Q Assignment is about marketing mix analysis of largest travel agencies in Australia Flight Centre Travel Group Limited Home, - Flight Centre Travel Group – Marketing Mix Analysis Introduction Flight Centre Travel Group Limited, one of the largest travel agencies in Australia, is a publicly listed company which has its headquarters located at Brisbane deals in arranging tours for international and domestic travellers under various brands. Started in 1987, the company has been providing excellent services to its customers and is expanding its enterprise in various locations around the world keeping in pace with the latest technological advancements in the industry. It has around 20,000 employees throughout its locations and has an annual turnover of $20 billion in FY17. Among its various brands, Escape Travel catches the interest of most travellers who wants to plan their holiday in beautiful destinations. In this report, we would be analysing the Flight Centre group and its Escape Travel brand in terms of marketing environment and the strategy mix they follow to achieve success in their business. Marketing environment analysis Macro-environment analysis The leisure tourism industry is majorly affected by the demographical factors which includes age, sex, income, occupation and ethnicity. As it deals with holiday packages, the majority of customers would be from the younger generation or the working group who would want to go for a refreshing trip for having a break. The values of real household income and the customer sentiment index would play a major role in these cases. For instance, a rise in the discretionary income would increase the demand for leisure trips and vice versa. It has been reported that real household discretionary income would increase in the year 2016-17 which would have a positive impact on the tourism industry. On the other hand, the customer sentiment index which is a reflection of the households’ financial condition affects the amount that is spent on leisure activities (Kelly 2017). According to IBIS reports, the index is projected to be negative for 2016-17 thereby inducing a threat to the industry. For travel and tourism industry, technological factors play a significant role as customers to tend to search online rather than offline. Customers planning for a vacation explore the feasibilities online, observe the trends of various destinations and then decide to book for trips. Flight Centre has also migrated towards the online platform by acquiring 70% interest in BYOjet and also opened its own site Aunt Betty for achieving customer satisfaction and retention. These transformations and integrations of traditional companies like Flight Centre has resulted in the fall of many other travel agencies (Keyvani, 2011). Micro-environment Analysis Customers are considered the key players in the tourism industry as the demand for the travels are dependent on their interests and ability. Specifically, Escape Travel being designed for those planning for holiday trips, customer preferences and needs have to be understood carefully and suggestions must be given accordingly for enhancing the user experience. Also, pricing must be done in such a way that customers feel the worth of the trip so as to make them ready to go ahead with the bookings (IBIS world company report, Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd 2017).. Customer satisfaction and servicing being the motive of Flight Centre group, they provide rates labelled Escape rate in their website in order to differentiate them from the others. The value of total visitor nights represents the amount that a traveller intends to spend in his trip. Thus, the company must work towards maintaining or increasing this value in order to increase the demand in the industry and achieve profits (Maghnati et al., 2012). With emergence of online travel booking, there has been an increase in the number of travel agents around the globe which poses heavy competition in the industry. For traditional companies like Flight Centre, the emergence of online activities have brought in more competitors to the industry which in turn became a threat to its survival (Kelly 2017). Also, many old companies being shifted towards online transactions increased the competition levels in the industry. Travel agencies like Helloworld, Expedia, etc., exist as the major competitors of Flight Centre which imposes pressure on the company to incorporate latest advancements to its services. In spite of the heavy competition, Flight Centre and its brands stay at the top of the industry maintain its transactional value by improving its productivity and profitability in the Australian Tourism market (McDonald & Wilson, 2011). Marketing Mix – Overview and Critique Product Offering Being one of the largest companies in the industry, Flight Centre provides the best services for the value paid by its customers. Initially, the company started providing its services to customers on a small scale which has grown to a greater extent due to their service quality and marketing strategy. The company has specialised brands and packages for every customer according to their needs and satisfaction. The growth of the company can also be associated with the time of incorporation and the brand name it has created all through the years (Westwood, 1998). Currently, the company tries to deliver the services to the customer in a customized manner depending on the specific requirements. This feature was new and unique when compared to the other agencies and this brought in more customers. It is also reported that the quality of service customers get from the company is very good that it makes Flight Centre their first choice. The company has also implemented the latest technologies in its services which helped in retaining the old customers without paving the way for other competitors for convenience reasons (Westwood, 2013). It can be clearly observed that the company still strives hard to maintain its position in the market due to the heavy competition. The modern enhancements must be incorporated in such a way that it does not degrade the product quality which would put the company at stake. Also, every move of the management must be planned properly for improving the service offered in order to survive in the current market. Price Unlike many other companies in the industry, Flight Centre and Escape Travel prices its product in a way that is affordable and worth for the travel plans. From its inception, the company has a proper pricing strategy followed and is one of the major factors in achieving success. Before the 20thcentury, as there was less costs incurred due to the direct interactions, the prices were for the trips and arrangements alone at a discounted price (IBIS world company report, Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd 2017).. As the world moves towards technology, pricing of products have increased in the agencies. This situation is rightly handled by Flight Centre in developing a good suppler relationship which reduced the amount payable by the customers (Varadarajan, 2010). As this factor is one of the main players in deciding the stake of the company, it must be protected and strategically managed by the company to maintain the reputation in a long run. If pricing is not done, the chances of customers switching agencies would take place thereby leading to loss and losing of brand name which was built with efforts and dedication of the founders. Place Flight centre has been providing services in wholesale and retail stores from its initial stages. During those periods, the interaction between the customers and the agents would be face to face which gave more clarity for planning trips. As the company grew to higher levels, it got expanded and opened its franchises in various other countries like Germany, India, UK, Sweden, etc., for providing services worldwide. The availability pf store all over the world made it reachable to its customers thereby giving more opportunities to level up (McDonald & Wilson, 2011). With the advent of online sales, the company jumped into the cloud space to provide its services offline. It now has various websites for each of its brands and services. There is also availability of details and customer care representatives online for making the planning and execution of trips easier (Rowley, 2012). With all these resources at place, the company has to manage it efficiently for making the interactions smoother. There has to be proper interconnections and relationship between each franchise and portal in case of any queries and complaints. All this can be done by the use of ERP software with the help of careful investment decisions. Promotion Flight Centre values its every customer and tries to give the best suggestions for planning travels. This is done by recording the customer preferences and needs from various sources and then using them while providing services. This process was done using pen and paper in the olden days whereas now the use of internet and cloud computing the process has become easier. With the help of these details, privileged customers would be given awards and discounts in their travel plans which would improve the customer satisfaction thereby improving profitability (Gabrielsson et al., 2012). Although the customer details would be useful for customer specific services, it is very important to safeguard these details so that it is not misused by hackers. Such kind of security breaches would spoil the reputation of the company and affect the business activities in a large scale. Physical evidence In order to attract the customers, the company has created unique websites which provides details of packages with prices compared to market rates. Also, the facilities provided by the outlets are incorporated in such a way that every customer is treated with individual importance and all details are available worldwide (Ellickson et al., 2012). As customers decide upon their choices depending on their experience with a company, it is essential to maintain good relationships with the customers from the initial stages of interactions. The employees must be trained in such a way that they must feel responsible for the success or failure of the company. Processes As Flight Centre is an old company, it has all its processes in place in the offline scenario. It maintains the supplier chain properly such that any changes or failures in any part would be adjusted in the other part thereby having minimal effect of total process tree. Although the online world is new to the company, it has employed skilled resources to handle the online supply chain thereby creating a strong environment (Hiebing & Cooper, 2003). As the process of the company affects its reputation, it is necessary to monitor the services and process regularly so that any changes could be done immediately without having taking much time. This is one of the tedious processes in a company that requires a separate team to manage (Paswan et al., 2012) People Being a service based company, people interaction plays a major role in the working on the company. The employees of the company are trained with excellent communication and industry based skills so that their interactions with the customers are knowledgeable and smooth. Customer care plays a major role in the company to provide the necessary services to the customer based on their queries and complaints (Kelly 2017). The management of a service company is very difficult and managers who possess the necessary skills must be hired in order to do proper people management activities. Also, the organisational culture must be maintained in all the branches of Flight Centre so that the customers are served with greater efficiency (Cohen, 2005). Marketing mix recommendation The customers must be given various incentives in terms of rewards, coupons and vouchers depending upon their searches and needs. At the same time, it is important to let them know their details are safe in the database by sending mails regarding piracy and security of the company. By doing this, it is possible to retain the existing customers even in times of crisis (Boachie-Mensah et al., 2012) The company can improve its partnerships with many other top airlines and agencies thereby giving more options for the customers to choose. As travellers explore for more options at cheapest price, this move would enhance the existing customers and would also get in more customers to the company. The comfortability of the agency must be made known to the customers by way to free trials and advertisements which would make new customers to try the services. Also, various unique services like customisation must be introduced in the market so that the customer base and retention would improve.