Major Characteristics Of A Service Product

Q) Describe the major characteristics of a service product ? What are the steps involved in developing a service product ?
 
A product is something that a producer makes and offers to customers to provide satisfaction of the needs. Service products are different from goods in 5 major characteristics.

1. Intangibility 

Goods are tangible and can be seen, felt or tasted whereas services are intangible. Eg: An educational institution. One can see the buildings and all but not the quality of education. Thus service products need to be evaluated in terms of the knowledge, intellect and character of the alumni. This can be perceived but cannot be measured. One cannot see, feel, smell, touch or measure a service performed. It can only be experienced from the effects produced.

2. Inseparability

A physical item is produced in a factory, bought from a shop and consumed in the buyer's premises at his convenience. But when a person buys a service of a doctor, the production and consumption of the service takes place at the same time. Here the production and consumption cannot be separated. The product exists only when consumption takes place.

3. Heterogeneity

Because of the factor of inseparability, it is not possible to produce a service in advance according to specified standards. If the same person is providing the service, then quality consistency cannot be met all the time. Eg: In a restaurant, the service quality also depends on the behavior of the customer. But generally, dissatisfaction experienced is not always attributed to customers, but to the restaurant.

4. Perishability

Supply of services cannot be stored. You can store the fireworks made for this Diwali and use it next year, not so with the services. Eg: If an advertisement is not seen, it is dead. Empty seats in a cinema hall cannot be carried over to the next show. Service products perish, if not utilized when available. Stability of operation is not possible for the services because of perishability.

5. Ownership

No ownership passes from seller to buyer in a service. The buyer only acquires the right to certain benefits of what the seller offers. Eg : Railway berth seats are reserved only for the period of the journey, the ownership is with the railways.

Steps Involved In Developing A Service Product

Steps involved in developing a service product are
  • Determine what the customer values as benefits (benefit concept)
  • Determine which of these benefits should be offered (service concept)
Decide on the precise service offer which includes forms and levels of the benefits to be offered and the arrangements for the delivery of the service (delivery system). The benefit concept will include expectation of the customer which are bundles of functional and psychological attributes.

One needs to be clear on who the customer is. Eg: The customer of an educational institution is the student, the parent and also the part of the society that will benefit from the student's education.

Seasonality In Tourism

Seasonal variations in climate make significant impact on travel and tourism. The most visible impact is the emergence of tourist seasons. There is a tendency for people to move to cooler places in summer and to warmer places during winter. The development of hill stations in India took place as a result of this phenomenon. 

It is actually a kind of escape from unpleasant weather. In this way, some places have become popular for winter sports activities during cold weather season. Beach tourism is also becoming popular in India as they provide cool weather during summer and warmth during winter.

Hot season is the peak season for hill stations. During winter, international tourists travel to warmer regions like India, which remarks the beginning of tourist season here. The peak tourist season is from October to March with largest arrivals in December. The off season is from April to June with least arrival in May because of the extreme hot weather in India.

The diversity of climates in India, beginning from the snow clad Himalayas, Thar Desert to the beaches of the south coast is the main motivating factor for both domestic and international tourists.There is a heavy rush of tourists from North India to South India during summer and vice versa during North-East monsoon. 

Festival Season

Most festivals in India are celebrated in the joy of harvest. Eg: Onam. Most festivals are given wide publicity to attract tourists from different parts of the country.

Measurement of Seasonality

The measurement of seasonality is done through time series. The main components are

1. Trend : General tendency of the series to gradually increase or decrease over a period of time.

2. Cyclic Movement : Oscillation of greater or lesser regularity about the trend.The oscillation or booms and depressions occur at large intervals of time.

3. Seasonal Movement : Fluctuations in series which occur at regular intervals of time, not exceeding a year. Eg: Tourist arrivals are highest in December and lowest in May.

4. Irregular Fluctuations : Fluctuations which are not governed by any law or regularity.

Importance Of Information And Its Sources In Tourism

Q) Why is information important in tourism. Discuss the various sources of information ?

Importance of Information

Information is important for tourism in 3 main stages.

1. Planning

Planning is the backbone of tourism services and operations.

2. Management

Management is the life of tourism industry. Information needed while managing tours are
  • Kinds of tour packages available
  • Different modes of travel that can be arranged
  • Types of accommodation available
  • Knowledge of destination areas
A successful management heavily depends on these kind of information.

3. Promotion

The central objective of all promotional efforts is to inform, interest and involve. The interest may be generated by stuffing the tourist with interesting, attractive and useful information. Some of the promotion methods are presentation, publicity and advertising. 

The role of information is thus central to all the services and operations pertaining to tourism.

Sources of Information

1. Government Agencies

Government agencies are the largest source of information related to tourism.

a) Department of Tourism

The department generates tourism related information at 3 levels viz, planning, promotion and development. It generates a lot of information geared almost exclusively at attracting foreign tourists. Main categories under which information is available are

i) Compilation And Collections : Compilations and collections include several kinds of posters, pamphlets and leaflets that are printed after collecting information from different organizations.

ii) Enquiries : Attending to the specific enquiries of domestic and international tourists regarding tourism in India. Like a booklet on hotel tariffs.

iii) Geographical and Topographical : Tourist guide maps of individual towns as well as accessibility and accommodation information.

iv) Facilitation : Such as simplifying the procedural formalities for international tourists.

v) Visuals : Photographic and video documentation of heritage sites, tourist spots etc for tourism purposes.

vi) Database : These are created by collecting statistical and market research data from both domestic and international tourists.

Most of these information are available free of cost from government departments.

b) ITDC

ITDC has been operating in accommodation, catering, transport, publicity services, duty free shops, entertainment, conferences and management consultancies. These activities generate information in the form of brochures, pamphlets and leaflets. It also uses visual media. These information can be obtained from ITDC headquarters in New Delhi.

c) State Tourism Departments

The information generated is very similar to ITDC as their operation simulates the same.

d) Air India

Air India has a tourism division which works on
  • Tourism promotion
  • Congress and conventions
  • Adventure tourism
  • Corporate communications
The information is then published in brochures and directories aimed at promoting inbound traffic to India. Air India also undertakes research and analysis of traffic from tourism generating markets and publishes profile of tourist markets and their trends.

e) Railways

2. Tour Operators

In the process of operating a tour, tour operators generate information which would help and benefit their clients.

Exclamatory Mark On Android Lollipop - Solved

Android Lollipop users may have noticed an exclamatory mark against the network signal or Wi-Fi. This is not a bug, it is completely normal. This is a new feature that tells you that no active internet connection is available on your phone. The exclamatory mark against Wi-Fi signal means that the Wi-Fi has some connectivity issues. The symbol against cellular signal means that mobile data is switched off.

Techniques And Aspects Of Guiding And Escorting A Tour

Q) Explain the techniques and aspects involved in guiding and escorting a tour ?

First explain the skills of a guide

1. Planning

The tour escort should know
  • The rate of success with tours in the past
  • How to broaden the scope of the tour with the help of experiences gathered by others
  • The problem areas of the tour to workout the remedies
The escort must live the tour day by day and special care must be taken in the following areas

Scheduling : It is a combination of factors with some uncertain variables. The central idea is to look for the right place, at the right time, for the right people at a right price. 

Events : The events must suit the taste of the tourists. No event should offend anyone. All events should keep cost factor into focus.

Variables : Weather, unforeseen occurrences, transport upsets are some of them which must be in the plans. This will help you find alternatives and save the tour.

2. Preparation

Advance preparation is the essential feature of successful escorting. You must know
  • What information is needed and where to get
  • Appreciate the needs of the tour members and how best to meet them
  • Know what basic information needs to be supplied to tour members
You must pay attention to the following details

Checklists : A useful tool in successful preparation. Nothing will be forgotten.

Tour Itinerary : Mentally tour the entire tour and plan all possible events.

Commentary : It is a very important aspect of escorting tour. Crisp, informative, delightful commentary with some humor is the perfect recipe for a successful tour.

Travel Tips : Vital for tour party. Tourists will appreciate such help.

3. Special Situations

Tour escort must be good enough to handle situations like 

Loss of Money And Passport : This is the most common complaint. You must keep everyone's passport under your custody during the tour. Advise them not to carry too much cash, instead encourage the use of credit cards.

Sickness : Warn tourists about eating at unhygienic places, drinking unclear water etc.

Missing Tour Member : Make sure that the tourists adhere to the schedule. Be persuasive and stern at times. Do not lose your cool though.


Skills Required To Be A Good Tour Guide

Leadership

Leadership skill is the most important social quality required by a guide. It requires
  • Enthusiasm
  • Self-confidence
  • Proactive nature
  • Sensitivity
  • Flexibility
  • Decisivenenss
  • Sense of humour
 Some of these skills are natural gifts, but most of them can be acquired with practice.

Factual Knowledge

Knowledge about wide array of subjects is essential for a tour guide. Subject matters differ from region to region, hence guides must attend local educational programmes. Some of the common areas of knowledge required are
  • Geography and topography
  • History, culture and religion
  • Folklore
  • Economy and industry
  • Travel and tourism
A guide is the representative of a region, so he should be culturally literate to answer all questions related to that region. Authenticity of the information passed is the key to success of a guide. Tourists generally trust their guides, so we have to be honest and open to them.

Presentation

The voice and body language of the guide should be perfect. Presentation skills of a guide needs to be tuned in perfectly. People will listen to you,if you are
  • Lively and delightful
  • Vivid in discriptions
  • Simple with language
  • Comfortable with the audience and topic
While making presentations, care must be given to the posture and movement of your hands as well as the features like eye contact. Voice plays a crucial role in making things convincing and impressive.
 

Short Note On Guides & Escorts

Guide

A professional guide is in varying degrees a business person - often freelance, sometimes employee, a travel industry representative, a public relations representative for his or her site, city, region and country - as well as an educator, an entertainer and a public speaker among other roles. A guide may not have to perform all these roles simultaneously.

Escort

An escort is supposed to perform the role of an accompanying manager to a subject expert. The role of an escort begins as soon as the arrival of the tourist and ends only with the departure of the tourist. Unlike a guide, an escort may not be free from his responsibilities throughout the duration of the tourist's stay. The escort is responsible for the entire group during the journey and at the destination.

Activities Of A Tour Operator

Q) Enumerate the activities undertaken by a tour operator ?

A tour operator is a person who provides information, plans and coordinates travel with various agencies to create a package or service. At the same time, he also ensures smooth operation of the tour. 

The function of a tour operator involves collection of information and in depth knowledge of the places of interest, the accommodation, transport facilities and other logistics required for planning a tour. He should plan the tour in the most efficient manner. He should co-ordinate services such as hotel reservations, airline or rail or road transport reservations. He should make sure that everything is working smoothly. He should be ready with plan B if plan A doesn't work out.

Now explain Tour Package

Tour Package

Q) How does a tour operator package a tour ?

Q) Discuss the process of planning and costing of a tour package?

1. Package Tours

Package tour is a program developed to cater to a group of people traveling together for a particular journey which involves hotels and transportation arrangements and may also involve visiting places, guides, special meetings and functions.

The destinations could be 
  • A single country tour
  • Area tour visiting more than one country
  • Two city tour
  • Single city tour
Majority of package tours in India are cultural tours visiting cultural sites in India. Special interest tours are also gaining popularity nowadays. Adventure and sports tours are also rising. Sports tours are generally packaged to coincide with sports events such as cricket world cup, hockey and football matches. Some tourists also charter aircrafts to bring tourist from a country.

2. Planning A Tour

The following matters need to be considered while planning a tour

a) Interest : The interest of the client is most important. You must know the theme of the tour, whether it is sightseeing or cultural or religious or historical or wildlife or trekking or adventure etc.

b) Time of visit : The time of visit is an important factor for season, flights, tariffs etc.

c) Duration : This helps plan the tour including areas to be visited, shopping, entertainment etc.

d) Pace : Different people from different countries and different age groups move differently. Some stay at a place for one day, other for 3 days.

e) Budget : It will determine the quality of hotels, amount of travel and activity and other variables like meals, special party, theater or shows, special visits etc.

3. Costing A Tour

Tourists will be eager to know the cost of a tour. Similarly a tourism professional should have some idea on how much profit can be made.

Operations Of A Travel Agency

Q) Discuss the various operating functions of a travel agency. Also establish linkages between travel agencies and tour operation companies?

A travel agency is responsible for organizing a travel.

Operations of a Travel Agency

There are 3 primary operations for a travel agency. They are ticketing, facilitation and additional responsibilities.

1. Ticketing

Ticketing is the primary operation of a travel agency. Two modes of transport for which travel agencies do ticketing in India are air travel and rail travel. Air travel has two main departments, domestic ticketing and international ticketing.

Domestic tickets are used for traveling within the country. It is the busiest department of any travel agency. The travel agent or executive should know
  • How to read a flight schedule and tell the customer whether it is a point to point flight or a hopping flight
  • Departure and arrival timings
  • Days of operations
  • Number of stops
  • Type of aircraft, whether it is Boeing or Airbus
  • Type of meals on-board
  • Types of class of travel available
  • Fare applicable or other restrictions. The fares differ according to class of travel. There are conomy, business and first class. Information regarding special fares such as point to point fares, student fares and discount fares should be known
  • Travel agent should be up to date with the latest fares
  • City/airport codes
Nowadays online ticket bookings are also done, which confirms the ticket status right away. It is also important for the travel agent to make passengers aware of the ticket cancellation rules for each airline. Information regarding special services such as veg or non-veg meals, window or back seat, wheel chair facility etc must also be provided to the customer. Travel agents receive commissions from airlines and some charge the clients as well. The basic procedure for international ticketing remains the same as domestic.

2. Facilitation

Facilitation is a service offered by the travel agency for a nominal fee. 

a) Passport

A travel agency helps the traveller with obtaining proper forms and submits it to the passport office on behalf of the client, as well as receive it from that office.

b) VISA

Travel agency assists its customers in submission and collection of papers.

c) Health

Travel agency advises the traveler about health regulations in a foreign country. Information such as requirement of cholera inoculation, yellow fever etc must be provided. They also give guidelines on the precations and also inform whether insurance is available.

d) Insurance

Travel insurance for health is available in India for overseas travel and in some countries like Germany, it is mandatory to have such insurance for the period of their stay.

e) Customs

Travel agencies inform travelers about the custom regulations of our country and the visiting country.

f) Immigration

g) Permits

Travel agent will inform the customer whether there are any special permission required to visit a particular place.

h) Baggage

There are weight restrictions on baggage every person can carry. The travel agent will inform customers about the allowed weight and the extra charges. Information about banned items such as battery cells must also be given. Customer should also be given information about the procedures like X-ray, baggage identification etc.

i) Airport

Information about which terminal to go to and about other facilities available at the airport.

3. Additional Responsibilities

Travel agencies should only choose suppliers who are reliable and trustworthy, so that they provide flawless service to their customers.

Role Of Subsidiary Services In Tourism

Q) Identify and discuss the role of subsidiary services in tourism ?

Subsidiary services provide indirect employment to people.

A) Common Services

Subsidiary services develop naturally with urbanization. It creates demand for services which are generally not required by locals. Eg: Air conditioned taxi.

1. Link Transport Needs

Demand for local transport starts from the disembarkation points. Eg: Railway station, airport or bus stand. Government buses run connecting different parts of the city. Airlines run special coaches to certain points of the city. However, popular modes of transport are taxis, rickshaws and tongas. Local prepaid taxis are also available at airports. In this way, taxi operators get a special chance with the growth of tourism in an area. Two-wheeler taxis like in Goa are also gaining popularity.

2. Eating Joints & Bars

This includes restaurants, tea stalls, dhabas and fast food counters. Small entrepreneurs can start this with low investment and by giving more importance to local cuisine.

3. Entertainment And Recreation

10% of the total tourist expenditure is spent on entertainment. Tourists look for entertainment during night including dances, movies, musical evening, theme dinner etc. This provides employment to local artists and performers. Eg: Goa, Mandovi river cruise. Short duration entertainment festivals run by state governments like Qutab festival in Delhi or Taj Festival at Agra will attract a lot of tourists. Some tourists find entertainment in India dull because of the ban on gambling, casinos and night clubs. Poor children in India are involved in acrobatics, snake charming etc to earn a living. This gives a different perspective about the state of poverty and malnutrition in India.

4. Tourist Police

This is a nice innovation employed in tourist friendly states of Goa and Kerala. A tourist policeman is supposed to guide tourists politely regarding their needs and answer their queries. He also takes care of their security needs with special concern.

5. Communication

Services like post offices, STD booths, mobile coverage should be adequate to cover the needs of tourists. The availability or unavailability of such services at the destination must be informed to the tourists well in advance, so that they can make the necessary adjustments.

6. Book Shops & Libraries

Book stalls at railway station and airport include in this category. It will be a good business for small entrepreneurs to start book renting services. There is a very good library at Kovalam beach where books are rented for a nominal fee.

7. Photography

This is a popular subsidiary service. Tourists would love to take photos in local costumes. Eg: Kurfi in Simla, Himachal Pradesh.

B) Destination Specific Services

This include life guards at beaches, coolies and porters. People can start small business services like renting out tents, sleeping bags, rain coats, trekking equipments etc.

Street Guides

Q) Short note on Street Guides ?

When a non-package tourist comes to a city, he will search for low budget accommodation. A tourist won't be having the time and money required to collect information regarding the room vacancies and rent. A tourist will normally have a few days at his disposal, so he will have to spend a lot of money and time to get such information. A tourist won't be aware of the social set up and he will be lacking the social skills required to collect such information.

This is where the street guides come to the rescue of tourists. They have the social resources such as knowledge of local language, room rents and local customs. Street guides use this to their advantage by offering these services for a fixed price or commission. A street guide can use the piece of information he collected multiple times. Street guides will have much more detailed information about accommodation and other facilities, than each tourist can collect individually. Taking their help makes the tourist better informed.

Dimensions Of Informal Sector In Tourism Industry

Q) Enumerate giving examples wherever relevant, the various dimensions of the informal sector operating in the tourism industry ?

There are two distinct economic sectors in India, the formal and informal. In the informal sector, it is much easier for job seekers to get work. Also the mode of production of productive units permits the use of unstructured labor.

The formal sector uses modern imported technology that needs the discipline of a structured work force whereas informal sector establishments employ older, less mechanized techniques.

1. Types of Activities

Main type of activities of informal sector include
  • Self-employed guides
  • Souvenir business people in open-air stalls
  • Guest house owners
Small self-employed entrepreneurs are used by tourist agencies as guides, drivers etc. The primary sphere of informal sector activity is in lodging and restaurant business. Tourist lodging in developing countries are guest houses owned by families. It demands less work and investment when compared to agricultural sector. The profit is also higher with less risk compared to agriculture. 

The cooking skills learned in the family are used in restaurant business. This requires no investment, no training and little fixed and working capital is required for operation. The other group in informal sector are the souvenir sellers who sell arts and crafts. Small self-employed entrepreneurs are used by travel agencies as freelance guides and for short distance transport assistance.

2. Nature of Informal Sector

Informal sector establishments are not licensed or taxed. Informal sector is always defined as consisting of units less than or equal to certain size, measured by the number of employees. An enterprise that has less than 6 workers (Non-directory establishments NDEs), household or hired will be considered as an informal sector enterprise.

88% of total establishments in the hotel and restaurant sector in Indian economy belong to the informal sector. Informal sector is predominantly in the restaurant business and marginally in the hotels business.

3. Productive Capital, Emoluments and Profits

79.2% of the total enterprises in the informal sector have productive capital of less than Rs.5000 in the year 1983-84. The informal sector have a low productive capital base. Emoluments (salaries and bonuses) were Rs.4.91 thousand in the informal sector of restaurant business. 89.8% of the informal sector enterprises had profits of less than Rs.10,000.

4. Social Factor

There is a cultural division of labor in informal sector. Certain services are monopoly of certain castes and communities. For eg: In Ladakh, trade of souvenirs in open-air stalls are done exclusively by Tibetans. Mobility within the sector is restricted and is segmented with jobs in certain segments.

"Accommodation Sector Needs A Lot More Innovations In The Country". Discuss ?

Q) "Accommodation Sector Needs A Lot More Innovations In The Country". Discuss ?

As a tourism professional you must understand factors like
  • Guest-host culture relations
  • Ecological or environmental considerations
  • Leisure activity
Marketing

Marketing is 'knowing what the customer wants'. You must have a clear understanding of the complexity of tourists' need and the ability of your organization to deliver what is promised. Because of the complexity of the tourist's needs, there should be substantial marketing input at the product planning stages. 

Tourism professional should also make sure that the accommodation promoted is ecologically and environmentally sound. Especially in ecologically vulnerable exotic areas. The more customer intends to spend, the more he asks about the precautions taken by you to minimize the social and ecological damage caused by their activities.

Operational

1. Food And Beverage

In the case of tourist hotels and resorts, the food and beverage department needs to be more flexible. For eg: Tourist may opt for a picnic lunch instead of normal lunch, the hotel management must anticipate such moves and be in readiness. 

2. Activities

Entertainment facilities should be provided.

3. Housekeeping

If more people comes to stay than the actual number of people booked, the management should provide some sort of a solution to accommodate them as well. This may not sound much in terms of profitability, but it will leave a long lasting impression in the tourists' mind and they will surely come back in the future.
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