Travel services include different paid ways of transportation including roadways, railways, and air travel regulated by government agencies, public limited companies, or commercial operators.
The three major transport modes in India are railways, roadways, and airlines. Railways, the most used mode of transport, have also witnessed the increased level of competition which was otherwise experiencing a monopoly business in India.
This resulted in railways offering better and upgraded services as per customer needs and demands. Railway Board controls railway operations through various divisions in the country.
Ministry of Railways of the Government of India totally manages the operations of railways in India.
In spite of the fact that each state government in every state across India manages its road transportation, road transportation in India is totally fragmented.
There is no central authority in the country that manages or directs the transport industry on a commercial basis.
Likewise, the airline industry in the country is entirely being operated in the private sector under open competitive conditions apart from the government airlines that function as a corporation under the name and brand of Air India.
Market Segmentation of Travel Services
It is very important to know and understand the specialties and preferences of the target customers for an organization that offers travel services.
This is because the choice of means of transportation differs from person to person. Hence, identifying the needs and requirements of a specific customer segment will be helpful for organizations to develop and allocate resources in a better way.
There are various segments of customers who use travel services such as rural people, urban people, youth, men, women, people from agriculture and industries, etc.
The expectations and behavior of all these users are different. Therefore, market segmentation becomes important in this ever-changing environment of business and socio-economic situation.
One of the traditional means of transportation in India is the railways. The different parts of our country are connected through railways and it is therefore called the arteries of India.
In fact, rural people get an identity with the help of railways. On the other hand, the road transport industry in India is fragmented.
It is because the road transportation system of every state is managed by the respective state transport authority.
Road transportation within and outside the state is managed by the same state government. There are, however, a number of private corporations and undertakings that operate and manage road transport in some states.
However, licenses and permits are required to be obtained from the respective state transportation authority for such operations.
The private corporations and undertakings are now looking after air transportation to a great degree. The only government-operated airline that runs in some internal regions of India is the Indian Airlines, although the Indian government is slowly withdrawing it.
Due to that reason, Air India which was earlier used for international transportation has now extended its operations in India and Indian Airlines has been merged into it.
Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways are some popular private business class airlines operating in India. There are also some private economy class airlines such as Indigo, GoAir, etc., that operate throughout the country.
Therefore, air tariffs and the benefits provided by the airlines can be the basis of segmenting air transportation.
Marketing Mix of Travel Services
The elements of the marketing mix for travel services are explained below:
1. Product: Travel services are engaged in transporting customers from one place to another while providing essential safety, comfort, speed, promptness, and economy.
Thus the core product of the travel services is transportation. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, value-added services like food, drinking water, air conditioner, blankets, etc., are also provided by the service provider during the journey.
2. Price: Most of the Indian passengers (especially from rural areas) are price sensitive. The state roadways and local private operators receive great support from the customers of the rural segment due to their low prices.
Private operators are not allowed to fix fares for themselves as they are settled by the government contracts. The price fares of airline services have gone through intense evaluation due to the substantial increase in the price of turbine fuels.
In addition to the basic fare, airline services charge additional costs for other services such as baggage, class of seating, choice of seats, dine-in on the flight, etc.
3. Place: This element of the marketing mix is linked with the channels through which travel services are distributed and offered to the customers.
Indian railway services are usually provided through computerized railway counters, online booking e-portals, and travel agents, mobile SMS, and third-party mobile applications.
Similarly, roadways and airlines services use similar channels for providing their services. However, in contrary to private road transport operators, the state road transport system needs up-gradation in their booking facility systems.
4. People: For a long time, the most significant part of the services has been ignored by the Indian rail and road transport and travel services.
Eventually, both sectors realize the importance of people. The focus of Indian railways has increased towards the training and development of its people regarding how they can sensitively and effectively handle the customers and maintain the right attitude towards them.
Similarly, various state roadways have initiated training programs and workshops with the main focus on customer dealing.
People in travel businesses are now being trained about how they can handle the customers at strategic points where customer encounters and moments of truth occur.
Likewise, airline companies are also training their people and making them conscious of the importance of customers.
5. Promotion: Since travel is the basic need, people travel regardless of whether or not they are influenced by the promotional campaigns or branding of the transport.
Thus, promotion does not play a critical role in road and rail transport. In countries like India, rail and road transport are presented as social activities for public welfare and thus any type of promotional activity is aimed at representing the Indian railways and state transport organizations as social organizations.
However, there has been increasing in competition as private travel companies are also coming into the picture and many people prefer private travel services instead of government transport.
Private travel companies also promote their services by advertising in the local outdoor media such as newspapers, hoardings, paintings, and posters at bus terminals, bus boards, etc.
6. Process: In the up-gradation of the process of transport services, technology is crucial. An online booking facility has been provided by IRCTC through which passengers can book their e-tickets.
Also, more information kiosks and reservation counters have been opened in order to assist customers more effectively.
Railway services have also used mobile telephone services for facilitating greater help to the passengers and make the process more convenient.
In the case of airlines, there has been a radical shift in the process. All the major airports in India have been renovated and international airports have been launched to bring the international travel experience in the domestic flying system for the customers.
7. Physical Evidence: In the case of physical evidence, airlines have taken the first place as they provide better-waiting facilities and lounges at the airports.
Airports have facilities for providing high-class food and beverages facilities to their customers. Passengers can rest in lounges, eat-in food courts, and can also do duty-free shopping at the airports.
In the case of railways and roadways transport services, physical evidence in terms of providing convenience to the passengers is yet not developed in all places in the nation.
However, railway stations in India are also equipped with restaurants, restrooms, waiting for lounges, as well as dormitories.