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Executing a destination branding strategy: Louisville Tourism’s Urban Bourbon Trail

Robert C. Ford (College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)
John T. Bowen (Hilton College, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Stacey Yates (Louisville Tourism, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

International Journal of Tourism Cities

ISSN: 2056-5607

Article publication date: 13 December 2022




The purpose of this study is to add new insights into the discussion of how a city’s destination marketing organization (DMO) can apply operand resources to act upon its operant resources to create, market and manage a unique brand over time.


This study uses an abductive approach to advance understanding of how to execute a branding strategy that evolves over time while strategically curating its unique and valued resources. This understanding is based on an in-depth review of Louisville’s branding journey, including written documents and interviews with people involved in building the branding strategy.


This paper presents a model to help destinations focus on how to create, market and manage the delivery of a branded ecosystem that capitalizes on its resources. This study adds new insights into how DMOs can curate a destination’s resources into an ecosystem that delivers its brand promise over time.


This study introduces the idea of ecotopes to expand an understanding of tourism ecosystems, presents the concept of a customer journey to depict a destination’s branding strategy, incorporates Barney's resource based theory (Barney and Clark, 2007) into the process of creating a destination’s brand and applies Barnard’s (1938) classic acceptance theory of authority to explain how DMOs can execute a destination’s branding strategy.



This research did not receive any funding from agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.


Ford, R.C., Bowen, J.T. and Yates, S. (2022), "Executing a destination branding strategy: Louisville Tourism’s Urban Bourbon Trail", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, International Tourism Studies Association

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