Recent years have seen a drastic surge in the intensity of competition among businesses operating in the same field (Smith & Taylor 2004). The surge is attributable to increased levels of customer service, reduction in barriers to entry, as well as advances in technology. Consequently, businesses in various parts of the world have been forced to remain innovative for the purpose of their short- and long-term sustainability. Christian (2004) indicates that through strategic development, organizations, such as travel agents, are able to cultivate relationship with existing and potential customers. It is, therefore, important that marketing be incorporated effectively in all activities, in order to ensure that organizations achieve their objectives, such as increasing the number of customers. Picktton & Masterson (2010) argue that marketing entails positioning of the right service or product in the right time and at prices that match the perceived value of all potential and existing customers. However, it is important to note that there is a significant difference between companies marketing products and services. According to Moorthi (2003), when a firm markets a service, it needs to instill high level of confidence and trust in customers. The need for instilling confidence stems the fact that customers obtain a promised result rather than a physical product in exchange for their money (Dhar & Rashi 2003).
When marketing a service, one needs to build reliability and trust with all customers (Smith & Taylor 2004). Through this, the level of loyalty among customers will increase, thus resulting in increased sales revenues, which in most cases translates into higher profits. To attain this, firms specializing in service delivery can engage in market segmentation (Wenderroth 2009). Customers of various ages, economic, social and geographical backgrounds have diverse needs, and, therefore, will have to be grouped accordingly. The present paper seeks to plan a one-week holiday for two couples in Venice, Italy, through Global Travel International travel agency.
Backgrounds of the Couples
Being newly wedded, Couple A are considering spending a week of their honeymoon in Venice, Italy. Couple B is comprised of the wife’s parents interested in going to Venice during the same time, i.e. from Thursday 30th August through Thursday 6th September 2012. It is worth noting that Couple A seeks romance and indulgence and they want to spend most of the time together enjoying the company of each other, while still getting to see the sights and enjoy the tastes of Italy. On the other hand, Couple B is more focused on a luxury holiday and seeks to explore the history and culture of Venice. The paper will justify the travel and accommodation arrangements made by Park Viaggi travel agency, based on the 7Ps of marketing, such as product, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical evidence.
Background of the City of Venice
Located in the northeastern part of Italy, Venice is composed of 118 small islands, which are separated by canals and joined by bridges (Garrett 2006). The city is built on an archipelago of four islands in the Venetian Lagoon between the mouths of the Paive and Po Rivers. Garrett (2006) indicates that Venice is well renowned for its splendid artworks and architecture. The city and its lagoon were listed a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. Venice, which serves as a center for Veneto region, is included in the PATREVE (the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area), together with Treviso and PaduaCity. In 2009, the population of Venice was estimated at more than 270,000, which accounted for 16.85% of all residents of the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (Garrett 2006). The city is known for some crucial artistic movements, such as the Renaissance period. Being the birth place of Antonio Vivaldi, it also played a critical role in molding the history of opera and music (Garrett 2006).
The two sets of clients (Couple A and B) will be travelling separately from Tokyo, Japan, to Venice, Italy. While in Italy, Park Viaggi travel agency will offer them Venice naturalistic itineraries, as well as other vocational packages. Both couples will be staying in DonaPalace, a 4-star hotel located in the city center.
Detailed Itinerary for Couple A
The diversity of Venice is such that one can venture on ultimate life-changing adventures at relatively affordable rates. For Couple A to be able to fully enjoy each other’s company, see the sights and enjoy the taste of Italy, a detailed itinerary has been developed.
Day 1: A Quixotic Tour Using a Gondola
After arriving from Tokyo on Wednesday night, the couple shall be treated to a hearty breakfast in bed served by experienced and service-savvy hotel personnel at Dona Palace Hotel on Thursday morning. The hotel shall serve as a base, from which the couple shall embark on tours and excursions during their one-week stay in Venice.
To see the best of the city, Couple A will be taken on a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. Used as the major form of transportation in the past, gondolas are currently one of the most famous tourist attractions. The shape and size of gondolas make them perfect for navigating through the narrow canals. The couple with have ample time to snuggle and even chitchat with gondoliers, who expertly use long oars to ride their gondolas.
Having taken a gondola ride for the better part of the day, the couple shall return to the hotel for a three-hour mud bathing and sauna. Both procedures will enable them to relax after a long flight from Tokyo and overcome tiredness caused by the long ride along the canals of Venice. A special candlelight dinner shall be served afterwards.
Day 2: Visiting the Island of Murano and the Island of Burano
Having had a long night’s rest, the couple shall be treated to a hearty breakfast at the hotel’s foyer, which affords an excellent view of St. Mark's Basilica. To offer diversity in terms of transportation, the couple will board a vaporetto (water bus) and head off to the islands of Murano and Burano for an adventurous and eventful day. Prior to going to the islands, the couple shall be ridden near the Doge’s Palace, a masterpiece of architecture, which looks like a castle emerging from the water.
On the island of Murano, the couple will not only have time to stroll and meet new people, but also interact with Venetian glass artisans. When on Burano, they will get to interact with the past, as they see and even touch the highly acclaimed and delicate Venetian lace. The islands provide an opportunity for the couple to not only learn about the culture of the people of Venice but also buy some souvenirs for their family and friends. Other than visiting glass workshops, the couple will be taken on a grand tour of the Glass Museums. In the evening, the couple shall take a guided stroll through outdoor cafes before being given an hour for pigeon feeding
Day 3 and Day 4
First, the couple shall visit the RialtoBridge, a gigantic bridge on the Grand Canal, also referred to as Ponte di Rialto. There are a lot of souvenir shops on the bridge, but the prices they charge are a bit high. Standing on top of the bridge, the couple will be able to take in the sunrise and watch the beautiful scenery unfold before their eyes. After disembarking from a water bus, the young couple will take a walk to the nearby Rialto Market to experience the hustle and bustle of this outdoor market place. The next item on the couple’s itinerary will be a visit to the Palazzo Ducale, which was once used to incarcerate the famous lover Giacomo Casanova. Located in the Piazza San Marco, this impressive architectural edifice of pink and white marble will definitely leave the couple with indelible memories. A tour of the castle will be followed by a short return to the hotel where the couple will be able to refresh themselves. A sauna and a specially prepared bubble bath in the hotel’s honeymoon suite will end the 4th day for the couple.
Day 5 and Day 6
Interacting with Venetian culture and history is something the couple hopes to indulge themselves in, so the two days shall be spent doing exactly that. In no particular order, the couple shall visit the Gallarie dell’Accademia, which contains diverse and most bizarre works of Venetian art dating as far back as the 14th century. Famous artists whose works are showcased at Gallarie del Accademia include Carpaccio, Bellini, Tintoretto, Vedutisti, Belloto, Longi, Veronese and Guardi.
The couple shall have a rare opportunity to participate in the Venice International Film Festival, which is among the oldest globally. The screening will take place at the Palazzo del Cinema, and the couple shall be able to indulge in both classic and contemporary Venetian arts and music. Later in the day, the couple shall attend a classical concert of their choosing. Apart from the usual form of dinner, the couple shall go out to cafes and sample Venetian food. The different tastes will enable them to experience different faces of Venice.
Being the last day, the couple shall be allowed to wake up late and have late breakfast in bed. The breakfast will be followed by a three-hour full body massage. In the late afternoon, the couple shall take a stroll to St Mark’s Cathedral also referred to as Basilica of San Marco.. Blending Venetian, Roman and Byzantine techniques of architecture, Basilica of San Marco is a true work of artmanship. The couple shall view the columns, arches, pearls and rubies, garnets and all the artifacts put on display in the cathedral. The eventful day will culminate in an elevator ride to the 325-feet bell tower, which has been waking the couple up the entire week. There, the couple will be able to enjoy the stunning view of the sprawling city and lagoon below at sunset. At 8 pm, the couple shall depart for the airport to catch a 10 pm flight bound for home
Detailed Itinerary for Couple B
The only way Couple B can receive a genuine luxury holiday experience is by blending tour packages, which will not only rekindle their youth but also enable them to explore the Venetian way of life and history. Their itinerary will include interacting with Venetian works of art, seeing architectural attractions, as well as visiting museums and other fascinating places in Venice. It is important to note that Couple B’s itinerary is designed in such a way that they will occasionally meet with Couple A. A seven-day detailed itinerary for couple B is as follows:
The couple shall be treated to a hearty breakfast in bed served by experienced and service-savvy personnel of the Dona Palace Hotel. The hotel shall serve as a base, from which the couple will embark on tours and excursions during their one-week stay in Venice. There is no better way to enjoy Venice’s rich landscapes, culture and surroundings than to use water transportation. And although one can do so by taking a vaporetto ride, the best experience for the couple is only guaranteed if they take a gondola tour.
The shape and size of gondolas make them perfect for navigating through the narrow canals of Venice. An occasional chit chat with the gondolier, who expertly uses the long oar to ride the gondola will enliven the ride. Having taken a gondola tour for the better part of the day, the couple shall return to the hotel for a three hour mud bathing and sauna. Both procedures will enable them to relax after a long flight from Tokyo and overcome tiredness caused by a long ride along the canals of Venice. A special candlelight dinner shall be served afterwards.
The chance to see the richness of art in Venice for the couple shall begin with a visit to Ca’ d’Oro. Ca’ d’Oro is a centuries old palace, which houses a superb collection of artworks. A tour of the palace will be followed by a tour of Gesuiti, a church built in the 18th century. In the church, the couple shall see centuries old designs on the walls, as well as skillfully laid marble made to look like brocade drapery. Gesuiti is believed to be last resting place for St. Lawrence.
For a glimpse into Jewish lifestyle, the couple will go to the Cannaregio neighborhood, where a lot of synagogues and Jewish schools are located. Delving deeper in Venetian history, the couple shall visit Palazzo Labia, where RAI, the Italian broadcasting station, records concerts.
Day 3 and Day 4
First, the couple shall visit the RialtoBridge, a gigantic bridge on the Grand Canal, also referred to as Ponte di Rialto. There are a lot of souvenir shops on the bridge, but the prices they charge are a bit high. Standing on top of the bridge, the couple will be able to take in the sunrise and watch the beautiful scenery unfold before their eyes. After disembarking from a water bus, the young couple will take a walk to the nearby Rialto Market to experience the hustle and bustle of this outdoor market place. In the late afternoon, the couple shall go to Chiesa di Vivaldi and listen to the music of Antonio Vivaldi until evening. A late fireside dinner in the couple’s suite shall mark the end of Day 3
Day 5 and Day 6
Interacting with Venetian culture and its history is something the couple wants to indulge themselves in, so the next two days shall be spent doing exactly that. In no particular order, the couple shall visit the Gallarie dell’Accademia, which contains diverse and most bizarre works of Venetian art dating as far back as the 14th century.
Famous artists whose works are showcased at Gallarie dell Accademia include Carpaccio, Bellini, Tintoretto, Vedutisti, Belloto, Longi, Veronese and Guardi. The couple shall have a rare opportunity to participate in the Venice Film Festival, which is among the oldest globally. The screening will take place at the Palazzo del Cinema and the couple shall be able to indulge in both classic and contemporary Venetian arts and music. Later in the day, the couple shall attend a classical concert of their choosing. The couple shall have a little fun at the Grand Casino prior to having a specially prepared barbecue at the hotel.
Being the last day, a full breakfast shall be served at the hotel’s dining area. The couple shall be allowed to roam the city and see anything they missed during their one-week stay. In the late afternoon, the couple shall take a stroll down to St Mark’s Cathedral. Also referred to as Basilica of San Marco, it is a true work of art blending Venetian, Roman and Byzantine techniques of architecture. The couple shall view the columns, arches, pearls and rubies, garnets and artifacts put on display in the cathedral. The eventful day will culminate in an elevator ride to the 325-feet bell tower, which has been waking the couple up the entire week. Standing on its observation deck, the couple will be able to enjoy the stunning view of the sprawling city and lagoon below as the sun goes down. At 8 pm, the couple shall depart for the airport to catch a 10 pm flight bound for home
To ensure that the expectations of Couple A and Couple B are fully met, the 7Ps of marketing services and products were used. The use of the 7Ps was meant to ensure enhanced differentiation of services offered and enrich the couple’s experience of Venice (Smith & Taylor 2004). According to Wenderroth, (2009), the 7Ps denote product, price, place, promotion, people, processes and physical evidence. The price influences sales revenues and is used to measure how customers value what they need and pay for (Gitman & McDaniel 2008). The place involves varied systems of transportation, storage and supplying products to customers at the right time, place and price (Brian 2011). The promotion entails offering information about the product to customers, while the product is any item meant to effectively satisfy the needs of the customer (Mohammed & Pervaiz 1995). According to Picktton & Masterson (2010), the people include individuals involved in making the product available to the customer, such as employees. The processes and physical evidence are the systems that enable customers to access a product and elements within the units more efficiently (Reinartz & Kumar 2003).
Justification for Choices for Couple A Using Relevant 7Ps
The Dona Palace Hotel will serve as a base from which Couple A will embark on tours and excursions. The venue is efficient in terms of Price, People and Place. As earlier indicated, the couple seeks romance and indulgence but on a budget. which means that affordability is the key element for them. The four-star hotel is not only affordable but also offers good value for money due to spacious and comfortable rooms, as well as kingly treatment offered by its staff. Its proximity to Basilica of San Marco, which integrates the element of place, makes it even more appealing to the couple. The concept of price and place is applicable in the case of a gondola ride. Gondolas can be rented for as low as $100, and they provide an excellent transportation means along Venice’s canals. Gondolas are unmatched when it comes to immersing oneself in the Venetian lifestyle and simultaneously having fun. The hotel’s indoor activities, such as sauna, mud bathing, full body massage, candlelight and fireside dinners, were included in the itinerary as a way of enhancing the hotel’s competitive advantage. As far as the element of promotion is concerned, additional services were meant to enhance the couple’s positive perception of the hotel and ensure that the hotel brand offers a good feeling. It is essential to ensure that the couple feels good when they go to bed in the evening or wake up in the morning (Picktton & Masterson 2010). The varied visited areas, such as the islands, Rialto bridge, Palazzo Ducale, Gallarie dell’Academia, Venice Film Festival and Basiliza of San Marco, incorporate the element of product, place and physical evidence. Therefore, the need to explore and enjoy Venice, learn about Venetian culture and history, as well as relive the Venetian past, is experienced. Failing to visit the aforementioned places could make the tour of Venice less thrilling, thus failing to meet all the needs, preferences and expectations of Couple A.
Justification for Choices for Couple B Using Relevant 7Ps
The 7Ps of service marketing include the price, product, promotion, place, people, processes and physical evidence, which influences the way a product and service is presented to the potential user (Brian, 2011). Christian (2004) argues that the 7Ps influence the attitudes, beliefs and perceptions of both existing and potential customers about products and services offered to them. The Dona Palace Hotel will serve as a base from which Couple A will embark on tours and excursions. As far as the element of people is concerned, the hotel has well-behaved and skilled personnel, who are able to make the clients feel important and worth (Lovelock & Wirtz 2011). The variety offered in terms of additional incentives/ services makes it an ideal place to provide enjoyment and tranquility. As regards the element of place, the proximity of the hotel to ancient palaces and St. Mark's Basilica makes it ideal for exploring the history and culture of Venice. The choice of a gondola ride during the first day incorporates the element of product and processes.
Gondolas provide the couple with an efficient transportation system or process, thus achieving the ultimate goal of exploring Venetian culture and history. Gondolas also add to the overall quality, rarity and value of the whole package. Being the oldest transportation system in Venice, they will enhance the enjoyment and excitement of the couple in their quest to explore Venetian history (Payne & Pennie 2005). The product in the 7Ps is the core offering , thus it ensures that all the needs, expectations, wants, tastes and preferences of the customer are effectively and efficiently met (Gitman, & McDaniel 2008). According to Wenderroth, (2009), products should be unique, quality, rare, inimitable and, more importantly, costly to substitute. Therefore, the places to be visited by Couple B, such as Ca’ d’Oro, Gesuiti, Cannaregio, Rialto bridge and market, Chiesa di Vivaldi, Gallerie dell’Academia, Venice Film Festival and St Mark’s Basilica, constitute the core service offering and fully meet Couple B’s expectations in terms of exploring the history and culture of Venice.
Breakfast in bed, sauna, mud bathing, full body massage, candlelight and fireside dinner offered by the hotel to Couple B incorporate the element of physical evidence and promotion. The above services are used as evidence of the hotel’s dedication to service quality and customer-based care. On the other hand, every additional service is a way for the hotel to prove to the couple its credibility, consistency and service quality, as well as give the couple a reason to come back or even recommend it to their family and friends.