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Introduction

Nowadays, marketers shift their focus to relationship marketing because they realize that the organization’s success can only be improved by retaining and building long-term relationships with customers. Thus, service-oriented industries, such as Etihad Airlines, prioritize passenger satisfaction. The main concept in the topic of this study is to identify various ways, which the Etihad Airlines applies to meet customer satisfaction. By retaining passengers, the organization aims at becoming the best airway in terms of services provided, the level of performance of staff members, the effective changes applied, and additional services offered during flights. The issue of customer satisfaction is important as it helps the business to retain the existing customers, attract new ones, and realize high profits.

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Etihad Airline is the focus of this study, which is a flag carrier and a second largest airline of the UAE. It operates approximately 1,000 flights per week, involving more than 120 passengers, in such regions as Australia, Asia, Africa, Americas, and the Middle East. Apart from passenger transportation, it also operates Etihad Holidays and Etihad Cargo. It has been making profits over the years due to customer retention and thus attracted the study.

The final report comprises several sections, which evaluate the evidence of the effectiveness of Etihad services as analyzed in various studies. It also gives suggestions of the areas, which are worth considering the most. The information is summarized in such sections as the introduction, research question, research objectives, research design, expected results, and conclusion. The research design is further divided into the geographic area, sample size and method, data collection method, data analysis, and timeline subsections.

Rationale

This study should be implemented, as it will assist the industry in determining measures that promote high profits for the business through strategies like the provision of unique services at fair prices, taking into consideration competitors’ achievements. The relevance of this research is to ensure that customers are satisfied; hence passing the information about Etihad Airlines to their friends and colleagues. This instance will be of great importance to the business as it will maintain and attract new individuals who can in return give responses concerning the services provided and give suggestions what areas should be improved.

Research Question

The main research question is do the cabin services offered by Etihad Airlines will affect the retention of the passengers in future?

Customer satisfaction is one of the factors that contribute to the profitability of any business. It promotes a good relationship between service providers and customers, thus enhancing the retention of clients in the business. Due to the vulnerability of the airline industry, it is necessary to build relationships with passengers in an effort to retain them. When taking into consideration, these issues are of immense importance to the business as they promote a high level of profitability due to large numbers of customers served. However, Etihad Airlines should expanse to face the high competition in the airline market, which poses a great challenge to the business. To achieve this goal, managers and directors should focus on services and prices that are attractive to their clients. Specifically, the airline aims at offering new and unique services to its customers, which is another challenge, as it serves various individuals of different age with varying preferences (Ternes, Towers, & Scheiwe, 2015).

Research Objectives

The research objectives are:

  • To determine how Etihad Airline provides services that satisfy the expectations of the travelers.
  • To investigate whether the high-level services provided result in the retention of the customers.

Research Design and Methodology

Geographic Area

The main aim of the study is to determine whether Etihad Airlines meets the travelers’ expectations and retains them. Therefore, the study will be carried out at the third Terminal of Abu Dhabi International Airport, which serves as the Etihad Airlines’ hub. There, the customers, who use the airline’s services, will be contacted for effective collection of data.

Sample Size and Sampling Method

Sampling size will comprise 80 travelers, the selection of whom will not depend on the gender characteristics. The sampling method will be probability sampling, which will include random and stratified methods. With stratified sampling, the participants will be divided into groups, based on the arrival time and number of the flight. Overall, there will be eight strata, which will correspond to eight planes. Afterward, within each group, a simple random sample will be applied, as the persons will be randomly selected. Such a technique will assure that key subgroups of the overall population, including the minority groups, will be represented. This sampling method is effective as it can help select travelers in terms of nationality. Consequently, various strata will represent different reasons for traveling and varying attitudes.

Data Collection Method

From the sample size of 80 participants, it will be possible to collect the data through the probability sampling method because the individuals will be selected randomly and asked several questions. Such method of data collection will be effective as the interviewees will be loyal and give genuine answers. Through the interview method, the respondents will be interrogated, which will allow to receive the direct response on the matter of interest. The method was chosen with the aim of reducing the cost of the study and time due to immediate answers. The participants will be asked some simple questions related to the business. In particular, the interviewees will be also asked to tell how their complaints are dealt with at the airport and the degree at which instances of unsatisfactory experiences are handled and reported. Moreover, there is a need to investigate if solving the passenger’s problems immediately results in much higher customer satisfaction and if the service quality influences customer satisfaction. In addition, the perception of the passengers about airline lounges, food, and beverages will be considered since they contribute to customer satisfaction and retention (De Luca, 2012).

Some of the examples will include:

  1. Are you satisfied with the services provided by Etihad?
  2. How often do you use its services?
  3. Do you think it has well-trained staff members whose performance is effective?
  4. How do they respond to complaints from the travelers?

Moreover, the better understanding of the research topic was expounded by evaluating the scholarly evidence related to Etihad Airlines, which developed a framework that assessed customer service. Among these resources were books and journals, which focused on the latest changes in the industry between 2007 and 2015. They highlighted the major issues like the influence of the services offered on the customer satisfaction and the management, and the impact of financial choices on the functioning of the industry.

Data Analysis

At the end of the qualitative survey conduction, some analysis will be done according to the responses from the respondents. The rank analysis will be used, which presupposes that all customers’ answers will be divided into several groups due to their similarity. The results will be also provided in a table or a graph, which will display the most popular answers and the percentage of participants. In the survey results, one will see the average ranking of each opinion, which will give an idea of what airline’s services are most important to its clients. Some of these analyses will indicate how the airline has improved its services, which promotes customer satisfaction.

Timeline

As a result of various objectives to be achieved in this study, it will take about 7 weeks to complete it. During the first four weeks, a number of the face-to-face interviews will be conducted since it is crucial to involve different travelers at the different time. The rest of the time will be used for the data analysis.

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Expected Results

Air transport is vulnerable due to changes that occur in the industry. According to Grancay & Szikorova (2010), numerous adjustments have taken place in the last twenty years. Particularly, the Etihad Airline, a national airline of the UAE since its establishment in 2003, has become one of the global leading airlines. The success has been promoted by various reasons, including the competitive advantage and customer responsiveness. For instance, the industry maintains a competitive advantage over its competitors, namely Emirate Airlines, Air Arabia, and Fly Dubai. Thus, it is expected that approximately 70% of the travelers will be frequent clients of the company.

The randomly selected individuals will also help in determining whether Etihad acts as a convenient airline for travelers to and from Abu Dhabi. They will be requested to provide responses concerning the quality and the development of chauffeur and online check-in services, which are some of the suitable changes in the industry due to the technology development. It is expected that 70-80% of the interviewees will approve the fact of the high development level of the airline. It is also expected that passengers may indicate the need for more terminals and luggage pickups that could be necessary for saving time during arrivals and departure (Grancay & Szikorova, 2010).

Apart from effectiveness, other changes are noted to have arisen in the industry, which need attention. The quality of services provided also contributes to customer satisfaction and retention. Etihad Airlines is famous for providing comfortable travel experience and high global standards, which reflects the best of Arabian hospitality in the flights. Thus, 35-45% of the travelers interviewed on whether the airways target passengers of the same level are expected to have a desire to travel with high standards in terms of hospitality and luxury. Interaction with the travelers will prove that changes had occurred in the sector to attract more users and retain present customers (Grancay & Szikorova, 2010).

Innovation emerges as another attractive change in the airline sector. Each airway aims at coming up with innovations due to the competition. The Etihad Airlines stands out as one of the most innovative in the business. It has come to users’ discern that the airline has of late taken into account the need of customers and is innovating new ideas that will result in excellence. It is noted through superior travel experience given to customers in-flight and on the ground at reasonable prices. As a result, most of the clients are expected to confirm that the services are superior and at reasonable prices. Moreover, they may outline the diverse workforce as one of the company’s advantages, as staff members are trained to meet the diversity of culture. Following its multinationalism, the passengers traveling from Etihad are communicated to in the Arabic, English, French, and other languages because of the multilingual employees (Katsioloudes & Hadjidakis, 2007).

Moreover, the aspect of being unique was evident through the special services provided by the airline, which can be a tool of retaining customers. The travelers will be asked of leisure offers during holidays, including special travels packages that cover more than 70 destinations. In addition, they will be asked about the promotion of conveniences through activities like hotel booking and car rent (Grancay & Szikorova, 2010). It is expected that the majority of them will confirm that they know about the special travel packages and use the convenience services that the airline offers.

The company’s success is deeply determined by the profit made. Success emerges due to the services offered to customers that tend to meet their expectations. According to Ternes et al. (2015), a business that provides the best services to its customers always attracts many users and is able to prosper. Therefore, it is appropriate to introduce services that are appealing to passengers. One of this such services is giving clients a chance to book their seats long before their flight and carry some luggage during the flight. The sample size will confirm whether there will be some individuals who book their seats online.

Similarly, the success is facilitated by a high number of users due to the length of the flight and reasons for flying. All the users have different travel reasons such as business, studies, invitation, and medical treatment, among others, and are assured of quality services. When the passengers receive what they deserve, they are able to come back for more services. The provision of these services is influenced by the rapid growth of the industry due to government subsidies and financial aspects. The organization has enough resources that promote its growth and expansion (Mouawad, 2015).

Conclusion

Etihad Airlines aims at being the top airways in the world. It considers achieving this goal by taking into consideration consumer satisfaction and retention that will result in high profitability of the business. This is achieved by providing high-level services that are different from the competitors in the industry that meets the expectations of the travelers.

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