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Research Proposal Essay

There has been an alarming drop in bookings for the XYZ travel agency as of June this year. This worries the agency’s proprietor and staff as there have been no observable changes from the previous years that could have caused this drop. As of this month, a 38% drop has been observed, as opposed to the same month last year. The agency had been in service for almost a decade and no competitor had put up shop in the same town. For the last 5 years, the agency’s growth in revenue had been steady. The agency’s 6 employees are contented with their job and are hard-working, pleasant people.

So, this sudden drop in bookings is a puzzle to the travel agency. Bookings are falling equally for all geographical locations. Bookings for European, Asian, African, Australian, and American holidays had decreased uniformly. Terrorism threats have decreased, and weather patterns had been relatively pleasant, so these factors do not explain the sudden decrease in bookings. And although brochure prices have increased slightly, this has only been in line with inflation. If this decreasing trend continues, there is a probability that the business might go bankrupt and might have to close.

Purpose The goal of this research is to discover and identify the factors that affect the number of bookings processed by the XYZ travel agency. Significance of the Study This research is important in the sense that it shall identity the root causes of the problem. Once the root causes have been identified, solutions can be drawn up to bring the business back to on its successful feet. The proprietor and the staff can rest at ease knowing that the problem can be remedied and no business closure and loss of jobs would occur.

Furthermore, this research can uncover new grounds in which the XYZ travel agency might have not yet explored, thereby opening new doors for the business in the area of service enhancement and expansion. II. Literature Review Leedy (1997, p. 71) states that the literature review serves several purposes, the central purpose being that the literature review provides assistance in attacking the research problem. Literature review equips the researcher with deeper insight and more complete knowledge to tackle the problem he/she is investigating. As indicated in Tuckman (1994, p.

44), looking into relevant studies helps uncover ideas about variables that may be significant or insignificant to the study, as well as information about work that may be explored or applied. Prior to starting the actual research for this problem, a literature review should first be conducted. Other travel agencies might already have experienced the same problem and may have already conducted their own research. If the researcher can tap into previous research, it would save the researcher time and effort in chasing after information that may not be important to the study.

Literature review, in itself, can serve as a data collection method, and so this proposal takes the review as a task that is, in essence, to be conducted upon commencement of the research. The actual, detailed literature review should be included in the research report. III. Methodology For Burns & Grove (1997, p. 49), the Research Design is the blueprint that outlines the conduct of the study. The research design is created to maximize control over factors that could interfere with the expected outcome desired by the researcher.

There are two main types of research designs, distinguished mainly by the type of data they operate by: Qualitative and Quantitative. Qualitative research involves analysis of data such as words, pictures, and objects, while Quantitative research concerns itself with analysis of numerical data (Neill, 2007). There had been various debates as to which method is superior and more accurate. According to one researcher, Donald Campbell, “All research ultimately has a qualitative grounding. ” Another researcher, Fred Kerlinger, counters: “There’s no such thing as qualitative data.

Everything is either 1 or 0,” (as quoted from Miles & Huberman (1994, p. 40)). However, both methods can actually be used in conjunction with each other (Barnes et al. , 2005, “Qualitative vs. Quantitative Debate”). For this research, it would be advisable to follow a preliminary Qualitative approach followed by a Quantitative analysis. Qualitative research has the following objectives: 1) to gain an understanding of underlying reasons and motivations, 2) to provide insights into a problem for the generation of ideas and hypotheses for later Quantitative research, and 3) to uncover prevalent trends in thought and opinion (Snap Surveys, Ltd.

, 2007). The second objective is the groundwork from which the researcher can base the methodology for this research. As justified by McCullough (2003, ¶5), “Qualitative research is appropriate for two uses: to generate ideas and concepts (list of possibilities), and to uncover consumer language in order to subsequently ask consumers the right questions in a way they most accurately understand. ” Since no causes of the problem of decreasing bookings are known just yet, a Qualitative research must be conducted to collate the possibilities.

The data could then be organized into structured hypotheses that would then be the starting point for the conduct of a Quantitative research. Following this outline, the methodology for this proposal is then divided into 2 sections. Qualitative Research Creswell (1994) states that Qualitative research is “an inquiry process of understanding a social or human problem, based on building a complex, holistic picture, formed with words, reporting detailed views of informants, and conducted in a natural setting,” (as cited in Leedy, 1997, p.

104) For the research to be conducted on why there is a sudden drop in bookings for the XYZ travel agency, an exploratory Qualitative Research will be the first step. “The primary purpose of exploratory research is to provide insights and create an understanding of the problem confronting the researcher. Exploratory research is appropriate in situations of problem identification and definition,” (Veni, 2001, c. 5. 3). Population and Sampling Burns & Grove (1993, p.

779) defines population as all elements that meet the sample criteria for inclusion in a research or study. The population can be individuals, objects, and events. To be able to identify the factors that may have contributed to the decrease in bookings, we need to solicit information from the business’ customers. Therefore, for this part of the research, the population is defined as all travellers in the city where the travel agency is located.

As this population may be very large, and the researcher does not have enough resources to gather information from every traveller in the city, a “purposive sampling” can be applied. In purposive sampling, the researcher already has a purpose in mind (Trochim, 2006, “Nonprobability Sampling”), as in this case wherein the researchers will be looking for travellers. The researcher can draw a sample from the travel agency’s clients for the last 5 years. This would work on the premise that the travel agency had kept a record of their clients’ names and contact information for the last 5 years.

Using simple random sampling methods that can be executed using a computer (this can be quickly done using an EXCEL spreadsheet), a sample, say 25% of the total clients or whatever number may seem representative of this population, can be drawn. Instrumentation and Time Frame The best and most convenient way for the researcher to conduct this exploratory research would probably be through telephone interview. The interview can be in a semi-structured form. First, the interviewer drafts a standard questionnaire to be used for each interview.

As the interview progresses, the conversation can drift towards an unstructured format where there is more interaction between the interviewer and interviewee. The topics in the questions should revolve around behaviours, opinions/values, feelings, knowledge, sensory, and background/demographics (McNamara, 1997). Proper interviewing etiquette should be observed in all interviews. The interviewer must try to remain objective in probing into the clients’ feelings and opinions. Furthermore, the interviewer must be careful not to take too much of the respondent’s time, as this would no longer be appropriate for a telephone interview.

The interview sessions can be conducted by 3 employees for an indefinite duration, depending on how accurate and fast the interviews had been conducted, or until the desired number of respondents had been sampled. Analysis Plan The main purpose of the interviews at this point is to identify the factors that have an effect on customers’ motivation to travel, preferred destinations, preferences in choosing travel agents, etc. Further inquiry can then reveal the customers’ experiences with the travel agency, their current practices for booking their travels, as well as the expectations that they think should be met by the travel agency.

When the interviews had been conducted, the data should then be collated and similar responses grouped together to come up with a list of ideas and information from which the researcher shall be basing his/her survey in the second part of the research. At this point of the research, the researcher already has data not just to create various hypotheses but to be able to draw, through statistical analysis, some form of a conclusion as well. However, the researcher must not stop here for the reason of external validity. External validity, as defined by Burns & Grove (1993, p.

270), is “the extent to which study findings can be generalised beyond the sample used in the study. ” The sample used in the study was obtained from the agency’s client list, which is not exactly representative of other travellers who may not have attained the services of the agency, as well as the non-travellers who may have some possible contributory information to add to this research. Quantitative Research Burns & Grove (1997, p. 27) defines Quantitative Research as “a formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data are utilised to obtain information about the world.

” Quantitative Research can be Descriptive, Quasi-Experimental, or Experimental. A Descriptive design is used to gain more information about particular characteristics within a field of study, while Quasi-Experimental and Experimental or often used to establish causality or to determine cause-and-effect relationships (Ross & Chadwick, 1999, “Ways of Approaching Research: Quantitative Designs”). For this part of the research, a quantitative, descriptive survey design shall be used, using the data obtained from the preliminary qualitative research.

Population and Sampling The population for this study may then encompass all people within the city capable of physical travel, as the research would entail having to obtain information from the non-travellers as well. Information derived from this area can help the agency arrive at various methods to broaden their client-base. To obtain an adequate and representative sample for this study, we can have a 2-stage method of sampling — first, a cluster random sampling followed by a simple random sampling of respondents within the cluster.

In cluster sampling, the researcher can divide the population into clusters (perhaps the researcher can draw a map of the city and divide it into a number of sectors). Next, the researcher should randomly sample clusters, and then proceed to simple random sampling of the residents of each cluster. The researcher can identify a specific number of samples desired for each cluster, and then send out an employee to randomly conduct a survey on each sample cluster. Instrumentation A survey would be most appropriate for the purposes of this research.

Surveys obtain information through self-report, that is, the people provide information by responding to a series of questions posed by the researcher (Polit & Hungler, 1993, p. 148). The survey can be conducted by means of questionnaires. Three types of measurement questions are usually contained by questionnaires (Cooper & Schindler, 1998, p. 327). First, administrative questions to identify the respondent; second, classification questions the allow grouping of answers; and third, target questions that tackle that investigative aspect of the study. The target questions can be structured (closed) or unstructured (open questions).

Analysis Plan When the survey has been conducted, the data should then be collated and statistically analysed. The major factors that contribute to the decrease in bookings can then be identified. These factors will then serve as the starting point for the agency to improve upon. Other information gathered from the survey can help the agency improve their service, provide new services, expand their business, and acquire new clients. IV. Ethical Considerations In any research, there are ethical issues that must always be considered. For this research, all methods and tasks must be carried out on the principle of voluntary participation.

The respondents for the interviews and surveys must not be forced into giving out information, but rather, they must give their informed consent. The researcher must ensure that the participants are informed of what the research is about prior to conducting any interview or survey. Furthermore, the researcher must guarantee confidentiality. Any information given out by the participants must be used for the research’s purpose only and not for any other intention (Trochim, 2006, “Ethics in Research”). References Barnes, J. et al. (2005) Generalizability and Transferability [Internet], Colorado State University Department of English.

Available from: <http://writing. colostate. edu/guides/research/gentrans/> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. Burns, N. & Grove, S. K. (1993) The practice of nursing. Research conduct, critique and utilization. 2nd ed. USA: Saunders Company. Burns, N. & Grove, S. K. (1997) The practice of nursing. Research conduct, critique and utilization. 3rd ed. USA: Saunders Company. Cooper, D. R. & Schindler, P. S. (1998) Business Research Methods. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. Creswell, J. W (1994) Research Design – Qualitative & Quantitative Approaches. USA: Sage Publications. Leedy, P. D. (1997) Practical research.

Planning and design. 6th ed. USA: Prentice Hall, Macmillan. McCullough, D. (2003) Quantitative vs. Qualitative Marketing Research [Internet], MACRO Consulting, Inc. Available from: <http://www. macroinc. com/html/art/s_qua. html> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. McNamara, C. (1997) General Guidelines for Conducting Interviews [Internet]. Free Management Library, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Available from: <http://www. managementhelp. org/evaluatn/intrview. htm#anchor1404957> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. Miles, M. B. , & Huberman, A. M. (1994) Qualitative data analysis. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Naidu, Veni (July 2001) Key Challenges Facing Strategic Market Planning in the Presence of HIV/AIDS. Master of commerce thesis, KwaZulu-Natal: Scholl of Economics and Management Science, University of Natal-Durban. Neill, J. (2007) Qualitative versus Quantitative Research: Key Points in a Classic Debate [Internet], Wilderdom. Available from: <http://wilderdom. com/research/QualitativeVersusQuantitativeResearch. html#Features> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. Polit, D. F. & Hungler, B. P. (1993) Essentials of nursing research: methods, appraisal and utilization. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott. Ross, J. & Chadwick, S.

(1999) Research Home Page [Internet]. Available from: <http://www. fortunecity. com/greenfield/grizzly/432/Research. htm> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. Snap Surveys Ltd. (2007) Qualitative vs Quantitative Research [Internet], Snap Surveys Ltd. Available from: <http://www. snapsurveys. com/techadvqualquant. shtml> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. Trochim, W. M. K. (2006) Research Methods Knowledge Base [Internet]. Available from: <http://www. socialresearchmethods. net/kb/index. php> [Accessed 02 August 2007]. Tuckman, B. W. (1994) The enlightened eye: Qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice. New York: Macmillan.


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