they would like to utilise the technology. With small businesses the NWTB often spearheads the idea for the introduction of ICT into the business for more effective and efficient productivity. This means they may often have to supply their clients with computers in order to give them the best deal on, often, a small budget.
* Market Trends- Systems for studying market trends need to record and present data as defined by the current user, whether it be number of tourists visiting one attraction, or what attractions are open at that present time. Price and performance trends are also covered.
* Analysis of competitive activity- The NWTB will be trying to make the northwest the best tourist destination in order to improve its reputation. They are constantly in competition with the other regions in the country. Within the NWTB you can sub-section the industry into different attractions, e.g. Hotels in one category and entertainment complexes in another. These sub- categories are in each have their own levels of competition in the northwest.
* Planning and analysis of promotional campaigns- This is vital to the efficient running of the NWTB, they target not only small businesses in the promotions, but also the larger more established organisations that have more power to bring more tourists.
* Receiving and logging of customer orders
* Invoice production
* Customer details
* Recording all sales visits and other sales activity
The ICT department have an important role in designing, introducing, and developing e-commerce systems. E-commerce is one of many ways a client of the NWTB can become a much more successful firm without the need of expansion. It allows small firms to broaden horizons, they do however take a number of months to become profitable and implementing them often takes a lot of time and effort, however, in the market today it is very easy to provide e-commerce safely and securely.
The sales department would also keep a list of customers and clients on record. They will use these to keep details like address, e-mail address, buying history, current sale status, and sales person dealt with in the transaction.
Research and Design:
* Product design- The design process would be carried out using CAD, this allows the design department to produce lots of designs very quickly, it also allows the drawings to be much more accurate. This process also allows designs to be inter-compatible.
* Engineering design- Due to CAD the design process becomes much quicker, in the production of advertisements it becomes much easier to edit motion clips on a computer very quickly. On a static poster you can retouch the elements present within it.
* Analysis of new developments
* Sales, purchase and nominal ledgers
* Credit control
* Payments in and out, including EFT
* Budgets, projections and accounts
* Historical financial records
Finance has to be able to give instant statements on the financial situation in the company to the directors, on request.
EFT stands for electronic funds transfer. It refers to any use of computers in making payments to organisations or individuals. It is a rapid way of transferring money, but raises doubts about security.
These administrative applications are largely similar between one organisation and another. There is nonetheless an important task for ICT to advise on the particular software products to be obtained.
* Personnel records and pension scheme- personnel records include, for each employee: name, home address and telephone number, NI number, employee number and department, DOB, sex, date of joining company, job history before joining company, job history since joining, training, qualifications and skills.
* Legal and statutory matters
* External authorities and contractors
* Board meetings and annual general meetings
As with the finance department, many of the systems used are universal throughout many different companies. The advice of ICT is likely to be both helpful to users and able to support the organisation’s policies on standardisation.
The ICT Department:
One of the key roles of the ICT department is to explain the advantages that may be available for managers and their departments of making greater use of computer-based systems. The team needs to explain the structure and characteristics of ICT projects.
Another important task of ICT is to devise and manage centralised systems in the following areas:
* Procurement of computer equipment
* Procurement of computing and communications equipment
* Use of e-mail and other Internet access procedures
* System development, testing and standardisation