EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Tawfik Jelassi in his book Strategies for e Business defined as the use of electronic means to perform an organisation’s business. It’s a development in the e Commerce deals with online sales,online payment, Online Marketing etc. Since the introduction of E business in 1995 it’s been a part in the growth of the company and changing the business structure. As a part of partial fulfilment of my module I have chosen Air India web site.
Air India is one of the leading carriers in International airways in INDIA it uses website extensively for the booking of tickets and promotional strategies E business has became a tool for their growth in the past two years. This report is classified into Two parts in the first part Overview to the company and website is given and the Second part is all about Branding, Segmentation, ease of use and transactional facilities followed by conclusion and recommendations. COMPANY OVERVIEW:
Air India is an India based world wide airlines company operating both passenger and cargo flights ranging from Boeing 747’s to Airbus A -310. From the day the first flight took of way back in October 15,1932 it is representing the perfect example of both class and quality . Air India is set to transform into world class airline carrier after it’s merger with Indian Airlines the leader in the domestic sector of airlines in India. In addition to the basic facilities providing to the passengers it also provide wide range of in-flight facilities such as Air Shows, Catering etc.
Cargo Division of Air India transports wide range of goods and a shipment tracking service is also available online. Air India has got the Infrastructure along with the network which ensures safe transportation and delivery of cargo world wide. From the past three years there is a phenomenal growth on both US and European sector since 2002 network has been expanded to Newark, Los Angeles along with New York and Chicago in US / Number of flights running to these destinations were increased from 10 to 24 flights includes daily services to Newark, New York, Chicago and a thrice a week flight to LosAngeles.
Number of flights to United Kingdom were increased from 10 to 30 flights out of which 20 leave to London and Five To Birmingham. There is a significant increase in the frequency of flights to Far East and South Eastern Asia. In April 2005 Air India’s low cost subsidiary Airlines AIR INDIA EXPRESS came into existence operating flights to UAE, Qatar, Oman and Singapore. For the Financial Year ending March 2006 AIR INDIA has made a net profit of Rs 87,480 million with a 15% growth over the previous year. WEBSITE OVERVIEW: [pic]
Web site is very informative with all the necessary attributes what an airline should have along with the special offers they have got with them. Through the internet ticket booking which is available on the website a passenger can book tickets of his choice up to five adults, four children and two infants and can pay the fare through debit card or credit card at a time. These bookings can be made from three hours to 360 days prior to the departure of the flight. There are three kinds of ticketing methods available they are electronic ticketing, ticket by mail and ticket pick up at Airport .
We can check the Time table of the flights, status of the flight both arrivals and departure along with the special requirements if needed such as meal preferences, seat and wheel chair. A clear idea regarding the cargo services offered by the Air Lines is given very clearly such as destinations they cover, specific weight limitations to particular destinations and the types of services they offer along with the cargo tracking facility through which we can know the delivery status of the shipment. Air India is distributing e tickets through AMADEUS.
Now Air India will offer the Amadeus – enabled e ticketing services across all of its International and Domestic services. This made the most content of the website available to the travel agencies this enables Air India to keep up the progress to improve both efficiency and Customer service. Branding: A brand as defined by Philip Kotler is a term, sign, symbol or combination of these which is used by the consumers to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitors .
Brand identifies a market or the seller it can also be named as trade mark, Logo etc. A brand is a promise by the seller to deliver constant benefit’s, features and services for the consumers. Brands vary with the amount of power and value they have got in the market. There are brands which have high degree of Brand Awareness, Brand Acceptability, Brand Preference and Brand Loyalty.
High brand equity provides a number of advantages such as reduction of marketing costs because of brand awareness and brand loyalty, launch of extension’s become easy because of brand name and creditability, this also offers the company some defence against the price competition. A brand name needs to be carefully managed to maintain its brand equity in the market to maintain so the companies should require to improve brand awareness, perceived quality and functionality and the positive association ( Philip Kotler, Marketing Management Millennium edition pg no 406).
Air India follows all the fundamentals of branding to maintain its brand equity. Air India came into the market in 1946 with a Muscat of Maharaja (Emperor) which is very popular among the costumers in India. The Muscat symbolizes graciousness and rich living. This attempt of using Muscat took Air India’s sales and promotional messages to millions of passengers across the world. Price with quality gives value and value is why people tend to choose one brand over the other. Brand Marketing, Joe Marconi(2000), page 34) this is what Air India follows and gaining loyalty among the costumers. All the offers and the promotional strategies they follow help in maintaining the brand equity. The varied facilities they provide in the flight including Dining, Music ranging from Indian to western and Japanese music and videos in India to Japan flights is one among the unique features it has got which is attracting the passengers who fly from and to Japan.
The Frequent Flyer programme and Flying Return Programme are introduced increases the brand loyalty. Air India is increasing its services to maintain it’s brand equity and attracting the new costumers by starting flights to the new destinations and creating a new sector in the cabin crew for the passengers with special needs all these helps Air India to live in the minds of the customers as a strong brand.
The quality of service and the commitment to increase the costumer satisfaction makes Air India a top brand in India in the aviation sector and with it’s merger with Indian Airlines it is going create the same impact on the domestic passengers as it created on the international customers from the past 56 years when they came into the market as a brand. MARKET SEGMENTATION: According to Philip Kotler ‘market segmentation is and effort done to increase the company’s precision marketing’. To segment consumer markets usually researchers look at the consumer characteristics such as Geographic, demographic, psychographic and behaviour. . Geographical Segmentation: It involves dividing the markets into different geographical units such as Nations,States,Regions,Counties, Cities and Neighbourhoods. 2. Demographical Segmentation: The market is divided into groups on the basis of variables such as Age, Size of the family, Family life cycle, gender, Income, Occupation, Education, Religion, Race, Generation, Nationality and Social Class. 3. Psychographic Segmentation: In Psychographic Segmentation buyers or customers are divided into different groups based on lifecycle or personality and values. . Behavioural Segmentation: Here Buyers or Consumers are divided on the basis of their Attitude towards the product or company, use of it, benefits, usage rate, loyalty status, Buyer Readiness stage . AIR INDIA’S market segmentation is a mix of all the consumer behaviour segmentation’s as mentioned above. Factors such as, Air fare which varies from destinations to destinations this supports that based on the destinations the costumers travel fare depends on to which destination they are flying is Demographic way of segmentation.
The company’s website clearly provides all the basic necessities what an Airlines company should have. A passenger can book tickets whose family comprises up to five adults, four children and two infants where majority of family member range across the globe fall into this category. Seating arrangement are broadly classified into three based on the facilities provided like any other airlines. The three classes are First Class, Executive Class & Economy Class. The Preferences of the customers to book the class usually depends on their income, occupation, and Social Class.
On the website if we se the two options while we book the ticket they are Restrictive fare and Flexible fare supports the above statement to some extent. All the variables such as Family size, income, occupation and social class are taken into consideration they all come under Demographic segmentation hence we can justify that the market segmentation of Air India follows Demographic segmentation. People who have got a life style of spending lavishly and love to be in esteemed state usually go with 1st class this life style is a variable of Psychographic segmentation.
Air India provides extreme benefits for the passengers along with the basic needs such as Dining which offers a varied choice of menus ranging from Indian, Continental, to western nouvelle cuisine and Japanese meals on the India – Japan route if any passenger has got special requirement varied choice of meals as many as 23 special meals whose details are present on the website. Serving first class passengers in Royal Dolton Bone China Crockery nd alcoholic bewarages which are served as complimentary in all classes are some examples of the benefits they provide the customers. Added to this in flight entertainment is provided with all accesses to different radio channels and offering music ranging from Indian to Jazz, Pop etc along with different videos of bollywood and many other regional languages are offered. Frequent Flyer programme and Flying return programme are the most attractive offers for the air India costumers through this they earn mileage points to redeem their tickets faster.
Flying return programme has a membership of over 2,00,000 in India , Gulf, UK, USA, all these offer’s and the benefits they provide increase the loyalty status and usage rate and all these are the variables of the behavioural segmentation. Hence from the above points it is clear and evident that the marketing segmentation of Air India is mix of all the consumer characteristic segments. EASE OF USE: Air lines are using internet as an effective information dissemination and revenue generating channel (Connoly,Olsen Moore 1998).
Standing(2000) claimed that the web has changed from pushing firms and services to pulling clients into value added opportunities that a company provide. According to Stuat (1996) an online catalogue should provide all the information what exactly customers need to make a purchase decision. All the promotions should include product information , product pricing and online ordering information. Connoly , Olsen, Moore (1998) argued that customers should know about Air Ticket prices , Schedules , and flight availability .
Kucway (1997) stated that a appropriate airline website for starter should offer schedules , frequent flyer membership, tickets information and updated contact numbers for making reservations and a step beyond that is ability to make e- reservations. Airlines compete not only among each other but also with the other online travel agents such as Travelocity supported by SABRE and Expedia supported by Microsoft. The most common complaints about an about any web page is the lengthy time needed to load the web pages and loads of graphical images though these kind of graphical images attract the viewer.
For every 10 sec taken by the graphics to be loaded before the webpage content can be seen there is a risk of loosing 20% of viewers (Taylor 1999). So web designers should try to avoid putting heavy graphical images on the home page and should provide link’s to the related sites or pages where the information is quoted. A successful business website notices customers to visit and purchase as it offers something of value more than that the customers cannot find any where else (Theobald and Dunsmore 2000) Some of the basic characteristics that make a successful airline website are (Stout 1996) 1.
Availability of product pricing and product information. 2. Online ordering information for general products and services. 3. Provision for extra benefits for customers such as discounts on fares etc. 4. Fast loading web pages especially where home page is located. 5. Graphics should be kept in a small display size and scrolling text should be avoided. 6. And to cultivate customer loyalty. Air India website has got all the features what a successful air lines website should have except problem with home page loading.
It is very easy to accesses the website the website is developed in such a way that a viewer or the customer can be able to know all the information he needs . It provides the customers with the fleet i. e. with all the aircrafts they have got with them and which kind aircraft they are using for which destinations this is one of the unique feature of this website. All the general information such as booking the tickets , destinations where they fly , offers they have got with them , special requests baggage tracking facility online etc. One of the unique features of this website is online cargo tracking facility.
At the bottom of the homepage there links provided through which one can access the FAQ’s, Investor relations. About the Airlines etc. The website has been segmented into different pages and it is very easy to access the information it follows all the basic concepts and keep it’s brand name alive. Dave Chaffy in stated some principles which should be followed to design an effective webpage. If the web site is designed on these principles it will be user friendly and Air India website is one of the example of such websites with some exceptions.
If the website is friendly then only the company can retain it’s costumers Air India is one of such website. TRANSACTIONAL FACILITIES: Transactional facilities are one of the important characters of an airline website. As these airline websites are meant for reservations and payment of money usually so transactions are done at a higher rate on these websites. Company should be trusty and should give a durable service and the transactions should be secure Air India has got a data protection service which is present on the website.
It’s a kind of procedure followed while a passengers books a ticket as a measure of extending the security system one should be able to provide all the details of his including Passport number etc by using or becoming a YATRIK ID holder after this the costumer is directed to purchase of ticket where there is a credit card or debit card verification system. The transaction process is very easy after the costumer pays the fare then immediately there will be mail including everything in the costumer’s mail box .
Air India has got a well implemented technology and security features to safe guard the all the personal and transactional details. CONCLUSION: From the above all points we can conclude that Air India is one of the best example for an success full Air Line company operating the website. Website is filed with all the important information what a customer or passenger needs before booking tickets. All the offers and the destinations to which they fly and the shipment tracking facility on line is one of the important and unique feature of the website.
RECOMMENDATIONS: By having a overall look at there are no significant problems with the website except the time taken by the home page to load which is the same case with many pages on the website. For every 10 seconds it takes for the graphics to be loaded before the complete Web page contents can be seen, there is a risk of losing 20% of the viewers (Taylor 1999) so keeping this view point the web page designers should be able to provide a efficient service overcoming this problem. The designers can break up the huge web page into multiple pages (Howe 1999).
REFRENCES: ? www. airindia. in. ? http://www. m-travel. com/news/2007/05/air_india_to_di. html. ? Marketing Management by Philip Kotler Millennium edition. ? A study of Airlines ‘Online Reservations on the Internet Rob Law and Rita Leung. Journal of Travel research 2000;39;202. ? www. datamonitor. com Airlines in India Industry Profile November 2007 edition ,Reference code 0102-0756 ? E commerce Fundamentals and applications Henry chan, Ray Mondlee, Tharam Dillon, Elizabeth Chang 2001.