Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Isabella Chan, Kevin Zhou. The Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers (referred as “Huella Travel” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Sales & Marketing. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, .

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers Case Study

In April 2007, Huella Online Travel Ltd, a Malaysian-based online travel portal targeting Asia, including Greater China, announced its results for the financial year 2006. Its market share for Hong Kong had been hovering just under 5% since the launch of its local site in 2000 and was performing worse in this than in other markets. A qualitative market research study conducted earlier had revealed that low awareness of the Huella brand and the general risk-averseness of Hong Kong consumers towards online travel purchases appeared to be the key reasons behind this. These findings were also echoed by market intelligence and industry reports, both of which suggested that online travel had not picked up in Hong Kong, despite the city's high internet usage penetration rate and the techno-savvy nature of its population, especially that of young people. Indeed, Hong Kong's adoption rate for online flight purchases was among the lowest in the world. In order to confirm previous findings and to test their representativeness, Huella decided to conduct a quantitative study. The company's goals were to devise a viable marketing strategy to ease Hong Kong consumers' concerns towards online travel purchases and ultimately to increase its market share in the city. This case illustrates the types of information needed by a company for its specific marketing objectives and examines how different types of market research can help it attain its goals.

Case Authors : Isabella Chan, Kevin Zhou

Topic : Sales & Marketing

Related Areas :

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10018107) -10018107 - -
Year 1 3464364 -6553743 3464364 0.9434 3268268
Year 2 3964813 -2588930 7429177 0.89 3528669
Year 3 3936141 1347211 11365318 0.8396 3304860
Year 4 3230987 4578198 14596305 0.7921 2559244
TOTAL 14596305 12661042

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2642935

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Profitability Index
2. Payback Period
3. Internal Rate of Return
4. Net Present Value

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Huella Travel shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Huella Travel have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Sales & Marketing Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Huella Travel often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Huella Travel needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10018107) -10018107 - -
Year 1 3464364 -6553743 3464364 0.8696 3012490
Year 2 3964813 -2588930 7429177 0.7561 2997968
Year 3 3936141 1347211 11365318 0.6575 2588077
Year 4 3230987 4578198 14596305 0.5718 1847327
TOTAL 10445863

The Net NPV after 4 years is 427756

(10445863 - 10018107 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10018107) -10018107 - -
Year 1 3464364 -6553743 3464364 0.8333 2886970
Year 2 3964813 -2588930 7429177 0.6944 2753342
Year 3 3936141 1347211 11365318 0.5787 2277859
Year 4 3230987 4578198 14596305 0.4823 1558153
TOTAL 9476325

The Net NPV after 4 years is -541782

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9476325 - 10018107 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Huella Travel to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Huella Travel has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Huella Travel can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Huella Travel, then the stock price of the Huella Travel should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Huella Travel should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Isabella Chan, Kevin Zhou (2018), "Huella Online Travel: Gaining Market Insight into Hong Kong Consumers Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.