Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Observers of the Electronic Commerce (EC) landscape often comment on the prospects for disintermediation. Other observers note that the nature of EC will create new kinds of intermediaries, termed "cybermediaries", who would occupy positions in Internet channels between producers and consumers. The word coined to describe this is "reintermediation". In either case, traditional retailers would be threatened by new EC-enabled competition. This investigation was launched to predict the occurrence and impact of disintermediation and reintermediation in the US air travel distribution industry. A group of industry experts was assembled as a Delphi panel and asked to predict the effect that EC would have on the major channel players in each of five major market segments. The panel forecast that major disintermediation and reintermediation will occur and that there will be a sharp reduction in the number of traditional travel agents five and ten years in the future. The panel also identified a number of strategic threats and opportunities for the channel players.