As it states on its website, Thomson Tours is a UK based travel operator that is famous for transportation as well as comprehensive travel packages to numerous destinations around the globe. According to Thomson (2014), the organization not only organizes the trips but also takes care of all the travel details for their clients. They are fully involved in the tourism industry with stakes in transportation and holiday packages as well as travel insurance and travel guides among other things. In addition, while they do not have hotels and holiday homes, they collaborate with the homeowners and hotel establishments based on their service quality and customer relationship management tendencies. The company has been in existence for over 45 years and thus, can boast of a unique corporate image with regard to making customized travel packages for their consumers and enabling them to enjoy their holiday travels as much as possible. The fact that they take care of all the details makes them one of the best in the industry. While dealing with experts in the business, the clients are assured of good quality and extreme convenience given the assortment of services that the company offers.
Lonely Planet is an Australian based tourism company that specializes in the publishing of travel guides to all destinations across the world. According to Lonely Planet (2014), the company works with writers who actually travel around the world and share their experiences with the readers offering advice on where to go, what to look for, what to expect, etc. The company is known for producing exclusive travel guides, TV shows, and magazines that encourage people to travel around the world by giving them insights into the various destinations across the globe. It has been in existences for about 42 years and the coverage is global. It has locations in Australia, the US, the UK, Asia, and Africa implying not only a global clientele but also a global access in terms of organizing the trips and safaris. The expertise drawn from writing the travel guides is what assures the clients that the company is capable of satisfying their travel needs given that they have been to all the relevant locations and thus, have a good idea of what goes on there. With a strong online presence, Lonely Planet keeps their clientele fully informed when it comes to travel matters including weather, festivals and other events as well as reviews of the various hotels, restaurants, and car rental services among others.
Examples Drawn From the Activities of These Companies
At Thomson Tours, it is common practice for customers to create the travel packages based, on the services that they require. As such, the company’s website allows these customers to open accounts and select a holiday package that they would like before stating exactly what they expect from the organization with respect to their travel package (Siu 2014). It means that in this organization, the needs of the clients come first and the company is versatile to this effect. The travel organization acts as an enabler bringing together the hotels and tour guides as well as transport service providers in order to meet the client’s needs and expectations.
At Lonely Planet, the books are published as per the content availed by the writers and their relevance to the travel industry. It implies that the customers here are more expected to sit back and wait upon the organization to discover places and give them the details on how to enjoy themselves should they visit those places. Thus, the activities include having travel journalists going to different places around the world and compiling their experiences to be used as a guide by other travelers. Therefore, the company often indulges the audiences to recommend destinations that they would like to explore. They also offer insights on which travel agencies are most reliable, which hotels are most advisable and which local trails or transport options can be trusted.
Choices of Reaching the Market Segments
Both Thomson Tours and Lonely Planet are fully aware of the importance of the Internet to their businesses. While they both have physical locations in their numerous markets internationally, these organizations are widely present online in all the mainstream social networking sites as well as on their own websites. According to Srinivasan & Mittal (n.d), this scenario implies that they are well-equipped to tap the global market even in areas where they are yet to set up offices.
Evans and Mckee (2010) emphasize that each organization has a unique market segment in terms of their products and services. Therefore, Thomson Tours is more focused on the tourist in general, be they young or old, working, in school, or retired, be they medical, educational, business or simply leisure tourists. Thus, this company is more open minded with regard to the clientele base and thus, they have the capacity to piece up a considerably convenient travel package for any client after taking into considerations their needs and expectations. On the other hand, Lonely Planet focuses on the travelers. It implies that they are more interested in people who look for sightseeing. Their travel guides are mostly about where to go, what to see and how to have fun out of a trip. It can be stated that the Lonely Planet is an organization that targets mainly the leisure travelers who are on holiday or have the time to take in the breathtaking sights of the world.
Having established the target markets, the importance of the online presence can be discussed. At Thomson Tours, the target market is relatively anyone who look for a trip away from their usual environment. The organization has opened up the tourism industry to absolutely everyone by allowing for convenient and relatively cheap options, so that even those on budgets can afford a trip. To compliment this, the company has an overwhelming online presence such that they can also be accessed by anyone. Having chosen a wide target market, they had to settle for an option that does not lock out some of the interested clients. Thus, the company is able to interact with their clientele on all the social networking sites as well as on pop ups, banners, click through, and Google Adwords among others. They have specialized messages to interest different types of clients including those who need a holiday in some exotic or even local destination. The strategic position of Thomson Tours is as a premium travel agent with a wide variety of services that cater to all of one’s traveling needs and thus, being easily accessible over the Internet is one of the primary goals behind the choice of online platforms. Therefore, the customers are allowed to make bookings, pay for their trips, and even customize their travel packages via the Internet implying that there is no need for physical locations in all of the served regions. The distribution channels work quite well for this particular organization.
On the other hand, Lonely Planet is more basic in its approach in that they offer the travel guides and the travel advice and hope for the best in terms of response from the clients. The company through the online platforms and broadcast as well as print media allows the clients to reach out and inform them of what they are interested in. Then, they take care of all the travel arrangements for them upon request implying that their major concern is providing the clients with the best services. Lonely Planet is more focused on providing information and allowing the clients to interact by asking questions and sharing experiences as well as consulting with the travel writers to obtain advice on their travel options. As such, the company mainly relies on its website, TV shows, and the social networking sites to attract the customers’ attention. The publications are also highly popularized in that they have both books and magazines that are full of information that travelers would generally need depending on their chosen destination. The company covers all the continents in the travel guides, thus, making it relevant to most, if not all travelers. Their online operation is not as extensive and noticeable as that of the Thomson Tours but they have managed to capture the interests of their target market with the traditional media including the books, magazines and TV shows. The website and the social media accounts are currently used for offering detailed information on the available publications, collecting feedback by engaging the clients, and generally opening the company up to a fulfilling communication with their clientele. The clients can also order for the books and magazines online as the concept of internet shopping keeps spreading. The organization is keeping up with popular culture by allowing for convenience along with their impressive service delivery.
Lifestyles and Needs of the Various Clusters of Consumers
At Thomson Tours, the client is considered as a very important part of the business in that the travel packages are mostly tailored to the one buying it. It implies that the consumers are free to pick out the elements that the organization offers that they consider useful to them and thus, there are no restrictions. Looking at the organization’s range of services and travel packages, it can be stated that their target market generally comprises of individuals who need to travel the world be it alone or with their families or friends, for whatever reason possible. The organization accommodates all sorts of clients, with packages for individuals, couples and families as well as groups such as students or professionals. Through the website, this organization allows the clients to make a package that would suit them by compiling all the services that they would require as they piece their order together. Some clients need accommodation, transportation, and even sightseeing plans and guides while others only look for accommodation or the sightseeing plan. Thus, it can be stated that in most cases, the needs of the clients are determined by the extent to which they need the organization to participate in their holiday experience.
Considering the variety in this organization’s clientele it is important to note that the marketing tools also have to be versatile enough to accommodate the entire market segment. It is basically the reason why they have a large number of web pages, where all their consumers can interact with the organization and one another and book holidays online.
Lonely Planet is a publishing company that offers the travelers some advice and pointers on how best to enjoy their trips. The clientele base is also as large as that of Thomson Tours, except that their customers only depend on the organization’s insights and not services. The needs of the clientele are mostly informational and thus, the company is able to meet them by providing a number of magazines, books, and online publications on the various holiday destinations.
Partnerships with Distribution Channels
These organizations have numerous physical offices across the world despite the impressive online presence. Thomson Tours has office locations in most of the tourist destinations to ensure that the travelers do not feel lost or in case they need some help during their trip they can simply walk in or call the office. The distribution channels are mostly managed by natives of the tourist destination who have been fully trained to properly handle the customers.
Similarly, Lonely Planet uses their distribution channels to represent them to the customers on the ground. Moreover, while they may not be as extensive with physical offices as the Thomson Tours, they certainly have a presence in all the major locations including the US and the UK aside from the Melbourne headquarters. The partnerships ensure that the company is able to get the books and magazines out to the market as well as receive more information in which their customers may be interested including offers and discounts.
USP’s and Marketing Tools
The unique selling proposition at Thomson Tours would be the extensive partnership that the organization has with hotel and holiday homeowners across the globe. Their extensive network of accommodation and transport service providers as well as tour guides makes them very reliable in the long term, as they are not limited to one region. The fact that they are available everywhere implies that they can be trusted to make impressive holiday packages regardless of the client’s choice destination.
At Lonely Planet, the USP is also the wide coverage of the planet. The books and magazines are written by experienced travelers implying that the information is mostly accurate and based on real life experiences. It is easy to trust in this company because the writers are, actually, experienced travelers who know the routes that they are expected to cover. In both cases, it can be seen that the exposure and experience are the main factors that are being used to endear customers to either organizations.
As for the marketing tools, both companies are extensively using the Internet to not only market but also sell their products. Thomson Tours has for years now been using the Internet to create and book travel packages for their customers and some of them even pay online. The Internet is not only useful in providing information but also managing transactions and keeping the clientele interested. At Lonely Planet, the Internet is a major factor in marketing as clients buy books and read magazines off the Internet while interacting with one another. Thus, it can be stated that while Thomson Tours focuses on the Internet for their marketing and business transactions, Lonely Planet is entrenched in traditional media to get their products to the market.
Thomson Tours depends heavily on the Internet to do business. The company may have numerous physical locations across the globe but the Internet is their major platform for interacting with their clients and selling the travel packages. As noted by Porter (2008), in this case, social media is also used not just for marketing in terms of passing on the information but also in terms of engaging the clients and ensuring that they are kept interested. The organization has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, living social, Google+, and YouTube among others. All these social media sites enable them to present themselves to their clients and encouraging them to travel the world using their affordable packages. Moreover, they use Newsletters and emails to entice clients to take on their travel packages making them quite extensive in their marketing approach.
Siu (2014) states that considering that websites often collect personal information on the users so as to be able to understand which adverts are relevant to them, the Thomson Tours website is one of those that only use the cookies to determine the tendencies of the client and not their personal information. The cookies collect the information that they need to provide the client with offers that they are likely to find attractive as opposed to sending all the available information and filling up the customer’s email with irrelevant information. As for the ethical aspect of this activity, the company assures the users that they will not capture or use personal information, and the client has the option of disabling these cookies if they feel that their privacy is threatened.
3rd Party Online Marketing Links
Thomson Tours is mainly a travel agent that focuses on linking clients to their dream trips locally and abroad depending on their geographical location. The company however has a worldwide presence and as such has been known to use diverse means of getting attention on the web including popups, banners, click through links, and Google Adwords. Lamb, Hair & McDaniel (2014) affirm that all these tools enable clients to reach the company’s website and learn more about the travel packages. Lonely Planet on the other hand only indulges the Google Ad words and clink through links to get to the new clients. The company is however relatively extensive with its use of the traditional media in terms of advertising considering they have TV shows and magazine publications. Considering how this works for the Lonely Planet, it can be stated that Thomson Tours will also benefit from having a few publications to give their clients a preview of what they could expect from their holiday packages. Flips and mortar seems to be the way to go in the tourism industry as travelers are captured by the photographs published in these travel guides from Lonely Planet.
Critical Evaluation and Recommendation
Thomson Tours is focused on selling travel packages to clients from all over the world. It means that their main objective is to sell as much as possible. The travel packages range from low cost options for the low-income market to the considerably expensive options aimed at the high end market. At this point, based on Evans (2010), it can be stated that they have been successful in their endeavors in that they have an impressive market presence not only in the UK but also across the globe all the way to South Africa. The company has also managed to formulate sustainable working relationships with home owners and hotel establishments in all the popular tourist destinations across the globe, thus, enabling their clientele to receive the best in terms of accommodation and hospitality regardless of where they are. From their online traffic and the interactions that take place on the organization’s online platforms, it can also be stated that they have managed to cultivate customer loyalty as they keep having return clients and recommendations from other customers.
The company’s website is not only informative but also interactive in terms of allowing the customers to give feedback and get responses to their concerns and questions. The website provides information on the various available holiday destinations and accommodation options as well as how to book and pay for these holidays, while also having a segment where the customer can interact with the organization as well as with other consumers.
At Lonely Planet, the story is largely similar. The organization has managed to sell over 30 million copies of travel guides across the world and they have a loyal following for the magazines and the TV shows. In addition, it can be stated that the number of travelers who actually rely on these publications for their travelling experiences is continuously on the rise given that the books are affordable and very informative. They not only serve the luxurious travelers in their expensive suites and entourages but also the low-end travelers on their minivans and bikes taking a trip across the country. The organization has managed to capture the interests of the entire traveling community including those who are, actually, unable to leave their locations for one reason or another and can only travel by their imagination.
This website allows the clients to read book reviews for the various available destinations and even order the books online to be shipped to them depending on their locations. The website also allows for interactions between the various consumers and allows for them to access the online magazines and TV shows by Lonely Planet.
Based on Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) evaluation, it can be established that both organizations have by far managed to be very successful in their use of the Internet as a platform for marketing. Thomson Tours has been able to expand exponentially into the international market with ventures in the airline business as well and possibly real estate as well. They are slowly covering all aspects of tourism ensuring that the clients get a perfect travel package at an affordable price. However, Lonely Planet remains limited due to the limitations of their narrow product assortment. While travel guides are important to the tourism industry, Kim (2013) argues that it is impossible to stay afloat for long without engaging into the business of travels and tours. Publication seems to be limited especially in this era where the Internet provides all the necessary information for a traveler on the go. The marketing tools and techniques employed by the Lonely Planet are impressive but they do not serve them as well as they serve the Thomson Tours. As such, the organization may want to reconsider the product aspect of their marketing mix. Qualman (2011) cautions that rather than focusing on publications and TV shows, working on the travel packages and accommodation arrangements for tourists may actually do wonders for the business. Thomson Tours would also benefit from venturing into publication in terms of a travel magazine and possibly a book. The company has such an extensive global presence that it would be unwise to ignore the power of a good publication as a marketing tool.
The tourism industry is consistently changing in terms of expectations and needs in that people are more open to the concept of going on holidays whether abroad or locally. However, other people are becoming increasingly busy and thus, unable to travel except for business of school work. Travel companies should be able to offer all the relevant services including accommodation, visa, travel insurance, travel advice, travel magazines, and even books on the various travel destinations. The social media also has to be capitalized in terms of its marketing potential, especially for attracting customers and building loyalty.