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Unit 4 Research Project Assignment Thomas Cook
Diploma in Travel and Tourism
Unit Number and Title
Unit 4 Research Project Thomas Cook
Task 1: Understand how to formulate a research specification
1. 1 Formulate and record probable research project outline specifications
In this section of the research report we will first look into the topic which will be discussed for this study along with the research questions which have been chosen for the same. Apart from this we will also be looking into the goals in addition to objectives of the research. Finally we will be trying to define the methodology that will be implemented for data collection as well as data analysis.
Topic of the research
The research topic for this paper is: “The importance of social media marketing for customer care and customer retention for Thomas Cook”
For this research project the questions which we will be attempted to be answered by the researcher are as following:
- What is social media marketing?
- What can be various advantages as well as disadvantages of marketing as well as customer retention through social media for Thomas Cook?
- How social media marketing is necessary for current day marketing and customer retention activities for Thomas Cook ?
Objectives of the research
As per various past researchers and industry practitioners, the social media marketing is a very important way forward for the overall marketing activities. In view of the current demographic trend of customers as well as the behaviour of them, it can be confirmed that the relevance of the conventional marketing tools has been decreasing for last few decades. Social media has been able to capture this space and hence the objective of this research will be to understand the true nature of the social media marketing and customer retention activities for establishing a strong base of understanding regarding the same. The other factors which will be necessary to know are the various advantages as well as disadvantages of social media marketing for the company which is being discussed in this study that is Thomas Cook. Finally an attempt will be made to understand if and how important social media marketing and customer retention activities is for the companies in the travel and tourism industry with a specific focus on Thomas Cook (Martin, 2009).
Methodology of the research
In view of the fact that this research is more exploratory in nature, the methodology which can be used for this research will be a mixed method research in which qualitative data will be analysed. The analysis and understanding of the qualitative data helps in the developing a sound base of knowledge and understanding of the topic which is being discussed in the study as well as creating a platform on the basis of which further primary research can be carried out. Through the collection and analysis of these data the effectiveness of the social media as a marketing tool can establish. These data will be collected in a primary as well as secondary research method. The secondary research will be a literature review of the key references for the study. The primary research will be aimed at collecting data through interview method from the locusassignments.respondents who are currently working as marketing professionals in Thomas Cook (Yin, 1994).
1.2 Identify the factors that contribute to the process of research project selection.
The research project was selected on the basis of the relevance of the topic for the companies in the current service industry, Thomas Cook is one of which. Marketing is one of the most complicated and interesting line of study in the current business operations and it is imperative for the students of business to develop an in depth knowledge of this wing of business (Emory, 1971). Hence it was deemed important to develop the understanding of the recent trends in this field and social media is one of the most recent as well as significant trend in the field of marketing. Hence this topic which deals with the significance of social media marketing was chosen.
1.3 Undertake a critical review of key references.
The term social media can be defined as a collection of websites which let people interact through digital media which can be used by the companies as well for interactive with its prospective as well as existing customers. Social media can be utilized as the most effective mechanism for implementing the customer retention strategies in view of the fact that it helps in improving the loyalty of the customer during the early days of the relationship with the company in addition to right through the lifespan of the relationship between the company and the consumers. Some of the tools which the social media helps the companies in the implement as well as development of the customer retention strategies are as following:
- Focus on providing value and information: For enhancing the loyalty amongst the customers the social media can be used as a pool of information and other resources. With the trust and reliance of the people it is possible to use this channel for providing insightful commentary as well as high quality information which helps the company in deepening the relationship with the customers. In view of the fact that in the travel and tourism sector the information sharing is of utmost importance for educating the customers as well as retaining them, the importance and relevance of this tool is even more enhanced (Hayes, 2007).
- Provide stellar customer service during problem scenarios:As per the study carried out by Forbes, 71% of customers which opt out of some company does due to any instance of bad customer service experiences. However to address such issues it is necessary that the companies know about it and social media has been able to create new channels through which the customers can express share their dissatisfactions. Social media provides the travel and tourism companies for acknowledging the issue, apologizing for it in addition to addressing the same within a short turnaround time. In view of the fact that the most important takeaway on customer service is that it needs to be a central focus for both the business as well as your long term retention policy, social media has a very important role to play here.
- Education of the customers on services tendered: In the scenario where the customers are frustrated due to confusion regarding various services tendered by the travel and tourism company, various retention issues can arise which in turn can be evaded through offering resources proactively for helping the consumers navigate through the services offered. If the social media can work with the customers for finding out what level of support they really need; it helps in retaining the customers (Martin, 2009).
- Focusing on the most valuable customers: It is necessary that the companies focus on spending energy in addition to resources with the intention of retaining the best consumers. Focus should be on the customers who yield the highest lifetime value for the business. Since the traditional retention tools and policies are more costly for the companies, retention through social media activities, which are significantly cheaper, can be a good plan for retaining the customers who are not as profitable as the cream of the customers. However these customers may be consistent in their purchases and therefore may have the potential of turning into more profitable customers in later stage. These customers are usually easy to serve since they avail of the services and does not usually complain.
1.4 Produce a research of project specification
This research will be carried out in mainly three board phases. The first pasha will be to decide on the topic as well as carry out the secondary research for this study. The second part will consist of the process of doing the primary research and the third part will be the preparation for the report along with the analysis of data.
1.5 Provide an appropriate plan and procedures for the agreed research specification
Deciding the topic
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Information Search for the topic
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Developing Primary Research Tools
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Task 2 be able to implement the research project in agreed procedures and to specification
2.1 Match resources efficiently to the research question or hypothesis.
For answering the research questions which have been chosen for this particular research, the method of study that was chosen was to a mix of a secondary as well as the primary research and for the primary research an interview method will be cared out with several professionals from the social media marketing sector and an attempt will be made to identify from them the way the social media marketing strategy of Thomas Cook, can enhance the customer retention activities for the company. For this interview a questionnaire has been developed. Following is the same:
- What is the overall observation regarding the social media and social networking websites especially the role it is currently playing or will be playing in the future for marketing and customer retention for Thomas Cook?
- Is it wise for a travel and tourism company to consider the social media and the social networking websites as a significant tool for marketing as well as ret nation strategies?
- What can be the relevance of social media and the social networking websites for helping the company like Thomas Cook for ring-fencing the more profitable consumers and securing their future dealings with the company?
- For the customers who are not very profitable, but are regular user for the company, what can be effectiveness of the social media for the retention activity?
- What are the benefits as well as challenges for using the social media as a retention tool for Thomas Cook?
- What are the specific social networking websites which need to be targeted for marketing as well as retention activities?
2.2 Undertake proposed research investigation in accordance with the agreed specification and procedures.
The research investigation which has been carried out in this particular study has been two fold. The secondary research, that is the studying as well as drawing inference from the researches which have been carried out previously by other researchers, has been carried out in the form of critical review of key literatures. This was carried out with the intention of the creating a strong foundation on the basis of which the primary research, in the form of a face to face interview through a semi structured questionnaire can be carried out (Yin, 1994).
The primary research was carried out in the form of a face to face interview in which some participants were sampled and this questionnaire was administered to them through the interview. The participants were chosen from the company which is being discussed here to understand their opinion on the topic which is being discussed and analysed. However in view of the fact that it is never possible for the researcher to carry out the process of primary research on total of the population, the strategy which is required is to carry out a sampling strategy where a smaller number of respondents are chosen which can represent the population in an efficient as well as effective manner. The sampling strategy which has been implemented for this study is a non-probability sampling strategy where the snowball sampling is implemented. This sampling technique is suitable for the research when the respondents are not easy to locate. In this method the researcher identifies few respondents and on the basis of the reference given by them further individuals is located from the members of the population whom they know (Emory, 1971).
2.3 Record and collate relevant data where appropriate.
For the primary research the data which has been collected are as following:
Question No. 1: The idea which was received from all the respondents that as the future of the marketing activities, social media is the most important factor. Some of the points which were mentioned by the respondents regarding the effectiveness of the social media and social media marketing are as following:
- Increased trafficand exposure
- Developing a base of loyal fans
- Generation of leads
- Growing business partnerships
- Improved search ranking
- Improved sales
- Reduced marketing expenses
- Access to marketplace insights
Similarly they have also confirmed that as a tool for retention also social media can be implemented with much success, although as of now it is not that popular.
For the question no. 2, all the respondents have confirmed that it is not only wise for the travel and tourism businesses to consider social media as important, but it is necessary for them. It has been opined that companies using social media as a significant factor for the planned corporate approach are almost twice as much likely to anticipate revenue growth compared to others.
For the next question, the respondents opined that social media and proper usage of it can cut down on the bad experiences of customer service through quick resolution. Social media helps in creating new channels through which the customers can express their dissatisfactions and lets the companies in dealing with those issues within a short turnaround time. In view of the fact that the most important takeaway on customer service is that it needs to be a central focus for both the business as well as your long term retention policy, social media has a very important role to play here.
Also the social media is significantly less costly to maintain the relation with the customers compared to the traditional mediums like phone etc. Which reduces the cost of customer service and ensures that the company can give itself all the chances for serving to the customers who are yet not profitable but has a potential to become one.
Task 3 be able to evaluate the research outcomes
3.1 Use appropriate research evaluation technique.
The research evaluation techniques which have been used for this study is a qualitative data analysis in which the data collected through the primary as well as secondary researches will be analysed with the intention of drawing some conclusions from the overall research work.
Analysis of qualitative data encompasses identification, inspection, as well as interpretation of themes coming out from the data and decides the way these themes can help answer the research questions. This type of data analysis is (Yin, 1994):
- Not guided by universal rules
- A very fluid process that is highly dependent on the evaluator and the context of the study
- Likely to change and adapt as the study evolves and the data emerges.
3.2 Interpret and analyse the results in terms of the original research specification
From the analysis of the data collected for this research, it can be confirmed that due to some factors like increase in the numbers of smartphones and adoption by the older users, the influence of the social media as a customer communication tool is increasing. Social networking websites like Twitter has been able to attract the customers belonging to the age bracket of 55-64 year with 79% growth rate since 2012 in this age band. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook’s and Google+’s networks are the 45 to 54 year age bracket at 46% and 56% respectively. Hence this has become a very significant for enhancing the loyalty amongst the customers in view of the fact that it can be used as a pool of information as well as other resources. This channel can provide high quality information which can help the company in deepening the relationship with the customers. In view of the fact that in the travel and tourism sector the information sharing is of utmost importance for educating the customers as well as retaining them, the importance and relevance of this tool is even more enhanced. Also this is very low cost channel for retention of customers. Since this is less costly than the traditional mediums like phone etc., the companies can ensure that they stay in touch with the customers who may not be highly profitable for the company but has a potential to become one. Also social media due to its quick pace can lead to query resolution of the frustrated customers regarding various confusion about the services of the tourism company. Various retention issues can also be avoided through offering resources proactively for helping the consumers navigate through the services offered. If the social media can work with the customers for finding out what level of support they really need; it helps in retaining the customers.
3.3 Make recommendations and justify areas for further consideration
From this analysis and study it can be confirmed that the social media is an entirely plausible channel for the retention of the customers for Thomas Cook and it helps the company in identifying new routes and avenues to serve the customers better. Some of the recommendations which can be made for the company trying to implement this are as following:
Making social media a priority for your business will allow your business to:
- Expertise and knowledge needs to be shared with the customers
- Customers wisdom needs to be tapped into
- Initiate interaction for receiving valuable feedback of the customers
- A community needs to be built
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