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Tourism Logistics or Tourism Supply Chain Management? Print E-mail
Written by: Pairach Piboonrungroj
Bluebird Perspective
8  July 2009
I just came back from Nottingham attending PhD networking conference in Tourism. In the conference, there were around 30 PhD students in the UK and some from other European countries (Spain and Sweden). One of the common research topics I found is Tourism Image in terms of destination image or even brand image. There is a Thai PhD student in Nottingham Business School working on this topic as well, and then we may have another good research on the image of Thailand though.

The presentation I made in Nottingham is about the emerging of tourism supply chain management. Even though most of PhD students in the conference are doing a research on demand side, they seem to be quite interested on what I am doing ? or perhaps it?s just a British politeness to say so.

Since I have started to do a research on tourism supply chains, one of initial question and issue is the scope of tourism logistics and tourism supply chain management. What are the differences between them?

Tourism Logistics
To me, tourism logistics predominantly deal with the tourists. More precisely, making the smooth and satisfying flow of the tourist is the job of tourism logistics. Therefore, tourism logistics will concern the designing of the route and facilities in the destination. The successful tourism logistics management is to make the trip happens as promised. The customers (tourists) get what they want (value). For example, the bus arrives on the time in the schedule and can transfer them to the attraction (Night Safari for example) on time. Then, entry services in the Night Safari are ready to serve the customers. When the tourists finish their visit at the attraction, the transport is ready to bring them to their accommodation. Souvenirs or foods are also available before their departure. Hence, we may say the best tourism logistics is flawless.

Tourism Supply Chain Management
Then, how about tourism supply chain management (TSCM)?
We may go beyond the flow of the customers. TSCM, to me, has a boarder scope than tourism logistics. TSCM is about planning, designing, operating, monitoring, and evaluating the tourism activities since the preparation of the services at the upstream where raw materials are supplied to the point of service delivery where tourists consume the tourism products. Tourists will be delivered what they really want at the lowest cost of the whole tourism supply chain (TSC). This is very important, TSCM is not aim to minimise the cost of a particular firm in the tourism business but minimise the total cost of the TSC as a whole.

We considering the eight-star hotel in a popular tourist destination in Asia namely ?le petit champs? (LPC hereafter). Tourism logistics manager (TLM) of LPC is working to ensure that everything is ready when the professor around the world arrive the hotel for the World Tourism Forum that they host this round.

The TLM checks all information of every delegate. One of them is the big fan of Manchester United, TLM has asked the room service to provide the guide for MUTV. Just in case, DVD of Ronaldo?s top 10 goals and the interview of Michael Owen is then available in the room. The schedule of all delegate have been prepared for the pick-up team that will transfer all delegates from the airport to the hotel today. The TLM has prepared the routing and cost of transport from the airport to the hotel using his knowledge obtained from MSc in Logistics and Operations Management I got from Cardiff last decade. Using this knowledge, he could optimise the trade-off between the cost of transport and waiting time of each delegate.
Ideally, hotel could transfer the delegate one-by-one, but firstly it is a costly operation and secondly not every one that want to travel alone to the hotel. Last week, the TLM actually contacted to secretaries or research assistants of every professor to obtain every information about his guests. Then, he knows even Prof. A fancy to have a personal discussion with Prof. B for their working paper on Tourism Supply Chain Audit Method. Then the TLM prepare a van especially for Prof.A and Prof.B. It?s sounds surreal, isn?t it? But this is ?le petit champs? ? the Eight Star Hotel! Then every service is aim for the utter satisfaction of the guests. Yes, it may be expensive but the cost of the superior suit room is ?1,000 per night (the cheapest one). Now the service may not be too expensive, is it?
Not only famous Professor that attend this event (the World Tourism Forum), there are also a poor PhD student who has a very limited budget. This poor student booked a room at ?Champi Guesthouse? (CG hereafter). It?s just ?10 per night that is a fine rate for him. The TLM of CG who did a dissertation on supply chain strategy of low cost airlines in Thailand is also ready to welcome students to this event as well. As the nature of the guesthouse TLM is also FB, GM, and PR. The all-duties manager (ADM) contacted with the student via email. He knows the students are not able to reimburse or refund all expense they made during the conferences or field trip. Then he set the price as minimum as he can. The cost is for the room only. It is seriously only for the room. Internet, bath kit, breakfast or even electricity will be charged separately and the guest has to order in advance a week before their arrival. By doing this, CG can get all PhD students living with them. Internet is available in the conference and the coffee shop in front of the guesthouse.
Should I let you know that the both le petit champs and champi guesthouse are under the management of the same company called Tour de Champs. The supply chain management team target every type of tourist. They designed accommodation to delivery the right product for their guest. High and luxury service for the professor and economised cost for poor PhD students. TLM of both LPC and CG need to ensure the satisfaction of their guests but in the different ways. Professors appreciate with the good services and PhD can save their limited budget provided by their school. 
This example not only shows what is the tourism logistics but also present some facts about being Professor and being JUST a PhD student.
(Next time I will illustrate the TSCM of these hotel ? we will open the black box soon!)

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