Datamonitor, (2011), stated that travelers spend their resources, such as time and money, to reach the destination. When they choose the flight for their trip, air travelers not only try to minimize their expenditure of time and money, but also consider some other factors, such as, pleasure, and comfort during the journey. However, it is very difficult to generalize the factors which influence the decision procedures of flight choice. This decision is dependent on not only the attributes of the air service, but also the socio-economic characteristics of the individual.
According to Datamonitor, (2011), each traveler would consider different factors with different weight for his/ her flight choice, and even the same individual may behave differently in different situations. However, previous studies concerning transport choice models, have generally identified the travel time, cost, service frequency, and comfort during travel as basic factors for transport choice decisions. In the case of flight choice, the factors for the decision are generally identical to other transport choice models, but it is necessary to be a little more specific to adjust to the air travelers choice situation.
According to Belobaba, Odoni & Barnhart, (2009), the air travelers are of two categories: business travelers and leisure travelers. Business travelers have their travel purpose related to business and are usually paid for by employers. The leisure travelers are subdivided into two categories, holiday travel and travel for visiting friends or relatives (VFR). Leisure travelers pay for their own travel.
For business travel, travel is usually arranged by the company itself, and the traveler may have only limited influence in flight choice.
Timing is more important than fare for business travelers. Corporations send employees overseas for a business matter, and usually have a fixed time plan. Flight arrangements should be flexible to accommodate last minute change in the business schedules. The business trips are not well planned in advance. This situation of late flight booking and flexibility in schedule of business trips prevent business travelers from using discounted fare tickets. Business travelers consider the reliability of time performance as important and they also want to arrive at destination in good shape. So, quality of service is important for this kind of traveler.
18.104.22.168 Customer Segmentation
As has been asserted by Belobaba, Odoni & Barnhart, (2009), immediately after the airline industrys deregulation, customer segmentation has become predominantly important. With risen competition perpetuated by the increasing number of Low Cost Carriers (LCCs), it is imperative for the airlines to be acquainted with their customers preferences and as a result emphasizes the employment of differing deterrent behaviors. Datamonitor, (2011), stated that serving incorrect customers may be very expensive for the airline, especially in a long run as they do not bring any profit to the company. When the company underwent an inclusive transformation, it suspends any marketing strategy targeting leisure travelers, concentrating all its efforts on business customers only.
Passengers can be segmented by their trips purpose or gender. With respect to their trips purpose, customers can be tagged business or leisure customers. Most airlines serve more or less equally both types of customers, depending on route and season. However, some airlines concentrate their efforts purely on business customers, and some operate only on leisure roots. This implies that an enhanced understanding of their needs is required in a continuous strive to improve service quality as e.g. Chikwendu, Ejem & Ezenwa, (2012) argues that differences in service expectations between travelers with different national background or travel frequency can be significant.
Most frequently, airlines divide their customers into business and leisure travelers (Bhadra & Texter, 2005; Belobaba, et al., 2009). Thus, (Bhadra & Texter, 2005) concluded that carriers are able to align their product strategy and provide flexibility that is needed by business travelers, as well as cheap economy tickets for other passengers, (e.g. leisure travelers).
Presently, the decision-making for business and leisure customers is also much more intricate as it may seem at first. According to Shaw (2007) in Chikwendu, Ejem & Ezenwa, (2012), business travelers do not usually make the purchasing decision, as the activity in their companies is often performed by a secretary or is outsourced to a travel agency. Li, Hensher & Rose (2010), however, argues that even in the situation when actual customer is not choosing the ticket, certain needs are paramount for influencing the decision. Noticeably, people prefer easier solutions, and if one option requires calling an airline and another is online booking, the decision maker will most likely go the easier way: book a ticket online. Greed is another motivator behind passengers decision-making on a particular airline. That’s why; many airlines have executive secretary clubs, to offer discounts and corporate entertainment in return for loyalty.
Furthermore, to guarantee incentives for all consumers, airlines use frequent flyer programs for individual travelers as well as corporate discounts for companies. With regards to leisure customers, the decision maker is a traveler himself (or a group of travelers, as the case may be. An additional difference is that in the business segment, people tend to travel a lot one person making tens of trips per year. In leisure segment, trips can be rare, some travelers making only one trip in their lifetime. In addition, in leisure segment wholesale market is still widely present in a form of tour operators, and many airlines especially those that provide purely leisure flights to holiday destinations, have to consider tour operators as dreadfully important group of customers. Belobaba, et al., (2009) argued that as comprehensible market segmentation to business and leisure customers is becoming superseded, there is a need to determine new customer segments and target the customers that the airline is willing to serve.
An interesting aspect relating to differences in male and female service standards was brought up by Olaniyi, Onwuka & Agu (2014): according to the article, travel is widely associated with masculine values such as adventure and pleasure, and numerous researchers do not recognize gender-specific concerns and incorporate gender-neutral values into travel. Many women feel discriminated and recognize airlines as masculine organizations. Hence, there is the need for proper understanding and ensuring service quality that is female friendly. There is no doubt that there is an ever increasing roles of women in business, which has promoted the growth of female traveling grow constantly, thus, it is unhealthy to sideline such segment nowadays. Additionally, customer retention is one of the most important but difficult aspect in business. Economically, it is more viable a firm to keep an old customer than acquiring a new one, and female travelers who are not satisfied with the services, may switch to another carrier.
Another issue, which rose up in the surveys conducted by Olaniyi, Onwuka & Agu (2014) is the attitude of flight attendants that tend to pay more attention to men and assume that women are not travelling for business. Furthermore, the research criticizes design of lounges and aircraft, and this leads to higher level of dissatisfaction in air travel and by and large would press on female customers to try other carriers. As it has been shown in the article, females value such things as comfort, safety, and staff attitude more than male travelers. It is essential to note that the end of flight experience should not end at the aircraft door. Female travelers are keen on receiving more help upon arrival from a carrier, as they may feel less secure at the destination country. Male/female and business/leisure/commuting customer segmentation will be used for the purposes of this study.