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Case 2.1 Online booking-has the time come?

The intention in the case is to cognize the student/learner about the significance of research. The
situations which might seem commonplace and the strategy to be designed as just a managerial decision
are to be used as illustrations. The risks entailed in taking an informed decision, with research inputs and
one without is the learning that the student should be acquiring. The indicative answers to the case
questions are denoted below.
Ans.1. Since Mr. Rao, the protagonist in the case would like specific answers to

Can envision a larger customer base in the next year?

Will online booking as an e-venture become profitable in the next year or two?

We would term this research as applied in nature, as it is looking for a solution input. Within
applied the study approach required could be descriptive in nature. The logic for the same is
discussed in the next question.

Ans.2. The case writer makes an observation that there has been a significant rise in the number of
customers who have started using online portals for their travel related information search as well
as booking. The idea is to validate this observation through a structured problem formulation
process. Thus the learner should make use of the step wise structured process of problem
formulation as given in figure 2.3 of the chapter.
The learner should begin by stating who could be the experts and industry gurus who could
provide some indication of probable trends. They might be travel agents, online portal
entrepreneurs, academicians who teach e- marketing or market researchers who have done work
in this area. Please note the idea is the student should be able to identify the resource persons,
there is no ranking of the best and the worst resource, nor is this the complete basket. It is at best
indicative in nature.
The next resource for refining the decision problem into a doable research problem is to conduct a
review of literature. At this stage the student is to be probed about the kind of information that
he/she could look at and what might be the published data that need to be tapped for this. This
would include both academic as well as industry data.
The third method that is organizational analysis is not really required at this stage as the nature of
the study is generic and not specific to Thus, the learner also needs to be educated at
this stage that the stages can vary according to the nature of the decision problem and are not
essentially sacrosanct.
To further get a perspective on the probable research to be carried out the investigator may also
conduct a short qualitative exploratory informal study with some people who carry out their
travel booking using the traditional and those who use the online mode.

Based on these inputs the class participants may generate research questions such as:

Whether there exists a potential consumer base that is willing to use online portals to carry out
their travel booking?
Who are the people who use the traditional methods of travel booking versus those who use the
online mode?
What core advantages can motivate the traditional consumer to shift to the online mode?
These are at best indicative and the class could generate a number of different questions. The instructor
needs to evaluate the questions on the viability of these being converted into a research question. Then
one of these could be selected for illustration and the instructor could help the class to break down the
research question into smaller doable research objectives, which are clear and explicit in their
composition. Also the researcher needs to evaluate the research questions for their research potential for
example if a student states
What is the total number of visitors at make my and/or clear trip .com etc.?
He/she needs to be explained that this is a simple enquiry which might not solve the purpose nor does it
needs a structured research process.

As an alternative approach the instructor can also point out to the student that the researcher can do a gap
analysis which is causal in nature and study
What is the relationship between the various services availed by a traveler consumer/buyer and the
satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the traditional vs online booking mode?

Ans. 3.
As an example let us take one of the questions identified in ans.2
Who are the people who use the traditional methods of travel booking versus those who use the online
Based on this let us look at some indicative research objectives
To assess the size of the Indian travel market
To assess the size of consumers who use online portals for purchase/information seeking.
To profile the traditional vs. online buyer of travel portals on their demographics
To profile the traditional vs. online buyer of travel portals on their psychographics
To identify areas of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with traditional vs. online booking
To suggest appropriate strategies for dealing with the identified gaps in online booking

Now the student needs to be steered into understanding that based on the exploratory process he carried
out for problem formulation he/she might formulate some theoretical model/framework that he might
want to validate through research-the instructor might help the student to understand how this could be
done- or he might arrive at some assumptions that could be tested through the research process.
For example

Hypotheses 1: the travel buyer who uses online portals is younger in age as compared to traditional
Hypotheses 2: the travel buyer who uses online portals is more educated as compared to traditional
Hypotheses 3: the travel buyer who uses online portals is more experimental in nature (psychographic)
as compared to traditional methods