Improving Services at Zissco Travel

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Zissco Travel is London based mid-sized travel agency that has been in operation since 2001. Zissco has specialized in providing a range of travel services including; airline ticketing, hotel reservations, cruises and car rental services for both domestic and international clients. After its inception, Zissco enjoyed a period of significant growth increasing its value in terms of assets and market share.


It had also managed to assert it presence in the London business travel market niche. This period of growth and profitability continued until late 2009 when the company began to experience problems. The company began to lose it regular clients to other travel agents and began to find it difficult to attract more clients in the market that had become increasingly competitive. After a series of discussion, Zissco management came up with a decision to restructure the service concept of the company.

This decision, as announced by the company CEO in January 2011, was aimed at making services at Zissco travel more responsive to the clients need and expectation of the client. In order to jump start this process a study was commissioned to identify the weakness that paralyzed the competitiveness of the existing services and to suggest possible improvements.

Literature Review

Travel is a very dynamic and sensitive industry. In order to remain competitive a business must be in a position to learn about new changes in market and respond to them appropriately. Research is one means that an organization can use to identify and respond to changes in market demand, supply and/or competition. Before embarking on the process of collecting data, Zissco research team reviewed various studies in order to get better insight on issues concerning customer satisfaction and service quality in the travel industry.


The review also aimed at examining methods that will be effective in conducting such a study. A factor that is very critical in determining the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction by a client in a travel industry setting is perceived quality of services. Quality is a very relative value and is normally defined as the difference between the client’s expectation and the client’s actual experience of the services (Schneider & White, 2004). Different clients perceive quality differently based on culture and personal differences.

Tsang & Ap (2007)   conducted a study that aimed at examining how cultural differences influences perception of quality of services provided by guest contact employees. The study was in the form of a survey research. This study selected a sample of two groups of travel clients; American and Asian tourists. The services performance rating of both American and Asian tourist were selected randomly and their responses were correlated against each other. Regression analysis was also used to compare and analyze the responses of the two groups of clients.

A similar study also involving measuring service quality, visitor satisfaction and behavioral intention has been conducted by Mey & Mohamed (2010). Mey and Mohamed’s study explored on attributes that can be used to evaluate service quality and customer satisfaction. In particular the authors chose to examine the SERVPERF tool of measuring services performance.

The conceptual framework provided by this model formed the basis of the study.  35 questionnaires items were issued to victors to measure their perceived quality. Use of research indicates that this is a quantitative survey design. These methods of research may be applicable to our study since they enable collection data covering large population.

Recent decades have seen airlines and other travel service principle cut on their commission to travel business. Travel agencies in response to these have restructured their services to become those of consultants. However, many have argued that fees charged on clients for consultation do not represent value to these clients. Fragniere & Catenazzo (2010) conducted a study to investigate the willingness of service customers to pay for travel consultation services.


This study was a quantitative one that took the form of a theater based experiment. Two groups of participants were selected from the delegates who attended an annual symposium in Geneva in November 2007.  A stage show was designed and two professional actors were asked to play two scripts depicting two travel agents service experience. The two groups selected as spectators were asked to price the staged services.

The experiment groups were provided with for pricing options to select from. Their response papers were collected and analyzed through SPSS. Statistical measures such; mean, median, range and standard deviation were used to arrive to a conclusion. The theater experiment study design would not be the best for our study due to several reasons. One is that, the design can only incorporate a small sample size in the theater which would raise questions on the accuracy of the sample in representing our study population.

Theater experiment would also attract similar or homogenous group of respondents since the theater will be fixed at a particular place. However, the statistical measures such mean, median and standard deviation that were used to analyze data will be useful to our study. Technology is a key element in the travel industry. Information technology also influences how travel clients perceive satisfaction or dissatisfaction of travel services.

A study conducted by Riz-Molina et al (2010) aimed at investigating the role of IT in the relationship between perceived benefits and satisfaction by the client. This design of this study was correlational quantitative research as it utilized statistical methods such as structural equations model and multisample analysis. The main instrument involved in data collection was the use of questionnaires.

This methodological approach was effective in collecting large amount of data that would provide a more accurate reflection of the study population. The method was also appropriate as the study sort to establish whether a relationship existed between IT and perceived satisfaction and thus statistics presented the best means for assessing significance of the relationship. These research methods will be relevant to our study and our effort to establish the relationship between our service aspects and client dissatisfaction.

Research Method

After series of consultation, our study team settled on using survey research design in the commissioned study. Survey research design usually explores research variables by asking people question and proceeds to examine the relationship between the variables under study (Connor, 2010). The sample design under a survey may also vary significantly.


Zissco generally serves the business travel population in London. London is a busy city in terms of travel as it receives more than 15 million visitors a years (office for national statistics, 2011). This would translate to just over 1 million visitors a month. Our study is planned to take off on 1st April, 2011 and is expected to run for a period of one month up to 31 April, 2011. During this period a total of 400 questionnaires will be issued to travelers who will use of services during this month.

The respondents will be selected based on random sampling method. Every client that completes a transaction with the company is usually assigned a transaction number. This number will be used as the basis for selecting our sample. For example, skipping an interval such as 4 or 6 or whichever figure that will be deemed as appropriate, may be selected as the sampling criterion.

The selected sample will be assigned the questionnaires and will be given time to complete it. No minimum time limit for completion will be provided but the time for collecting the response will come to a close on 31st May. This will be a month after the end of the data collection period. Various options will be provided for submitting the filled in questionnaires. These will be such as; via post, electronic means such as email and faxes or even in person.

The collected data will be analyzed using the statistical program for social sciences (SSPS). Descriptive statistics such as percentages, mean, median, range and standard deviation will be used to analyze and describe phenomena under study. Inferential statistics will also be used to draw out relationships between customer dissatisfaction and our service performance. The inferential statistics are such as; correlation, regression analysis, cross tabulation and chi square analysis. Data will be presented by use graphs, pictures, tables and narratives.

Strength and Weaknesses

Survey research design was selected as the most suitable for the nature our study. In regard to the study by Tsang & Ap (2007), this design makes it realistic and inexpensive to collected large amount of data due to the data collection techniques it employs (Connor, 2010). The design utilizes collection techniques such as questionnaires which are cheap to design and easy to administer especially when the study population is large.


Our study is also likely to involve multiple variables. As demonstrated in Mey and Mohamed study, survey research methods are the most suitable for analyzing multiple variables. However, there are also difficulties associated with conducting surveys. One of them involves eliminating biases. Survey research presents various opportunities for introduction of biased data. This is depicted in Tsang and Ap (2007) study where the researchers are the ones who had selected the model to base the study on.

Cases such as these introduce the threat of there being instrumental bias. The researcher who is responsible for developing the questionnaires and other data collection instruments is in a position to bias the outcome of the study by the way he design and phrases his questions. The questionnaire designers may include leading questions or one sided questions.

There is also possibility for response bias (Connor, 2010). Since survey involves the study of a huge population it is a common occurrence to find that the researcher is not able to administer the data collection instruments himself. This eliminates the ability of the researcher to discern the truth and accuracy of the responses he is receiving from the participants due to lack of personal contact with them.

Unlike in designs that apply methods such as interview, questionnaires do not involve immediate feedback and therefore response by the participants may be as a result of background discussions and other influences. There is also possibility of there being a large non response rate since the questionnaires are self administered and this may also reduce the representative quality of our sample. Problems may also arise as result of incorrect sampling procedure.

This may result in the selection of a sample that is not a true representation of the study population. Bad model of data analysis especially when involving figures and statistics may also be possible challenges for the study. Perhaps, the greatest weakness associated with survey research design is that though it explores and describes the problem it does not explain its causes and effects.

Questionnaire

This questionnaire is for study purpose only and is geared at finding ways for bettering Zissco travel services. Information you provide will be treated with highest degree of confidentiality.  Please respond by circling the numbers of the applicable answer.


1. Nationality [1] Briton                     [2] Non Briton

2. Gender    [1] Male               [2] Female


3. Which of our services have used?

[1]Air Ticketing          [2] Hotel Booking       [3] Cruises       [4] Car Rental

4. Rate the overall quality of the services you have just experienced

[1] Very Good           [2] Good         [3] Average     [4] Poor           [5] Very Poor


5. Respond to the following question by inserting the number that reflects your rating
Strongly

Disagree

Disagree Neither Disagree nor Agree Agree Strongly agree

1

2

3

4

5


a. Our complains are satisfactory handled      ____________

b. You feel safe and confident under the care of staff          ___________

c. You have received value for your money   ____________

d. Our services are dependable           _________________


6. Rate this issues depending on how you feel they are important (Respond by indicating X at the option you feel is best)

Not at all

Important

Not Very

Important

Somewhat

Important

Very

Important

Extremely

Important


Availability of options _____               _______            _______           ________     _____

Friendliness                 _______          _______             _________        _________       ___


Convenience               ________       _________         _________      __________      ____

Speed of services       ________         ________         _________         _________     ___


Pricing                         _______          _________        _________        ________      _____

Access                          ________       ________        ________          ______          ______


Responsiveness           _______          _______          ________        ______            _____

(Willingness to assist Clients)

Tangibles                     _______          ______            ______            ______            ______


(Physical Appearance)

Communication           _______          _______          _______          ________        _____


7. Additional Comment on how our Services may be improved

________________________________________________________


Response from Peers

Design of the questionnaire is good and the questions appropriately reflect the discussion topic. However, there is still room for improvement. The questionnaire should include more questions that infer more of the demographic characteristics of the respondent. These may be such as occupation, level of income and level of education. Such details will also play a significant role in the interpretation of data.  The physical characteristic of the questionnaire can also be further improved.


References

Connor T (2010). Survey Research Design. Retrieved on February 26, 2011, from http://drtomoconnor.com/3760/3760lect04.htm

Fragniere E & Catenazzo G (2010). Pricing Traditional Travel Agency Services: A theater-Based Experiment Study. Journal of Service & Management, 3, 272- 280

Mey & Mohamed (2010). Measuring Services Quality, Vistitor Satisfaction and Behavioral Intentions: Pilot Study at a Museum in Malaysia. Accessed on February 25, 2011, from http://www.internationalconference.com.my/proceeding/icber2010_proceeding/PAPER_127_ServiceQuality.pdf

Molina-Ruiz et al (2010). The Role of Information Technology between Travel Agencies and their Suppliers. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 1 (2), 144-162

Schneider B. & White S. (2004). Service Quality: Research Perspective. USA, Sage Publication Inc

Tsang & Ap (2007). Tourists Perception of Relational Quality Services Attributes: A Cross Cultural Study, 45 (3), 355- 363

James Peter is the author and is associated with meldaresearch.com which is a global custom thesis writing  provider. If you would like help in essays, research papers, term papers and dissertations, you can visit BestEssaySite.Com


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