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The influence of the marketing concept on company performance with specific reference to customer services within the travel agency industry in the Western Cape
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Companies operating in the service industry must take note of three important marketing tasks. The first of these tasks is that companies should realise that they must provide the market with a variety of products. Businesses should therefore furnish the market with a diversified product range. Secondly, customers expect from the business sector to provide them with a quality service that even exceeds their own expectations. Thirdly, to ensure its survival in a competitive environment, the company should improve the productivity of its employees e.g. by improving the level of customer service provided to customers. Kotler (1997: 488) argues that such an improvement in productivity levels of employees can be achieved through employees working more skillfully, increasing the quantity of service by surrendering some quality, industrialising the service, inventing new-product solutions, designing more effective services, presenting customers with the incentive to substitute their own labour for company labour, or using technology to save time and money. Keeping these facts in mind and taking into consideration that tourists have been arriving in South Africa from all over the world for decades, it is of great importance for visitors to South Africa to receive customer service of the highest quality. A tourist travelling in the Republic of South Africa will most probably make use of a local travel agency if they should be in need of any further travel related services. A travel agent representing a particular travel agency, will not be engaged in the sale of travel related services only to tourists, but also to any other consumer interested in making use of the Travel Agencies' services. The Association of Travel Agents' (ASATA) code of conduct stresses that "ach travel agent engaged in the sale of travel-related services direct to consumers shall maintain the highest standard of service possible, complying with all statutory requirements, including those applicable to travel agents and with all provisions of this code" (Business Practices Committee Consumer Code For Travel Agencies, 1994: 5). This thesis is an analysis of the "marketing concept", with specific reference to customer service. It focuses on the top management in the travel agency industry and will be concerned with the degree to which top management is marketing orientated and the influence their marketing-orientated outlook will have on the performance of the travel agency. With marketing being defined as: "the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational goals", it must be emphasized that marketing can be seen as, amongst others, the anticipation and satisfaction of customer needs (Boshoff & Terblanche, 2000: 4). This research study would also include a study of the travel agency's level of customer service, which will have a direct reflection on top management's marketing outlook as well as the travel agency's level of performance.