Marketing Coursework Sample
This is the marketing assignment sample on the case study basis of Thomas Cook Travel where the author has to evaluate the positioning of the company in the market and provides the recommendations on how the company can improve its position in the market.
THOMAS COOK TRAVEL COMPANY CASE STUDY CLASS WORK
This study is aimed at understanding the positioning strategy followed by Thomas Cook Travel during the period of 2008 to 2010. Further the competitors and their policies would also be studied and analyzed to come up with a comparative analysis. In addition, this study is to see how the Thomas Cook approaches and deals with the tourism market and the marketing mix model which it follows to ensure its success. The service offerings as well as the market forces models would also be used to come to an informed conclusion so that valid suggestion can be made towards the end. The research will be based on information on the World Wide Web, textbooks and journals. A simple introduction to start this study on Thomas Cook Travel is one of the largest travel group in the world and the second largest in the United Kingdom (Andrew S, 2008, pp.157). In 2008 firm organized a holidays for around 16.3 million clients in UK alone.
The main reason for their success is their investments and commitment towards providing for their customers ‘A time of their Life’ as well as ‘Value for their money’. A lot has changed with regard to how the holiday market works. People are now using the World Wide Web to plan their holidays rather than conventional means. This has made the travel agency business more cost effective and customer oriented. Thomas Cook strongly believes in Corporate Social Responsibility and they work towards responsible tourism programs that keep in mind the negativities of intensive tourism and the help which it can provide to local heritage and community (Bhatia A K, 2002, pp.105).
2. Evaluating the Positioning Strategy
2.1 Customer Segmentation
The market selection process involves three aspects which are –
The main factor that forms the basis of any tourism companies’ segmentation of its customers is travel motivation. Traveling decisions are based on satisfaction of needs and destination loyalty. The motivation factors of the tourist are based on need, choice preference or goals with respect to the destination (Pervaiz, 2002, pp.275). When we take into consideration ecotourism the main push factor is social psychological desire. Aspects like natural attractions are the pull factors which prompt travelers into taking traveling decisions. (Jobber D, 2010 pp. 305-307).
The customers can be segmented on the basis of three broad heading –
The profile segmentation done by Thomas Cook includes variables which can be contacted through the use of the media. This segment can further be broken down on the basis of demographic, gender, life cycle stage and social class (Bhatia A K, 2002, pp.29).
The Psychographic segmentation would be on the basis of the lifestyle which the prospective customer follows. The lifestyle also has four stages i.e., dependents, pre family, family and late. Thomas Cook would design their packages as per each stage thus targeting maximum number of people.
Behavioural Segmentation would be done by Thomas Cook on the basis of things like benefits sought, occasion, purchase behaviour and usage. The process of segmentation will not necessarily follow the same sequence every time. It depends at what stage the segmentation process is carried out. Segmentation just makes the process to achieve targets much easier and systematic. The segmentation process which we have talked about is important with the point of view of Thomas Cook as it helps to keep in mind the variables for a particular section of customers being offered a product to the customers, helps them evaluate their importance and thus developing the profiles or packages for each customer (Victor, 2009, pp.190). This segmentation process would further help to target in an organized manner and in the end help in the positioning process in order to be a profitable venture (Judith, 2010, pp.70).
2.2 Brand Positioning
The position of a product is the way the product is perceived by a customer comparative to their competitors. The marketing mix is mainly utilized for determining the package to be offered to the current customer or a prospective one (Victor, 2009, pp.190).
Marketing mix as a concept was published by Neil H Borden in the year 1964. He described the marketing manager as the mixer of ingredients. The ingredients in this case would be product, pricing, distribution, branding, selling, promotion, advertising, display and packaging, servicing and fact finding (Stephen, 2009, pp.264). Much later all these aspects were compressed by Jerome McCarthy into four categories which are the 4 P’s of marketing. They are –
These four are controlled by the marketing manager and is affected by the constraints of the internal as well as external environment (Evert, 1999, pp.78). The goal of Thomas Cook is to set their 4 P’s which are customer centric of the target market thus creating the perceived value and giving the positive response which is required for future growth.
Price Decisions – The pricing decisions taken by Thomas Cook travel will be based on target market penetration strategy, discounts and package pricing, seasonal situational requirements, and the level of price flexibility available.
Promotion Decisions – The promotional decisions of Thomas Cook Travel with respect to the marketing mix would be mainly concerned with communication for purposes of further marketing (Jobber D, 2010 pp. 262-268).
Product Decisions – In Thomas Cook the product refers to the services offered plus the additional facilities given to keep the customer comfortable and give him an amazing experience which he/she would cherish (Mohinder, 2002, pp.14).
Place (Distribution of Services) Decisions – There are various distribution channels that are available. Thomas Cook has to decide as per their product offering where to place it.
Thus the positioning strategy for Thomas Cook will involve defining the market, identifying the dimensions, collection of information, come up with the product, and decide on the location of the product and lastly the combination of attributes which are most happily received by the customers. (Jobber D, 2010 pp. 305-307).
The tourism industry is becoming highly challenging and competitive in the 21st century. Thomas Cook Travel firm is facing strong competition from the low cost airlines and agencies which carry out internet bookings. The internet booking agents serve as a competition through offers in terms of price and quality of the packages. The airlines attract the customers by giving them the option to customize the package. That means they believe in direct competition. There are many direct and indirect competitors of Thomas Cook travel such as Expedia, Travel Select, and Travelocity. All of them busy in trying to get a chunk of the holiday sales in the UK. Aggressive marketing techniques are the only options as it is the survival of the fittest (Jonathan, 2008, pp.67)
Thomas Cook gained the competitive advantage over its competitors when they were appointed the official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup 2010. The football fans have been promised an unforgettable unique experience which made them the tour and travel company to recon with. The marketing technique followed by Thomas Cook is Direct marketing which helps them carry out mass marketing campaigns and lead to high level of conversion. The kind of trade practice they do helps to build business value and improve goodwill. They use technology to give them the leverage of recall and study. Their belief in sustainable tourism strategy gives them huge benefits, as it improves their performance and gives them steady and sure growth. The use of internet is more prevalent these days for planning of holidays this is very different from the traditional methods. Thomas Cook has adapted to this need with open arms. They merged with MyTravel, an online holiday planning company owning 35% of the package holiday market, to meet this very need and gain more customers in the process (Milan, 2002, 357). This also helped them in getting a better customer base in UK as well as in Continental Europe, resulting in cost saving.
Thomas Cook uses the strategic focus approach to handle and tackle the competition. The aspects involved in this approach are – expansion of the market, market share acquisition, expansion geographically, and extension of the product or market.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The company looks after inbound as well as outbound tourism in the UK. The latest trend is that now the customer base has shifted from families to the youth planning more holidays. There is ever increasing concern over the safety and security of the travelers. Consumers are expecting to have more choice, individuality and variety. There is a state of perfect competition in the market. A few factors which have led to the success of Thomas Cook are as follows:
· They have efficiently carried out customer segmentation and thus have tackled the huge travel market very strategically.
· It has positioned itself as a specialist in the travel and tours field.
· Their marketing mix is very balanced and gives maximum results.
· Customer are loyal to Thomas Cook – Loyalty factor involves in their success
· Stable Political environment in the country.
· The stability of economic factors had an effect on the purchasing power of potential customers, the inflation rate is gradual and low.
· The high confidence in jobs, which led to the spending by consumer to be also high.
· The pound is a very stable currency as compared to the other currencies. Thus the exchange rates are favorable for travel.
· Lifestyle changes have also affected the travel industry as well. The DINK syndrome i.e., Double Income No Kids, has resulted in purchases of more holiday packages. This means more business for Thomas Cook.
· Fashion changes also are a major influencing factor which Thomas Cook has sensibly handled.
· The intense technology development has changed how business operators work thus making it inevitable. Thomas Cook has adapted this changed smoothly and thus providing the upper hand in this tourism industry.
The changes which need to be addressed are sustainability, transition to the internet and the affect of recession, which has changed the requirement and attitude level of the consumers. The steps which should be taken by Thomas Cook are: they should look at long term benefits and should be open to changes which will happen in the future. For example, they can implement special offer for retaining customers that have previously tripped with them. As well as this, the losses should be kept to the minimum by increasing the profits in whichever area there is growth such as online travel agency; Thomas Cook should look overseas for a new online partnership.
Moreover, there level of internet awareness needs to be improved. The changes made should be gradual, for instance increasing the advertising in useful websites like news sites, facebook and youtube. Finally, Thomas Cook could focus on the internal market by offering exclusive packages for local and foreign residents, who are willing ether to spend their holiday inside the UK or discover their new country.
Bhatia A K, The Business of Tourism: Concepts and Strategies, 2007, pp.29.
Bhatia A K, Tourism Development: Principles and practices, 2002, pp.105.
Andrew S, Sales and Marketing: A Tb for the Hospitality Industry, 2008, pp.157.
Evert Gummesson, Total Relationship Marketing, 1999, pp.78.
Jobber D. (2010), Principles and practice of Marketing, The Mcgraw-Hill, 6th edition pp. 262-268, 305-307.
Jonathan Sutherland, Essential Business Studies, 2008, pp.67.
Judith Burnett, Generations: The Time Machine in Theory and Practice, 2010, pp.70.
Milan Kubr, Management Consulting: A guide to the profession, 2002, pp.357.
Mohinder Chand, Travel Agency Management: An Introductory Text, 2002, pp.14.
Pervaiz K Ahmed, Internal Marketing: Tools and Concepts for customer focused management, 2002, pp.275.
Stephen Page, Tourism Management: Managing for Change, 2009, pp.264.
Thomas Cook Group plc (2009), Group Sustainability Report 2009, Available from: http://csr.thomascookgroup.co.uk/tcg/csr/communicating/ [Accessed on 30/11/2010].
Victor T C Middleton, Marketing in Travel and Tourism, 2009, pp.190.
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