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


etc.


• 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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