Impact of Covid-19 on Tourism Industry
Service marketing is a method used to promote the production services among the customers provided in the market. It is a process under which some activities are conducted to enhance the customer experience in the industry and increase brand awareness among consumers (Wirtz and Lovelock 2021). The service organization selected is Expedia group, which is involved in the tourism industry activities all around the world. Expedia Group is an American company that offers travel and tourism services to consumers and conducts small business trips. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry is negatively affected, and due to that the business operations of Expedia group also got affected. This report will analyze the behavior of the customer during the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic all around the world. Along with that the activities conducted under the service blueprint and the flower of service model will also be discussed. This will aid to understand the situation of the Expedia group in the COVID-19 pandemic. The report will cover the gaps between the experience and the demand of the consumers in the tourism industry globally. Recommendations are also provided in the report to monitor the customer experience and will evaluate the activities for providing best quality services.
Figure 1: Domains of services marketing
The COVID-19 pandemic has created global challenges for all the industries worldwide. Especially the tourism industry suffered heavy losses due to the reduction of business operations (Lee and Chen 2022). The data suggest that the tourism industry has observed a steep decline in business operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has lost 2.86 trillion U.S. dollars (Korstanje and George 2022). Worldwide the tourists are facing medical risks due to which the tourism industry is suffering. The operations are heading at a declining pace compared to the business operations before the COVID-19 pandemic. Some countries that depends only the tourism industry faced huge losses due to the pandemic and had suffered difficulties in running business operations across the world (Korstanje and George 2022). Moreover, the developing countries face difficulties in making decisions for growth in the tourism industry due to the revenue loss in the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The downfall of the tourism industry was also witnessed due to some internal and external factors such as social, political, and economical factors.
Moreover the government of the respective countries in the world has imposed tourism sanctions on the business and consumers. They started acting as a barrier to conduct the business operations in the tourism industry. The world tourism sector suffered the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and had faced a huge revenue loss. There is lack of technological advancement in the tourism industry (Chemli, Toanoglou and Valeri 2022). The operations in the COVID-19 pandemic are facing difficulties for providing services to consumers all over the world. It must be noted that some sub-sectors of the tourism industry include aviation, accommodation, food supply chain, and transportation. The subsectors of the tourism industry are also facing challenges due to which they are unable to contribute to the business operations pertaining to the tourism industry. Another challenge that the tourism industry faced is the shortage of staff to conduct business operations for the consumers (Okafor, Khalid and Burzynska 2022). The shortage of staff in the world's tourism industry is due to the medical risk that the people phase because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Challenges Faced by Tourism Industry
Moreover the tourism industry is also facing challenges pertaining to extracting the investments for the growth and development of the business operations worldwide. Due to the pandemic, the operational cost of conducting tourism and travel activities has also increased. The revenue generation has come down for the businesses operating in the tourism industry. The leaders in the companies such as Expedia group are also facing difficulties in forecasting the activities due to the pandemic (Chemli, Toanoglou and Valeri 2022). They are also unable to implement changes in the tourism industry at a rapid rate because of the unpredicted effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people and other industries in the world. Due to this, the companies in the tourism industry have to prepare a fresh framework according to the norms set by the respective governments of the countries. This approach requires a skilled workforce and huge funding that is creating a barrier for companies to conduct business operations in the tourism industry worldwide.
A service blueprint is a pictorial representation of the process through which a consumer passes while availing the services of a company such as Expedia group. There are some significant steps involved in this service blueprint of Expedia group that involve consumers, physical, digital components, and conducting activities for the consumers (Gao et al. 2022). It represents a consumer's journey from the beginning to the end and demonstrates the customer experience after availing of the organization's services. The service blueprint of an organization helps to find issues in delivering the services to the consumers and resolve them on a priority basis. The pandemic has negatively affected in delivering the services to the consumers in the Expedia group. The service blueprint of Expedia group involves some significant steps that help to improve the service is delivering system for the consumers. The first step is to identify how the service to the consumer is being delivered to make adequate modifications to provide better quality services to the consumers (Lloranta and Komppula 2022). For example, delivering services in the Expedia group involves booking from the consumers, providing them adequate transportation and helping them reach their destination safely.
The delivery process of Expedia group needs to be simpler for the consumers without any restrictions due to the pandemic. Offering tourism services to the consumers during the pandemic was difficult because of the policies and procedures that the government implements all across the world. The next component in this service blueprint of Expedia group is to identify and analyze the gaps (Kontis and Skoultsos 2022). The customers face difficulties in availing of these services in the tourism industry. The gaps occurring due to the pandemic in conducting the business operations by Expedia group are ensuring maximum safety to the consumers who are availing of the company's services. It is analyzed that proper documentation of vaccination of the consumers is insured, and all the medical equipment such as gloves and face masks are provided while conducting the business operations in the tourism industry. Another component in the service blueprint of Expedia group is establishing the time frame for the particular activities offered to the consumers in the tourism industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the timely completion of services to the consumers. The consumers in the tourism industry and Expedia group have to follow all the policies and procedures related to the COVID-19 pandemic that increase the time of delivering these services worldwide (Szende and Dalton 2021). The last component in this service blueprint of Expedia group is to analyze and increase the profit share while conducting the tourism industry activities for the consumers in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the cost of operations in the tourism industry because of various sanctions that the government implements worldwide. In this crisis, Expedia group is trying to increase its profit share by expanding its customer base in different parts of the world and using the most technologically advanced equipment to conduct activities in the tourism industry (Krasnodebski 2020).
Service Blueprint of Expedia Group
The flower of service model demonstrates some significant facilitating and enhancing services for improving the production services offered to the consumers in the market. The facilitating services in the model include information, order-taking, billing and payment. On the other hand, enhancing services include consultation, safe keeping, exceptions, and hospitality (Ahmad, Kakeesh and Abuhashesh 2022). All the eight services provided under the flower of service model helps to improve the delivery process of services of Expedia group in the tourism industry of the world. The service delivery process of Expedia group involves some significant steps such as booking the services from the website, providing information about traveling and making the payment for availing the services etc. (Wirtz and Lovelock 2022). There is also a gap between the needs and wants of the customers and what they get while availing the services of Expedia group. While availing the services of Expedia group, customers expect personalization in booking tickets and making payments. In the experience, customers cannot modify the needs and requirements according to the trip chosen. In the delivery process of Expedia group, the customers expect communication channels without any barrier during availing of the company's services (Wirtz and Lovelock 2021). The need and demands of the consumers are to build an effective engagement network among these staff and the consumers for the smooth flow of the information within the organization.
Figure 2: The flower of service model
Moreover, the customers that are availing the services of the tourism industry expect innovation in the sector along with the inclusion of advanced technological equipment. The customer wants constant innovation in the technology to be included in their travelling activities. Moreover, the customer wants the company to impress them by introducing new production services in the industry at the minimum cost possible. Another expectation of consumers in the tourism industry from Expedia group is the safety and security of data provided to them while booking the travelling activities (Villiers, Woodside and Tipgomut 2022). The customer wants to make trust a priority while availing of the services in the tourism industry. The confidential data is provided to them while making a booking; the customer wants the data to be protected throughout the activities that are conducted during their travel. By using the flower in service model, the Expedia group tries to close the gap made while offering tourism and travelling services to the customers worldwide. Expedia group provides effective training to the employees to solve the customers' issues regarding travel and tourism activities to close the gap. It is trying to recruit interactive employees who can understand the customers' problems and cannot solve them first hand (Mustafa, Samsudin and Abdullah 2021). According to the flower of Service model, the enhancing service of providing consultation is being conducted by Expedia group to resolve all the customers' issues in the tourism industry. The consultation provided to the customers includes the activities of technical consulting and appropriate information about the activities that are being made offered to them. Moreover, to solve the customer's issues, improvement is also made in security and safety.
Gaps between Consumer Experience and Demand
After analysing the above discussion, here are some significant recommendations that can enhance the experience of the customers while availing the services of Expedia group (Kim and Kim 2022). The first recommendation is to provide fast and convenient customer support to solve all the issues faced by the customers. It is important to value the customers' time and to provide them effective customer support to enhance their experience. Another recommendation that is being made to enhance the customers' experience is to actively ask for feedback after availing of the services of Expedia group. The feedback about the services that the consumers avail helps to make modifications and enhance the delivery process of services to the consumers (Pop et al. 2022). Moreover, the customers' feedback about the services is passed on to all the other departments in the company to improve the delivery process. A considerate reply is also made to the consumers about the feedback they make. It is important to enhance the customer experience in the Expedia group to focus on customer complaints and solve the issues most effectively.
One of the most significant recommendations for monitoring the customer experience is to adopt a quality monitoring method that helps evaluate the activities conducted for them. It helps to increase the interaction with the customers and identify the skill gap used to evaluate the customer's overall experience while availing of the travel and tourism industry services (Armas, Gil and Morini 2022). Moreover, it is important to monitor the customer experience to make continuous improvements in the delivery process according to the needs and wants of the customers in the market. The feedback that the customers give after availing services can be used to enhance the customer experience and analyze the activities conducted by them while availing the services. Another recommendation is to measure the outcomes of the activities conducted for the customers in the travel and tourism industry (Mustafa, Samsudin and Abdullah 2021). It helps to analyse the progress that is made by the company in providing services to the customers and to evaluate the performance with the help of the collected data.
For gathering customer feedback, it is important to conduct customer satisfaction score surveys that help gather the customer's opinion. Customer satisfaction score service is a method used to collect customer feedback according to their rating for availing the services in the tourism and travelling industry. Another recommendation for collecting feedback from the customers is to conduct customer interviews based on the customer's experience (Kumbhojkar and Menon 2022). Some particular questions are framed in advance that the customer asks to collect feedback about the available services in the market. The customer interviews are for a short period used to collect the data about the customers' opinions on the experience of availing services. Another recommendation for Expedia group is to collect the customers' feedback through transactional emails (Korstanje and George 2022). These emails are designed to ask for the customers' feedback and their experience that help to make adequate adjustments in the delivery process of the production services offered to them in the market.
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