Frequently touted advantages to the consumer in electronic markets, including findings that challenge previous predictions, are discussed in this paper. The paper begins with an informative review of the literature. The author then describes an experiment in which subjects were assigned tasks associated with identifying flights and accommodations related to travel to conferences in Hawaii and Brisbane, originating from Finland (their home). The subjects, who were volunteers from a class on electronic commerce, were assigned to groups using either electronic or conventional markets. The subjects kept diaries of their experiences.
The experimental findings are presented methodically, and include the following: the subjects took more time searching for travel services in the electronic market, and, for the most part, the rate of alternatives found per unit time was not significantly different. The electronic markets did not prove to be more efficient in finding cheaper or better services. The paper closes with a discussion of factors in the current travel services industry that may have contributed to the results, and of what the future could hold for this industry.
This is an excellent paper that is well organized and clearly written, contains substantial content, and addresses an important topic. A reader can skim the text and gain insights into the electronic commerce area, and then go back for a more in-depth understanding of the topic, of the design of experiments in general, and of student/classroom studies in particular.