A company's success or survival, no matter the field it operates in, relies on the satisfaction that the company is able to provide for its clients.
The scope of the research regards the synthetic definition of the information that must be obtained through this research. The scope of this research project is determining and evaluating the current situation and estimating the future situation of high street travel agents compared to the e-business travel that gains more and more field.
Establishing the Objectives and Hypotheses of the Research
The objectives reside from the scope of the research, presenting on operational level the information that must be obtained from this research. In this case, in the study referring to the situation of high street travel agents, the following objectives of the research must be taken into consideration:
Identifying the differences between high street travel business and e-business
Finding advantages and disadvantages of both types of companies
Establishing which type of business is more profitable and the reasons for which this situation occurs
Determining what will be the future of these two types of business, the future relationship between them, and if one will overcome the other
Determining the power of e-business
The hypotheses of the research represent anticipated answers or assumptions regarding the objectives followed by the research, starting from information obtained from previous research projects, from existing theory, from accumulated experience, or from exploratory research conducted in this matter. In relation with the research objectives presented above, the hypotheses of this research are the following:
high street travel agents lose more and more ground in favor of e-business travel the future of the industry relies almost completely on e-tourism
Pre-estimating the Value of the Information Gathered from the Research
This step of the research follows the a priori evaluation of the research's efficiency, reporting the estimated research from using the information gathered from the research to its costs. The criteria that form the basis of information value quantification are the following:
Selecting Information Sources
The main sources of information that are investigated in the marketing research regarding the situation of high street travel agents are consisted of secondary sources. These secondary sources comprise existent information that was the object of previous research, different from this one. Their utility is given by the increased degree of availability, their low costs, and their diversity. However, secondary sources present a series of disadvantages also. The greatest disadvantages refer to their lack newest information, because information is usually not up-to-date, and to their relevancy, because one does not always find information in report to research requirements.
Primary information is obtained especially for the research in question. They are characterized by a high degree regarding relevancy and through significant costs also. Before deciding to begin this research regarding the situation of high street travel agents, there are certain steps to be followed that consist in investigating certain secondary sources, in order to obtain information based on identifying the defining characteristics of the travel market. The main ways for accomplishing this objective are:
Consulting certain guides that offer general information
Investigating statistic sources specialized on marketing
Investigating multi-client studies
Selecting the Information Collection Method
In this step, a series of methodological aspects of the research are approached, as it follows:
Conceptual and operational definition of the research variables
Establishing dependent and independent variables
Selecting the type of scale for measuring each variable
Selecting methods for collecting the information
Establishing the collection tool
Research Methods for Each Objective
Objective 1: Identifying the differences between high street travel agents and e-business.
For this objective it is recommended to use secondary research, which can already be found organized in a certain state. The reason for selecting this type of sources is the fact that secondary information contributes to: increasing the degree of understanding the high street travel agents situation, which is the matter in cause; elaborating the research hypotheses; ensuring adequate interpretation of primary data. Given the fact that primary information already exists, there is no need for specific methods and techniques for collecting them. However, efforts are directed towards identifying and selecting the most credible information sources. When obtaining secondary information, there are four steps to be followed:
Identifying the information need - by establishing the type of information required for achieving the research's objective. This information can be general or specific. In our case, regarding the situation of high street travel agents, it is recommended to begin with collecting general information, and as the researcher gathers more details regarding the subject of the research, it can lead to more specific information.
Searching information sources - this step starts with the premises of the existence of available information regarding the researched issue. It is necessary to search for the most pertinent sources of information. In our case, the differences between high street travel business and e-business is analyzed in a series of reports conducted by research companies. These reports include: "Internet travel tightens its grip: high street travel agents could be threatened by the increase in popularity of online travel agents and their commitment to relationship marketing," conducted by the Alacra Store; or a series of articles, like: "Are You Protected" that was published in the Independent on July 2006. Financial information regarding high street travel agents can be found online at www.moneynet.co.uk.
Investigation of secondary sources has been chosen for this objective because of the advantages it presents. The first advantage regards the cost and time for collecting the information. Collecting secondary information is almost always less expensive than collecting primary information because the required effort is reduced. The low cost of secondary information is justified by the fact that they refer to previous periods, more users have access to them, or they have already been paid for in previous projects. Another advantage is the fact that secondary information can be collected in a shorter period of time, given the fact that they already exist, and the researcher only identifies and organizes them. Availability is another advantage.
Objective 2 - Collecting qualitative and quantitative data.
For conducting a research study that must collect qualitative data on the situation of high street travel agents and e-business it is recommended to use in-depth interview. This interview should include representatives from both types of companies, preferably an equal number that could provide similar amount of significant data. The bigger the number of the respondents is, the more useful the collected data will be.
It is recommended that these individual discussions take approximately an hour - an hour and a half with each respondent. Also, the discussions must be recorded. The group of respondents should include 30-50 people, representative for both types of companies that must be studied.
However, there are certain rules that must be followed in order to gather as much useful information as possible. For example, respondents should not know the exact subject under discussion, so that they do not prepare especially for this interview. However, they should have some idea of the subject that will be approached during the interview.
It is not recommended to approach the matter directly. The discussion should be free, without following a structured questionnaire. The important thing is to gather as much data as possible and as much accurate as possible from each respondent.
The researcher must not influence the respondent, as he must maintain a neutral position towards the subject and expressed opinions. Also, the researcher should have a professional and open attitude that will motivate the respondent in approaching certain aspects of the matter.
The questions formulated by the researcher must focus from general to particular. Therefore, the researcher must first of all approach general issues regarding the respondent's behavior, and then he must slowly orient the discussion towards the matter of interest.
However, qualitative research is not sufficient in order to elaborate an analysis on the situation regarding high street travel agents. It is necessary that the qualitative research is doubled by quantitative research in order to be efficient.
In our case, for collecting quantitative information it is recommended to use the questionnaire method. In order to reduce costs as much as possible, it would be best that the questionnaire is self administrated. However, in this case, the risk of having incomplete answers or wrong answers is quite high. It is recommended to send the respondents the questionnaire through e-mail or through fax.
Given the fact that this questionnaire will be sent only to companies that make the subject of this research, it is not necessary to use qualification questions. The questions must be short, simple, and concise. Their order must be logical and as neutral as possible. The information that the researcher must obtained through these questionnaires refer to these companies income, profit, past, current and estimated future number of clients, tariffs of their services.
Objective 3 - Finding advantages and disadvantages of both types of companies.