Academic journal article Journal of Marketing and Management

Implementation of Customer Relationship Management in Albania Travel Industry: Its Overall Impact on Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Marketing and Management

Implementation of Customer Relationship Management in Albania Travel Industry: Its Overall Impact on Performance

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Europe is entering into the new economy, but little is understood about it beyond its disruptive potential - only that the transition phase from a post-industrial to a globally networked knowledge society is likely to take 20 or 30 years. This paper will contribute to achieve the goals by analysing evidence on the multiple changes brought about by the new economy in the socio-economic system and their policy implications. Where the adoption of e-business methods did have a significant impact was on the relations with intermediaries. There was a consensus among companies irrespective of their primary line of business, that, to a limited extent, e-business and the Internet are reducing intermediation costs which are the most critical cost factors in the travel and tourism industry. Traditional intermediaries, such as the travel agents, complain about this "new' competition from suppliers while web-based travel agencies make their way into the travel and tourism business aiming to compete on equal terms with service suppliers. Thus, the effort to keep all different distribution channels operating in parallel appears to be a major challenge for suppliers in the industry. The latter need to ensure that not only their own employees but also their resellers are well motivated. This is particularly the case since, as argued during the interviews, the value-added offered by travel agents will never become obsolete since complex products will always require composite information and expertise that ordinary travellers rarely have.

Although most interviewees stressed that it is too early to assess the impact of e-CRM methods on customer relations, they felt that their companies' performance in relation to customer retention and satisfaction had improved as a result of their online presence. Several barriers and constraints were identified in the adoption of e-CRM including the maturity of the market to which companies address their products and services, the financial resources required, and the prevailing structures and modes of practice within organisations which inhibit the establishment of new business routines.

These findings suggest that although the majority of surveyed companies value e-CRM and have started to commit resources to relevant initiatives, few companies have actually been engaged in mature, long term planning regarding e-CRM proper adoption and use. However, the real challenge for travel and tourism companies in order to realise productivity gains is the automation of their back office operations. The challenge therefore is not to implement technology-based CRM solutions but to establish the associated organisational and cultural (customer-centred service provision) change within companies that would allow CRM to contribute to productivity and profitability.

WHY STUDY E-CRM?

The Internet and other Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) offer extraordinary opportunities for innovation in customer relationship management. These technologies may empower customer choice and offer unprecedented amounts of information about customer needs and desires. They offer new means for customers to find product and service information, to negotiate purchases, to make enquiries about the conditions of sale and support for their purchases, and to track deliveries and requests. For businesses, e-CRM provides new ways to recruit customers and retain their loyalty, to customise services and provide personalised products and services, to identify emerging patterns of demand in style and to enhance links with suppliers to meet these demands. e-CRM is a good candidate for a systematic examination of organisational and technological innovation because of the diversity and potential impact of the opportunities it provides.

The implementation of e-CRM also raises questions about how customer care and the customisation of products and services will be delivered. Many of the functions provided by e-CRM appear to substitute for experienced and knowledgeable sales representatives. …

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