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In April 2007, Huella Online Travel Ltd, a Malaysian-based online travel portal targeting Asia, including Greater

China, announced its results for the financial year 2006. Huella which operates on the Online Travel faces challenges in penetrating to the Hong Kong market. While Hong Kong has one of the highest Internet penetration rate in the world, its tech-savvy people are perplexingly wary of transacting business online. Huella has positioned itself in the kind of market, where people generally shun e-businesses, including air travel bookings, as it is seen as a high-risk trade to seeing it as second only to the traditional marketplace. Its market share in the Hong Kong market has been around 5% since the launch of its local site in 2000 and was performing worse here than in other markets. A qualitative market research study conducted revealed that low awareness of the Huella brand and the general risk-averseness of Hong Kong consumers towards online travel purchases appeared to be the key reasons behind this. These findings were also reported by the industry reports, that suggested that online travel had not been picked up in Hong Kong, inspite of the city having such high internet penetration and the tech-savvy nature of its population. Hong Kong's readiness to accept online flight was among the lowest in the world. In order to confirm previous findings and to test their level, Huella decided to carry out a quantitative study. The company's goals were to devise a viable marketing strategy to ease Hong Kong consumers' concerns towards online travel purchases and ultimately to increase its market share in the city. This case illustrates the types of information needed by a company for its specific marketing objectives and examines how different types of market research can help it attain its goals. Huella Online Travel faces several challenges in penetrating the Hong Kong market. While Hong Kong enjoys one of the highest Internet penetration rate in the world, its tech-savvy people are perplexingly wary of transacting business online. Huella situates itself in this kind of market, where people generally shun e-businesses, including air travel bookings, for perceiving it as a high-risk trade to seeing it as second only to the traditional marketplace. Initial qualitative survey results culled from a focus group discussion showed that respondents never heard of the Huella brand in Hong Kong, or to a few, a vague impression of what it is. Validating earlier surveys on online transactions, respondents also perceived Huella as a risky, unreliable brand, and voiced out security concerns on Huella’s website. Huella might take comfort of the fact that such concerns were not solely directed to the company but to Internet transactions in general. Moreover, people felt that risks are too high for any potential benefits, and that Huella was seen to be in the league of online travel agencies and not with the traditional brick’n-mortar agents. Majority of the respondents had never used Huella’s Hong Kong website, and for a few who had heard of it, the website was a mere repository of information and a tool to compare prices for them. The initial results are useful in exploring how people perceived the Huella brand but as

noted in the case study they are not conclusive of the public perception in Huella’s target market. Given a job to map out a research marketing strategy for Huella using a quantitative approach, I believe that an objective analysis of the market should be done first and foremost, which entails knowing three key areas of the business: customers, competencies and competition. I will focus on this paper how to get an objective analysis of customers using a quantitative approach and will leave the last two areas for future discussions as they