What is Travel Guides?

Travel Guides is a prototype system which illustrates how using Semantic Web technologies can improve already existing online systems that do not use Semantic Web techniques yet. Likewise, the Semantic Web approach can help decrease the maintenance efforts required for existing E-Tourism systems and ease the process of searching for vacation packages.

Motivation


Offering tourist services on the Internet has become a great business over the past few years. Heung (2003) revealed that approximately 30% of travellers use the Internet for reservation or purchase of travel products or services.
Classic sites of tourist agencies enable users to view and search for certain destinations and book and pay for vacation packages. At a higher level of sophistication are tourism Web portals, which integrate the offers of many tourist agencies and enable searching from the centralised point on the Web (see Figure 1). Still, when using such systems one is forced to spend a lot of time analyzing Web content with destinations that match his/her wishes. This problem is identified by Hepp, Siorpaes and Bachlechner (2006) as the “needle in the haystack” problem. On the other hand, tourist agencies make a lot of effort to maintain their systems and keep the huge amount of data about tourist destinations up-to-date.

Figure 1: An adaptive portal using the user's profile


Project description


Travel Guides includes intelligent components that perform reasoning and have some built-in heuristics. It is based on a number of ontologies, which support the process of adding semantics to data and making them machine readable and understandable. In other words, Travel Guides illustrates how generating and using machine understandable data can
  • offer tourists a better service,
  • decrease maintenance efforts of tourist agents, and
  • increase interoperability of online tourism applications.
The core of Travel Guides system (see Figure 2) is in the tourism ontologies. First version of Travel Guides used educative Holger Knublauch's ontology which has been extended for the purpose of Travel guides.

Later on, we have developed a set of ontologies specifically for the use by Travel Guides system. Look at the ontology page for more details.

Ontologies enable semantic description of data and more importantly - reasoning. Specifically, in Travel Guides system, ontologies enable inferring of user profile types based on user interests and activities. Likely, destination types are inferred based on the destinations data. During process of search, the destination types are matched with the relevant user profiles. Searching for a perfect destination in Travel Guides is performed using a very simple form that is part of the Travel Guides environment. Query language that is used behind is SPARQL - which recently became a recommendation query language by W3C for semantic search.

Figure 2: The architecture of the Travel Guides portal for tourism management

More information about Travel Guides is available in these publications in English: (Damljanovic and Devedzic, 2008) and (Damljanovic and Devedzic, 2009), or in my Master thesis written in Serbian: (Damljanovic, 2007).

Travel Guides is open source project registered on sourceforge.net.

Screenshots are availalble here.

For more information about Travel Guides, contact Danica Damljanovic.

References

Damljanovic, D. (2007). Master Thesis. Intelligent Web portal in E-Tourism. University of Belgrade. PDF

Damljanovic, D., Devedzic, V. (2008). Applying semantic web to e-tourism. In Ma, Z.,Wang, H. (Eds.), The Semantic Web for Knowledge and Data Management: Technologies and Practices, IGI Global, New York, pp. 243-265.

Damljanovic, D., Devedzic, V. (2009). Semantic web and e-tourism. In Mehdi Khosrow-Pour (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Vol. VII, 2nd Ed., IGI Global, Hershey, PA, pp. 3426-3432.

Hepp, M., Siorpaes, K. & Bachlechner, D. (2006). Towards the Semantic Web in E-Tourism: Can Annotation Do the Trick? In Proc. of 14th European Conf. on Information System (ECIS 2006), June 12–14, 2006, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Heung, V.C.S. (2003). Internet usage by international travellers: reasons and barriers. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 15 (7), 370-378.


Subpages (2): Ontologies Screenshots
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