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Price Sensitivity and Online Travel Service

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Details: The online market for travel services will reach $63 billion within a few years, and Priceline.com aims to capture a significant share; already, it is high on the top-ten list of travel Web sites. After a brief period of diversification into name-your-price sales of groceries and gasoline, the company has refocused on its core travel and financial services offerings, including airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and mortgage loans. The company guarantees that a Priceline.com mortgage is the "lowest-cost loan on the market" and backs this up by paying $300 to any customer who finds a better price.

Visit Internet sources, to see how the Priceline system works. At the Priceline website, follow the link marked New to Priceline, Find out More. Under each of the categories, click on "How it works" to read about the name-your-price process. Then return to the home page and follow several of the links promoting discounted offerings.

Define price sensitivity. Provide relevant examples.
What can you say about the price sensitivity of Priceline's customers?
What effect would Priceline's prices be likely to have on the reference prices customers bear in mind for travel and mortgage services?
How does the company's lowest-cost loan guarantee affect a customer's perception of the product's value?

Objective: Explain how to manage pricing programs.
Discuss the implications of the societal marketing concept.

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Solution Preview

Please see response attached (alos below), including one supporting article. I hope this helps and take care.

RESPONSE:

Have you checked out the website? What was your experience like? If you haven't YET, be sure to check it out, as suggested for this assignment.

Let's look a little closer the following questions:

1. Define price sensitivity. Provide relevant examples.

Prices sensitivity is the relative weight a customer attaches to price compared to other attributes (price importance), and the customer's perceived value of undertaking a search for better prices (price search).

For example, the nature of the online medium and the characteristics of web sites can significantly alter the degree of customer price sensitivity in online markets. Many managers fear that the Internet will increase price sensitivity and intensify price competition. There is, however, very little conceptual or empirical research on this topic. For example, Shankar et al, (1999) (see attached article) use the information search literature to develop a conceptual framework comprising web site factors and several customer and intermediary factors, to explain the main and moderating effects of the online medium on customer price sensitivity. They use this framework to develop hypotheses, which they test using data from both online and offline customers in the hospitality industry. They examined two important aspects of price sensitivity: the relative weight a customer attaches to price compared to other attributes (price importance), and customer's perceived value of undertaking a search for better prices (price search).

For example, the results of this study indicate that the online medium does not have a main effect on price importance, but it increases the perceived value of undertaking a price search. However, some aspects of the online medium and some web site tactics can actually dampen price sensitivity. Specifically, web site tactics such as the degree of interactivity and the depth of information provided at a web site reduce both aspects of price sensitivity. Interestingly, the perceived content of the site (in terms of price or non-price orientation) does not influence price sensitivity. In addition to these main effects, the online medium also moderates the effects of several other factors, leading to lower price sensitivity relative to the offline medium. These moderating effects are different for the two aspects of price sensitivity. Compared to the offline medium, the online medium intensifies the effect of product options in lowering price importance and dampens the effect of price bundling in increasing price importance. The online medium also dampens the increase in price search that results when customers use intermediaries to compare prices. We outline the implications of our results for developing Internet marketing strategies. In particular, our results suggest that web sites should make it easy for customers to search for both price and non-price attributes (Article attached for convenience).

2. What can you say about the price sensitivity of Priceline's customers?

The question that comes to mind is this: What relative weight do the customers of Priceline.com attach to price compared to other attributes (price importance)? In other words, how important is the price of travel when compared to other attributes (i.e., incentives, rewards, etc.)? What is the customer's perceived value of undertaking a search for better prices (price search)? In other words, how often do the customers do a price search for better prices, before investing in Priceline's products and services?

In keeping with our above definition, Priceline.com seems have low price sensitivity in both aspects of ...

Solution Summary

In reference to the online travel, service market, this solution explains how to manage pricing programs and discusses the implications of the societal marketing concept e.g. price sensitivity, lowest-cost loan guarantee, etc. Supplemented with one article on price sensitivity.

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