Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Enhancing Hotel Search with Semantic Web Technologies

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

Enhancing Hotel Search with Semantic Web Technologies

Article excerpt

Abstract

Tourism service providers are more and more under pressure to offer products of greater complexity and diversity to meet the ever-changing demands of travelers; the individualistic consumption patterns and lifestyles makes it increasingly difficult for tourist service providers to anticipate consumer behavior and configure their services accordingly, i.e. the tourist industry must focus more on a "hybrid consumer" whose travel choice will be more complex. Although current online travel systems aim to support the customer in finding a suitable hotel or even a whole trip, most of the work is still up to the customer, who has to consider several sources of information before deciding which hotel to book. Furthermore, since the quality of a hotel room w.r.t the requirements of the end-user are multi-dimensional and cannot be easily expressed on discrete scales, the main critical issue in such cases is a price/benefit ratio which is defined by what is known, as the "best" booking. To tackle these problems an advanced search technology that considers the ratio and ranks results accordingly to the user requirements is needed. In this paper we propose a framework which uses Semantic Web technologies for an improved exploration and rating of hotels for business customers in order to reduce the search time and costs, which, in turn, results in a huge benefit for the end-users. The framework provides methods for modeling domain specific expert knowledge and integration of diverse heterogeneous data sources. Semantic technologies enable business customer to formalize their requirements and to combine those requirements with aggregated hotel information like location or features, thus achieving a selection of the hotels ranked according to the customer's requirements.

Key words: e-Tourism, Hotel search, Hotel evaluation framework, Semantic Web, Reisewissen

1 Introduction

Travel is a domain in which the Internet has led to a new quality of service and online booking and reservation services have become widely accepted among consumers and business travelers. Furthermore, in recent years, growth rates in online tourism have moved much faster than in the overall world economy, and this trend is not expected to slow down in the near future [22]. Since travel destinations can be easily checked out in advance, it has become much simpler to choose hotels with a higher degree of precision. Particular hotels on the Web are presented with a variety of visual and factual information. In addition, the end-user may access the hotel's reservation system by entering the travel dates and getting an immediate response on the availability. Since the variety of information offered leads to a longer manual search, the age of services has become reality. There is a variety of services that integrates the information scattered across various sites, federate multiple structured and semi-structured tourism information sources on the web [10], and offer search engines for hotel rooms by providing a list of rooms available for a given period at a particular place. Often these search engines utilize databases and reservation systems to which hotels are connected. Having such an engine that provides integrated information regarding hotel vacancies clearly reduces the search time and costs, which, in turn, means a huge benefit for the end-user. At the same time, the search facilities allow for requests on quantifiable hotel data such as price, number of stars and proximity to locations of interest, whereby the search results can usually be ordered along one of the dimensions.

However, the quality of a hotel room w.r.t the requirements of the end-user are multi-dimensional and cannot be easily expressed on discrete scales. The critical issue in such cases is a price/benefit ratio that is defined by what is known, as the "best" booking, i.e. the cheapest hotel room is not necessarily the best. However, this effort is added to the search costs, since one has to check a large number of matching results manually to determine the room with the best price/benefit ratio. …

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