Lonely Planet

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1. The strategy design map is helpful (study notes p5), both to describe current

strategy, and to structure the agenda. Description of current strategy should cover

business scope (a broad range of travel guides and travel aids, covering all regions of

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the world, with particular strength in Asia); market scope (English-language markets,

with recent entry into French; other languages covered under licence. LP’s market

segmentation is focused on the ‘independent traveller’); and competitive strategy

(primarily quality reputation, and also marketing brand and retail relations). Vertical

scope is integrated, from writing to wholesale distribution in major markets

(although there is significant use of contract writers, and printing is outsourced).

. There are important trends in industry competition with the potential to affect LP.

These are well uncovered through a 5-forces analysis. Globally, there are really only

rivals in LP’s segment, but these are now moving into each other’s regional

strongholds, and consolidation of the industry is likely to see entry of new

competition, and is seeing increased buyer power in retail chains with large market

shares. New information technologies are rapidly improving the appeal of

substitutes. Writers are the key supplier here, but with 80 contract writers to choose

from and 0 in-house writers, LP is not under threat here. Overall, competitive

pressure is most likely to be increasing. LP’s strategic agenda must address the

challenges of this trend.

. Broader trends affecting the industry can be assessed in a PEEST (or PESTEL)

analysis. The impact of new information technologies is a major factor here, with the

potential to radically transform what is now a paper-based industry. Other forces

impacting on the industry appear very positive to long-term growth prospects

opening of political boundaries; increasing affordability of travel (economy); and

rising social interest in travel. This should be a good industry for the foreseeable

future, with plenty of scope for new products; but the challenge of technology must

be addressed in the agenda.

4. LP’s distinctive competitive capabilities are best assessed using the resource-based

view, and the associated VRIO tests for sustained competitive advantage. These

point to (1) LP’s quality reputation with the customers for accurate, current,

entertaining, comprehensive and convenient guides; () its network of writers and

other correspondents who keep the material up to date; and () LP’s high quality

relationships with the workforce and organisational culture. These deliver distinctive

value to the customer, have taken hard years to build up and so are rare and hard to

imitate, and are attributes of the organisation not its members. Use could also be

made of Porter’s value chain to highlight LP’s leading use of IT in its processes,

including one of Australia’s highest traffic websites. The network of travel

informants, and LP’s IT capability will be crucial for the future. But the strategic

agenda will have to attend to those quality attributes whose appeal will weaken in the

age of the internet (currency of information for one).

5. Optional extras for analysis are the goals of the firm (where the Wheeler’s balancing

of the aspirations of staff, consumers and profit is aimed at long-term success rather

than immediate wealth maximisation) and strategic coherence (where Hibbard’s

efforts at formalising company processes are running into resistance from an

organisation used to running on much more informal ties that are coming under

pressure as the firm grows).

The strategic agenda will focus on aspects of LP’s strategy that will need re-thinking in light

of these trends (5 marks). The strategy design map is again helpful in structuring the agenda.

• Increasing competitive pressures ( above), and the challenge of new technology (

above), particularly to the currency and convenience of travel information (4 above)

will require a re-think of LP’s competitive strategy.

• It is possible that these challenges will be so strong as to require a change in business

scope (an alliance with a global media empire, or Microsoft, to counteract the

growing buyer power of major chains).

• There may be potential to expand market scope into non-English markets beyond

French, and to segments other than independent travellers. But the magnitude of this

potential could be better assessed with some market research.

• And for those pursuing the optional extra of organisation design, there is an obvious

question on the extent to which Hibbard should formalise LP’s strategy processes.

Recommendations will give actionable detail on changes to strategy in these areas, and

explain how these will address the issues facing the firm (10 marks). This is a place where

your creativeness can add value. Ideas are likely to suggest change in all three of the agenda

areas above (plus the optional extra of organisation).

• Development to competitive strategy will almost certainly involve innovation, to

make use of the new information technologies and LP’s own capabilities in this area.

• Mounting a competitive attack on the home territory of Rough Guide and Let’s Go

(market scope) will likely involve extension to LP’s product scope. There are many

opportunities here including translations, new focussed products, net-based products


• Creative ideas can also be offered on how LP can respond to the net’s strong

competition on currency and convenience of information. It would be extreme to

argue that the web will completely replace paper; or that it will have no effect. More

likely, both technologies will co-habit and ideas for products making best use of each

technology would add value.

• A case can probably be made for both options on business scope at one extreme

argue that LP’s niche is defensible and no significant change is needed; to industry

consolidation will require alliances and JVs.

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