Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Travolution goes to the Doctor

Early candidate for Travolution’s unofficial Interesting Industry Chap of the Year goes to Dimitrios Buhalis – a Doctor, no less, who works at the University of Surrey.

A few people have said recently that Dr Buhalis is one of the key people to nail down for a coffee at some time – so what better way to spend a morning than in the stock broker belt of Guildford.

Dr Buhalis, a native of Greece whose family own a hotel back home, teaches tourism – and, most importantly for a feature we’re doing in the next edition of Travolution, e-tourism – at the university’s School of Management.

What makes Dr Buhalis so fascinating is that he speaks with massive authority on pretty much any area within the tourism industry but isn’t – ultimately – trying to sell a flight, hotel or package.

He’s a straight talker, pretty controversial and name drops CEOs and MDs as frequently as he talks of the family business in Greece [he counts a number of the Travolution advisory board as close associates].

All rather refreshing, in many respects!

Amongst other things, he is a passionate believer in the theory that suppliers and consumers are becoming drawn ever closer together, leaving those in the middle – aggregators, tour operators and the likes – with an interesting dilemma ahead.

He also sees an end in sight for the dominance of the search engines as one of the main tools for attracting consumers, paving the way for the direct marketing approach by suppliers and, interestingly, the Meta search model.

“I am interested mainly in the supplier and the consumer,” he says rather triumphantly after explaining how the family business in Greece used to deal with tour operators in the 1980s, one of the many triggers for his move into academia.

Readers of our print edition and online users can expect to hear a little more from Dr Buhalis in the coming months.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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