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Market and situation analysis

Describe about the Report For Sofitel Hotel of Multinational Group.

Accor hotel is a multinational group of hotels and resorts that operate in over 90 countries across the globe. This group was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in France. This group manages hotels that range from economical and budget-friendly hotels to five-star hotels. The economy brands that are part of the Accor group include Hotel f1, Ibis budget, Ibis styles. The midscale brands that are part of the Accor group include Mercure, Novotel, and Adagio.

Sofitel is a luxury brand that has its presence in five continents and over 40 countries. This brand was founded in 1964 and is headquartered in France. Sofitel is a hotel chain that is part of the Accor group. This hotel chain has won several awards. The Sofitel hotels offer every facility that the guests can think of like complimentary Wi-Fi, play station, private pool, LCD/ LED television set, CD player, cordless telephone, microwave, refrigerator etc. The hotels offer exquisite facilities like 24-hours front desk service, facilities for physically challenged people, spa & beauty treatment area, Jacuzzi, salon, gymnasium, barbeque, bars, kids’ entertainment section, option for babysitting, currency exchange centre, business centre, option for private chef, express laundry, florist, library, medical services, travel desk, water sports, option for chauffeur etc. It caters to people who wish to experience fine dining, luxury and  spas (Weinstein, 2014). The hotels have highly professional, skilled and friendly staff members. Sofitel focuses on customer relationship management.

Market analysis is done to analyse the attractiveness of the market related to a particular industry. A market analysis helps a brand to take decisions related to investments in terms of inventory, manpower, machinery, promotional activities and technology. Based on the market analysis, the brands make an assessment of the future opportunities and threats in relation to their strengths and weaknesses(Milfelner & Korda, 2011). Following are some of the elements of market analysis:

The size of the market- It takes into consideration the sales volume of a particular market which further depends on upon the number of customers and their demands. It is equally important to understand the market potential by taking into account the potential customers.

Prevailing trends in the market- It is important to be informed about the changes in the technology, social conditions, legal system, regulations, economic factors, political conditions as they responsible for opportunities as well as threats. Various techniques like test marketing, risk analysis, customer feedback analysis, competitor analysis are used to understand the market trends.

Brand and ownership

Distribution channels available in the market- It takes into consideration the existing and emerging distribution channels (Padmanabhan, 2008).

The scope of profitability- Factors like the power of customers, the power of suppliers, entry barriers for an industry, economies of scale, access to high-quality/ low-cost resources, the rivalry between brands in the same industry, the threat of substitutes etc. determine the profitability in a particular industry.

The growth rate of the market- The difference between the actual market volume and the potential volume gives an estimate of the market growth. The adoption rate for similar products/ services can use to analyse the market growth rate (Tsai, 2006) .

Pricing trends within the industry- It is important to understand how pricing for products/ services is done within an industry. Setting the prices too high will lead to loss of customers, whereas setting the prices too low will lead to a negative perception in the minds of the customers regarding the quality of products/ services.

For the project, a number of drivers can be used for demand generation-promotions through online and offline modes, the introduction of attractive packages and discounts like complimentary breakfast for 2 people, get 10% discount on a stay for two people in November (Sen & Kaushik, 2016). In order to analyse the demand for a hotel, the market can be divided into various categories- commercial, leisure, extended stay etc. Commercial demand takes into account the business travels. The hotel should have a tie-up with the corporate offices in close proximity so that those corporate houses prefer only our hotel for their clients and visitors. The hotel should also start a loyalty program in the commercial category. Extended stay demand takes into account those customers who require accommodation for more than five days. People who visit the place for a research project or construction project fall under this category ("What is Marketing Analysis?", 2015). Leisure demand takes into account the individuals and families that visit a place for travel purpose. They will require an accommodation when they visit Sydney for a vacation or visiting their relatives/ friends. Leisure demand is strongest during weekends, summers and holiday periods. It mainly depends on upon the disposable income of customers.

Sydney central business district is the main commercial area of Sydney. It is the main financial and economic centre of Australia.  Some of the largest companies in Australia are a situation in this location. Head offices of many multinational companies are situated in this region. Offices of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Allianz, Citibank, Westpac etc. are situated in this location. Queen Victoria Building is situated in the heart of Sydney CBD which is a very popular shopping destination. There are various tourist attractions in Sydney like Sydney Harbor Bridge, Darling Harbor, Watsons Bay thus tourists visit this location every year (Serafini & Szamosi, 2015). This location is well-connected to other parts of Sydney by buses, ferries, and railways. Thus, this would be an ideal location for opening a Softie hotel.

Internal analysis

It is very important to have an assessment of the financial, technical, infrastructural and human resources that are available and have an estimation of these parameters regarding their future requirements (Serafini & Szamosi, 2015).

PEST (Political, Economic, Socio-cultural and Technological) analysis is generally done to analyse the external factors that affect the brand’s decision making and strategy formulation.

Political factors- These factors include the attitude of political parties towards trade, the level of democracy and political stability within the country of operation. It also takes into consideration the employment laws, minimum wage laws, trade regulations/ restrictions imposed by the government, tax-related rules, consumer protection laws, rules regarding mergers/ acquisitions (Zulkurnain & Kaur, 2014). The Australian government is very encouraging towards the hospitality and tourism industry.

Economic factors- These factors include the income distribution, economic condition of different segments of the population, the level of employment, purchasing power, the price of raw materials, the growth rate of the economy, inflation rate, interest rate, exchange rate, monetary policies, etc. Since the income distribution is uneven, the lower income segment of the population cannot afford the facilities provided by a luxury hotel. In Sydney, the level of literacy and employment is high, the growth rate of the economy is high and the purchasing power of customers is high (Zulkurnain & Kaur, 2014). Thus Sydney will be a suitable location for the Sofitel hotel.

Socio- cultural factors- These factors include demographic factors, the perception of people towards themselves, traditions, beliefs, the lifestyle of people, the growth rate of the population, living standards and level of education. The role of media is also taken into consideration (Simons & Hinkin, 2001). In Sydney, people are very conscious of their lifestyle and their standard of living. Customers are aware of what is happening in other parts of the world.

Technological factors- These factors include changes in information & technology, the amount of money spent on Research and Development, the introduction of e-commerce, new manufacturing techniques, changes in logistics, the rate at which innovations are happening and pace at which technological changes are being accepted. In Australia, a lot of money is being invested in the field of hospitality and tourism. With the advent of technology, internet penetration is quite high in Australia. Thus online marketing is the most preferred mode of marketing (Simons & Hinkin, 2001). Mobile applications have become very popular. Technology has resulted in a faster exchange of information among the stakeholders. Since the majority of people in Australia have access to the internet, online marketing should be used for the promotion of the Sofitel hotel.

PEST analysis

Porter’s five forces model (refer figure 1) helps to analyse the level of competition within the hospitality industry and the attractiveness of the hospitality industry. Attractiveness refers to the overall profitability of the industry. An attractive hospitality industry does not mean that every hotel will have the same profitability. Hotels can make use of their competencies and innovative business models to achieve high profits. Following are the five forces that affect the competitiveness of a brand:

Rivalry among existing competitors- The rivalry among competitors in the hospitality industry is fierce. Today, people have access to the internet where they can compare the prices and services offered by different hotels. Intense competition can lead to price and promotion wars. Hotels reduce their prices and offer attractive packages in order to stay ahead of rivals. The Internet has the ability to cover large geographical areas, thus increasing the competition.

The threat of new entrants- The initial investment to set up a hotel is one entry barrier. The second barrier is the ability to differentiate on the basis of location, staff, quality of services, quality of food, ambiance, brand image etc. Thus, it is very difficult for new entrants to enter the luxury hotel market.

The threat of substitutes- In the hospitality industry, the threat of substitutes is high. You can find a hotel at every corner of Sydney. These hotels have different price ranges, different ambiances, and levels of services. This gives customers a number of alternatives. It is possible for one hotel chain to attract the customer base of other hotel chains with innovative marketing campaigns. It is important to entice the customers to choose your hotel over other hotels.

Bargaining power of buyer- In the hospitality industry, the bargaining power of buyers is very high. With the advent of technology, it has become very easy for customers to book a hotel online. They do not need any middlemen or travel agents to help them in choosing a hotel. The cost of switching is very low in this industry. Thus, it is very important for a hotel to create an everlasting impression on the minds of customers with unique differentiators.

The bargaining power of suppliers- The bargaining power of suppliers in the hospitality industry is low. The hospitality industry is known for its services that manpower is the backbone of this industry. Thus the staffs are the in-charge of daily operations. A hotel relies on suppliers for kitchen ingredients, liquor, linen, beddings etc.

Porter’s Five Force Model

Figure 1: Porter’s Five Force Model

SWOT analysis takes into consideration the issues that internal and external to a brand. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the brand, whereas opportunities and threats are external to the brand. The analysis of these internal and external issues helps a brand to determine whether the existing strategies will help the brand to achieve its objectives or not.

Strengths- These include the positive attributes of the hotel that are within the control of the hotel and lead to profitability like brand recognition, human resources, suppliers, favourable physical location, quality of services etc.

Weaknesses- These include negative attributes that hamper the growth of the hotel like limited access to technology, lack of marketing strategies, poor inventory management, lack of online presence etc.

Opportunities- These include the factors that motivate a hotel and if explored properly, these factors can give the hotel an edge over its competitors like changing preference towards fine dining, use of online promotional techniques, upcoming social events/ festivals and holidays etc.

Threats- These include a factor that is not within the control of the hotel and can pose risks for the hotel like an increase in prices of kitchen ingredients from suppliers, negative media coverage, change in government regulations, new tax-related laws, a price war among competitors etc.

A brand is accountable to all its shareholders and stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers, investors, government agencies, non-governmental organizations). Stakeholders can be segregated into primary and secondary stakeholders. Primary stakeholders are those stakeholders that are directly affected by the decisions/ activities of the brand and are involved in some economic transactions with the brand e.g. employees; customers, investors, suppliers etc. thus are extremely valuable for a brand.

Customers can be defined as those primary stakeholders that buy the goods/ services provided by a company/ brand and help the organization in earning profits. A company/ brand can increase brand loyalty by maximizing the value-creation either by providing products at a lower cost in comparison to its competitors or by providing top-notch quality of products and services (Karadag, 2006). Employees work for a company/ brand in exchange for monetary and non-monetary benefits. Their time and hard-work can be credited to the growth and success of a company/ brand.

Capital can be considered as the lifeline of a company as without capital even the day-to-day operations of the company can be hampered. Thus, each and every investor is valuable to the company. Suppliers provide raw material and equipment/ machinery for the company as the specifications mentioned by the company. Secondary stakeholders include the general public, support groups, media, government etc. who are not involved in economic transactions with the brand. Special groups play a vital role in changing corporate behaviour by taking up issues ranging from working conditions for employees to environmental pollution (Hope, 2003). It is the responsibility of the brand to maximize value creation for all its shareholders, stakeholders and the general public for the sustenance of brand image and market share.

A public relation is an effective tool that is being used for strategic communication. Public Relations are used to increase awareness about the brand and improve customer perception towards the brand. It helps to evaluate the attitude of the general public and gain their acceptance. “Public” refers to the people with whom a brand interacts directly or indirectly- customers, employees, investor, suppliers, media, government organizations and non-governmental organizations. Sofitel hotel should use tools like press conference, press release and interaction with the target audience. The hotel should have its own website that will have all details of the services/ facilities it offers and the terms and conditions that need to be followed.

It is imperative to set goals/ objectives in order to measure the impact of the marketing and communication strategy adopted for the hotel. Since the Sofitel hotel is being opened in Sydney CBD, the main objective of the marketing plan should be to increase awareness about the brand among people and encourage people to visit the hotel to experience world-class food and services (Koch & Nafziger, 2011).

The objectives/ goals for the marketing plan should be SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Timely). The outcomes of the goal should be quantitatively measurable. The impact of the marketing plan can be measured by calculating the % increase in awareness level and % increase in the visitor level (Bipp & Kleingeld, 2011). 6 months should be taken as the time constraint for measuring the impact and effectiveness of the communication plan.

Competitor analysis is done to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the existing and potential competitors. This also helps in identifying the threats and scope of opportunities. On the basis of competitor analysis, formulation, implementation, and monitoring of strategies are done. Competitor analysis can be done through the annual shareholder reports published by the competitors, press releases by competitors, capital investments done by competitors, investment in Research & Development, mergers, and acquisitions and promotional activities (Albayrak, 2015). Competitor analysis can also be done by analysing the websites of the competitors and their pages on social networking sites. Following are the main objectives of competitor analysis:

Listing of brands operating in the same market and targeting the same segment of customers.

Understanding the objectives and capabilities of the competitors

Understanding the strategies formulated by the competitors.

Understanding how the competitors will react to the brand’s decisions and actions (Albayrak, 2015).

Competitor analysis helps to create detailed profiles for the major competitors within the given industry. Following elements are involved in competitor profiling:

The background of the competitor: It includes the presence of the brand both online and offline, history of the brand, mission, vision, values and brand’s organizational structure (Albayrak, 2015).

The product portfolio of the competitor: It includes the list of existing products/ services offered by the brand, development of new products/ services, patents, licenses, investment in Research & Development.

Financial stability: It includes profit growth rate, asset versus liability ratio, dividend policy, the liquidity of funds, cash flow etc(Guolin Sun, Jie Chen, Wei Guo, & Liu, 2005).

Human resources: It includes the number of employees, skills/ expertise of employees, remuneration offered to employees, the level of employee involvement, the level of employee satisfaction, management style etc.

Promotional techniques- It includes target customers, market share, brand awareness, brand loyalty, the budget for promotional activities, distribution channels, modes of promotion both online and offline, positioning strategy, pricing strategy, product bundling technique.

In addition to the existing competitors, it is important to keep a track of the potential competitors. The probability of potential competitor’s increases when the barriers to entry are low, demand is higher in comparison to the supply, the competition between the existing brands is low and profit margins are highest in the industry. Following are the major sources of potential competitors:

Brands dealing with a related range of products/ services.

Brands using similar technologies.

Brands targeting the same market segment, but with complementary or substitute products/ services.

Brands operating from different geographical locations, but dealing with similar products/ services

New start-ups managed by former employees of existing competitors (Aung, 2000).

In today’s competitive world, hotels are making strategic moves to gain advantages over their competitors. A strategy is basically a plan of action that is chosen to achieve the desired objectives after analysing the internal and external factors affecting the business while taking the uncertainties into consideration (Aung, 2000). These days’ hotels try to gain leadership in terms of customer experience, pricing of food/ services and quality of food/ services. Hotels strive to provide unique value to the customers on the basis of cost or differentiation (customer experience, innovation, quality of services etc.).

Competitive advantage (refer figure 2) is based on the key strengths that are specific to the brand like staff management, inventory management, technology, which results in enhanced efficiency, reduced overall costs, and superior quality. Capabilities and resources are the prominent factors that help a brand to attain competitive advantage.  An edge, over the competitor’s leads to an increased profitability (Aung, 2000). Following are the major factors that result in superior value creation for the customers:

Human Resource- Staff plays a vital role in a service based industry. It is imperative to have a strong HR department that takes care of selecting, training and motivating the staff and maintains a healthy work culture. This would certainly help in improving the staff productivity and customer services.

Logistics- Luxury hotels make use of a standardized procurement process for items like kitchen ingredients, liquor, linens, beddings, souvenir good, furniture etc.

Information system- Information system in the hospitality industry is used to keep a check on financial data, inventory levels, dealing with customer responses/ inquiries and customer bookings (Bhabra, 2007). It helps to manage the payment and billing system. It helps in maintaining a centralized database regarding prices and availability of rooms through travel agents, booking sites and reservation at the hotel reception.

Infrastructure and facilities- Luxury hotels have large conference halls, internet facilities, spas, gymnasium, recreation/ gaming areas, pools, salons etc. apart from the rooms and dining areas.

Building blocks of competitive advantage

Figure 2: Building blocks of competitive advantage

Market segmentation is critical for making a strategic marketing plan. Segmentation is a technique that is used to divide the entire market available for the industry into small sections where customers belonging to one section have the similar needs/ demands/ aspirations/ priorities and respond in a similar way to a marketing initiative. Segmentation can be done on the basis of geography, demography, behaviour, socioeconomic factors, psychological factors, and awareness. A target audience is selected on the basis of segments. Segmentation is done with the purpose of gaining a competitive advantage (Blocher, 2007). It helps a brand to make maximum utilization of the available resources and offer different products to different customer segments. Due to globalization, brands make use of cross-cultural approaches and cross-national approach. Following are the different approaches for segmentation:

Segmentation on the basis of geography- Market can be segmented on the basis of continent, countries, states, cities, postal codes, climatic conditions etc.

Segmentation on the basis of demography- Market can be segmented on the basis of gender, age, income, ethnicity, educational level, religion, culture, social class, occupation etc.

Segmentation on the basis of behaviour- Market can be segmented on the basis of perception, knowledge, brand loyalty, user status, usage rate etc (Blocher, 2007).

Segmentation on the basis of lifestyle- Market can be segmented on the basis of customer interests, spending patterns, activities, values, attitude etc.

Targeting strategy takes into consideration the diversity in customer and different offerings are made on the basis of market segments. Same taglines and promotional activities should entice the customers belonging to the same target segment. Brands use marketing strategies to target customers. After selecting the target customers, the brands try to create top-of-mind recall and brand loyalty by creating a positive image/ perception of the products offered by the brand against the products offered by its competitors. This is known as positioning. Positioning is very important in competitive markets, especially for low-involvement decisions. A positioning statement is used in every written communication to the stakeholders that helps to distinguish the brand from its competitors by citing the brand’s credibility, relevance, and factual information so that it influences the buying decision of target customers.

For this project, the people of Australia and the tourists visiting Australia should be targeted on the basis of geography. On the basis of demography, people who are unmarried/ married, live in urban areas and are falling in the age group of 18-40 years should be targeted. Educated people who fall in the high-income bracket and who are ready to spend on leisure activities should be targeted. Those people should be a target who enjoys fine dining. The positioning statement for this project should be- “Our hotel takes luxury to a different level. We value our customers. Our exquisite décor, genuine hospitality and attention to details will turn your moments into memories. It is a perfect option for people with gourmet tastes.”

The presentation (layout, colours, fonts.) and the content of the communication message play a very important role in determining the impact and effectiveness of the communication plan. All the online and offline communications should have the message- “Our hotel takes luxury to a different level. We value our customers. Our exquisite décor, genuine hospitality and attention to details will turn your moments into memories. It is a perfect option for people with gourmet tastes.” (Chen et al., 2011) The message should have images of how the hotel will look from the exterior as well as from the interior. Pictures of the lobby, dining area, spas and rooms should be used. The message should include facts like pricing and services offered by the hotel that makes it exclusive and hard to imitate. The message should be designed in such a way that it leaves a lasting impression on the minds of viewers and it entices the viewers to visit the hotel at least once.

The following marketing tools are generally used by brands in order to accomplish their communication objectives: advertising, direct marketing, internet marketing, sales promotion, publicity/ public relations and personal selling. Integrated Marketing Communication means using a set of different marketing tools for accomplishing the desired objectives where all the tools convey the same meaning(Chen et al., 2011). For the Sofitel hotel, advertisements, internet marketing and public relations should be used that includes both online and offline modes of communication.

Following are the merits of using PR strategies:

Credibility: People consider PR, communications to be more reliable/ credible than other marketing tools. For example, a blog or an article in the newspaper giving positive reviews about the interior design and the quality of food/ services provided by the Sofitel hotel will be considered to be more credible than the advertisement of the hotel on a billboard(Connor, 2003). People also tend to pay more attention towards PR activities because there is a lot of clutter in the advertisement world.

Cost: The cost that a brand has to incur in PR activities is far less than the cost that the brand has to incur for giving advertisements.

In the world of advertisements (both online and offline), appeals are used to convey the message: emotional and rational appeal. In rational appeal only facts/figures are stated, whereas in emotional appeal advertisements use different emotions like fear, affection, joy, nostalgia, guilt, pleasure and comfort. For the Sofitel hotel, the emotional appeal should be used- People should come and stay in the Sofitel hotel with their family during their vacations (Tatar & Eren-ErdoÄŸmuÅŸ, 2016). They should relax, unwind and pamper themselves. A renowned personality (actor, politician or sportsperson) can be asked to be a part of the promotional campaign.

Before directing the promotional messages towards the target audience, media planning needs to be done which includes the following elements

Medium: A medium (the internet, newspaper, magazines, radio, television) needs to be selected for advertisements. For Sofitel hotel, internet, television, and newspaper should be used for advertising (Lee & Oh, 2013).

Media vehicle: Media vehicle is the specific tool that is selected within the given medium. For this hotel, advertisements should be given in the Daily Updates newspaper, The Travel & Stay Guide channel on television (Lee & Oh, 2013).

Reach and Frequency: The coverage of a geographical area comprises the reach. Frequency is the number of times in a day the viewer is exposed to an advertisement. In this project, the advertisement should be given in the selected newspaper once in a month and once in 2 days on the selected television channel(E. Dobbs, 2014).

For marketing through online mode, social networking sites like Face book and Twitter should be used for promoting the hotel and banner advertisements should appear if a person visits a website related to travel and tourism.

It is very important to analyse the effectiveness of the marketing strategy because a lot of costs is involved in the promotion activities for a brand. It is meaningless to spend such a huge amount of money if the campaign does not achieve its objectives. Alternate marketing strategies should be considered if the chosen marketing mix is unable to achieve the objectives(Chen et al., 2011).

Following techniques should be used to measure the effectiveness of advertisements:

Consumer surveys regarding awareness: Once the hotel gets inaugurated and people become exposed to advertisements, surveys should be conducted at an interval of 2 months to measure the percentage increase in the awareness levels and percentage increase in visitor level.

Recall test: A random sample of people belonging to the target segment should be taken and they should be asked to recall the message and appeal of the advertisement(E. Dobbs, 2014).

Following techniques should be used to measure the effectiveness of PR program:

Total number of impressions over a time period of 1 month

Percentage increase in the number of positive articles/ posts/ remarks over 1 month

Percentage increase in the number of negative articles/ posts/ remarks over 2 month

Ratio of positive to negative articles or posts or remarks over 1 month

The impact of online communication should be monitored by measuring the volume of visitors on the website of Sofitel hotel and number of posts/ hits/ likes/ shares on social media like Face book and Twitter  (Tatar & Eren-ErdoÄŸmuÅŸ, 2016) .

Conclusion

Strategies related to marketing, operations, inventory and supply chain should be formulated according to the market analysis, competitor analysis, and internal analysis in order to gain a competitive advantage. Advertising, public relations, and internet marketing will help Sofitel hotel to attract customers and manage to acquire a market share (Connor, 2003). The marketing mix should strive to create a positive public image so that the target customer base visits the hotel to experience a royal treatment and even recommend the hotel to their friends and family. The prime focus of the hotel should be on the quality of food and services so that the customers are forced to revisit the hotel. Undoubtedly, excellent customer experience is the key to succeeding in the hospitality industry.

Sofitel hotel should make use of the internet for promotional activities and for interacting with the stakeholders through its website, blogs, social networking sites etc. The website should be created in such a way that it conveys a sense of luxurious and pampering experience and encourages bookings. The overall marketing strategy should lend a sense of exclusivity. It is imperative to hire skilled, experienced and efficient employees.

Proper training should be given to the staff in order to enhance their knowledge, skills, and efficiency. It should provide lucrative salary packages, other non-monetary benefits, rewards on the basis of performance in order to motivate them and increase their productivity. The hotel should maintain high standards of room service, cleanliness, food taste and plating. The hotel should have a strong information system in order to maintain a database of the customers visiting the hotel and having real-time access to information related to online bookings, customer queries, customer feedback etc. The hotel should a proper inventory management mechanism(Connor, 2003). It is very important to have a reliable forecasting system because the hotel makes use of ingredients that are not readily available. The hotel should choose the suppliers for kitchen ingredients very wisely.

The quality of kitchen ingredients should be given more value than the price of kitchen ingredients. For improving customer experience, feedback should be taken from every customer that visits the hotel regarding their likes, dislikes, and scope for improvement. Loyalty programs should be used to increase the cost of switching especially for the commercial category of customers comprising of business travellers.

References

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