Scottish hoteliers should be able to take bookings made on the Internet via their Area Tourist Boards (ATBs) within a year, delegates heard during a workshop session.
Computer software and networks that are currently being developed will allow Scottish Tourist Board members to link up directly with their ATBs, revealed computer consultant Anna Pollock of the Strategy Group, who is leading the work.
Once this work has been completed, any hotel or guest house with a personal computer and modem will be able to link into the system.
As well as taking bookings, hoteliers will be able to access tourist information for guests or data on the average performance of competitor hotels.
"But the jury is out on whether the ATBs can get their act together quickly enough to compete with the private sector," warned Mrs Pollock.
Computer giants such as Microsoft and publishers such as Time Out were already developing Internet sites that were being used by consumers. But these companies only signed up chain hotels to their systems, because it was too costly to arrange deals with individual properties, Mrs Pollock said.
The introduction of the new technology was redefining the way tourism was run. "We are in a Wild West period and the customer will choose our fate," she added.