The internationalisation of Renminbi (RMB), as well as increased bilateral trade agreement between China and the UK, offered new business opportunities to expand the business to the UK. (Renminbi is official currency of China with symbol RMB) These initiatives have resulted in increased outflow of investment from China, especially towards the UK. According to VisitBritain, Chinese visitors to the UK are estimated to spend £1bn by 2017.
Moreover, Goldhill (2014) added that the ‘super priority’ visa application process for Chinese business travel allows securing a visa for the UK in 24 hours. This represents economic opportunities for companies to expand business through attracting Chinese business traveller planning to visit the UK.
To facilitate the Chinese business travellers to the UK, ABC Tourism is a specialist management representative, which offers dedicated help to Chinese corporates to set up businesses and initial operations in the UK and EU through shepherd advisory. The company offers its management services in more than 24 industries, which include renewables, real estate, media, healthcare, and many other industries through a program called ‘trade mission.
The expanding tourism sector of the UK offers economic opportunity for the company to attract new customer and expand business in the UK. (ABC, 2016)
ABC Tourism is a dedicated management representative, which offers dedicated help to Chinese corporates to set up businesses in the UK through shepherd advisory. The Company offers its management services in more than 24 industries, which include renewables, real estate, media, healthcare, and many other industries. The company provides efficient, accurate as well as customer-oriented services to our clients to guarantee their positive results. (ABC, 2016)
The management service program ‘trade mission’ by ABC has offered the first-hand experience to business travellers to understand the environment and make necessary contact, which is important to do business in the UK. The management services which includes a briefing on doing business and investment in the UK, networking, relationship with the local institution and legal compliance as well as a program to provide overall of the business environment and operations in the UK.
Company plans to reach its target market through trade mission and making travelling to the UK for Chinese customer an exciting trip. The purpose is to integrate tourism and trade mission through offering business people leisure trips around the UK for adventure and fun. The integration of business travel and leisure is to achieve better customer satisfaction and generate revenues.
The aim of the study is to evaluate that how company can position itself the as first choice of Chinese business travellers who are planning to setting up businesses in the UK. The report is primary focus on Chinese business traveller visiting the UK.
The first chapter of study includes research business context along with aim and objectives of the study. The second chapter of study enclosed literature review on customer service and satisfaction of the customers as well as targeting and positing strategy. The third section enclosed the research methodology deployed as well as research instrument used to collect primary data from Chinese customers. The fourth chapter of study presents the finding of study and evaluation of the data. The fifth chapter of study includes conclusion of the study.
This chapter of study enclosed the literature review and it is divided into two sections. The first discuss the customer service and satisfaction of the customers. The second section of the study reviews the targeting and positioning strategy for the tourism industry.
According to Verma (2012) service is difficult to manage because of intangible input and output. The special characteristics of service are intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity and perishability. The diagram 1 below shows the service-marketing triangle is based on three important factors, which involves understanding needs and expectation of customers, creating services tangible to the customers and satisfying the needs of the customers (Lusch and Vargo 2014).
The triangle focuses on internal marketing, interactive marketing and external marketing. The relationship between company, customer and employees is evident from the model. Company offers its product and service to customer and positive customer service from employee enhance customer enhance customer satisfaction. (Malhotra, Birks and Wills 2013)
Source: (Strydom, 2005, p.271)
Gronroos and Voima (2013) stated that customer need analysis is the process of identifying and evaluating the needs of the defined population. The process of identification involves describing problems from the target population and designing solutions to these problems. The need analysis involves identification of gap between the real and ideal situation, which is valuable to customers, and have the potential to change.
The advantage of the market research is that it allows identifying the needs and wants of customers in the rapidly changing business environment. The role of marketing research is to assist decision makers for customer satisfaction. (Rust and Huang 2014)
Nguyen, Leclerc and LeBlanc (2013) stated that Service quality is defined as judgement or attitude of the customer towards the superiority of service. Service quality is the difference between the customer perception and expectation. Customer loyalty involves the commitment of customer for the repurchase of product and service for future use. The loyalty customers are less sensitive to price as well as show great resistance to negative marketing. Customer satisfaction is the post-consumption judgement for the product and service. The customer satisfaction is related to value perceived and perception of the customer after consumption. (Martinez and Bosque 2013)
Source: (Yamamoto, 2014, p 605)
The diagram below shows the customer satisfaction model which known as ‘Kano model’, which attribute the product and service of company and satisfaction of customers. Oliver (2014) elaborated the three important variables are threshold attributes, performance attributes and excitement. The threshold attribute is basic service, which does not provide an opportunity for differentiation. In addition, performance attributes are useful to increase customer satisfaction. Finally, excitement attributes are unexpected features for customers that provide a high level of satisfaction (Shahin and Janatyan 2015)
Source: (Antony and Preece, 2002, p.60)
The table below summarise the categories description for Kano model
The strength of the model is that it effectively identifies the customer requirement and highlights the satisfaction attributes. Kano model is useful to categorise and types for quality. The focus of the model is on customer relationship and satisfaction from service offering of the company as well as categorise attribute which increases or decreases satisfaction.
However, the weakness of the Kano model is that it cannot evaluate the performance attributes. The identification of relationship between customer requirement and service attributes is the weakness of the model to evaluate overall performance. (Shahin et al 2013)
RATER (Reliable, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy and Responsiveness) was created in 1988 and presented a simplified version of SERVQUAL model. The model is useful to access the service quality delivered to customers and focus on conducting the satisfaction survey among the customers.
The model allows accessing what customer think of service and focus on the core attributes which are valued by customers. The model is based on five important areas, which is perceived important when customer use service. (Zou, ABC mmack and Gere 2013)
Source: Zou, ABC mmack and Gere (2013)
The five areas are
(Panda 2009, p303)
The strength of the model is that it focuses on attributes, which help to deliver quality customer service. The customers for the organisation can be internal as well as external and strength of the model is that it is relevant to both scenarios for the organisation. The weakness of the model is that it examines the service factors but ignore the factors which increase to decrease the satisfaction. It measures the performance attributes rather identifying the customer requirement. (Sullivan 2009)
STP (Segmentation, targeting and positioning) strategy suggest that mass market consists of undefined customers segments with distinct needs. Therefore, STP allows the marketers to identify those segments, direct marketing activities at those customers and position product or service that appeal to target market. (O’Guinn, Allen and Semenik 2011) According to Aaker (2009) positioning involves a commitment for segments and concentrate on the particular group to satisfy the need of specific customer group. ABC identified market segment is Chinese business travellers and targeting with marketing activities to attract those customers.
The focus of research is related to positioning products and services to increase customer satisfaction and deliver quality service. Positioning strategy involves placing product and services of the company in the mind of customers in relation to its customers. The common type of positioning involves competition, product and relationship-orientated positioning. (Barton 2015)
Graham (2008) elaborated that competitive positioning analyse the own position for differentiation and value creation. The product and service positioning involves placing an object in the mind of the customer in relation to a competitor in the market. The implication is to preserve advantage as well as make improvements. The factors involve in the analysis are customers perception, marketing strategies and position. The analysis shows the position of the company within the industry and set the direction for strategy. (Blankson and Crawford 2012)
The strength of competitive position is that it improve decision-making whether to maintain or develop the firm position. The usefulness of competitive position is the information enclosed on marketplace gaps, the viability of product and service as well as competitors performance. However, the weakness associated with competitive strategy is biasedness in defining markets, lack of competitor accurate and reliable information as well as incomplete information for decision-making. (O’shaughnessy 2014)
Blankson et al (2013) added that product positioning involves how customer perceived product relative value in relation to its competitors based on the important differentiation offered by the product. The management approach to launching new or existing product to change product posting is known as product positioning. The aim of positioning is to achieve profitable sales through positioning product, which help the customers and influence their purchase decision. (Lovelock, Patterson and Wirtz 2014)
The strength of the product positioning is that it allows the firms to create and maintain a competitive advantage. The product differentiation makes it difficult for competitors to present substitute. Moreover, unique product position influences consumer decision-making through favourable image in customer mind. On the other hand, positioning is difficult because of large players in the market as well as high competition. The changing consumer taste and preference present inevitable scenario and it is difficult to market same product for long period. (Blankson and Crawford 2012)
Hougaard and Bjerre (2010) the relationship-oriented positioning involves evolving a network of the organisation as an object. The strategic implication of relationship is that customer is viewed as a resource as well as the source of the firm. Network economy links stakeholders and empowered customers to create value. The important features, which allow the companies to effective position product, are price and quality, services offering, Customer, Usage occasion, product dissociation and benefits as well as cultural heritage. (Achrol and Kotler 2014)
The advantage of relationship approach is that it allows being benefited from the network of economies and generating synergies for the business. The customer is considered as partner and firm deliver product and service, which meet customer needs. However, imitation of such approach is trust and conflict of interest among the network partners. The different priorities and requirement make it difficult to maximise the benefit from the network. (Hougaard and Bjerre 2010)
The service-marketing triangle is based on three important factors, which involves understanding needs and expectation of customers, creating services tangible to the customers and satisfying the needs of the customers. The customer need analysis is the process of identifying and evaluating the needs of the defined population. Service quality is the difference between the customer perception and expectation. The customer satisfaction model ‘Kano model’ attributes the product and service of company and satisfaction of customers. Model present framework to study critical customer satisfactions variables, which are threshold attributes, performance attribute and excitement.
In addition, RATER model allows accessing what customer think of service and focus on the core attributes which are valued by customers. STP allows the marketers to identify those segments, direct marketing activities at those customers and position product or service that appeal to the target market. Positioning strategy involves placing product and services of the company in the mind of customers in relation to its customers.
Research involves a systematic investigation problem and establishes facts to present results and new conclusions. According to Creswell (2013), the success and rationality of research are based on selecting appropriate research methodology. The research onion presented by Saunders and Lewis (2012) is useful to set restrict research strategy as well as it explains how the strategy could be set out. The diagram below shows the Saunders research onion, which was used as framework for planning the research method.
For this research positivist approach is taken because it fits with the need of the objective of the research. The quantitative paradigm is suitable the research would ensure data is valid, precise, and specific to customer problem for this study. The deductive approach is useful focus on specific approach and present result based on rigorous finding. The quantitative approach is used for this study to collected primary data from the customers. The subjective and numerical nature of quantitative research is useful to gain better insight on the human attitude and behaviour.
Collins (2010) explained research philosophy enclosed the belief to about the method on how data is collected, analysed and evaluated. The research philosophies are based on term epistemology (known to be true) and doxology (believe to be true). The research philosophies are positivism, interpretivism and realism philosophy. Positivism is based on believing that reality can be observed directly and explains from object perspective without interfering with phenomena. The weakness of positivism is that it is difficult to manage the laws in the business world. The usefulness of positivism is that it seeks the social event cause and fact through highly structured approach.
On the other hand, realism is useful to investigate the scenario when research cannot separate itself from the scenario. It is useful to study the social reality and human behaviour. Interpretivism focuses on the belief that individuals are not robots to react to the external force when compared with positivism. Interpretivism studies the people experience and objective reality through examining reason acting in the real world. Creswell (2013) stated that positivist philosophy is associated with quantitative research whereas realism approach is linked with qualitative research. (Weinberg 2013)
The rigid structure approach of positivism allowed developing a questionnaire, which made possible direct exploring the problem without interfering with phenomena. The advantage of positivism for this research is it focuses on the results rather an emphasis on the principles and positivism approach allowed understanding human perception. This approach offers rigid structure and reality observed directly and explains from object perspective without interfering with phenomena.
Overton (2013) stated that induction approach involves moving from the specific scenario to the general context while deduction involves starting with general perspective and moving towards the specific point. The argument based on the law and principles are better studied with deductive approach whereas inductive research allows exploring the argument based on the observation and experiences. Creswell (2007) defines the inductive research as works from bottom-up to build theory. On the other hand, deductive researcher takes top-down approach to testing the hypothesis and contradict the theory.
This research is based on the quantitative study based on the positivist approach. Therefore, a deductive approach is taken for this study to explore the Chinese customer satisfaction and performance of the ABC service. The deductive approach would allow deploying questionnaire based on the rigid structure and identify the factor, which allows attracting and retaining the customer. In addition, a deductive approach is useful to integrate the finding of the study and formulate an effective positioning strategy.
Saunders and Lewis (2012) argued that research strategy enclosed the general plan for the researcher to answer the research question in a systematic manner. The three common type types of research strategies are case studies, experiment as well as the survey.
According to Yin (2013), case studies focus on the small groups and allow conducting the comprehensive analysis of the case. The flexibility of case study allows the integration of multiple variables but case studies are difficult to generalise, time-consuming and lack breadth. The time horizon for case studies is short-term or longitude and case study could be explanatory, exploratory or descriptive.
Moreover, survey research allows to collected large amount of data in short time as well as respondent could be anonymous and inexpensive. The weakness of short survey is biasedness of researcher and feedback may be left out. The issues associated with survey are data collection and analysis, sampling and response rate. (Bergh and Ketchen 2009)
Further, experiment research strategy involves designing an experiment, which could be true or quasi-experiment. The advantage of experiment research is that it validates generalisations as well as examines the causes and effects through the rigorous framework. The weakness of experiment research is that conditions are controlled and isolation of single variable is difficult. (Gravetter and Forzano 2011)
For this study, survey strategy is used to answer the research objectives. The survey strategy fits with objectives as the research questions require collecting data from a large population in short time. The respondent asked to fill out the short questionnaire in relation to their trip to the UK and experience of the service provided by ABC.
The time horizon associated with this study is short term because of the time limitation association with the project itself. The size of the study is small and short-term approach would allow time completion of the study. (Ketchen and Bergh 2006)
Qualitative research is associated with exploratory research and allows developing an insight of opinion, reason and motivations. The advantage of the qualitative research is that it helps to develop a hypothesis for further research. Qualitative research is useful to uncover opinions and thought in order to develop the deeper perspective of the social problem. The weakness of the qualitative approach is that it useful semi-structure or unstructured data collection technique.
Conversely, quantitative approach is useful to quantify the problem using the analytical data and statistical approach allows exploring the problem. The attitude, behaviour and opinions are defines and generalisation of result for the larger population. The issues associated with survey are data collection and analysis, sampling and response rate. (Creswell 2013)
Survey is the effective method to gather data from the sample population when the sample population is large. The objective is to understand what service factors valued by the customer and how tourism industry can improve marketing efforts. The research instrument used is questionnaire because it enables quick and cost-effective data collection from a large population.
The three important aspect of the design of questionnaire is the motivation of reader, minimisation of error as well as the effective respondent answer to achieving the desired result. The size of questionnaire is limited to single page to keep respondent motivation as well as to fit in the size of this report. (Gray 2013)
The questionnaire design for this study is based on Likert scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. There were total of 11 questions were asked to respondent based on the literature review as enclosed in the table. The links for the questionnaire were emailed to customers and administered online ‘surveyplanet.com’. The detailed questionnaire is enclosed in appendix 1.
Sampling is a technique to acquire the selection of respondent from the entire population to ensure representation of the population. The importance of sampling is that it enables the researcher to select the population representation for the entire study population. The sampling technique used for this study is the random sampling. The advantage of random sampling is that each individual of the population has the equal chance of being selected. Random sampling ensures unbiased representation of study population. (Thompson 2012)
The study population is based on a questionnaire among 60 Chinese customers who have recently travelled or planning to travel to the UK for business trips.
|Chinese customers who have recently travelled or planning to travel to the UK for business trips||Random||60|
Ethical consideration is the top priority for this research as it involves collecting data directly from the population. The privacy and confidentiality of customers were taken as the top priority and no personal information or company information is collected from the customer. Moreover, customers were asked to agree to the online consent form and their rights and data usage was informed. Customers were free to leave survey at any time and no information of individual, group or company is collected. (Mertens and Ginsberg 2009)
The limitation associated with research is the size of report and time to complete the report. The response rate was the important consideration as in short-term there was the risk of low response rate. The identification of clients who are planning to travel the UK as well as reaching those clients in the short time was the major constraint of the project. However, questionnaire link was emailed to client as well as size of questionnaire was kept to single page to motivate the respondent.
This chapter of study enclosed the finding and result of study. The structure of this chapter is divided into three section based on each research objective. The results of questionnaire for each research objective are categorised separately. The customer response was present using ‘MS Excel’ because of size of sample was relatively small for SPSS processing. The conclusion and recommendation based on finding of study is presented in next chapter.
To answer the research objective 1, three questions were asked to the respondent which are enclosed below
The table below enclosed the response of customers
The first question was based on the Martinez and Bosque (2013) Nguyen and Leclerc and LeBlanc (2013) literature. The objective of the question was to understand the customer’s perception about the travel service quality of ABC business services. Service quality is defined as judgement or attitude of the customer towards the superiority of service. In addition, Customer satisfaction is the post-consumption judgement for the product and service from the service of the company.
The graph below shows that 30% customers agreed that they are satisfied with service quality of as well as 25% of the customer strongly agreed to the statement. However, there is total of 27% of the customers who were dissatisfied with the services offered by the ABC. Therefore, it is important that company increase quality of its services so that more customer are satisfied with the offering made by the company.
The second question was related to Shahin and Janatyan (2015) and Nguyen and Leclerc and LeBlanc (2013) literature. Customer excitement attributes are unexpected features for customers that provide a high level of satisfaction. The objective of the question was how the performance of the company employee contributes towards the ‘satisfactier’ of the customers.
Employee ability to understand the customer is crucial in the service environment. The results in graph below show that more than 35% of the customer stated that employee unable to understand the requirement. Moreover, only 45% of customer showed satisfaction with an understanding of employee. Employee as one-dimensional factor is likely to increase the satisfaction of customers and trust.
The objective of the third question was to understand customer preference of leisure experience during the business trip. The question was asked based on the literature of Rust and Huang (2014) need analysis involves identification of gap between the real and ideal situation. The delighter impact for the business leisure shows the delighter factors and provides extra customer satisfaction. The customer response shows that 66% of the customer prefers the leisure activities during their business visit to the UK.
There are only 10% of the customers how strongly disagree and stated that they not leisure experience. To summarise the findings to identify the customer preference, it is highlighted that significant amount of customers are dissatisfied with service as well as the employee of the company as satisfied have relatively low performance. In addition, customer prefers leisure experience and employee ability to understand their requirement is satisfier and delight.
To answer the research objective 1, five questions were asked to the respondent which are enclosed below
The table below enclosed the response of customers
The section of the questionnaire was ‘The RATER model’ to understand service quality delivered to customers and focus on conducting the satisfaction. The fourth question of the study was based on Zou and Gere (2013) which added that measures the performance attributes rather identifying the customer requirement. The objective of the question is determined how customer perceived the reliability of the product and service offered by the company.
The question was asked to determine the reliability of service. The graph below shows that half of the customers were satisfied with the service offered by the company. The total of the nearly 60% of the customer was agreed or stay neutral to the service reliability of the company. The interesting fact highlighted that 16% of customer strong disagree with the service reliability. However, results how that large number of customer question the service reliability.
The fifth question was based on the Malhotra, Birks and Wills (2013) who stated that internal customer of the company is important to deliver quality service. The objective was how knowledge and skills of staff to inspire customers and gain their trust. The service assurance of the company and results has highlighted that 48% of the customer were satisfied with the employee ability to inspire trust and facilitate the customer requirement. However, there are still more than 20% of customer feels those employees are not able to win their trust or possibility lack the knowledge to address their query.
The sixth question Gronroos and Voima (2013) customer need analysis is the process of identifying and evaluating the needs. The objective of the question was to understand the service tangible of the SCJI and how they evaluated by the customers. The graph below shows that nearly 60% of the customer respondent that marketing collateral of the company meets their need and relatively comprehensive. There were only 12% of customer how were strongly disagree to statement and this shows that ABC has effective use service to increase customer satisfaction.
The seven-question of the study was designed to understand the relationship building (empathy) with the customer. The question was based on the literature of Shahin and Janatyan (2015) how stated that performance attributes are useful to increase customer satisfaction. The objective was to understand ABC ability to communicate with customers. The finding of study has highlighted that nearly 45% of the customer disagreed with the fact that company timely communicate with the customer. According to Kano model, Must be are critical to ensuring consistency of service but significant amount of customer dissatisfied with communication of company.
The last question of the RATER model was designed to understand the responsiveness of company to respond to customer requirement. The question was based on the literature of Sullivan (2009) to identify the performance factor. The service reliability is highlight through the ability of the organisation to deliver service as promised in a timely manner through accuracy and reliability. The result of finding has shown that nearly 45% of customers were agreed to responsiveness of the company to answer their query as well as response to feedback.
To answer the research objective 1, three questions were asked to the respondent which are enclosed below
The table below enclosed the response of customers
This section of the question was based on the literature of Barton (2015) to analyse positioning products and services to increase customer satisfaction and deliver quality service. The objective was to develop an understanding of the positioning of the company from the customer perspective. The identification of the delighters and performance factors along with customer perception on the existing positioning of the company could allow developing the effective position.
The ninth question was on the Graham (2008) who elaborated that competitive positioning analyses the own position for differentiation and value creation through analysis of customer perception. The objective of the question was to analyse the viability of product and service as well as competitors performance. The graph below shows that customer believes company offer better value than the competitor does. The specialist services offered by the company are valued by the customers with nearly 75% of the customer agreed to the value of company services. There were only 9% of the customers were disagreeing with the statement that company offer better services than competitors.
The tenth question was based on the literature of Lovelock, Patterson and Wirtz (2014) to identify how business travel and Leisure service likely to influence purchase decision. The objective of the question was to understand the product position of company and how positioning allows the product to survive in the long term based on distinctive and desire features to maintain particular concept at customer mind.
The graph below shows the finding and it is evident that the specialist travel, service offered are valued by more than 80% of the customers. The business service offers product differentiation makes it difficult for competitors to present substitute and it is valued by customers.
The last question of the questionnaire, the eleventh question was based on Achrol and Kotler (2014) to understand the value of the network of the company and its contribution to the satisfaction of the customer. The objective of the question was to understand how the effectively company is using its network to maximise the value creation from the wide range of external stakeholders.
The result of analysis has shown that 70% of the customer values the added services company offered through its partners and network. Network economy links stakeholders and empowered customers to create value and stakeholders offering legal and visa services have helped the company to increase value for its customers.
The Kano model (satisfier and delighters) has highlighted that significant amount of customers are dissatisfied with service as well as the performance. The improved features are a source of better performance whereas weak performance reduces the customer satisfaction. There is a positive relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality. The trust and service quality is positively attributed to the satisfaction. Customer prefers leisure experience and employee ability to understand their requirement as important satisfier and delight factor. Service quality is defined as judgement or attitude of the customer towards the superiority of service.
The customer evaluation of the service using the RATER has shown that reliability of company service is low and it ‘Must be’ to satisfy the customer. The customer assurance showed that employee has managed to inspire customer but there is still to inspire the trust of the customer by the employee. The company has effectively used marketing material to attract customers and inspire trust.
The findings have shown that two important factors ‘performance’ based on the communication ability of company is low as well as company responsiveness is very low to answer to the query of the customers. To position itself as the first choice of customer, it is important that company first excel the performance ‘employee skills and ability’ because as one-dimensional they increase customer satisfaction and trust.
The customer perception analysis has highlighted that company product and services offered better value than competitors did. This shows that specialist service offered by the company target group and their preference are identified in order to place produce and service involves differentiating the company from the competitors and offers premium range within competitive scope. The company is perceived to offer better value than competitor’s service for the tourism. The result shows that company has positioned its product effectively and product position influences consumer decision-making through favourable image in customer mind. The company has effectively utilised the network to increase value for the customer and increase satisfaction and trust of the customer. Company should support its product position through improving the performance factors to increase customer satisfaction as well as delighters such as leisure experience will increase trust of Chinese business travellers.
The recommendations for ABC are
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