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Huella online Travel Case Study

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Huella Online Travel Case


The travel industry had witnessed steady growth, despite the scare of terrorism and spread of deadly diseases and ever-increasing oil prices. As popularity of air travel increased so did to convenience to book a ticket. Thanks to the internet, booking a ticket has become simpler than ever. In the pre- internet era, manual bookings were done, with the help of physical cards being used to represent a seat. The onset of ‘Airline Reservation System (ARS)’, marked the beginning of evolution of the industry. Airliners developed a system that was accessible by all its branches and their affiliated travel agents, to provide them with real-time flight data for booking purposes. Over the time, it led to ‘Computer Reservation System (CRS)’, which provided data to travel agents across all airlines. This later expanded in ‘Global Reservation System (GRS)’.

With the emergence of CRS, the companies who owned them, would make more efficient sales and managed to make good profit out of it. This led to newer business models such as:

  • Online stores set up by Brick-n-mortar agents
  • Online portals
  • Online travel bidding sites

Huella Online Travel was an internet travel portal based of out of Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. Founded in 1999, Huella’s target audience were majorly the air travelers of Greater China region and the rest of Asia. It focused on providing a simplified booking system to the customer along with a variety of deals. They not only offered attractive deals on flights but also on hotel bookings and car rentals. They also implemented SSL and VeriSign security for trustworthy and safe payment procedure for their customers.

Management Problem

Huella entered Hong Kong market in the year 2000. Although it faced few setbacks due to the 9/11 terror attack and influenza outbreaks, the company grew in terms of revenue. They showed steady growth in all of Asia with Hong Kong being the only anomaly. While Huella had a 9% market share in Singapore, it accounted for mere 4% in Hong Kong. What came as a surprise was that despite being a Tech-savvy City, online travel never really picked up.

With substantial population of Hong Kong categorized as young and high internet penetration, Hong Kong showed little to no interest in online travel booking service. Huella was never able to make its presence in the market or for that matter in the minds of people, resulting to its meager market share.

To assess the situation, Huella hired a third-party Market Research firm to conduct a study on their Hong Kong Market. The focus group based study probed into the topics of general purchasing patterns of Hong Kong consumers towards online travel, awareness of the Huella brand and their perception towards the brand.

The study revealed some shocking results about Huella’s brand awareness, with significant number of respondents not hearing about the brand. Study showed poor brand image of Huella, with all the respondents concerned about security and stability of Huella’s website. Customers were worried about credit card details being stolen and being charged for failed transactions. Majority of their concerns were less about Huella and more about internet in general. Huella was positioned more like an online travel agent than a traditional Brick-n-mortar agent, which the general population of Hong Kong, had immense trust on. Due to scares brand awareness, most respondents preferred local travel agents over Huella. Even those who visited the website, did it just to compare the prices of the tickets to trike up a better bargain with their local travel agent.



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